Palmer is surely smart enough to know that fascism is a more complicated subject than he makes it sound. “I know John Mackey, John Mackey is a friend of mine, and he’s no fascist,” is a pretty vapid argument, to the extent it’s an argument at all. It’s even dumber as a retort to a book Palmer’s never read. Indeed, one gets the sense reading his post or some of my libertarian-reader email, that because Mackey is a libertarian, and perhaps because he’s a libertarian sugar daddy, anything having to do with him, Whole Foods or the organic food fetish is beyond criticism. Palmer might want to read, for starters, the writings of Ludwig Klages, Hitler’s Table Talk, The Nazi War on Cancer or How Green Were the Nazis before he flies off the handle like that. ~Jonah Goldberg
The Goldberg syllogism: 1) Fascists were concerned about conservation; 2) modern conservationists are concerned about conservation; 3) Therefore, there is a meaningful substantive connection between fascism and modern conservationists that goes beyond this incidental agreement. Sam Brownback is against cancer and wants to “eliminate” it in ten years–is he a liberal fascist too? Shouldn’t it be significant that everyone who knows anything about John Mackey says that he is definitely a libertarian and not a fascist? That doesn’t seem to be an “argument,” but a statement of easily-checked fact. If it is not really disputable, Palmer doesn’t need an “argument” to prove that Mackey isn’t a fascist–he needs only take seriously the meaning of words and recognise that the terms libertarian and fascist are not equivalent. Wouldn’t that settle this apparently puzzling riddle of Mackey’s potential fascism?
Of course, Goldberg is right about one thing: no one has any idea what he has written in his book. (At the rate he’s going, no one will ever know what he has written, because people will be so annoyed by the stupid subtitle that they won’t even buy it.) All that we do know about it is the title, the subtitle and the blurb from the publisher. There is wisdom in the saying that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and likewise we shouldn’t judge it (and consequently simply dismiss it) by its title alone. That’s a fair objection.
When the new subtitle was proposed, didn’t someone point out that mentioning Whole Foods in the context of fascism sounded crazy? Did Goldberg think that he had actually improved the book with such a goofy title?