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Is Jonah Goldberg Turning Into a Libertarian? It Sure Sounds Like It.

The Suicide of the West author explains his anti-Trumpism, evolution on culture-war issues, and growing attraction to libertarianism.

In his new book, Suicide of the West, National Review's Jonah Goldberg talks about what he calls "the Miracle"—the immense and ongoing increase in human wealth, health, freedom, and longevity ushered in by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. At turns sounding like Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, and economist Deirdre McCloskey, Goldberg writes, "In a free market, money corrodes caste and class and lubricates social interaction….Capitalism is the most cooperative system ever created for the peaceful improvement of peoples' lives. It has only a single fatal flaw: It doesn't feel like it."

As his book's title suggests, Goldberg isn't worried the world is running out of resources. He's troubled by our unwillingness to defend, support, and improve customs, laws, and institutions that he believes are crucial to human flourishing.

"Decline is a choice," he writes, not a foregone conclusion. While he lays most of the blame for our current problems on a Romantic left emanating from Rousseau, he doesn't stint on the responsibility of his own tribe of conservative fearmongers and reactionaries.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Reason, Goldberg talks about his new book, his persistent opposition to Trump, how his thinking has evolved on a number of culture-war issues, and why he can't just admit once and for all that he's becoming a libertarian.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Alexis Garcia and Austin Bragg.

"Firefly" by Podington Bear is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) Source: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/Background/Firefly Artist: http://www.podingtonbear.com/

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  • Jerryskids||

    Sounds like the sort of book I'll be putting on my reading list! For 1995.

  • MSimon||

    I had a discussion with Jonah 15 or 20 years ago about the Drug War.

    He said he was opposed to it but didn't intend to make an issue of it.

    A regular stand up guy.

  • Nardz||

    TDS=libertarian
    Got it.
    When's the article about Hillary admitting she's libertarian coming out?

  • ||

    Yeah, coz anyone criticising Trump must just luv Hillary, right?

  • Fancylad||

    You can hate Trump, but if you think Hillary was the lesser of two evils, like "conservative" NeverTrumpers George Will and Max Boot do, TDS is the right diagnosis.
    Goldberg is definitely showing the symptoms.

  • Nuwanda||

    It's not that so much as there's a sense that the vitriol hurled at Trump by some libertarians would not be near as pointed if Hillary had been elected.

    And insofar as that's true, libs like the two in this video are suffering from the same syndrome they appear to be critiquing; that being that Trump is so gauche, so distasteful, well, he's just not one of us, we fab intellectuals who pay lip service to certain ideals but wink-wink are just as effete and snobbish as those that voted for Hillary and Bernie. They'd have been happier had Hillary won. At least she was something that didn't offend their comfy sensibilities.

    What they fail to get, in any substantive way, is that Trumpism, no matter how crude, malformed and scattershot it may be, is a revolt against the decline of our civilisation. Those supporting him, and he himself, may not be able to put it into eloquent expression, but they're expressing it nevertheless.

  • Pat_||

    just look at the terminology used by the authors of this piece. The left's is 'romanticism" while the rights problem is "reactionary ""fear mongering"

    This Reason article is not a reasonable reflection of Golberg's views.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Never, because the L overlap with her is probably

  • Iheartskeet||

    less than 5% versus at least greater than 50% with Goldberg.

  • Jerryskids||

    You tried using the "less than" character, didn't you? < > < > < > < >

  • Iheartskeet||

    Yep. is there some trick to that ?

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    Looks like all the proponents of dying ideologies are banding together for a last stand. Let's see if anyone notices.

  • marshaul||

    Ideologies don't die, and only someone desperately insecure in theirs would claim otherwise.

    Your oh-so-edgy handle also reeks of desperation.

    And, your ideology isn't ascendant anyway. Mark my words.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I feel like your description does the book a disservice. But also you're quietly admitting that conservative and libertarian often have some overlap.

  • John||

    Goldberg is a drug warrior social conservative and a full on Neocon when it comes to foreign Policy. Whatever you think of him he is not a libertarian by any reasonable definition. I guess hating Teump is all it takes these days.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Is he a drug warrior? National Review has been soft on pot for decades.

  • John||

    He is. He is fairly moderate on pot but a total drug warrior on all other drugs.

  • TeamsterX||

    No offense, but when Bath Salts makes you try to eat a man's face,,,it should be illegal...and trust me I like me some acid.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yeah, somewhere between caffeine and Thionite, (The fictional one dose is permanently addictive drug.) any sensible society draws a line.

    I've openly said that as far as drug users who only hurt themselves, I don't care if they drill holes in their heads and pour in battery acid, it's purely their own business. But there are things out there which don't limit their harm to the user, because they so destroy your sense of self control.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I agree that he's not a libertarian, but "neocon" actually has an historical meaning, and Goldberg is not, and never could be, a neocon.

    "Neo", new conservatives, were liberals who abandoned the Democratic party during the Cold war over its disturbing dalliances with communism. In order to be a "neo" con, you have to have been something other than a conservative to begin with.

    Now, a great many of the neo-conservatives were Jews, because the USSR was very anti-Jewish. So the left started using "neo-con" as a euphemism for "Jewish conservative", because at the time they were still avoiding being openly anti-Semitic.

    That's the only sense in which Goldberg is a "neo-con"; He's never been anything but a conservative.

  • MarkLastname||

    Hating Trump is the most illibertarian thing you can do. Free trade, balanced budgets, and devolution are totally globalist communist conspiracies.

    It's amusing you criticize Goldberg for being a 'drug warrior' when he's more libertarian on drug policy than your messiah in the oval office.

  • damikesc||

    The only thing that has changed with Goldberg is opposition to Trump. Otherwise, he's espousing nothing he hasn't been doing so for years.

  • damikesc||

    And, mind you, I liked Liberal Fascism a lot.

  • John||

    Goldberg's problem is that he never matured after he was about 20 years old. He is shallow and naive as much as anything. His objections to Trump are always some variation of "How Dare He!!" I think his time has passed in many ways.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Whatever you may think of what the Trump administration is doing, Trump on a personal level is by nearly any objective measure a bastard of immense proportions.

  • damikesc||

    He is. All Presidents tend to be.

  • ThomasD||

    Yep. He's an obnoxious blowhard of the first order.

    What amazes me is how so many 'deep thinkers' of the political world, who ostensibly should know better, are freely displaying a rather juvenile need to like the politicians who represent them.

    In so many ways Trump truly is the anti-Obama.

  • Fancylad||

    Obama said stupid shit constantly. He relied on the obeisance of the establishment press to smother or spin things that reflected poorly on him.

  • ThomasD||

    Indeed. Whereas, with Trump, they amplify his boorishness, while ignoring or downplaying any actual accomplishment.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "Trump on a personal level is by nearly any objective measure a bastard of immense proportions."

    How so? Care to elaborate in a bigly way?

  • fdog50||

    The most obvious is his dishonesty and pettiness. Why, when you are president, do you persist in criticism of newscasters, entertainers or other politicians that consists of calling them "low IQ? Why put out those idiotic tweets about the size of the crowd at the inaugural, and try to claim that more people were there than actually were? And he still is well known for having faked being his own press agent and for the whole stupid birther controversy. I don't mind people saying he has followed some good policies as president, but I find it annoying when others (even evangelicals and religious figures) say that he is an honest and moral person. Kevin D. Williamson used a good phrase to describe Trump: a serial bankrupt who has lied to two-thirds of the women he has married.

  • Fancylad||

    I find it annoying when others (even evangelicals and religious figures) say that he is an honest and moral person
    Citation needed.

    I'm pretty sure evangelicals and religious figures don't hate Trump because they feel he doesn't hate them and actively wish them harm, like the DNC, progressives and establishment liberals do. I don't think any of them actually believe he's moral by their definition.

  • fdog50||

    In a June 22, 2016 post on Christianity Today, Jerry Falwell states that Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment. There was also a book reviewed in Weekly Standard in February of 2018 entitled "The Faith of Donald Trump" whichries to make the case of Trump as a religious person.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    He has engaged in some rather conspicuous acts of charity. Your personal life can be a real mess, and you can still be helping others.

  • JoeBlow123||

    He paid and fucked a pornstar while his wife was pregnant with his child. The guy is an amoral to the core.

  • Pat_||

    So did Kennedy, so almost certainly did bill Clinton. Eisenhower had someone on staff to fck. they all were arguable worse as they all spent government resources to do so.

    They are ALL immoral to the core. it is your assertion that Trump is somehow different and worse that is absurd, ignorant, and blindly partisan .

    As far as Obama, he probably did not, he just lied on monumental levels (2013 super patriot based on his buddies outright perjury), on guns supposed not supporting confiscation while over and over commending the 'Australian model (ie mass confiscation); "you can keep your doctor,' the administrations secret illegal use of US banks to defeat Congress's Iranian sanctions that makes iran contral pale, etc etc,

  • ||

    I find it astonishingly retarded they somehow think Trump is *more* immoral than all the other immoral shit heads that preceded him. Obama included.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I think the key distinction here is between being a bastard, and being tasteless. Pretty much all politicians are ruthless bastards, or they don't make it very far. Trump is less of a ruthless bastard than most.

    But he's uncultured, and that makes it unforgivable, apparently.

  • Mark22||

    The most obvious is his dishonesty and pettiness. Why, when you are president, do you persist in criticism of newscasters, entertainers or other politicians that consists of calling them "low IQ?

    Politics is show biz. Is there any evidence that Trump is "petty" in his own dealings? He seems to have tolerated dissent and diversity within his ranks much more than Obama or the Clintons.

    You annoy the Clintons and your career is over. Hillary seems to be a vindictive angry b*tch with no moral reins on her anger.

    You annoy Trump and he won't invite you to the next golf tournament; he'll still even do business with you because business is business.

  • Finchster||

    You need examples of his pettiness? Does trolling his own AG on Twitter for a year and a half count?

  • Mark22||

    He's a functioning psychopath, like all presidents. It's a requirement: sensible people don't want that job. Or, in other words...

    "He's a greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little troll, and I wouldn't turn my back on him for a second. But once you accept that, you'll find they he be a lot of fun."

  • Mark22||

    Goldberg's problem is that he never matured after he was about 20 years old.

    You mean like 90% of the Democratic leadership? Clinton, Waters, Sanders, Warren, Booker, etc. are all behaving like giddy college kids who just discovered the marvels of Marxism and critical theory.

    Give Goldberg credit that he started off much more sensibly.

  • MarkLastname||

    You really love that guy, don't you. Have you actually read any of Goldberg's columns in the past year?
    I suppose your definition of "mature" is: abandon all your principles the moment your party nominates someone who doesn't have any for president.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I wouldn't mind if Goldberg had been in the habit of routinely objecting to bad nominees, if he'd said, "To Hell with Dole, I'm voting 3rd party!", or "McCain is just too much of an asshole to vote for, guess I'm voting Democratic this year."

    But as far as I can recall, he's always been part of the "Suck it up, and vote for the party's nominee!" chorus.

    And as soon as the nominee was somebody the party establishment didn't like, that went out the window.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I was promised full text.

  • Episteme||

    Suicide of the Text

  • obijuan||

    Jonah on the Iraq War
    http://bit.ly/2tZFXYl

    "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

  • John||

    But remember it is Trump who is crude and stupid.

  • MarkLastname||

    Who are you kidding, if he decided tomorrow to re-invade Iraq you'd be calling it a genius move. Hell, if he decided to invade Armenia you'd be praising it. Where did you stand on the Bush administration in 2002? I'll bet if we looked up your digital record you shitting all over the anti-war people back then.

  • JoeBlow123||

    That is an embarrassing ass article. The tenor is of a 17 year old in full on masturbatory self satisfaction and I wish this fat fuck Goldberg would have been sent to Baghdad with body armor and an M-4 to see firsthand what it looks like to throw a small country against a wall just for kicks. Yeah fuck this guy.

    Reason number 2789 why pundits are not worth the price of the paper they are printed on.

  • Henry Baker||

    "Every ten years or so..."

    That's where we're going wrong. We should do it EVERY year. The world outside the U. S. is a collection of cesspools, each of which should get a good pump-out periodically.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Goldberg struggles for relevancy.

  • ThomasD||

    Lotta that going around these days.

    Like rats after the ship sinks, trying to climb up on anything that floats.

  • Benitacanova||

    I thought he was turning into a douchebag. Wait, he was already a doucebag, so maybe a scumbag.

    Didn't he steal that title from James Burnham?

  • swampwiz||

    I see; a Jew is writing about the destruction of Western Civilization. Hmm ...

  • MSimon||

    Jesus never wrote anything.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Jesus I busy traveling through time and saving the world.

  • ThomasD||

    Jesus does not travel through time, Jesus transcends time.

    I don't mind people poking fun at religions, but they should at least accurately represent them while doing so.

  • jcp370||

    No.

  • Henry Baker||

    Classic bullshit from an academic lounge lizard "intellectual" who has never shoveled a spadeful of dirt in his life.

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