Read The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas by Jonah Goldberg Online


An indispensable and enduring field guide to the arguments the left makes—and the ones it tries to avoid.”—The Claremont Review of Books   According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves they’re not ideological.   Today, objective” journalist“An indispensable and enduring field guide to the arguments the left makes—and the ones it tries to avoid.”—The Claremont Review of Books   According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves they’re not ideological.   Today, “objective” journalists, academics, and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun apho­risms. Barack Obama casts himself as a disciple of reason: He’s a pragmatist, opposed to the ideology and drama of the Right, solely concerned with “what works.” And today’s liberals follow his lead, spouting countless clichés such as:One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter: Sure, if the other man is an idiot. Was Martin Luther King Jr. a terrorist? Was Bin Laden a freedom fighter? Violence never solves anything: Really? It solved our problems with King George III and ended slavery. We need complete separation of church and state: In other words, all expressions of faith should be barred from politics . . . except when they support liberal programs. With humor and passion, Goldberg dismantles these and many other Trojan horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas. He shows that the Pro­gressive tradition of denying an ideological agenda while pursuing it vigorously under the false flag of reasonableness is alive and well. And he reveals how this dangerous game may lead us further down the path of self-destruction....

Title : The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas
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ISBN : 9781595231024
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
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The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas Reviews

  • Hadrian
    2019-02-10 22:58

    I normally do not read too often books which are TOO overtly political - often these are just distasteful and overdone exercises in rhetoric which whip up a loyal 'base' and leave all others annoyed or alienated. This is true for both right and left.Ann Coulter, to use a prominent example, calls herself a "Polemicist" - one who deliberately deals with controversy, and that statement is quite accurate, to her credit. Such is their domain, leave them well alone.But Goldberg is a new and insidious breed - he is a polemicist or rambler who thinks himself a serious intellectual, and attempts to write a book of 'ideas'. The book falls apart halfway through the title. Cliches are indeed tyrannical, but he falls victim to them. His first book, "Liberal Fascism", is filled with torturous and fallacious logic - "Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore all fascists are Vegetarians." I confess I have not read it entirely.A main underlying theme is his conflation of the modern American Left with Totalitarian Communism. Liberals in his view, believe in government intervention in some economic matters. Totalitarians believe in total government control of all aspects of society. Because both of these actions involve government, therefore the two are the same. But Connecticut is not Cambodia. New York is not North Korea. San Francisco is not Stalinism. He does not even differentiate between parts of the left at all. They are all The Enemy, to be defeated.I will not pretend that the modern American left is free of problems. But this 'criticism' is a cliche, and wholly meaningless.And of course, Goldberg uses cliches of his own - the 'hippie liberal', multiculturalism is bad because immigrants and colored people are scary, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism", that there are no compromise positions - "Either you're for me or against me!". And so forth. And so on. And so on.The whole section on Ideology and Dogma is a farce. His own understanding of history is warped, distorted, and completely false. Any item which might support him is twisted to do so, and anything conflicting disappears. "The government does not produce jobs (External contracts, military, etc.), Jews were not killed during the Spanish Inquisition (Exiled, burned alive), and so on. It tires and numbs the mind.Of course, attempting to deal with such large swaths of the complex American political spectrum can be difficult, and I confess that I fall prey to errors. But this is not a complex or rigorous argument at all. It is a child's wail - "Nuh uh! I'm not a stinky-face! YOU ARE!" Take away the punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and fancy quotes from respectable thinkers garnishing the edges, and it is a Youtube comment. It is not a 'book of ideas'. It is a polemic, something which will sell enough copies to get to the top of the New York Times, garner a few disdainful comments from real historians, and promptly fade into oblivion.

  • Phil
    2019-02-11 18:18

    I don't watch much TV so I did not know who Mr. Goldberg is. I guess he is considered to be a sort of right winger. But, his writing is great and he exposes modern cliches. I heard him interviewed on PBS radio and knew I had to read the book. I did my normal cautious approach ordered a Kindle sample then got hooked. I have been quoting some great lines from the book. I did not think that it was a criticism of Liberals unless of course you call all people who have knee jerk reactions to things liberal, but there is enough of that running around to fill up the christmas stockings for every political party. After I read the book I sent Mr. Goldberg an email telling him what I thought of the book and asking why the Liberal schtick. I suggested that it might have been a way to sell books. He wrote right back and admitted that he gave in to his publishers and allowed them to add the tag line. I appreciated his immediate response and candor. If you want to come up feeling a bit cynical about modern social and political expressions, I suggest this book. He may be a right winger but he has a brain and can write.

  • Mark
    2019-02-06 01:10

    Ok, so I got an advance copy. Really, really entertaining book. Because Liberal Fascism was such a controversial thesis, Jonah couldn't really be as entertaining as he usually is with the writing of that book in order soberly buttress his argument. This book is much more in the voice of Jonah the columnist and blogger. He does a lot of intellectual heavy lifting, but he's also free to, say, quote Caddyshack at length. The result is that it might be the best and most fun-to-read primer on the tenets of conservative politics since P.J. O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores. I could nit pick a few things to criticize, but that's only because he covers an amazing amount of ideological and historical territory in a short book. On the whole though, it's a righteous and very, very entertaining and engaging book.

  • Patrick
    2019-01-17 17:10

    Amazon review:“We are only as free as the least free among us.” Is that really true, or is it the kind of statement most people will nod at without actually thinking about? Best-selling conservative author Jonah Goldberg calls it a liberal cliché—fundamentally wrong and potentially very dangerous.According to Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves they’re not ideological. Today “objective” journalists and academics and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun aphorisms. Barack Obama casts himself as a disciple of reason and sticks to one refrain above all others: he’s a pragmatist, opposed to the ideology and dogma of the right, solely concerned with “what works.” And today’s liberals follow his lead, spouting countless clichés.Goldberg exposes the truth behind many of these clichés, including “the living constitution,” “social justice,” and even simple words like “inquisition”/ With humor and passion, he dismantles these Trojan horses to show how our thinking is profoundly shaped by deeply ideological concepts and convenient myths that most of us accept uncritically—to our great detriment.You’ll learn the real history of dangerous liberal clichés, such as:“Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be put behind bars.”“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”“Violence never solves anything.”“Diversity is strength.”“We need complete separation of church and state.”From Gandhi to Marie Antoinette to Madonna, Goldberg explores the context of clichés in our culture and shows how often we rely on them at the expense of serious thinking.

  • Adam Bradley
    2019-02-14 23:09

    My guess is this book will be treated in much the same way as Jonah's previous one: those who find themselves on the unfavorable side of his arguments will either misunderstand or willfully misconstrue his actual thesis and then go about setting that strawman ablaze.I vividly recall a political light bulb switching on for me when I read Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in my freshman year of college: neither scientists nor politicians are ever free from prior philosophical commitments, and the ones who claim they are tend to be the most dangerous. The dogmatic anti-dogmatist, the creedal unideologue; their insistence that they are "simply following the facts to what works" is a smokescreen covering up a long list if ideologically prior commitments to which questions should and should not be asked, which outcomes are preferable and which are not, in short to which highly selective subset of "facts" and whose very particular concept of "working" will be presumed.I found myself disappointed that the chapter on "Science" failed to mention C. S. Lewis's insightful comments on what he called "Bulverism": the belief that you can ignore a man's argument if you can simply explain why he made it, the assumption which seems to undergird much of the popularization of "conservatism as mental disorder" research. I was similarly let down when the chapter on "Understanding" failed to offer up Douglas Adams' keen insight into the power of mutual comprehension: that the babelfish, by removing all barriers to clear communication, was responsible for more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.

  • Dean Anderson
    2019-02-10 23:05

    Yes, this is a book about politics; but one of the things I found most interesting was what the book had to say about religion. Goldberg describes himself as a secular Jew but he does a much better job of defending the church and Christianity (past and present) than many Christians (even many in the clergy.) The basic idea of the book is that many people substitute clichés they’ve heard for any real thinking on a variety of important issues: bumper sticker thinking. Goldberg elaborates in this paragraph from the chapter ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’: “YOUR KARMA RAN OVER MY DOGMA. You’ve no doubt seen the bumper sticker. The pun is easy to get, but the underlying point is more elusive. Most of the time, like so many bumper stickers, it’s more a smug declaration of superiority whose appeal derives more from the appearance of cleverness rather than the reality of insight.” In this chapter, he points out that many in our culture have accepted a cliché that Eastern thought is more spiritual and less dogmatic. Goldberg responds that Buddhism is every bit as doctrinaire as Christianity or Judaism and in his book that’s not a bad thing. We all follow doctrines, creeds and systems of belief and that’s a good thing. There is wealth in collected wisdom in religious and political orthodoxies. We are more likely to get into trouble when we think we are pioneers finding our own pragmatic and individual truth, because we blindly fall into sloppy thought and practices. I greatly appreciated his take on other religious clichés beyond, ‘I’m not religious; I’m a spiritual,’ such as ‘Science vs. Religion’. This is the idea that religion had opposed and feared scientific thought through the centuries. The key example that is always brought up is the story of Galileo. Galileo didn’t oppose religion, he wrote books of theology. He may have spent 3 days in jail, but who clamored for the Church to silence and punish the man were not clergy by “jealous, lesser, scientific colleagues.” Goldberg deals with other supposed crimes of the church. He points out that the Crusades were not the first stirrings of imperialism but rather a defense response to the military conquests of Islam. He responds to Daniel Browns claim in “The Da Vinci Code” that millions were killed by the church in witch hunts with facts that show that thousands were killed (still a horrible thing) and usually by secular authorities, not the church. Yes, there were injustices committed by the various Inquisitions formed by the church through the years, but they were much more thoughtful then the secular courts of the time. Yes, the Spanish Inquisition did use torture, but in two percent of the cases. The Church has through the centuries acted contrary to the teachings of Christ, but it has confessed as such. But the leaders of the French Revolution acted true to their secular beliefs and killed more people during the few years of The Terror than were killed in 300 years of the Inquisition. Some in the church did act in barbaric ways in a barbaric age, but Goldberg argues that the church was not an anchor holding back the progress of Western Civilization but rather a sail. Of course, the bulk of the book is devoted to politics, but even then theological ideas are important. The clichés that “Nothing was every solved by violence” and “Peace, Love and Understanding” have been presented as Christian ideas, but if they are presented apart from the Christian idea of human sinfulness, Goldberg clearly shows they lead to folly. Goldberg presents serious issues, but illustrations from “Animal House”, “30 Rock” and “Monty Python” keep a lighter tone and easy page turning. This book probably won’t be used as a college text as Goldberg’s previous work, “Liberal Fascism”, has been. But it’s still insightful and a little more fun.

  • Jeanette
    2019-01-21 21:25

    Some of the chapters are quite good and examples of them are presently pertinent in USA political speech during the current 2016 primaries. The speech that I commonly hear and read every day from both major political parties in the USA. Because the politico in power consistently re-define and interpret what is socially "good" or desired. And use rhetoric that in the end means little but installing a term or category to do what is "best", usually with themselves as exceptions to the results. Altogether these cliches do negate any real dissent or disagreement from the firm and particular ideologue stance of "we know better". Disagreement is interpreted now as being stupidity, ignorance of emotive understanding, fodder for satire, mean & belittling selfishness for the attitude of the dissenter or just other numerous whole worldview "you are with me or against me" social engineering hubris. Hubris that draws a line at what is "best" American. A rhetoric that truly means nothing but a stoppage for any other view towards action.This book, despite the title, does not only detail how liberals cheat. And the focus of the book is more a smattering of issues that are not solidified into connecting category- but it did hold examples. Examples of double face and repeat baloney that I hear coming out of politicians' mouths every day. Sometimes it is as if within a week, someone has redefined a third of the words in Webster's dictionary to convert them into "one worldview" dogma speak.The chapters on the Catholic Church, Violence Never Solves a Thing, Diversity, Separation of Church and State were accurate. Especially on how the Crusades have been taught within schools in the last years. Marketing for service non-withstanding, they were each and every one DEFENSIVE wars. And the word Diversity has become nearly the opposite of what diversity's definition in the dictionary is. The areas of most "diversity" in Chicago, for instance, have almost NO true diversity.My neighborhood has diversity. There is a family from every continent on Earth on my block, some of which are immigrants. Immigrants from two continents that have come to the USA legally and after great sacrifices. This was an interesting read because he nails the politician's speech and connotations. But I could do less with the snark and the hubris of the author himself. It's not over whelming but it is there.But each and every cliche he mentions does resound every day in this current speechifying. Most of them mean nothing in any reality of practical application. And can mean the opposite. The working people who have never had any advantages or pay outs toward social engineering are tired of it. And tired of their efforts being rewarded by chides and arrogance.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-26 17:19

    " ..what is lost in these debates [about global warming] is the crucial distinction between science and scientism. The former is a value-neutral enterprise that seeks, through the scientific method, to understand and manipulate the reality of the physical world. Science is a procedure defined by systematic observation and measurement, followed by experiment, and then by the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. It is not the source of moral truths, but moral truths must be informed by them. 'The truth of our faith,' observed Thomas Aquinas, 'becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels, if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.' Scientism, meanwhile, is the act of seeing in science what is not there. It is an act of faith that elevates, nay makes divine, the authority of science to bolster the aims of its acolytes. The practitioners of scientism presume to tell us that we should live a certain way because science tells us we must. It reduces human existence to material causes and humans to bags of water, meat, and bones powered by electrical impulses. It is the ancient naturalistic fallacy updated with more contemporary lingo. Indeed, as the philosopher Edward Feser notes, scientism is itself a fallacy on its face, because it exempts itself from the scientific method. Scientism is not a testable proposition; it is an assertion of faith. No wonder the scientific socialists, technocrats, progressives, social psychiatrists, and environmentalists insist that science is on their side in the same way the mullahs and zealots proclaim that God is on theirs. They respond to inconvenient questions with the same dismissiveness as Bill Murray in Ghostbusters when he barks, 'Back off man, I’m a scientist.'" | near the end of Chapter 4

  • Naftoli
    2019-01-31 19:24

    Once again another great book by Jonah Goldberg! He is an incisive analyst of, well, anything he cares to write about. This is the 2nd book I've read by him; I find his challenges to the status quo to be cognitively nourishing. One thing, his section on the witch hunts (beginning on page 243) did not sit well with me. He makes the case that the Catholic church is not as guilty as often portrayed. For example, he claims that the Church *only* condemned & killed 45,000 for witchcraft whereas some scholars give a count of a million or millions. Give me a break dude! Who cares if it was 45,000 slaughtered or millions it was the frickin' Catholic church that claims to be Christ's church on earth ... God's voice on earth ... how can anybody take seriously a Church - claiming to be universal - that has willfully exterminated women (under the charge of witchcraft), Jews, Independent thinkers, gays & lesbians, and the list goes on.Being an apologist for the Inquisition does not sit well with me which lowered my rating from 5 stars to 4 stars.

  • Christopher
    2019-02-06 00:09

    In Liberal Fascism, Goldberg threw up a great, rotting cantaloupe of a bad idea, and blasted it into oblivion with his steel baseball bat. The result was hugely satisfying.Tyranny of Clichés is a very different sort of project. Here, Goldberg takes us to the balloon wall at the liberal carnival, and starts throwing darts. Now, this could have worked, but, surprisingly, he doesn't turn out to be a very good shot. Watching him go is like watching Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein spraying darts everywhere.* (And he really does hit passing cats. What is "the slippery slope" doing in a book on liberal political clichés?). Okay, I exaggerate somewhat, but his editor clearly had all the direction and moral fortitude of, say, Mitt Romney.And all this isn't to say there wasn't any good material in here. There really was, and he's just a stitch in terms of his writing style, but the final product remained stubbornly mediocre all the same.*

  • Tim Gordon
    2019-01-29 00:24

    I've mentioned this at least once before, but Jonah Goldberg has become my writing idol. The way he weaves in humor with facts makes me want to read his work, and still would if I didn't agree with his conclusions.As for the overall book, it was good. His writing is the best where he brings in a preponderance of evidence to dispute falsely held believes. For example, his insights about the inquisition, crusades, and witch hunts of centuries ago were fascinating and fun to read. His chapter about the youth, while I agreed overall with what he said, was based more on opinion than fact, and didn't have quite as much punch to it.Overall, I was expecting a painfully political opinion book, but I am happy to say that such wasn't the case.

  • Andrew
    2019-01-29 21:10

    Quite funny in parts, but the writing lets it down. This was a good idea for a book, but not really followed through in the execution. It is a bit like the book version of Cheese Puffs- momentarily pleasurable but with no real substance.

  • E. Scott Harvey
    2019-02-03 17:22

    Excellent book on the meaning of words and the propaganda war waged in America.

  • Douglas Wilson
    2019-02-08 20:10

    I enjoyed this book almost as much as I enjoyed Liberal Fascism. I will be reviewing it in more detail on my blog shortly.

  • Steve
    2019-01-25 19:23

    Top rate on liberalism and direction of out culture.

  • April
    2019-02-05 19:24

    I have to read me some Goldberg.

  • Rodney Harvill
    2019-02-10 21:17

    Although the subtitle of this book targets liberals, the book is really an attack on the use of cliches to end or win an argument with a non-argument. Some of the cliches mentioned in the book are used by liberals and conservatives alike, and Mr. Goldberg in his own witty way is equally critical of both groups for doing this. The cliches discussed in this book include:Criticism of conservatives by liberals for being bound by ideology with the liberals claiming to non-ideologically supporting what works. Goldberg's primary objection is that liberals making this claim are dishonest. They are just as ideological as the conservatives while masquerading as purely motivated by pragmatism. He has no objections to ideology; rather he objects to the hypocrisy of being ideological while condemning a political opponent for being ideological.The No Labels movement that claimed to give up labels such as Democrat or Republican and work together for the good of America. Goldberg sees through this as an attempt by certain groups to deny their own ideological motivations while convincing others to give up their principles and follow the lead of the “non-ideological” group.The desire of some to purge society of dogma while holding their own dogmas. Goldberg recognizes that dogma can aid progress by setting acceptable bounds of discourse. Dogma is not intrinsically bad and potentially harmful; rather bad dogma is intrinsically bad and potentially harmful.Separation of church and state. Goldberg's concern here relates to the nature of church-state separation. “It is beyond absurd to say that your religious faith informs your conception of the cosmos and your place in it, morality and human purpose, but then also to say that your religious faith will have nothing whatsoever to do with your decision-making as an elected official.” Our core beliefs must of necessity drive our decision-making, otherwise they are not core beliefs. In addition, Goldberg objects to inconsistent application of church-state separation. For example, he notes that John Kerry attributed his fight against poverty and his zeal for the environment to his religious convictions while declining to impose an article of his faith with regards to abortion. If restrictions on abortion are an imposition of his faith, how are his anti-poverty and environmental policies not?Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This excerpt out of a letter from Lord Acton to Anglican Bishop Mandell Creighton is often cited out of context by liberals and conservatives alike to oppose the granting of power to political opponents while often being will to grant similar power to political allies. The actual historical context is Lord Acton's opposition to the recently enacted dogma of papal infallibility. He had noted that powerful men were often corrupt and felt it inappropriate to presume a priori that they did no wrong.Diversity makes us stronger. Golberg notes that diversity does not necessarily make for strong performance. Diversity of perspective can help prevent groupthink errors, and diversity of skill sets can make a group stronger. However, replacement of a few good black basketball players on an NBA team with some white guys who can't jump probably won't make the team stronger. Diversity of ethnicity or skin color by itself does not necessarily make for strength.Social Darwinism. Herbert Spencer is widely held to be the founder of Social Darwinism. Goldberg notes that conservatives who believe in small government and the free market are often conflated with Hitler's eugenics and genocide under the banner of Social Darwinism. He failed to find any evidence connecting Spencer to the ideas of Social Darwinism but found that his individualism was more like modern Libertarianism. He also picked apart arguments connecting capitalism to Social Darwinism. In other words, conservatism and capitalism have been unjustly painted as inherently evil.Slippery Slope. Goldberg acknowledges that slippery slope arguments are rooted in the question, “What could go wrong?” It is a question that only fools fail to ask when making a change or starting a course of action. His issue with this cliché is that in neglecting the dynamism of human agency, it wrongly assumes that what can go wrong will go wrong.Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism. Goldberg notes that this cliché, in tethering dissent to patriotism, “transmogrifies the lead of jackassery into the gold of stouthearted rebellion.” In other words, the merit of any dissent depends on what the dissenter is dissenting. To try to prop up a bad cause with an appeal to patriotism is to dishonor true patriotism.Social justice. Goldberg notes that social justice is a buzzword for one's definition of doing good. If I disagree with a person's or movement's view of goodness, obviously, I am an evil person who opposes justice and can be ignored, discriminated against or otherwise marginalized. In his discussion of social justice, Goldberg traces the origin of the term back to the 1840's, when Catholic theologian Luigi Taparelli d'Azeglio coined the expression to distinguish state function (justice) from non-state function (social justice) to avoid the state subsuming all community functions. Since then, its meaning has morphed into an ideology of state interference to produce a “just society.”Government is something we all do together. Goldberg sees this as “simple bait-and-switch marketing. Citizens are told that if they empower politicians and bureaucrats with votes and tax dollars, they'll get something magical in return: meaning.” Instead, to give government expansive power is to enable it to intrude on our very privacy.Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished, imprisoned or executed. Goldberg implicitly recognizes that following this maxim to its logical conclusion implies that nobody ought to be punished, regardless of the severity of his crime or its cost to society, lest an innocent man be punished. The social contract that justice be done to all should never be a suicide pact. The basic principle involved is that society should err on the side of the accused to allow for the possibility of having been wrongly accused. It should never be used to divert the discussion from actual and specific questions of guilt or innocence.Living constitution. Goldberg notes that the current conception of the living constitution essentially allows judges to read their own values into the constitution based on their perceptions. In other words, judges do not interpret the constitution; they replace it. Furthermore, it allows progressive judges to hide behind original intent when convenient and appeal to living constitution theory when necessary to obtain the desired results. The stated objective of living constitution ideology is to allow for the constitution to adapt to changing circumstances, but the founding fathers provided an amendment process to accomplish this end. Goldberg notes that living constitutionalists, in failing to use the amendment process, obtain a monopoly on what the constitution means.Let them eat cake. This cliché, referring to Marie Antoinette, is used to denounce perceived indifference to the plight of the have-nots. Based on a review of history, Goldberg questions whether Marie Antoinette actually said it, noting that it comes from Rousseau's Confessions, written before she moved to France, and from Rousseau's journal notes from before she was even born. Rousseau had quoted a “great princess,” possibly, Marie-Therese of Spain. Even had Marie Antoinette said this, Goldberg notes that she would have been merely telling the people and the bakers to follow the law. Bakers were required to sell their cheapest bread at artificially low prices. If they made too little of the cheap bread and ran out, they had to sell the more expensive bread at the price of cheap bread.Violence never solves anything. Goldberg notes that violence has, in fact, solved many problems. It has ended the killing sprees of madmen, and it even ended such horrors as the global slave trade and the Holocaust. The very enforcement of laws requires state agents, police, to use as much force, violence, as necessary. The main use of this cliché to support pacifism in the face of evil regimes ignores the fact that the violence of those regimes solves problems such as domestic opposition and guarantees the continuation of that violent regime. Sadly, this cliché is primarily used against the use of violence by western nations to reduce the violence of brutal regimes and never seems to be used against the brutality of these regimes, a consummate double standard.Middle class. One problem with this terminology is the wide range of connotations it can have. For example, because even poor people don't want to think of themselves as lower class, they may consider themselves middle class. In this context, politicians who appeal to the middle class may merely be anti-rich. Similarly, politicians who claim to be fighting for the middle class are merely subsidizing the middle class, a form of middle class welfare that we cannot afford economically or morally.Science. Goldberg notes that ideological agendas such as climate change are camouflaged under scientific rhetoric while obviously legitimate scientific findings are often dismissed when inconvenient to the agenda. In addition, people are routinely labeled as anti-science on a selective basis for opposing certain issues but not others. Sadly, science is used as a cudgel by both liberals and conservatives to bludgeon political opponents without addressing their actual concerns.Youth. Goldberg notes that our political culture often considers young people both a special class and a source of insight. Of course, they may be quick to learn new gadgets and technology and can ask questions forcing elders to reexamine what they know or think they know. On the other hand, they sorely lack experience and wisdom, and their passion and energy cannot make up for this deficiency. For example, youth movements fueled the rise of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, hardly good choices.An ounce of prevention. Goldberg notes that while prevention can be worthwhile, it can be taken to extremes such that a pound is spent on prevention when the cure might only cost an ounce. There may be moral and ethical reasons for spending that pound, such as in healthcare, but it is dishonest to promote a potential money pit as a cost-saving measure. Use the honest justification. An additional concern Goldberg has is the potential for healthcare to be placed under the purview of government. Efforts to control cost would inevitably result in rationing and criteria for denial of care that may well violate people's rights. Muslim Martin Luther. Among certain circles, there is a hope for a Muslim Martin Luther to reform the Islamic World. Those advocating this tend to view Martin Luther as “some sort of moderate soft-spoken reformer, a champion of tolerance and open inquiry.” The real Martin Luther was a pious monk who wanted to reform the Church of its worldliness and return it to the true faith. The wars sparked by the Reformation and its aftermath did not pit pluralism, moderation and tolerance against oppression and orthodoxy. They were about different visions of orthodoxy and different visions of God's will. The reformers considered themselves to be true believers and were iconoclasts in the literal sense, destroying religious images they considered corrupt and idolatrous. By modern standards, they would be considered fanatics and zealots. The closest Islamic analogy to the reformers is the Salafists, who seek to use the sword to return Islam to its early days. In making this point, Goldberg notes the contrast between Christianity, a faith propagated by peaceful martyrs, and Islam, a faith spread by the sword.The Crusades. Today, the Crusades have become exceedingly controversial, mostly a result of political correctness combined with a stunning ignorance of the actual historical context of the Crusades. After all, what right did Christians have to try to recapture by holy war territory lost to Muslim holy war. Apparently, what's ours is theirs, and what's theirs is theirs. Goldberg notes that the belief that the Crusades were European imperial aggression is a nonsensical modern innovation.The Inquisition. Like the Crusades, the word “inquisition” has taken on a life of its own and now means little more than that someone is being unfairly railroaded. Goldberg notes a few points about the inquisition. For example, the church took on the role of trying accused witches and alleged heretics to prevent “bloodshed and hysteria by secular authorities and the laypeople of Europe,” in part because it was better equipped to handle such cases and had the authority to prevent mob action. The church was more likely to dismiss cases or apply ecclesiastical penalties such as penance or excommunication; it or tended to avoid the death penalty. Goldberg notes that many accusations leading to a person being examined by an inquisition were driven by personal envy, and it was often up to the church to sort through such conflicts. While the church had some culpability for abuses, it also helped to keep the baser instincts of men in check, something more atheistic regimes such as the French Revolution, Nazism or Communism spectacularly failed to accomplish.Karma. While some westerners in their contempt for the dogmas of Christianity or Judaism have taken up eastern religions, Goldberg notes that Karma essentially boils down to “you reap what you sow,” a prominent feature of Christianity and Judaism. He also notes that eastern religions have their own dogmas; conversion to them is not as much a liberation from dogma as much as a transfer from one dogma to another.Understanding. There is a common utopian misconception that the cure-all for people hating each other is them getting to know and understand each other. Goldberg uses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to refute this fallacy. He notes that the two sides have thousands of years of overlapping history and culture. They understand each other quite well, far better than we westerners understand them. Their understanding of each other seems to fuel their hatred. Consider the hatred between Pakistan and India. They have a common heritage, yet they seem to perpetually live on the precipice of war. The minor differences in people who are otherwise alike tend to form the basis of feelings of strangeness and hostility between them. Goldberg notes that the most effective deterrent to conflict is commerce and economic interdependence, not understanding.Democracy. Here Goldberg takes aim at the fallacy that democracy is all that is needed for good society. He acknowledges that it is a necessary ingredient of a good society, but democracy in its purest form can degenerate into mob rule or tyranny of the majority without protections for the rights of minorities.Unity. It is well known that people working together with a common purpose for common goals can achieve great things, but they can also perform great evil as well. Unity is not nearly as important as what is done with it.My review may read more like a book report than like a review, but I have done so because I believe that some may be put off by the title of the book. Goldberg is not slamming people because of their liberalism; rather, he is critical of bad argumentation rooted in flawed logic and ignorance of historical fact. I think both liberals and conservatives would benefit from reading it.

  • Wendi
    2019-02-05 23:05

    The first two chapters bored me as I am not interested in nor understand Ideology or Pragmatism as systems of thought. However, some clever turns or phrase woke me up:pg 54-55 comparing Friedrich Hayek to John Dewey"Hence, the great irony: Hayek, one of the greatest champion of individual liberty and economic freedom the work has ever known, believed that knowledge was communal. Dewey, the champion of socialism and collectivism, believed that knowledge was individual. Hayek's is a philosophy that treats individuals as the best judges of their own self-interests...Dewey's was the philosophy of a giant, Monty Pythonesque crowd shouting on cue, "We're All Individuals!"pg. 56 more on Dewey:"Part of his trick was being an absolutely terrible writer...his more substantial philosophical prose reads like a bunch of German words were dipped in maple syrup and dragged across a linty floor before being badly translated back into English by someone with a less firm grasp of idiom. Oddly, the denseness of his prose gave the impression of seriousness. Odder still, given that pragmatism seeks to make ideas 'clear,' and yet a lead-lined bucket of mud is more transparent than most of Dewey's work."

  • Stephen
    2019-02-12 17:13

    In 1946, George Orwell published his famous essay “Politics and the English Langugae”, decrying what he saw as sloppy writing driven by lazy thinking. His argument was the English Language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Orwell makes it clear that he has "not been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing thought.” Despite his injunction, we can see that in the intervening seventy years, very few have heeded his advice. Chief among language's abusers have been academics and politicians. Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg's latest book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is a sort of spiritual successor to Orwell. After numerous speaking engagements (and, most likely, watching a lot of cable news), he started to notice a trend. People mouth all sorts of cliches (“I disagree with you, but will defend your right to say it”, “Violence never solved anything”), defending principles they haven't really thought through. These outbursts are a way to avoid arguments by not even making them. People invoke these cliches as placeholders for arguments not won or ideas not fully formed. And these are usually the same folks who denounce a truly thought-out position as “ideological”. Anyone familiar with Goldberg's columns knows he makes his arguments with a combination of serious research and humorous pop culture references. He's a writer who is at home quoting anyone from William F. Buckley, Jr. and Thomas Sowell to Jean-Luc Picard and Ron Burgundy. In the span of two paragraphs in his chapter on ideology, Goldberg references Fredrick Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Steven Bochco's Cop Rock. We're all familiar with parents hiding medicine in applesauce to make it more palatable, well, Goldberg's writing is like hiding your medicine in a hot fudge sundae. Each chapter takes on a hoary cliché and shows why we shouldn't just accept its argument at face value. Quite often, his research shows that the original formulation of the cliché has very little direct correlation with the currently accepted meaning. For example, the phrase “social justice” is used quite often these days; from politicians to charities to civic organizations and labor unions, hell, even the American Nazi Party uses the phrase in their mission statement. A cry for social justice is usually little more than a cry for “goodness”, however goodness is defined by its wielder. The phrase social justice began as a technical term within Catholic theology, coined around 1840 by theologian Luigi Taparelli d'Azeglio as a way to emphasize that much of the important stuff in life lay outside the realm of the State. Human beings are social animals, belonging to more institutions (read: societies) than just the State. These societies maintain a level of autonomy apart from that of the State. The State has a responsibility to not “destroy the inner unity” of these societies, but rather they must respect their freedom and autonomy within the society. In other words, the government cannot trample the structure of social ecosystems that make life worthwhile. It had nothing to do with redistributing wealth (never mind fighting for gender equality). Taparelli thought of and employed social justice in a completely different way than almost everyone does in contemporary society. [138] This is just a brief example of Goldberg's core thesis. The first couple chapters are a fabulous piece of work showing that the high-minded-sounding phrases of pragmatism and “no labels” and the disdain for ideology and dogma are nothing more than nonsense on stilts. After this point, each chapter is a mini-essay, some are better than others. I loved the chapter on dogma, but his attack on the phrase “power corrupts”, was lacking. He started off by showing where the phrase came from, then devolved into attacking the late Senator Ted Kennedy. One great thing about this book is that it's wonderfully browseable. You can pick up and read any chapter at any time without missing a thread of an argument. This also leads into one of my nitpicks: the book is not homogeneous. I would've liked if he tried a little more to bring the book under more than just the broad umbrella of attacking cliches, or at the very least write a concluding chapter to tie it all together. The introduction is wonderful and carefully lays out his thesis, so it would've been nice to have a complementary chapter at the end. Since Goldberg is a conservative author, the majority of cliches he debunks are used by those on the left. He does tackle some cliches the right uses, like "slippery slope" arguments, but not too many.There are a number of chapters that I'd like to reread and internalize their arguments to use against the gauzy nonsense spouted by many. Other chapters, I'll leave alone. If you're a fan of Goldberg, you should get the book. If not, I'll show you which are the best chapters. Side note: Shortly after the book's release, Goldberg did an interview with ReasonTV. He talks about the book, the founding of National Review Online, and some other topics. It's really a good interview that you should watch. Here he is in his own words explaining what the book is about:"Liberals are sure they're in the reality-based community and anyone who disagrees with them either has a bad brain, or in some other way rejects empiricism and science, and they are the only ones working with the building blocks of facts and reason. And I call bullshit on that."

  • David Cooke
    2019-02-17 00:13

    Goldberg’s book is an uneven mess that tries to squeeze a few separate ideas for a book into one at the expense of the whole.The problem with this book is that Goldberg’s agenda forces a few separate ideas for a book into one at the expense of all of it. If he had left the book as an examination of the origin of clichés and how they play a role in tainting how we discuss life and politics, he certainly has enough examples in this book and from the side he chose to ignore that it would have been an interesting, well-rounded read. However, by trying to make it an indictment of “liberals”, it loses its objectivity and consistency. As far how well he makes his case, I think it is really, really poor. His purported motivation is that conservatives are more up front about their ideology, while liberals often ignore the implicit bias of their discussion points. While there are moments where he shows this to be true, too often because of this explicit bias in the book the reader is left with numerous holes in the text or where his own ideological stance is out front and center without being stated explicitly. And all of this is done with the guise of being entertaining, most of which essentially just creates a divide between him and anyone who might question what he’s written.Apart from the general purpose and design of the book, he also doesn’t seem to know who he’s arguing against. The term “liberal” is thrown around with such abandon as to be laughable. He mocks the liberal movement at points for basically being a catch-all term, with everything bad and evil being conservative and liberal being what’s left over, but in the end that’s how he too often treats liberalism, as an all-encompassing movement of the state, with conservatism being everything good and true.For an example of how this mish-mash of ideas and hypocrisy gets thrown around, here’s how the first few chapters go: “Random person A is a liberal. Here is half a sentence he once said. Do you know who also said something like that? Hitler.. See, liberals all secretly want to be like Hitler!” I wish I was making that up, but the Nazi comparisons are rife. And there are so many quotes repeated numerous times in the book – one wonders how his editors let that repetition through…I guess maybe the audience for his last book was a whole lot less discerning.But the real issue with the book is just it doesn’t know what it is trying to be. There are a few good chapters in this book, and there are even sections within terrible chapters that are interesting. But I read the chapter on “Social Darwinism” and thought, “Well, okay, so you’ve shown that the origins of Social Darwinism are not what we thought, and that it might not apply to all of the ‘robber barons’, but what about its use today, which is actually what you are railing against?” There are a number of these historical “origin of phrases” that are interesting but irrelevant to the larger point of his book, but he tries to wedge them in as some all-encompassing picture of misguided liberal clichés. It’s very problematic. He could have easily made an interesting book on “actually, this is where that comes from”, and it would be better suited to his historical curiosity, which is clearly the stronger point of the book.The weak point of the book is his inability to draw on a vast array of sources and perspectives and his own bias-blindness, which is why I think so many people have criticized the book as hypocritical. I understand the reason for his exclusion of conservative clichés, though I think it weakens the book and essentially prevents him from making the case he’s trying to prove, but too often he doesn’t seem to be aware of his own ideological claims, which thus goes very much against his case. The fact that he has an entire chapter on “Science” that rails not against the hard sciences but against the social sciences and then repeatedly uses similar social science findings throughout the book would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. Then there is the fact that basically any analytical work he cites comes from AEI, or Heritage, or Reason. Hell, he even cites National Review blogs for good measure. He offhandedly uses this bullshit repeatedly to slide policy points into the text, even though that has nothing to do with the purported point of the book.It’s really a shame he couldn’t see past his own bias and ego to write a book on the origins of clichés we resort to every day. By trying to make it a polemic against an opposing political view, it leaves open far too many holes for the reader.

  • Curtis Edmonds
    2019-01-31 01:27

    When my children were a little younger than they are now, and I was trying to explain things to them (as one does) my wife would interrupt me and say, "You're using reason and logic on three-year-olds. Forget it." And (as she always is) she was right.This is that kind of book. What Jonah Goldberg is trying to do here (and I use the word trying advisedly is to point out the logical flaws in unreasonable sentiments. This is a really fun thing to do and has never actually hurt anyone. Heinlein did it in STARSHIP TROOPERS when his author-surrogate was confronted by one of the oldest tropes on the list: "My mother said violence never solves anything." His response was to tell the student to tell it to the city fathers of Carthage. So this is a book where Jonah Goldberg does basically the same thing to other hoary old liberal cliches.However, the problem with the book is that these aren't cliches so much as they are shibboleths. A "shibboleth" is a concept that comes from the Bible; an invading force that captured stragglers asked them to pronounce the Hebrew word "shibboleth," and anyone who couldn't pronounce it the right way was on the wrong side. The "cliches" that Goldberg dissects are cliches, yes, but they are mostly shibboleths--they are things that are said by people in a group, mostly because they are in that group.Jonathan Swift said that "Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired." The cliches and shibboleths that Goldberg cites are examples of things that liberals believe because they are liberals, not because they have given the matter an ounce of thought. What Goldberg is doing is using reason and logic on intellectual three-year-olds--people who are reflexively liberal for cultural reasons or due to indoctrination. This is to say that the book is not a lot of fun for conservatives, because it is, but it is amazingly thin gruel (especially compared to the epic feast of LIBERAL FASCISM, Goldberg's other book, which this book cribs from). Just to be argumentative, it would be helpful to have a similar collection of conservative shibbotleths. But a liberal would have to write it, and a liberal would answer each of them by saying, "Shut up, you racist bigoted piece of filth, and go away forever." So it wouldn't be as much fun.

  • Don Incognito
    2019-02-14 22:16

    ReadMy rating:1 of 5 stars[ 2 of 5 stars ]3 of 5 stars4 of 5 stars5 of 5 starsPreviewThe Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideasby Jonah Goldberg4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 · rating details · 756 ratings · 131 reviewsThe bestselling author of Liberal Fascism dismantles the progressive myths that are passed-off as wisdom in our schools, media and politics.According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological.Today, “objective” journ ...moreHardcover, 320 pagesPublished May 1st 2012 by Sentinel (first published January 1st 2012)ISBN1595230866 (ISBN13: 9781595230867)edition languageEnglishother editions (9) The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideasall editions | add a new edition | combine...less detail edit detailsGet a copy: Amazon online stores ▾ LibrarieseditMy ReviewFeb 25, 2015rating 2 of 5 starsbookshelves readedit shelvesstatus Read from February 25 to 28, 2015format Hardcover (edit)notes Things I learned in chapter Social Justice:Father Coughlin was left-wing, not right-wing.The reason the Bill of Rights contains negative rights is because it's meant to list only the rights we were born add a review1 comment1526509Don Incognito I like Jonah Goldberg's National Review articles; but as I began to read this book, I was skeptical, relatively bored, and annoyed as I always have been by Goldberg's frequent pop-culture references. But I now find the book much more interesting than I initially thought. Discourses on the lies, sophistry or pseudoreasoning of the left interest me only so much. But then Goldberg discusses the early history of the left and emphasises the centrality of Pragmatist philosophy and of John Dewey. I deeply appreciate revelations that the truth on some issue is actually the opposite of what I've been taught, and Goldberg offers exactly such a revelation. "[Friedrich] Hayek explained...that knowledge is communal and collective. ... Hayek understood that markets are collective, cooperative endeavors precisely because individuals are empowered to make their own decisions. ... Hence, the great irony: Hayek, one of the greatest champions of individual liberty and economic freedom...believed that knowledge was communal. Dewey, the great champion of socialism and collectivism, believed that knowledge was individual. Hayek's is a philosophy that treats individuals as the best judges of their own self-interests, which in turn yield staggering communal cooperation." This idea fascinates me in its newness and complexity and is frankly much more interesting than complaining about the perfidies of the left. It also shows that reviewers' (including Goodreads reviewers') claims that Goldberg is a pseudo-intellectual are false and just a nuanced way of calling him stupid or ignorant, and I learned from Ann Coulter (whom I don't particularly like but have learned some things from) that that is frequently how leftists and liberals respond to opposing arguments --"you're stupid."

  • Alex
    2019-02-01 00:58

    Jonah Goldberg is the kind of political writer that most people either love or hate -- not just for his politics, but for the way he talks about it. Personally, while I tend to agree with Goldberg's politics, and am consistently impressed and highly entertained by the incisive, sarcastic wit that permeates all of his writing -- I appreciate Jonah Goldberg's writing mostly because he has a fascinating (and usually very provocative) way of exploring the origins of ideas. This is a theme that both Goldberg's first book (Liberal Fascism) and The Tyranny of Clichés share. In Cliches, Goldberg spends each of the book's 24 chapters exploring (and usually debunking many myths surrounding the origins of) many of the most popular clichés people use to end arguments. Specifically, these are the oft-repeated clichés people -- usually liberals, but Goldberg does point out a few areas where conservatives suffer from the same tendencies -- employ when either a) they can't think of a persuasive counter-point during an argument, or b) are too lazy to actually defend why they believe what they believe on the merits. Many of Goldberg's points will sound very familiar to anyone who's read Liberal Fascism, as many of the examples and arguments Goldberg cites -- Herbert Croly, Woodrow Wilson and John Dewey are still among his favorite whipping boys -- are borrowed straight from those pages. However, the chapter-based setup of the book makes Clichés feel disjointed -- a problem compounded by the fact that some chapters come off much stronger than others. For example, Goldberg's chapters about "Ideology," "Pragmatism," "Social Justice," and the "Middle Class" are excellent food for thought, while others like "Power Corrupts," "Slippery Slope," or "Violence Never Solves Anything" seem too self-evidently obvious in their silliness to really merit an entire chapter of explanation. Still others are very interesting explorations of clichés' origins (i.e. "Let Them Eat Cake" and the "Inquisition"/"witch hunt" chapter about the Catholic church), but just don't seem nearly as major or relevant as some of the others. Still, the book is worth reading because it makes you examine where your ideas come from. Once on the lookout, you'll start noticing many of these popping up everywhere. Goldberg's playing to the crowd with this one, and he does spend most of his time attacking liberals. But some of his arguments identify rhetorical traps conservatives fall into frequently as well (and I'm sure a liberal writer would have no trouble adding a few chapters ripping the other side). While Goldberg's arguments probably won't change anyone's political views, I think the book is worth reading because I think it's important to ask yourself certain questions about your own beliefs. Why do you hold certain ideas about politics, history, and society to be true? Where did those ideas come from? Are they really as self-evidently and obviously "right" as you assumed they were?

  • Dale
    2019-02-18 01:12

    A Worthy (and Very Different) Follow-Up to Goldberg's Liberal FascismPublished by Sentinel HC in 2012.Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is one of the most profound political books that I have read in my entire life. It changed my view of politics and made me focus a lot of thinking that I had been doing about the actions of government in our daily lives.So, four years later, I was pleased to hear that Goldberg had written another book. The Tyranny of Cliches is not as serious as Liberal Fascism, but it does a worthy job of going after lazy thinking in our political discourse.The book goes after shorthand, cliched arguments that people use to try to win (or not lose) political arguments. Take the phrase "Violence never solved anything." This is said by any number of people to protest a war or people having guns or things of that nature. I have a personal history of that story. I used to teach in a small high school with a very liberal English teacher who used her class time to pontificate her views on a regular basis. In this case, it was the run-up to the War in Iraq and she put a handmade poster on her door with the question, "What problem has violence ever solved?" So, I made up a series of post-it-note answers and stuck them all over the poster with notes like "Violence by the British Navy stopped the slave trade" and "Violence ended the Holocaust" and the like. The poster came down after one day, but not before the students had seen that there were responses to glib philosophy like hers (she is now retired, thank goodness).The lesson here is not that violence is the answer to all things, but that sometimes violent action is the answer - life is too complicated to let bumper sticker reasoning rule (and the debate over the Iraq War should not have been framed in the idea that Violence is never the answer but, rather, is it the answer here).Another lesson is not to just let someone spout out some well-worn piece of pseudo-wisdom as though it were real wisdom. Sometimes there is "strength in diversity," sometimes there is not (Woe to the NBA team that goes with the strategy of fielding a team with radically diverse heights and skill levels). But, it is clear that just as one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and it equally clear that as we all slide down the Slippery Slope into Social Darwinism, Understanding, Dissent (the highest form of patriotism according to some), Social Justice and the Living Constitution will help us grow into a world with No Labels, Understanding and experience Unity and an end to Dogma.If the above paragraph was a bunch of gibberish feel-good phrases to you, read this book. If the above paragraph made sense to you, please don't, you are hopeless...Read more and see a relevant video clip from the TV show Cheers by clicking here:

  • ryan shiitake
    2019-02-07 19:17

    Jonah Goldberg is a great and scintillating author whose writing style I found to be highly enjoyable - perhaps a bit Mark Twain-esque, with ample bark, bite, and kick to it. The book is chock full of interesting and (to me) original analogies and explanations that frequently elicited a wry smile from me: "Dropping Social Darwinism into a conversation is like flinging around Eastern philosophical mumbo jumbo (zen, tao, chi, etc.): Everyone recognizes the words, nobody really knows what they mean." "Social justice simply *is* goodness, and if you can't see that, man, you're either unintentionally "part of the problem", or well, you're for "badness." [asterisk is italics in book]"When you cut a check for your share of the Department of Sanitation's budget, do you pump your fist in the air afterwards, brimming with a sense of accomplishment?""Feelings rank high in the hierarchy of rhetorical authority, precisely because they cannot be easily refuted with reason. But let us take this feeling seriously.""Listen to liberal politicians talk about young people. It's like they're talking about business consultants from McKinsey. "They get this stuff..." "Young people understand that..." "The youth 'get it'..." And, to be sure, young'ns will always be quicker on the uptake when it comes to deciphering new-fangled whirligigs and thingamajigs."Goldberg admits in the afterword that he was aiming for "middle-to-high brow bathroom reading", with stand alone chapters that were independent of the larger argument.I suppose this style made for great "pick up and read" segments, but I was nonetheless slightly disappointed with the cogency and strength of a few woefully short chapters in particular.However, on the whole, this was a fantastic read and I am now looking forward to reading "Liberal Fascism" in the near future. Goldberg writes with a sense of conviction and a desire for historical accuracy and authority, questioning many of our most basic assumptions that have unwittingly seeped into our everyday conversation and conscience. He pokes fun at liberals, though not as acerbic and caustic as I imagine Anne Coulter or Sean Hannity might be (I have yet to read any of their books, but am familiar with them on the good ol' telly). Goldberg both exposes our lazy thinking and in the process puts forth a basic, albeit somewhat superficial, primer on the tents of conservative politics: that sometimes the extreme is 100 percent correct while the centrist position is 100 percent wrong, that labels are just words, dogma can and often is a source of tremendous progress, science and scientism are often mistaken for one another to great detriment, and so on. "The Tyranny of Cliches" will at the very least make you re-think and possibly re-consider many of our feel-good assumptions. Highly highly recommended.

  • Mick Wright
    2019-01-19 17:16

    Jonah Goldberg's second book is nothing like Liberal Fascism, his debut. While both books are concerned with correcting the historical record, challenging commonly-held assumptions and forcing the political Left to face its own ideological endowment, The Tyranny of Clichés is less focused and more rapidly paced. It also features the breezy humor of Goldberg's syndicated column and online editorials, conspicuously absent from the first.That's not to say Goldberg's follow-up lacks serious punch. But in place of the one hefty knockout blow of Liberal Fascism, the short chapters of the Tyranny of Clichés cover a wide range of subjects and deliver a combination of political jabs and hooks. In that sense, the book is closer in style to The Secret Knowledge by David Mamet, whose approving quote appears on the dust jacket.In the Tyranny of Clichés, Goldberg exposes the ideological wolves lurking beneath a variety of common arguments (or mere catchphrases masquerading as arguments) and denies them unearned access to the moral high ground they're accustomed to roaming, unchallenged."Progressives," Goldberg writes, "hide their ideological agenda within Trojan Horse clichés and smug assertions that they are simply pragmatists, fact finders, and empiricists who are clearheaded slaves to 'what works.'"Goldberg saves his most succinct definition of the title for the chapter on science, more than halfway through the book: "[T]he tyranny of clichés can be understood as the use of allegedly nonideological insights to advance starkly ideological understandings of the world[.]"While some of the clichés Goldberg targets are easily recognized and dispatched with, such as "violence never solved anything," or "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," most of them are less obvious and require deeper examination.If I have any criticism of the Tyranny of Cliches, it's limited to the few times Goldberg resorts to clichés himself (although he admits to it immediately upon writing, "forgetting history can lead to repeating it") and to my annoyance with the cover art. Roman Genn is a talented caricature artist, but the cover illustration does not match the mood of the book. Additionally, it gets the point wrong. If the clichés allow radicals to disguise their true intentions, the marionette should look unassuming and the puppeteer should be the pierced, shrieking, Che Guevara t-shirt wearing, cliché(!) Marxist student.That said, readers will enjoy discovering many interesting pieces of forgotten history while watching Goldberg deconstruct, dismantle and debunk many of the popular arguments and expressions in currency today among progressives and reflexively anti-American radicals.

  • Dan
    2019-02-02 01:10

    In "The Tyranny of Cliches" Jonah Goldberg has written an often breezy but ultimately uneven collection of essays. There are highlights to be sure. Sections on "Youth", "Social Justice", and "The Catholic Church" are all worth a read. (In fact, "Youth" should be required reading for anyone under the age of 30 who has ever been tempted to pump a fist while screaming "YES, WE CAN!" or "TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!") Fans of Goldberg and National Review Online will no doubt find other chapters that are enjoyable. Indeed, every chapter has something to offer.But there are weaknesses. The premise of the book is laid out in the sub-title: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. Is this really a domain held only by liberals? Even Goldberg admits that it isn't. Conservatives cheat, too. Why then base the book on this hook? Well, I guess it had to be based on some idea... But an equally satisfying book with similar essays could have been given the title "The Tyranny of Run-on Sentences" or the "The Tyranny of Misplaced Modifiers", or "Ten Words I Chose at Random Out of the Dictionary". Some chapters seem to meander without any perceivable goal. I read this book twice. I found it interesting and pretty enjoyable the first time. The second reading was more of a slog. The gleeful snarkyness that helped things bounce along the first time through eventually began to wear a bit thin. Fans of Goldberg and National Review should go ahead and check out the book. Even people who dislike NR should check out a few of the essays. But, as with any book, these essays should be taken with a grain of salt (there's a good cliche for vol 2), and nothing should be swallowed whole without some consideration and research.I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program. I was not required to review the book -- which partly explains why it took me so long for me to do so. Maybe Goldberg's next book could be about the tyranny of procrastination. I need that book.

  • Alex
    2019-02-06 22:27

    I liked The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. It is essentially a rant about how people use cliches in order to stop debate (and thinking) about a subject.I'll add one of my own from the 1960s that Jonah Goldberg does not cover: "You can't hug your children with nuclear arms" which was used as a joke line on Family Guy, oddly enough. Apparently Seth MacFarlane was remembering the same thing I was and how that line cut off any rational debate.One he does cover is when some college professor will stand up and say, "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it!" Maybe the professor would take a bullet to have Jonah Goldberg speak at the professor's college, but generally, the college paid to have Jonah speak and usually Jonah gets this line AFTER he has already spoken, so why would the professor say it? It is a throw-away line used by the professor to pat himself on the back. It requires no effort since the deed was already done. Jonah has spoken. And the professor gets to look like a magnanimous and patriotic soul to the audience. Jonah Goldberg does his usual good job as a writer and he does a reasonable job as the narrator of his own book. In fact, I don't think one can get the full value out of the audiobook version without Jonah reading it. You'd lose a lot of the subtext without the author adding it in his own voice. Aside from pointing out the problems with cliches, he delves into the politics of it. In a sense, cliches are bookmarks for the mind, like a jingle. It reminds one of a larger point that most people already know about without delving too deeply into it yet again. When it is used in that fashion it is fine. It is NOT fine when it is used as a technique to divert, obscure and kill thought.I might read this book again because he delves a little into history and I'd like to research some of the references myself.

  • Tom Meyer
    2019-01-31 23:21

    An interesting and enjoyable book, albeit an uneven one.It's central argument -- that liberals deceive themselves into thinking they have no ideology and that everyone would agree with them, if only they shrugged off their ignorance and dogma -- is surprisingly sound. With a few notable exceptions such as populist conservativism's belief that it speaks merely for "Real America," the Right tends to be more open an honest about its own ideology and biases. Goldberg convincingly traces this back to the Progressives and their beliefs that social science and social engineering are just as empirical and physical as real science and engineering.Indeed, whenever he is discussing the Progressives and early fascists, Goldberg is knowledgable and authoritative. On most other matters, however, he is clearly -- and, to be fair, transparently -- borrowing heavily from other modern authors and stops quoting original sources at length, as he does with subjects he's more familiar with. To make matters worse, most of Goldberg's authorities share his basic political outlook, causing something of an ideological echo chamber. Relatedly, the book also suffers from Goldberg's refusal to investigate at (any length, at least) any similar failings by conservatives. His chapter on science, for instance, spends pages castigating liberals for unscientific thinking on a host of subjects including vaccinations and genetics, such that their claims that conservatives are uniquely "anti-science" cannot be taking as anything but hypocrisy. This would be more powerful, however, if Goldberg spent more than two sentences analyzing why so many conservatives deny evolution.Even with these shortcomings, however, Goldberg's thesis remains surprisingly robust and his good humor, scholarship on the Progressive Era, and general good will make this a worthwhile, if somewhat light, read.

  • Kathryn
    2019-02-17 18:58

    I'm a big fan of Jonah Goldberg, so naturally, I liked The Tyranny of Clichés, which is basically an extended G-File. It was a quick, fun read with a lot of interesting information on a variety of topics. Jonah's overall thesis is that clichés, as an expression of ideology, are a convenient shorthand for arguments (two example clichés from opposite sides of the political spectrum: "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" and "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"). He states that on average, conservatives typically admit that they're ideological, while liberals don't (for example, the President has described himself as "pragmatic", but in 2008, he said that he would raise taxes on the rich even if he knew - not thought, but knew - that it would damage the economy). The book, then, is devoted to illustrating how various clichés support liberal ideology but don't necessarily hold up to close examination. (Several clichés, such as the "slippery slope", apply to conservatives as well.)Part of Jonah's point is that ideology isn't necessarily a bad thing. Really, any consistent system of beliefs is an ideology. The idea that people who have no consistent system of beliefs have some sort of superior wisdom isn't well-supported by real-world examples.I enjoyed The Tyranny of Clichés; the only reasons I didn't give it more stars are that I'm not a big fan of nonfiction in general (my ratings on goodreads are explicitly subjective) and that I didn't feel the book hung together as well as it could have. The transitions between topics were generally a bit abrupt, which made the book feel like a collection of similarly-themed columns rather than a single cohesive work.