About the only recent successful title that harkens back to the older intellectual style is Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism," which argues that modern liberalism has much more in common with European fascism than conservatism has ever had. But because it deployed the incendiary f-word, the book was perceived as a mood-of-the-moment populist work, even though I predict that it will have a long shelf life as a serious work. Had Goldberg called the book "Aspects of Illiberal Policymaking: 1914 to the Present," it might have been received differently by its critics. And sold about 200 copies.
There's one little problem with this: The entire thesis of Goldberg's book is a fraud. Goldberg not only deployed the F-word, he built the entire book on a false, historically untenable, claim: that "fascism, properly understood," is not a right-wing phenomenon but a left-wing one.
One of the most persistent components of this is the right's ardent embrace of the fraudulent thesis of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism -- to wit, that "properly understood, fascism is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left." The embrace of this fraud as somehow truthful has produced those teabaggers' signs bearing swastikas (suggesting that health-care reform is fascist) and signs showing Barack Obama as Hitler and, moreover, the claims that Obama is marching the nation down the road to fascism.
What's most noteworthy, perhaps, is that Goldberg's thesis is being used to attack anyone who points out the frequently violent and intimidating behavior of these extremists. It's not the right-wing protesters carrying open weapons, Obama=Hitler signs, and openly disrupting the discussion of health-care reform at town-hall sessions who are behaving like Brownshirts, they insist -- it's the liberals who show enough nerve to stand up to them!