Friday, December 9, 2011

Left Illusions by David Horowitz

Left Illusions is a collection of a number of articles and opinion pieces Horowitz has written (up to the time of publishing in 2003). As such, it predates the columns on his website, but obviously, there's nothing really new to see here. Indeed, he seems to have excerpted a portion from his earlier work, Radical Son, so if you've read that other tome, feel free to skip ahead when appropriate.

Near the end of the book, Horowitz provides a fairly succinct and pointed history of the Palestinian vs. Israeli conflict which still plagues world affairs. Many of the other pieces in here, however, seem to be either attack or self-defense editorials, written in response to some Leftist's article painting him as deluded or traitorous to the cause. I found them tedious and dry, by the time I read through all of the background wranglings.

However, scattered throughout the book, I did find a few gems of Horowitz' thoughts:

"Liberals begin by taking a stand that feels morally right; but the true appeal of liberalism lies in its making believers feel good about themselves. Because liberalism begins and ends in a moral posture, it doesn't require the difficult assessment of facts on the ground to validate its conclusion."

"For the left, the agenda of politics is ultimately not about practical options concerning which reasonable people may reasonably differ. It is about moral choices that define one as human."

Just as reformed smokers are more vituperative about the nasty habit of smoking, a reformed leftist like Horowitz can get really wound up about his former allies' beliefs and behavior.

He identifies the Green movement with historical Marxism:

"Thus radical ecology leads to the familiar threat. The virtuous state must control and restrict social wealth and redistribute it according to the radical creed...As Porritt (of Britains Ecology Party) argues: 'We in the West have the standard of living we do only because we are so good at stripping the Earth of its resources and oppressing the rest of the world's people in order to maintain that wealth.' To achieve ecological balance means 'progressively narrowing the gap to reduce the differences between the Earth's wealthiest and poorest inhabitants until there are  more or less equal shares for all people.'"

On the historic failure of Marxist states:

"But once in power, marxism - like fascism - exploited, oppressed, and ruined the very masses it claimed ot liberate. Having soared to power on dreams of transcendence, the radical enterprise succumbed to the gravitational pull of human nature, which even massive doses of terror and repression could not undo."

On the true, rather than the progressive, modernizing nature of socialism:

"Socialism belongs to a social stage based on the simple economy of small groups, a stage that had to be overcome in order to realize the great wealth-making potential of the market system. Far from being a progressive conception, the socialist ethic is atavistic and represents the primitive morality of preindustrial formations: the clan and the tribe. This is why its current incarnation takes the form of  'identity politics'..."

A bit about electoral politics from eleven years ago still rings true today:

"There is nothing wrong with instituting good policies and running things efficiently. But while Republicans are performing htese Gold Star tasks, Democrats are busy attacking Republicans as servants of the rich, oppressors of the weak, and defenders of the strong."

Another timely tidbit:

"What a tax cut really affects is the investment capital of the rich - their ability to create jobs and wealth for other Americans. (Or did you think it was government that created those?) As Republicans know - but seldom say - the Democrats' progressive tax code actually works against poor and working Americans. Unfortunately, to appreciate this fact requires an understanding of the economic system that most Americans (and apparently all Democrats) lack."

Reading this book probably isn't going to change any political mindsets, but it may provide some insight into how the other side thinks.

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