Why Jonah Goldberg and Milo Yiannopoulos Find Themselves at Odds

Today, Milo Yiannopoulos and Jonah Goldberg exchanged several antagonistic tweets today. You may think this is simply a Trump vs. Anti-Trump slap fight, but in reality, it exposes a powerful lesson in rhetoric and the reasons behind the ongoing power shift on the right. Below is one example of one of the exchanges.

Before we get into current events, it is important to look at the pasts of both men.

I became aware of Jonah Goldberg, like many others, when his book Liberal Fascism was released while I was in college. It was not only a good book with a well-evidenced thesis and an interesting subject, it succeeded massively well on rhetorical levels.

The big reason was the cover.


Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 Book, Liberal Fascism

The smiley-face with a crudely drawn Hitler-mustache was simply incredible imagery. The juxtaposition not only perfectly described the thesis of the book in an image, it was easily understandable and provocative. The title communicated the exact same point in words.

This caused what can only be described as a ruckus on the left. It managed to pierce its way into the mainstream in the midst of Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s primary battle. It forced the left to defend ground in print, a rarity among books by conservative pundits. I’m sure it also did wonders for Goldberg’s fame and income.

Needless to say, books and media like Liberal Fascism are exactly what the right should have been producing during the Obama years: unapologetic attacks in enemy territory .

Instead the conservative movement has produced a string of products like Goldberg’s second book, The Tyranny of Cliches. Lacking any visual anchor and reserving the book’s target for the subtitle, The Tyranny of Cliches was far from the rhetorical success it’s predecessor was. This led to the book having less of a cultural impact as the first.

This isn’t because of the content of the book; both are enjoyable reads, and both are informative. It is because of the underlying rhetorical devices in each. Both attacked the left, and both made salient points.

However, Liberal Fascism attacked left-wing identity in its very title and cover. It was an attack that demanded rebuttal by the left. In effect, it benefited from the forces which people like Milo Yiannopoulos and, dare I say it, Donald Trump, have explicitly made use of for their advantage.

If The Tyranny of Cliches had been re-titled, and I’m just spit-balling here, “The Left’s Biggest Lies” with a cartoon of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama dressed as Pinocchio, it might have been more of a success.

Milo Yiannopoulos, on the other hand, has risen to prominence (eclipsing Goldberg’s Twitter follower count this spring) by harnessing these very same forces to his benefit. Milo first came to my attention when he dropped the first supportive piece on GamerGate from any well-known news outlet.

The political genius of this was entirely lost on the rest of the right. Becoming the champion of gamers against the worst elements of the left, he forced people on the left to defend their most despicable elements, stay silent, or join him. It forced the left to fight on its own turf.

He’s done the same thing with the zaniness on college campuses. With his speaking tour, Milo has repeatedly stirred controversy. This has led to forcing people on the left to distance itself from the worst of the craziness in a way no other conservative has done.

Milo has reaped huge dividends from this strategy, both as a proponent for the right, and personally.

So, why is there conflict?

The simple answer is that Jonah and Milo are avatars for each side of the generational schism on the right. While not an old man himself, Jonah is their representative. The old men on the right seek to hold the line in a conflict of attrition with the left over disputed ground. The young men seek to fight on what the left thought was safe turf.

This brings us to the specific conflict today.

There are two groups of people on the right Jonah, and the rest of the old men revile. The first are agitators who knowingly say extreme things aimed to upset the old men. They are getting trolled, and are looking bad as a result. The whole point of the activity is to make the old men angry, and in their anger for them to act in a way that turns people off from them. It’s a classical rhetorical move explained by Aristotle. They seek to inspire anger in their targets and succeed. The other group are simply people who take a more extreme right-wing view than is considered socially acceptable.

The old men and Jonah Goldberg hate these people more than they hate the left, as they seek a monopoly of right wing though, and Milo Yiannopoulos has no interest in condemning them. He even delivers apologia for them.

Now the apologia may help elevate himself personally, stoking controversy around himself. But there are tactical reasons for doing so as well. The first is, working to delegitimize opponents to your right, just makes the center of opinion move left. People will always succumb to the fallacy of moderation and split the difference between extremes. That means having a healthy extreme is a good thing tactically. Secondly, they act as shock troops, forcing the left to defend assumptions and positions it isn’t used to defending. This makes it easier to gain victories for the right as a whole.

All-in-all it is a case of friction between the successful and growing young right and the old and stagflating old men of the right. As always, it will be interesting to see what’s next.

16 thoughts on “Why Jonah Goldberg and Milo Yiannopoulos Find Themselves at Odds”

  1. Interestingly, Goldberg was not the guy to create the title or the cover. He spoke about that on a few occasions. He wanted a different title originally and the publishers insisted on this one. The same thing with the book jacket.

    Goldberg is a good example of what went wrong with Conservative Inc. He started out working for Ben Wattenberg. He then jumped on the NR boat to develop their on-line operation. In other words, conservative politics was a career option. His book was mostly about turning himself into a big foot pundit, rather than an on-line jokster. Again, it was a career opportunity. The book got him a perch at AEI and a gig at Fox.

    What these guys do is they tick the boxes on the conservative checklist by repeating the corresponding positions approved by Conservative Inc. Then they build a character around it they can play on TV and on-line. If Marxism paid better, they would be funny, witty Marxists. It’s why they hang out with their liberal counterparts. They are all in the same business. Some are jugglers, while others are comics, but it is still a show.

  2. Decent article. I do not believe that (((Goldberg))) represents “the right” though. He represents what used to be the most powerful faction in it, the Neocons. They have been slowly losing power since Bush left office and now they are in a fight for their collective political lives. They are fighting back using the same tools that the left used to defeat them. The problem is they aren’t the left, and their enemies are not them.

  3. I remember when Jonah Goldberg was the court jester of the Right. But he put his hat on a shelf when he wrote Liberal Fascism (wishing to be taken seriously), and Milo is wearing it now.

    People like Jonah hate Trump because he is offensive. He offends.
    People like Milo love Trump because he is offensive. He’s on offense.

    1. Was that a “drive by”? Racist? Explain and give some examples of that and the hyperbolic antiSemitic comment, please. I’m prepared to listen and respond. Unless you’re NOT WHITE AND CHRISTIAN of course.

  4. Historical change, change that endures, is wrought by anarchy. Timing and extent of said anarchy is key. Normal isn’t. Milo, self effacing as he touts himself, becomes too much for Goldberg. Considering his heritage, he has a need to be inclusive, accepting ESPECIALLY to gay activists. His erudition has allowed him to keep a safe distance from actually engaging in repartee with a “Gay”. Twitter has leveled the GOP, in part due to Milo exposing the ineffective arguments against Trump, moreover, the OBVIOUS disdain for us, the mindless, low information voters who accept his faults and foibles. I am mulling over whether Goldberg will continue to devolve as though insidiously drawn to the drain, or will pull out of his death spiral. Thank you.

  5. “The old men and Jonah Goldberg hate these people more than they hate the left, as they seek a monopoly of right wing thought”

    That, or they revile them for their racism and anti-semitism.

  6. What is entirely missing from the article is Milo’s homosexuality. His lifestyle is entirely anti-conservative. Yet, he is given a free pass by those on the hard right because he serves as a useful mouthpiece. He can denounce all he wants about the “gay agenda”, but the fact is he entirely benefits from it. So much for principles these days, regardless of ideology.

    1. you’re just like the worst of the left. all gays must think alike and be part of the same voting block. it’s no more true of gays than blacks. they can both be conservatives about most things.

      Does he benefit from some of the past work of the gay lobby? yes. but, i’d be willing to bet that you’ve benefited from past work by other lobbies, whether you believed in it or not. that’s not a fair argument.

  7. What is entirely missing from the article is Milo’s homosexuality. His lifestyle is entirely anti-conservative. Yet, he is given a free pass by those on the hard right because he serves as a useful mouthpiece. He can denounce all he wants about the “gay agenda”, but the fact is he entirely benefits from it. So much for principles, regardless of ideology.

  8. ‘Christian’ was co-opted by Judeos. ‘Conservative’ was co-opted by Trotsky-ites.
    What Goldberg conserves is bowing down to Khazar rulership. What Milo represents is a vocal ‘NO! You do not make the rules.’

    We each struggle with laws of life. The Judeos do NOT rule. Goldberg, Sanders, Clinton, even Bush… they push rule by Khazars.

    NO to the fables from these fake ‘learned’ elders.
    Milo and same sex attraction is Milo’s issue … not the Learned Elders.

  9. What is entirely missing from this article is Goldberg’s Jewishness. And the fact that his real loyalties lay entirely with the Zionist cuckoos of the Republican Party that suffocated American Conservitism by making every issue a *what’s in it for Israel* issue.

    Goldberg can denounce all he wants about “Liberal Fascism” but the fact is, he and his spiritual homeland, have benefited from infiltrating, corrupting and now destroying the only political force capable of fighting against it.

    Time to get back to genuine ‘America First’ Republicanism.

    Kissinger and Goldberg are dead, long live Trump and Milo.

  10. Jonah is cuck. Always was, always will be. He played on the wrong side of the tracks, got some cred with his screed on liberalism, as if he could grab a hold of that wriggly beast, then went back to his kind. Milo? He is a smart guy who has tied his wagon, for want of a better term, to the Alt-right. Don’t forget. There is a reason he prefaces all his appearances with Bette Midler style bragadocchio. He is first and formost a homosexual. Good on him. If the rubes have found a new and exciting spokesthingy then great. But it doesn’t stop smelling of diversity or inclusiveness or whatever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *