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The Democrats’ Great Betrayal

An unprecedented treachery for which the world is paying a dear price.

by David Horowitz

Yesterday Regnery published The Great Betrayal, a book I have written to mark a watershed moment not only in the War on Terror, which is really a war against the Islamic Jihad, but a watershed moment in American history. The events and controversies chronicled in The Great Betrayal describe an unprecedented defection by a major political party from an American war in progress, and a five- year effort by that party to sabotage the war and undermine America’s troops in the field.

The Democrats’ campaign against the war in Iraq was very different from their opposition to the war in Vietnam, which came after American troops had been in the field for more than a decade and both parties had agreed on a withdrawal. In contrast, the watershed moment in Iraq came in June 2003, when the war was little more than three months old and American troops were facing a ferocious resistance from terrorist forces. In that month the Democratic Party ran a national TV ad accusing Bush of lying about Saddam’s determination to build weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

The focus of the Democrats’ attack was sixteen words in Bush’s State of the Union Address in which he referred to a British report that Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy yellow cake uranium in Niger. The statement was true, but a massive campaign in the leftwing media along with the Democrats’ imputation that Bush had lied about the rationale for the war began a five-year effort to slander America’s commander-in-chief and condemn the war in Iraq as illegal, immoral and unnecessary. The consequences of these attacks can be seen in the emergence of ISIS in the vacuum created by the Democrat-led withdrawal from the region, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians in Iraq, Syria and Libya and the creation of 18 million refugees in six-year tenure of the “anti-war” president, Barack Obama.

Why did the Democrats turn against a war they had authorized and why did they accuse Bush of deceiving the American people (“Bush lied, people died”)? Not because of anything that had taken place on the battlefield in Iraq. The Democrats turned against the war because an anti-war activist named Howard Dean was set to win the Democratic presidential primary – which happened to coincide with the invasion – by a wide margin. It was Dean’s surge in the polls that caused John Kerry and John Edwards who eventually became the Democratic standard bearers to do an about face, repudiate their previous support of the war, and turn on the president as the chief culprit in the conflict rather than the sadistic tyrant Saddam Hussein. The Democrats even lied about the rationale for the war which was not the existence of weapons of mass destruction but Saddam’s violation of the Gulf War truce and 17 UN Resolutions designed to prevent him from building weapons of mass destruction.

Why did the Democrats claim – falsely – that Bush lied about the reasons for the war? Because the Democrats could not admit that they were turning against a war they themselves had authorized for partisan political gain, undoubtedly the most shameful act by a major political party in the nation’s history.

The Democrats went on to conduct a five-year scorched earth campaign against America’s war in Iraq, which was in effect the central front of the war on terror, as the creation of an Islamic terrorist state has since shown. Democrats did not merely oppose the war but slandered the president as a liar and war criminal, defended the leaks of national security programs (which led to their destruction), converted a minor incident in the Abu Ghraib prison into an international scandal which was then used to defame their country and demoralize its troops, and actively sought to defund the war effort in Congress and force an American defeat. They eventually succeeded in this effort by nominating a leftwing anti-war activist who upon reaching the White House proceeded to make America’s defeat in Iraq a fait accompli, thus creating the vacuum that ISIS has filled.

Did Bush lie about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction as the Democrats claimed? The discovery by ISIS of 2200 rockets filled with Sarin that Saddam had buried explodes this myth, which has been wielded for over a decade by America’s enemies and detractors to undermine the war on terror. Could Bush have lied about the intelligence on Iraq? Hardly. Democrats like John Kerry sat on the intelligence committees and had access to every piece of information that Bush did.

It was Kerry and his running mate Edwards who lied, and the entire Democratic Party leadership along with them. And it’s in Syria and the Levant, Afghanistan and Iraq that our country is now paying the price for this treachery and deceit. And soon, if our military leaders have assessed the threat correctly, we will be paying for their treachery here at home.

Who Are Our Adversaries?

Explaining an Unusual Enterprise

by David Horowitz

I have just published the second in a projected nine-volume series of my collected writings called The Black Book of the American Left. The title pays homage to The Black Book of Communism, a celebrated European text documenting the crimes of the 20th century’s most notorious progressive experiment. While the original Black Book was a one-volume affair, the literary project I have undertaken is so large as to make it unique in today’s publishing world. Outside the category of literary fiction, so far as I can tell there are no nine-volume series by living authors.

So what prompted me to undertake so unwieldy an enterprise, which involves editing a million and a half words and arranging them into themed volumes? The seemingly obvious answer — one my adversaries will certainly seize on — is writer’s vanity. Who would not want to see his words in print and between hard covers? The more the better. But if you take a moment to think about it, this is not an unambiguous advantage and therefore does not provide so obvious an answer.

Over the course of a lengthy career I have written roughly 20 full-length books, six or seven of which I consider my best work and the writing I would like others to know me by. But already the 20 volumes threaten to bury some of the better writing I have done and create problems for readers who are seeking to acquaint themselves with my ideas. Where to begin? What to leave out? And given that this is the case, why add nine more volumes, containing a million and a half words, and risk having potential readers throw up their hands and say, “This is too much for me to sort out.” So the question better asked is this: What would The Black Book of the American Left contain that would significantly add to the work I had already done? What would prompt others to read it, and justify the two years of labor that went into the making of it?

The answer is in the nature of its contents and — equally important — in concerns I have had about the way conservatives have understood the phenomenon it describes. Five years into the Obama administration, most conservatives have little idea of the depth of its malignancy, or the fact that it is the product of decades of development that has transformed the Democratic party and created, as is rapidly becoming apparent, not only America’s nightmare but the world’s as well.

A good place to begin this explanation is by reporting that some readers have remarked critically on the fact that the articles in these volumes, which span some 30 years, have already appeared in print and can be located by a diligent web search. Why then bother arranging them in a new subject order and collecting them in themed volumes with titles like My Life & TimesProgressives, The Great Betrayal (Iraq), Culture Wars, Progressive Racism, and The Left in the Universities?

The answer is that these are not articles written on random subjects that happened to catch my fancy. Nor were they written as intellectual exercises that set out to explore various aspects of current issues. They are dispatches from a war zone, written to identify the nature, agendas, and long-term goals of a political movement of historic proportions that is also global in scope. Written in the heat of battle, they are here arranged in chronological order as the events took place, in order to provide a running account of the war itself.

The nature of these conflicts as part of an ongoing war was, in my view, scarcely recognized by conservatives at the time, and has still not fully sunk in. Conservatives have rarely approached the individual conflicts with the seriousness they deserve, describing their adversaries as “liberals” — as if they subscribed to the principles of Lockean individualism, tolerance, and political compromise. Only with the advent of the Obama administration have some conservatives begun to connect the dots of origins and outcomes and to grasp the real nature of the national transformation that their adversaries intend.

It is for this conservative audience — a constituency on whom the American future depends — that I undertook to put together The Black Book of the American Left. It is first of all a narrative map of the battles fought over the last 40 years and — it must be said – lost, almost every one. The Black Book contains a record as complete as any likely to be written of the struggle to resist a Communist-inspired Left that was not defeated in the Cold War but took advantage of the Soviet defeat to enter the American mainstream and conquer it, until today its members occupy the White House.

It is an often overlooked but immensely significant fact that during the Cold War the vast majority of American progressives supported the Communist enemy, working as apologists, appeasers, and enablers for a global movement openly dedicated to the destruction of their country. At the time, the progressive movement was much smaller than it is now and was opposed by mainstream Democrats whom progressives referred to derisively as “Cold War Liberals.” In 1968, progressive activists staged a riot at the Democratic Party convention. The riot was overtly designed to destroy the electoral chances of Hubert Humphrey, regarded as the Cold War Liberal in Chief because of his support for the Vietnam War.

The Progressive Party, was formed in 1948 to challenge the cold war liberalism of Harry Truman and was in fact controlled by the Communist Party. The so-called New Left that emerged in the Sixties did not represent a clean break with communism and was not, in fact, a “new” left but a continuation of the old. It developed a modernized, deceptive political rhetoric — calling itself “populist” and even “liberal” — but it was mobilized behind the same malicious anti-individualist, anti-capitalist, and anti-American agendas as the Communist movement from which it sprang.

After the convention riot of 1968, this neo-Communist Left marched off the streets and into the Democratic party, and over the next decades took commanding positions in the party’s congressional apparatus, and eventually its national leadership. As it acquired power, it gradually shifted its self- identification from “liberal” to the bolder “progressive,” a designation shared by most leaders of the Democratic Party today. The betrayal of the Vietnamese by the “Watergate” Democrats, the appeasement of Latin American Communists (now firmly entrenched throughout the hemisphere and allied with our enemy Iran), the betrayal of the Iraqis and the sabotage of the war on terror, the traducing of the civil-rights movement and its transformation into a mob led by the racial extortionists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (the latter now the president’s chief adviser on race), the subversion of the modern research university and the conversion of its liberal-arts divisions into doctrinal institutes for training American youth in the radical party line known as political correctness, the rise of a campus fascism aligned with Islamic Jew haters and genocidal terrorists, the political undermining of the public-health system during the AIDS epidemic which led to half a million avoidable deaths — all these were crucial battles lost during the 40 years that preceded the White House reign of Barack Obama. All are documented in the pages of these volumes in week-by-week accounts of the arguments and conflicts that accompanied them.

The narrative of these developments is the substance of The Black Book of the American Left. Its fruit is an understanding that the movement now in motion to dismantle the American system, and bring this country to its knees, is no overnight phenomenon and is not the result of misguided idealisms or misunderstandings that can be easily repaired. The adversary cannot be dissuaded, because what drives him is a religious mission on which his identity and quest for a meaningful life depend. He can be stopped only by a political counterforce that is determined and organized, and — most importantly — that understands the gravity of the threat it faces.

How far are conservatives from understanding the gravity of the situation they are in? This question was brought home to me the other day as I watched Senator Tom Coburn, easily one of the most decent men in Washington, being interrogated by an unusually frustrated Brian Lamb about his friendship with Barack Obama. That Senator Coburn, a staunch conservative, would relate to the president on a personal level despite their political differences did not bother me. What bothered me was how profoundly the senator misread Obama, how he failed to understand the malice behind either his mendacity or his systematic efforts to dismantle America’s constitutional system and disarm us before our enemies. “He has good intentions,” Coburn assured the exasperated Lamb.

In this exchange, Senator Coburn was the picture of American innocence, unable to connect the contempt Obama has shown for the American people and their civil order with his readiness to betray America’s troops in the field and its interests abroad, with his embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood and appeasement of Iranian Hitlerites, with his supine posture toward Russian aggression in the heart of Europe. Conservatives’ conflict with Obama is not about different understandings of the facts among colleagues guided by good intentions.

I wanted to ask Coburn whether he thinks the sadistic murderer Fidel Castro, who has turned his nation into an island prison, is also possessed of good intentions and human graces. The director Steven Spielberg, himself a good man, called the eight hours he spent with Castro “the greatest day of my life.” Does this flapdoodle have any real-world significance when it comes to dealing with the radical Left? Unless they are Islamic fanatics, the zealots of the Left do not usually come at you as fire-breathing demons. They come to help. Do you think for a moment that Castro could carry on those nine-hour speeches about Cuba’s glorious socialist achievements if he did not at least half-believe his own fantasies? Obama and Castro are socialist missionaries. For that very reason, the evil they do far exceeds anything achievable by tinhorn tyrants. They are advocates of a cause that turns a blind eye toward the millions of corpses and the wrecked continents of the recent past while attacking the democratic foundations of what remains of a free-market, free-world community of nations, beginning with Israel and the United States. That is their evil and their crime: their will to do it all over again, as if the human calamities they inspired never took place.

The Black Book of the American Left is a look into the psyche of these missionaries through the battles they have waged over the last 40 years — battles that have brought them into the command structures of the American leviathan. It provides a picture of how they think and it analyzes the why; it draws aside the veil of “good intentions” to reveal the malice underneath. That is its utility, and the main reason I am putting these volumes together. But it would not be candid of me if I did not mention another. By way of explication, I will quote from the general introduction to the work:

“It is almost a certainty that no other “book” will be written like this one, since it can only have been the work of someone born into the Left and condemned Ahab-like to pursue it in an attempt to comprehend it. Yet it is not simply a project of monomania, as my adversaries will suggest, but of discovery — an attempt not only to understand a movement but to explore its roots in individual lives, including my own. While I hope this book may be useful to those fighting to defend individual freedom and free markets, I do not deceive myself into believing that I have finally set the harpoon into the leviathan, a feat that is ultimately not possible. Progressivism is fundamentally a religious faith, which meets the same eternal human needs as traditional faiths, and for that reason will be with us always. In the last analysis, the progressive faith is a Gnosticism that can only be held at bay but never finally beaten back to earth.”

Rebel With a Better Cause – By John Fonte

[To order The Black Book of the American Left: Volume 1 – My Life and Times, click hereVolume 2: The Progressivesclick here.]

This article is reprinted from Claremont Review of Books.


A review of The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz, by David Horowitz

Volume I: My Life and Times

Volume II: Progressives

Does any conservative understand the American Left better than David Horowitz? A “red-diaper” baby raised by Communist parents, Horowitz was a founding father of the New Left by virtue of being co-editor (with Peter Collier) of its flagship journal, Ramparts. The Left’s indifference to Communist bloodbaths in Vietnam and Cambodia, and to Black Panther murders at home, led Collier and Horowitz to reconsider, embrace anti-Communism, and support President Ronald Reagan’s Central American policy. Their “Second Thoughts” project of 1987, a venue for other ex-leftists to criticize their old politics and its new champions, bequeathed Destructive Generation (1989) by Collier and Horowitz, and the establishment of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. After Collier became founding editor of Encounter Books, the Center was renamed the David Horowitz Freedom Center, whose activities include the online FrontPage Magazine.

Readers who seek a moving story of the intertwined unfolding of a life and a political sensibility should read Horowitz’s autobiographical Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (1997). The author’s “fearless capacity for self-examination,” Christopher Caldwell wrote when it was published, allowed Horowitz “to forge a new career as the kind of person his parents had no doubt warned him against.” Now, The Black Book of the American Left offers, as the subtitle says, the Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz—articles, essays, and speeches on a wide range of political figures and topics, gathered together for the first time. Projected to fill ten volumes, two have been published: My Life and Times, and Progressives. Volume III, on America’s response to 9/11 and jihad, is scheduled for publication later this year. Continue reading Rebel With a Better Cause – By John Fonte

Review: The Black Book of the American Left, Volume II by Janice Flamengo, PJ Media

The first volume of David Horowitz’s nine-volume The Black Book of the American Left focused on the author’s personal journey out of the leftist faith and its community of adherents — a courageous, disorienting rejection of all he had once believed — and into a reasoned and pragmatic conservatism that has been his creed ever since. Analyzing the various forms of delusion, bad faith, and pathological self-hatred that leftism inspires and demands, the essays in that volume chronicled Horowitz’s decades-long crusade to unmask progressive fantasies to reveal their devastating real-world consequences. In documenting the monumental failures of leftist regimes and the illogic of leftist ideology, Horowitz’s writings have made a vital contribution to the conservative movement in America.

In the second volume of his oeuvre, Horowitz turns his attention to individual progressive, showcasing the destructive extremism and Communist roots of their so-called liberal beliefs (actually the opposite of “liberal” in both philosophy and political tactics) and revealing the deep anti-Americanism that has become a part of the Democratic agenda. Here, Horowitz documents the historical falsifications and distortions of purpose necessary to the left’s salvationist program. In essay after essay, his acute understanding of the leftist passions he once shared is arrestingly on display. Continue reading Review: The Black Book of the American Left, Volume II by Janice Flamengo, PJ Media

Understanding Today’s Campus Left

Several years ago, my Emory University hosted former Black Panther Elaine Brown for a couple of days of lecture, discussion, conversation, and meals.  I attended one event and don’t remember what Brown said, but caught firmly the demeanor and cadence of the delivery.  It was hip, knowing, coy, and canny, not an argument or a thesis, but clipped observations and half-articulated notions about racial and gender identity.  The audience, on the other hand, was dutiful and attentive and admiring, and the question and answer session provided none of the customary quibbling and speechifying.

I didn’t understand this odd deference until I read The Black Book of the American Left, the new two-volume collection of David Horowitz’s writings. Horowitz had known Brown in the 1970s when she was a lieutenant of the Black Panthers’ Huey Newton. In The Black Book, he describes a menacing and erratic woman who had two personalities: one for “the Party’s wealthy liberal supporters” and another for “the violent world of the street gang.”  Brown had even charmed Horowitz for a time, until he came across evidence that Brown had conspired to murder a woman he’d brought into a Panthers-run school.

Continue reading Understanding Today’s Campus Left

Preface to The Black Book of the American Left

The idea for these volumes came about as the result of a self-inventory undertaken to map the development of my political views over the last thirty years. This inquiry involved a survey of all the articles and essays I had written as a conservative, that is since the day Peter Collier and I published a cover story in the Washington Post Magazine announcing our “second thoughts” about the left and our departure from its ranks. These writings, which were assembled with the indispensable help of Mike Bauer, added up to more than 690 articles and essays, and a million and a half words. Some were lengthy considerations of “big” issues, others reactions to current events, and some were polemical responses to political opponents. But when I had looked over this body of work, I realized that virtually everything I had written was really about one subject: the American left.

The ancient Greek poet Archilochus was the author of a philosophical fragment that became the focus of a famous essay by the writer Isaiah Berlin, which he called “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” In his fragment Archilochus observed, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  For whatever reason in the many years I have been a writer I have never been a fox. It is true that my subjects have been varied, and I have even authored two volumes of philosophical reflections about mortality and life. But the primary focus of my work — and even of those thoughts on mortality and existence — has remained one big thing: the nature, deeds, and fortunes of the political left.

The first part of my life was spent as a member of the “New Left” and its Communist predecessor in which my family had roots. After the consequences of those commitments became clear to me in the mid-1970s, I came to know theleft as an adversary, and — if sheer volume is the measure — its principal intellectual antagonist. Some have seen my efforts to define the left and analyze what it intends as an obsession. In a sense that is true: I had left the left, but the left never leftme. For better or worse, I have been condemned to spend the rest of my days attempting to understand how it pursues the agendas from which I have separated myself, and why.

When I was beginning this quest nearly three decades ago, I paid a visit to the New York intellectual, Norman Podhoretz, who had had his own second thoughts a decade earlier, though not from so radical a vantage as mine. Podhoretz asked me why I was spending my time worrying about an isolated community on the fringes of politics. I should focus, he said, on liberals not leftists. This advice reflected what seemed an accurate description of the political landscape at the time. Many would have seconded his judgment when the walls of Communism came tumbling down shortly thereafter. But the progressive faith is just that, a faith, and despite the exceptions of individual cases no facts on the ground will dispel it.

Continue reading Preface to The Black Book of the American Left

Introduction to Volume I

The essays included in this, the first of nine volumes on the American left—a tenth will feature a comprehensive bibliography and index—are shaped by a biographical perspective, drawn directly from my life-experiences in that left.1 They contain reflections first on the political path my life took, and then on the course pursued by others who shared that path but did not have second thoughts that prompted them to leave it.

Because the left is a religious movement that engages an individual identity at the deepest levels, there can never be a separation between the personal and the political. Members of the faith know very well the implications of doubt: to leave the progressive faith is to invite expulsion from its utopia and the fellowship of its community, and forever after to be shunned as a person morally unfit for decent company. This is a daunting prospect that discourages challenges to its orthodoxy and keeps its adherents in line. This reality makes the narrative of one who departed its ranks not only a deeply personal document but also a political text.

Part I

In December 1974, my life was forever altered when members of the Black Panther Party murdered a bookkeeper named Betty Van Patter whom I had recruited to keep accounts for a Panther school I had helped to create. The tragedy threw me into a personal crisis, creating an ideological turmoil that was compounded five months later by the bloodbath in Southeast Asia following the Communist victory in Vietnam. The state of distress into which I was thrown by these events was such that for more than a decade I did not engage in any political activities. During this period I took time to reflect on the beliefs that had guided me and then betrayed me, and I tried to figure out how I was going to function without them. In 1979, I had dinner in Berkeley with the leftwing author E. L. Doctorow, whose novel about the Rosenbergs had referenced one of my books. I told him of my concerns about the left, and he suggested I write them up for The Nation on whose board he sat. The result was an article I called “Left Illusions,” which The Nation retitled “A Radical’s Disenchantment.” It put my doubts before a community with whom I still identified but was getting ready to leave, though I was still reluctant to concede that, even to myself.

My formal departure came in 1985 with the publication of our divorce-notice in The Washington Post. The following year I wrote “Why I Am No Longer a Leftist,” a more personal explanation of the events behind my turn. It was published in another progressive venue, The Village Voice, and is included as the second chapter in this volume. The decision to write the article was a particularly difficult one because it was the first public statement I had made about the murder. In publishing it I was concerned first of all about the safety of my family since the killers were still at large (as they are today). The fear was great enough that I did not name the individuals I believed responsible. This was something I would eventually do seven years later in a lengthy autobiographical article “Black Murder, Inc.,” which is included as chapter five in the present text.

My intention in publishing “Why I Am No Longer a Leftist” in a leftwing paper like the Voice was to encourage its readers to have second thoughts and to warn them about the dangers of failing to have them. What I elicited instead was an anathema upon myself— an excommunication from the progressive community. The anath-
ema was pronounced in the form of an article that appeared in the same paper shortly afterward called, “The Intellectual Life and the Renegade Horowitz.” It made clear that my words were not going to be taken as an attempt to retrieve a bitterly earned truth about what we leftists had done, but as the betrayal of a noble cause by a person who had gone over to the dark side. The author was the socialist writer Paul Berman; he began by praising me as an intellectual leader among New Leftists in the Sixties and concluded by damning me as one who now consorted with monsters, in particular with a homicidal member of the Nicaraguan contras whose nom de guerre was Suicida. This was, in point of fact, an individual I had never heard of, and whom the contras themselves had executed for his crimes, which were indeed heinous. This kind of reckless assault on my character was to prove typical of the left’s responses to my work in years to come.

A year after the Voice article appeared, Peter Collier and I organized a “Second Thoughts Conference” in Washington to which we invited others who had taken steps along the path we had chosen. Two years later we held another Second Thoughts event in Cracow, Poland, just months before the collapse of the Communist regime. The speech I gave, “Reality and Dream,” whose text is included as chapter three in this volume, was an effort to tell my story and summarize the case against socialism for an audience whose members were still prisoners of the Soviet occupation.

While focusing on the left, I also felt the need to define the new “conservative” outlook at which I had arrived. The article “My Conservatism” is a statement of the views I had developed, along with the reasons I did not regard this new perspective as parallel to the one I had abandoned but different in its very nature. I addressed the same subject in The Politics of Bad Faith, which was published in 1998, and which contains the fullest statement of the rationale for my political change.
The event that forced me to look at the reality of what I and my comrades had done is the subject of the memoir “Black Murder, Inc.” At the time the crime was committed, the Black Panther Party was regarded as a progressive vanguard and its leader Huey Newton was being compared in The New York Times to Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi. Even today, in respected academic texts like Henry Louis Gates’s African American National Biography, the Party is portrayed as a noble vanguard, victimized by a racist government. This is a reflection not of the facts but of the way the left dominates and has corrupted the academic culture— the subject of the sixth volume of The American Left, titled The Left in the University.

After the publication of the Post and Village Voice articles, liberal venues were for all intents and purposes closed to me as a “renegade” from their ranks. “Black Murder, Inc.” first appeared in a publication that Peter Collier and I had created, called Heterodoxy. We published it on the front page with a “Wanted” poster of Elaine Brown, the Panther most directly responsible for the murder, although I have no doubt that it was Huey Newton who ordered the execution from his exile in Cuba. One of the most unpleasant responses of the left to the article was to attempt to place the blame for Betty’s death on me. “Letter to the Past” is my reply to one of these accusations made by a lifelong friend of mine who had remained on the left and was obviously a friend no more. Our exchange reflects the raw emotions I felt at the time.

In retrospect, it is clear to me that the failure of the political culture and major media to take note of the Panthers’ crimes and be horrified by them, indeed the support the perpetrators received from the progressive ranks, was a small but ominous sign of the profound change that the Sixties left had worked on the American political landscape. The resurfacing in the 1990s of a violent radical like Weatherman leader Bill Ayers as the intimate political ally of a future American president is a parallel phenomenon. It indicates just how far the influence of the left has reached.

Progressives are necessarily forced to choose between the future they desire and the reality they inhabit. The primary moral obligation of a revolutionary is to destroy the existing social and political framework in order to prepare the revolutionary future; and radicals perceive America as the principal defender of the capitalism they hate all over the world. Consequently, a radical politics generally leads to uncertain loyalties to country and community. Yet leftists have succeeded in making the issue of their loyalties the most taboo of political subjects, deploying blanket charges of “McCarthyism” and “witch-hunt” as a way of silencing their critics. As someone who experienced the conflict between principles and country directly, I have inevitably made them a focus of my work. “Treason of the Heart,” an article written to promote my autobiography Radical Son, includes the accounts of three episodes, described in the book, which dramatize this conflict.

Having rejected the left, I quickly discovered that the political center where I expected to find a home had vanished, while outlets for my work that I had expected to be available had shut their doors to me. “A Political Romance” was written at the request of an editor at The New York Times Sunday Magazine, who wanted a piece for the weekly “Lives” feature located at the back of the issue. I undertook the assignment as a challenge; another attempt to sum up in succinct fashion the hard lessons I had learned. But when I submitted the article, the editor rejected it by saying that it wasn’t the “type” of piece The Times had in mind for the feature.

I was skeptical of this explanation, and suspected that what the editor really didn’t like about the article was its political conclusion rejecting the left. This was borne out a few weeks later when the “Lives” page featured another piece, which was also about the left and was written as though it had been commissioned in reply to mine. The author was a leftist who admitted to some second thoughts about what she and her comrades had done in the Sixties but, in contrast to me, resolved not to abandon what she still regarded as a noble cause. This episode provided a particularly dispiriting indication of the media environment in which I was now operating. Despite my quarantine as a conservative, I was still interested in engaging younger leftists, hoping I might help them avoid the painful lessons I had been forced to learn. “Think Twice” is an open letter to young people who protested against an American response to 9/11 within two weeks of the attacks.

Almost a decade after publishing Radical Son, I again turned inward in a series of books that I regard as my best writing. They include The End of Time and A Point in Time, along with the memoir I wrote about my daughter Sarah, A Cracking of the Heart. Those reflections articulated the themes that have animated my life’s work. The “End of Time” in this volume is a presentation I made to promote the book. It consists of excerpted passages interspersed with commentary, and provides a glimpse of how I came to connect the personal with the political in the autumn of my career. “What My Daughter Taught Me” describes the dialogue I had with Sarah before her untimely death about the way in which human beings might make the world “a better place.” My daughter Sarah was a compassionate soul and our discussions were the kind of dialogue I missed on the infrequent occasions when liberals bothered to address my work.

The most unpleasant aspect of my political odyssey has been the relentless, often malicious distortion of the positions I have taken by those who disagree with my political conclusions. Three of the last four articles in Part I deal with this phenomenon. The first, “Getting This Conservative Wrong,” is my response to an academic historian named Kevin Mattson, who profiled me in a book called Rebels All! as the exemplar of a “post-modern conservatism,” ascribing to me views I simply did not hold. This was typical of the responses to my work by critics from the left who rarely engaged my ideas in an intellectual manner but picked at them hoping to find ways to discredit their bearer. The only real interest they showed in my work, or that of other conservatives, was to make it a symbol of something to despise and suppress. “Something We Did” is my response to a caricature of me in an Off-Broadway play about the Weathermen terrorists called Something You Did. The intention of the play was to exculpate the guilty and indict those who attempted to hold them accountable. Like Kevin Mattson, the playwright had no interest in defending, let alone correcting, his distorted views when I confronted him with the facts.

Another example of this syndrome is described in “Who I Am,” which is my response to a cover story that appeared in The Tablet, an online magazine for Jewish progressives. The Tablet’s editors had assigned a very young leftist the task of doing my portrait. The piece he finally produced, “David Horowitz Is Homeless,” was an attempt to portray me as a hapless figure whose fortunes were declining as he approached the end of his life, where he found himself lost between the warring camps of left and right, unable to find a home in either. “Who I Am” is my attempt to put the facts back in place. The Tablet declined to publish it, but this self-portrait provides a reasonable facsimile of my state of being in what was then my seventy-third year.

Peter Collier has been my friend for fifty years. He was my collaborator at Ramparts and in the launching of my literary career with three dynastic biographies we co-authored about the Rockefeller, Kennedy and Ford families—all New York Times best-sellers, The Kennedys reaching the top of that list. Peter was also my confidant and partner in the joint transition we made from left to right, organizing the “Second Thoughts” conference with me, coauthoring our démarche in The Washington Post and co-writing Destructive Generation, which we published in 1989. Peter has also been my collaborator in guiding the David Horowitz Freedom Center, although he took a ten-year hiatus to create Encounter Books, an independent publishing company. During that time, he continued to edit our magazine, Heterodoxy. “Peter and Me,” an introduction I wrote to a talk he gave at the Center’s Wednesday Morning Club about his biography of Jeane Kirkpatrick, is my tribute to a valued friend and colleague and the impact he has had on me.

Part II

The essays that make up the second part of this volume begin with “Goodbye to All That,” our swansong to the left. The article was published by The Washington Post under the title “Lefties for Reagan” and was our formal “coming-out” as conservatives, although it was based on second thoughts that had been gestating since the mid-Seventies.

The next two essays, “My Vietnam Lessons” and “Semper Fidel,” belong to this genre, and are attempts I made to confront our radical cohort with the harsh realities of what we had actually done. Vietnam was the defining issue of our generation but the events that unfolded proved that those of us who were active in the anti-war movement had been wrong on every critical point, and that our actions had tragic consequences for the people we claimed to be defending. My decision to vote for Ronald Reagan and join the conservative cause was also inspired by events in Nicaragua where Castro Marxists had seized power through a political coup. “Semper Fidel,” originally titled “A Speech to My Former Comrades on the Left,” was about those events. It was given at a conference organized by Berkeley radicals who probably didn’t realize what they were in for, and who shut off my microphone before I could finish.

Following the appearance of our Post article, Peter and I were repeatedly forced to defend our conservative views. “Keepers of the Flame” is one of these defenses, written following our return from a trip to Nicaragua and in response to a review of Destructive Generation that appeared in The New Republic. The essay reflects our continuing effort to understand what had happened to us—not only why we weren’t welcomed into what we thought would be the political center, but also why our anti-Communist politics were treated with such hostility by the liberal press. The review
that provoked our response was written by Paul Berman who insinuated that the sins we described in Destructive Generation were basically our own, and did not reflect the general behaviors or attitudes of the left.

This attempt to revise the past was a common tack of the leftists we now faced. In “Carl Bernstein’s Communist Problem and Mine,” I drew on my personal experiences to expose the misrepresentations in the memoir this Watergate reporter had written about his Communist childhood. The article has even more resonance today than it did when I wrote it because it describes, from the inside, the milieu in which the 44th president of the United States also grew up, along with his chief advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett.

A series of attacks on the political right by the writer Michael Lind provided me with an opportunity to describe what a political conversion actually entails and also to correct the distorted picture of the right that was becoming commonplace among its leftist opponents. I responded to Lind’s defamation of conservatives in an article called “Political Cross-Dresser.”

Time and again as I attempted to describe my experiences as a radical, I encountered the resistance put up by leftists to any candor on the subject, their inability to face up to the past, and their penchant for rewriting it instead. “Still Lying After All These Years” and “Repressed Memory Syndrome” are efforts to address this resistance to historical truth. I am not referring here to differences in interpretation of what happened, but to the deliberate suppression of facts or inversion of facts in the service of a political cause.

The article “Fidel, Pinochet and Me” is another attempt to confront my former comrades with the results to which our political advocacies had led. In this article, I compare the achievements of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet, whom progressives loathed, to those of Cuba’s dictator Castro, whom they adored and whose excesses they excused. Comparing those histories provided a measure of progressives’ disconnect from reality in the service of a destructive illusion, and of their blindness to the human consequences of their ideas and actions. Shortly after publishing the article, I found myself on a radio show with Christopher Hitchens who at the time was one of the radical harassers of the terminally ill Pinochet, calling for his arrest and extradition for crimes he had committed as Chile’s dictator decades before. When I pointed out that Pinochet’s dictatorship was no worse for Chileans than Castro’s was for Cubans, and arguably a lot better, Christopher burst out on air: “How dare you, how dare you!” I was taken aback by this fervor but replied in as amicable a tone as I could muster: “Christopher, aren’t we getting a little old for ‘how-dare-yous’?” This was the first time Christopher and I had spoken in nearly twenty years and it was to his credit that the next time we did we became friends.6
It was a continuing source of fascination to me that progressives, who had been so demonstrably on the wrong side of history during the Cold War, were able to maintain their air of superiority when it was over, while simultaneously marginalizing conservatives in the academic and literary cultures they dominated. The essay “Marginalizing Conservative Ideas” is another facet of my ongoing effort to identify the differences between the two perspectives that lead to such different outcomes.

In the two articles “Can There Be A Decent Left” and “The Left and the Constitution,” I analyze the nature of the left by engaging the ideas of two of its more intellectually interesting figures, Michael Walzer and Hendrik Hertzberg. Regrettably, neither one responded to these overtures, a not uncommon occurrence. The nature of the left is also the subject of the three essays on “Neo-Communism,” which were written after the onset of the Iraq War—an American intervention vigorously opposed by almost the entire progressive spectrum, with notable but rare exceptions such as Hitchens and Paul Berman. (The latter was steadily moving from his earlier positions and was no longer an antagonist of mine.) That war proved to be a defining political crossroads, and I used the occasion to articulate my understanding of what the “post-Communist” left shared with its Communist precursors. The continuities of the left by now had become a central theme of my work.

“Neo-Communism,” a term I chose to characterize the left, failed to catch on, as I had suspected it would. This was a credit to leftists’ success in embargoing attempts to link them to their Communist predecessors by associating their critics with problematic figures like Senator Joseph McCarthy. The very use of the word “communist” is taken to be evidence of “McCarthyism.” But the effect of accepting the preferred euphemisms, such as “progressive” and “liberal” (a term applied by The New York Times even to card-carrying Communists like Angela Davis) has had the dual effect of obscuring their agendas and burying the lessons of their past. The second volume of this series, Progressives, returns to these issues.

The chapter “Discover The Networks” is the defense of an online encyclopedia of the left I created by that name, and a further attempt of mine to provide a taxonomy of the species.7 “Keeping an Eye on the Domestic Threat” is a further explication of this database, and thus another inquiry into the nature of the faith.

Part III

The essays in this section, “Slander as a Political Discourse,” address several attempts to distort the facts of my life in order to discredit my ideas and neutralize my criticisms of the left and its deeds. It includes an exchange provoked by Sidney Blumenthal’s libel suit against Matt Drudge, which throws light on the techniques leftists employ to defame and then quarantine critics, and reflects the particularly low state of political discourse at the time. I knew John Judis, the author of one of these attacks, when he was an editor of Socialist Revolution. Later he became an editor of The New Republic, and was able to write a fairly objective biography of William F. Buckley. The fact that he would advocate a boycott of the magazine Peter and I published is just one indication of the determination of progressives to create a wall of silence around our work and prevent us from reaching the next generation with what we had learned.

Part IV

This volume concludes with the texts of two talks I gave on autobiographical themes. The first was given over the fierce objections of my leftwing classmates to my 50th class reunion at Columbia College. In it I attempted to weigh the changes that had taken place over the course of the half-century since we had graduated, and explain the conservative viewpoint to an audience that remained steeped in the presumptions of a progressive culture. The second is a speech I gave at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, which provided me an opportunity to reflect on my identity as a Jew, my attitudes towards Israel and America, and to the war against them.

Introduction to Volume II

All the volumes in this series of my collected writings called The Black Book of the American Left are about individuals who call themselves progressives. This volume focuses on the nature of the progressive outlook and its realworld consequences.

The progressive label is one that its adherents wear proudly. It appeals to their amour propre, identifying them as people who are forward-looking, therefore enlightened and modern. “Progressive” fits their sense of themselves as apostles of hope and change, in fact as a species of social redeemers. Consequently, the basic premise of their politics is that “forward” is necessarily a good direction, and that a fundamental transformation of social relationships is both possible and desirable. As an expression of this self-image, progressives commonly refer to themselves as being “on the side of history,” as though history was steadily moving towards beneficent ends. Inevitably, the term “progressive” has the added advantage of putting the best face on their collective achievements, although these have frequently entailed consequences that were destructive on an epic scale. It also leads them to make alliances both formal and informal with the enemies of the relatively enlightened democracies in which they actually live.

In addition to examining an outlook that leads to such regrettable results, the essays in this volume pay particular attention to the connections between progressive movements of the present and their antecedents in the past. Bearing these continuities in mind and retaining a sense of past results are essential to understanding the real-world consequences of the progressive faith.

No greater obstacle to clarity about current progressive movements exists than the habit of detaching them from their ideological antecedents, specifically those in the Communist past. A common attitude regards Communist ideas as passé, and any attempt to link them to present company as politically dangerous. But this lazy thinking (to put the best face on it) makes any understanding of contemporary progressives impossible. When they are in their own company, progressives themselves are not shy about their debts to Marx and his disciples. When they are in position to determine academic curricula, they give the Marxist tradition pride of place. Their politics are directly and self-consciously inspired by the intellectual tradition—Marx, Hegel, Gramsci—that produced the totalitarian results. Many of today’s progressives, and certainly their teachers, were actively involved in supporting and defending the 20th Century’s totalitarian “experiments” and in opposing the anti-Communist cold warriors who helped to bring them to an end.

Progressives have an understandable interest in separating themselves from the destructive consequences of their past behaviors. But conservatives should not contribute to their efforts by referring to them as “liberals,” or regarding their own differences as merely policy matters that can be compromised and adjusted, rather than as the result of a philosophical divide that leads to consequences both predictable and tragic.

Part I: The Mind of the Left

The essays in this volume begin with an introductory section, “The Mind of the Left,” which re-establishes the missing connections between current progressive movements and their Communist predecessors. Through profiles of some of its prominent intellectual figures, this introduction traces the continuities between the Communist left of the Stalin era, the New Left that followed, and the contemporary left that emerged following the fall of the Communist empire.

These intellectual portraits are set in the context of the events of September 11, 2001, when Islamic jihadists launched a surprise attack on American soil, killing three thousand civilians. Progressives responded to this heinous assault by organizing protests directed not at the perpetrators but at their own country. The protesters opposed an American military response, and justified the enemy’s aggression by attributing it to “root causes” that could be traced to America’s imperial ambitions. Not all progressives joined the initial opposition, which was organized by a radical element. But a year later, as hundreds of thousands of activists poured into the streets to protest America’s war against Islamists in Iraq, the opposition spread through the entire progressive spectrum to include the leadership of the Democratic Party.

If an inability to grasp the left’s historical antecedents is one obstacle to understanding its behavior, a close second is the failure to appreciate the connection between its utopian and nihilist agendas. The belief in a perfect future inevitably inspires a passionate (and otherwise inexplicable) hatred towards the imperfect present. The first agenda of social redeemers is to dismantle the existing social order, which means their intellectual and political energies are focused on the work of destruction. Several passages in “The Mind of the Left” explore this theme.

Antagonism towards the existing social order inevitably leads to uncertain loyalties towards the body politic, and then to uncertain loyalties towards one’s country at war. This is a subject that makes everyone uncomfortable, but cannot be simply ignored because of that. Along with the opening section, several essays deal with the issue of patriotism, including “The Future of the Left,” “Spies Like Us,” “Spy Stories,” “The Lawyer Who Came in From the Cold,” and “The Left on Trial.” Another, “The Trouble with Treason,” recounts my differences on this subject with conservative author Ann Coulter in her book of that name.


Between Past and Present

The essays in Parts II & III are arranged in chronological order and begin with the text of a presentation I made to an Accuracy in Academia conference in 1987, titled “Activists Then and Now.” It was written just after Peter Collier and I held our Second Thoughts Conference for former radicals. In this text I describe the continuities between the New Left and the then current left, stressing what I thought conservatives should understand about the protesters and probably did not. It is a theme that runs through the course of the present volume.

This is followed by the text of a speech I gave at Dartmouth University, where I had been invited by conservative students to join a panel defending The Dartmouth Review, a student paper under attack for its conservative opinions by the Dartmouth administration. The panel included Peter Collier, Michael Medved, and one other conservative. My remarks were focused on the warm welcome the Dartmouth administration had given the communist Angela Davis who had recently spoken there. At the time the Dartmouth administration was conducting a virtual war against the conservative students who ran The Dartmouth Review for transgressing the boundaries of “political correctness,” i.e., the progressive party line. Despite its leftist sympathies and censorious attitude, the Dartmouth administration was universally referred to as “liberal.” This environment—supportive of totalitarian agitators like Davis and hostile to conservative students—was in my experience typical of most universities, and reflected the general tenor of the intellectual culture.

The essay, “Mercy for a Terrorist,” describes how the broad progressive community is ready to embrace domestic terrorists if

the motivation for their criminal activity is “progressive.” A variation on this theme appears in “The Destructive Romance of the Intellectuals,” which is a review of Martin Amis’s book about Stalin, and his conflict with Christopher Hitchens over the latter’s lingering romance with the totalitarian “comrades.”

Tom Hayden was a leader of the New Left and a violent revolutionary who advocated guerrilla war in America’s streets and organized a riot at the Democratic Party convention in 1968. Shortly after that riot destroyed the electoral chances of Hubert Humphrey, Hayden led a generation of radicals into the Democratic Party with the idea of transforming it into a party of the left. As a direct result of their success, Hayden was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Democratic president Jimmy Carter and became a Democratic assemblyman in the state of California. After being term-limited from the Assembly he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Los Angeles, which was the occasion for an op-ed column I wrote, called “Tom Hayden, Los Angeles and Me,” which opposed his candidacy. In achieving this acceptance by mainstream Democrats, Hayden had not jettisoned his radical views, including his fundamental hostility to America and its social framework. It was thus the Democratic Party that had undergone a significant change, not him.

In “The Future of the Left,” I examine another revealing case of the progressive mind-set. Its subject, Richard Rorty, was born into the Trotskyist left but was philosophically an anti-totalitarian skeptic. Rorty wrote a book criticizing the left for its lack of patriotism and corrosive hostility towards American society, both of which he regarded as counter-productive. But in the end Rorty remained a prisoner of the same attitudes because he could not let go of the fantasy of a utopian future and its ancillary hostility for the unredeemed present. The full flowering of this hatred is manifest in all the works of Noam Chomsky, whose intellectual dishonesty is dissected in the essay, “Guru of Anti-Americanism.”

A hallmark of the left is its reliance on deception both in the presentation of its agendas and in its attitude towards the past. Because of the religious nature of its ambitions these deceptions are intrinsic and not merely calculated. Animated by the fantasy of a future perfection, the left depends on extreme myths to sustain its salvationist illusions. Facts that do not fit its indictments must be made to do so; historical records that question its vanguard status must be challenged or suppressed. Several examples of the historical falsifications that flow from these imperatives are explored in the essays “I, Rigoberta Menchú, Liar,” “Three Political Romancers,” and “Progressive Education: Panther Style.”

When members of the progressive faith do break ranks and dissent from its myths, they are immediately shunned, and often summarily cast out. “The Secret Power of the Leftist Faith” explores this ritual in the case of Christopher Hitchens, although Christopher, a double agent of sorts, was ultimately able to retain his progressive bona fides. A related essay, “Ordeal by Slander,” illustrates how the left—in this case represented by the editor of Slate, a Washington Post publication—insulates its mythologies from damaging scrutiny by labeling its critics “McCarthyites” and witch-hunters. The result of these maneuvers and the fear they induce is a hermetically sealed intellectual environment that prevents progressives from considering alternative views.3 This phenomenon is explored in “Guilt of the Son,” which tells the story of one of the children of the Rosenberg spies who embarked on a quest to prove his parents’ innocence and wound up embracing their guilt.

In 2012, the film director Oliver Stone produced a ten-part television series and 750-page text titled The Untold History of the United States. Co-authored by leftist professor Peter Kuznick, this so-called history regurgitated the Stalinist version of the Cold War’s origins and conduct, and then the views of America’s Marxist and Islamic enemies. It was shocking enough that a major network would fund and promote a propaganda project like this. But its absurd fabrications were embraced with only a handful of dissents by the progressive culture and its academic establishment. The essay “Oliver Stone’s Communist History” reviews the Stone-Kuznick phenomenon as a watershed moment in the devolution of American liberalism and the American left.

The final section, “Identifying the Left,” reviews the ferocious reaction that occurred in February 2005 when I published an online encyclopedia of the left. The encyclopedia was called “Discover the Networks,” and provided a database of progressive individuals and organizations, ranging from radical to moderate. The three essays that conclude this volume were my responses to leftist critics who focused their attention on an index of individuals accompanied by thumbnail photos, which were featured in the database. This index was subsequently removed for reasons unrelated to the controversy, when leftists began filing copyright infringement complaints over the use of the photos. Since the index was an incomplete listing, designed merely as an advertisement for the contents, it seemed prudent to simply remove it. But the reaction itself was revealing, showing how sensitive the left is to having its agendas and networks described.