The Best Quotes From Jonah Goldberg’s “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas”


From The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty on intelligent men. — George Orwell, P.1

After an eighteen-month campaign, all of the informed, conscious, and ideologically consistent voters have already made up their minds. All that’s left are the undecided centrists, who actually think they have the more sophisticated and serious position; their indecision comes, actually, by virtue of the fact they’ve either not paid much attention until way too late in the game, or more simply, they’re a**holes who think they must be at the center of the universe. — P.8

Anyway, it’s simply not true that medieval Christianity taught that the world was flat…When Galileo’s heretical Starry Messenger was released, the Vatican threw a huge book party for him…Neither Galileo nor Bruno nor any scientists were punished for what they believed about astronomy. — P.10-11

Once the government starts writing checks to people, the people getting the checks want to keep getting checks (particularly given that the majority of them get more from the government than they ever pay in). This has been the aim of liberalism since at least the New Deal, to turn Americans into clients of the state. — P.24

If we really want to improve life expectancy for black men, we could put them all in jail, because their life expectancy in prison is higher than it is outside of it (which, for the record, is just a monumentally depressing statistic). — P.30

This, as Hannah Arendt once observed, was one of the great innovations of the Communists: the ability to dispute any fact by questioning to motives of the presenter. In the 1950s this argument was given even more scientific luster, as Marxist social scientists claimed that the conservative (i.e., fascist) mind wasn’t merely a product of class consciousness but was in fact a diagnosable psychological disorder. — P.46

Hayek, more than anyone else, illuminated the knowledge problem. Simply put: No one person can ever know enough. Planners who think they can process all of the date from disparate sources across vast expanses of geography any culture are, quite simply, educated fools. — P.54

(Michael Bloomberg), like many self-hating liberals, is convinced that there are millions upon millions of “socially liberal fiscal conservatives” out there in America for him to scoop up. The only problem is, they don’t exist. They’re the “jackalopes of American politics,” in the words of my friend Kate O’Beirne. The press keeps telling us they exist out there in huge numbers, but when you go looking for them, they refuse to emerge from the bushes. In fairness, a great many people do describe themselves as social liberals but fiscal conservatives, but social scientists identify these people by a pithier label: Democrats. And yet we’re constantly told that if the Republicans could just give up their labels and their ideological obstreperousness, the jackalopes will rush to the GOP’s big tent. The truth is that a handful of rich lawyers in Priuses (or is it Prii?) will drive up to the front of the tent along with a few hundred Andrew Sullivan knockoffs, and forty million social and economic conservatives will head for the exits. — P.65

Hitler was obsessed with the need to throw off the dogmas of Christianity’s slave morality. “Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity,” Hitler insisted in 1941. “And that’s why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline.” — P.67

The War on Poverty was less successful at reducing the poverty rate than ignoring it was. In 1966 the poverty rate was roughly 19 percent. In 1974, after the antipoverty programs fully institutionalized, the poverty rate was 11.2%. Thirty years later, in 2004, when antipoverty spending was enormously greater, the poverty rate was 12.7 percent. And as of this writing, under Barack Obama it is over 15 percent… — P.70

The Founders barred the establishment of religion by the federal government — in no small part because they remembered the repression of minority sects under the state church of England. But they saw no problem with the various American states establishing their own official churches. And they certainly had no objection to official displays of religiosity. One of the first acts by the new Congress was to hire a chaplain. Until well into the nineteenth century, the largest weekly church service in the United States took place in the U.S. Capitol building. At the request of President Jefferson, music was provided at federal expense by the United States Marine Band. — P.79

Indeed, as libertarians are fond of pointing out, pretty much all laws comes with the implicit threat of violence. Don’t believe me? Refuse to obey even the most picayune law and eventually a man in uniform with a gun on his hip is going to come talk to you about it. — P.81

One of the more fascinating counterintuitive facts of life is that the introduction of dumb people can make a group of smart people collectively smarter. Bluntly stated, some stupid people are too stupid to automatically defer to smart people. — P.94

Moreover, the diversity experiment on college campuses does not work as advertised. When minority students are admitted above their abilities they almost always perform poorly academically, which is one reason why drop-out rates for minorities are so high. — P.97

Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist at Harvard, famously (infamously, for some) found that as communities become more ethically diverse they in fact become socially frayed. In a survey that included interviews with over thirty thousand people, Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. — P.98

While hundreds of millions have been killed by the faithful application of Karl Marx’s ideas, Marx still enjoys a deep reservoir of respect and an army of apologists. And, perhaps even more shocking, Darwin is still found utterly blameless on that score, even though he was in fact the inspiration for a good deal of Marx’s work. — P.105

Remember, progressives saw eugenics as compassionate policy making, not punishment. Conservatives and classical liberals were evil because they didn’t care enough about the poor to sterilize them for their own good. — P.106

As John O’Sullivan once noted, tongue firmly in cheek, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Treason is the highest form of dissent. Therefore treason is the highest form of patriotism.” — P.124

Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is. — P.127

Even the American Nazi Party, not wanting to be left out of all the fun, identifies “social justice for White Working Class people throughout our land” as one of their two main tenets. All these organizations (and by no means only these) claim that social justice sits at the center of their mission, and yet rarely does any organization go on to explain what they mean by it, other than connoting some sort of implied goodness. — P.133

We have a system of government that depends on the consent of the majority of citizens. And even then, majorities do not always win the day — nor should they. We have a Bill of Rights and a Supreme Court precisely so that the majority cannot always win. — P.148

The average person on Medicare gets three times more out of it than they paid in. The rest is carried by other taxpayers, living and unborn. Sixty percent of households get more from the U.S. government than they pay into it. — P.149

(Marvin Wolfgang) found that just under 7 percent of the boys in Philadelphia committed more than half of all the crimes of that cohort. — P.155

But the most active criminals — the top 10 percent — average more than 230 (burglaries) per year. That’s one crime every thirty-eight hours. — P.155

Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake!” Nor was she indifferent to the plight of the poor. — P.172

According to Money magazine, “After adjusting for financial aid, the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982….Normal supply and demand can’t begin to explain cost increases of this magnitude. — P.174

Michael Moore, self-proclaimed champion of the working man and best friend to organized labor, is a notoriously unpleasant boss who treats his staff like peasants. He describes his office as a “nonstop rock-‘n-roll party for the proletariat,” but went to great lengths to keep his employees from unionizing. When they did join the Writers’ Guild, staffers had to routinely implore their union reps to force Moore to pay what he owed. “If you had…a reunion of people for whom working for Michael was the least pleasant professional experience of their lives,” noted a former Moore producer, “it might be necessary to rent a large stadium.” — P.177

“Those who abjure’ violence,” George Orwell wrote in 145, “can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.” This insight, hardly original to Orwell, is the fundamental, irrefutable fact of all civilizations at any time in history. — P.181

Regardless, it is true that might doesn’t make right. But might doesn’t make wrong, either. — P.184

Gandhi’s first hunger strike was devoted to protesting a British effort to grant the Untouchables — India’s lowest and most oppressed caste — greater rights and freedoms, including providing them with access to a form of affirmative action. — P.187

Your life is extremely valuable to you and to your loved ones, but for Uncle Sam’s bean counters, you hit the point of diminishing returns the moment you stop paying taxes and start collecting taxpayer subsidies. You want to live longer because you want to live longer. And so for you an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But the math is reversed for the government… — P.230

Christianity is not analogous to Islam in many fundamental theological respects. Christianity is not a religion of the sword, even if it has been misunderstood as such at times. Christianity began as a faith of peaceful martyrs who died for love. Islam began as a faith of invading soldiers who died for land. That does not mean that Islam has no peaceful traditions, or that Christianity has always lived up to its ideals, but at a theological level these are hugely important distinctions. — P.238

Joseph McCarthy was a bully and an often irresponsible loudmouth. But he was right about a very important point: There were communists in our midst working to undermine America. Maybe not as many as McCarthy insinuated. But certainly more than those on the Left who say it was all a witch hunt, will admit. — P.243

As a rule, the Church did not burn witches or heretics, contrary to popular misconception. That’s something the mobs of their lords did. — P.246

Consider that the deaths from the Inquisition in the thirteenth century amounted to something like three per year. Between 1939 and 1945 the virulently anti-Catholic Nazis averaged that many every ninety seconds. — P.253

New Agers snort and guffaw at traditional religion while at the same time worshipping crystals and blathering on about how they were scullery maids in the fourteenth century. — P.259

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