Surprised by Horowitz

March 22, 2012

I recently came across John Hawkins’ Best Quotes from David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. Here is a proverbial treasure-trove of Horowitz’s brilliant insights re: the liberal/progressive/Socialist mindset from one who knows them better than they know themselves. The very first quote perfectly describes why Socialism is known as “the (false) god that failed.”

After the Russian Revolution of 1905, the philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev analyzed communism as a form of idolatry in a way that proved to be prophetic. Berdyaev traced the origins of what he called the Marxist “heresy” back to the tower of Babel. In that story, people had tried to achieve their own redemption — without a transcendent God — by building a ladder to heaven. Communists had a similar ambition. They had projected onto fallible beings godlike powers that would enable them to overcome their human fate. In do so, Berdyaev warned, the communists had created demons they would not be able to control. — P10-11

Indeed. The destructive ideology that passes itself off as “liberalism” nowadays is really a form of demonic idolatry, no different in method, results or fanaticism than the 16th century Aztec practice of human sacrifice on a scale unrivaled prior to the Bolshevik experiment.

Some more choice Horowitz quotes:

Lenin had called his opponents “insects” that the revolution must exterminate. If you were merely a peasant and got in the way of the revolution, your life was flattened into a single abstraction, as in “The achievement of socialism requires the liquidation of the kulak.” The particular individual with distinctive features simply disappeared. Stalin’s innovation was to make these condemned souls “unpersons” even before their deaths. Even heroes of the revolution were not immune. You could be as famous as Trotsky, and it would count for nothing when the revolution turned against you. Not only would Stalin kill you to the applause of the people, but it would be as if you never existed. — P.88

Sometimes the easiest truths to understand are actually the hardest to learn. “Thinking doesn’t make it so” is one. “Just because it feels good, doesn’t mean it’s good” is another. The failure to learn these distinctions is actually the cause of liberalism, and lies at the heart of the liberal confusion about race. Liberals begin by taking a stand that feels morally right; but the true appeal of liberalism lies in its making believes feel good about themselves. Because liberalism beings and ends in a moral posture, it doesn’t require the difficult assessment of facts on the ground to validate its conclusions. — P.161

The more racists you can find under any given bed, the more progressive you will be judged, and the more guilt free you will feel. Thus, there is a psychological pay off. The more racism you are able to see, the better you can feel about yourself. In discovering racism, even where it may not exist, you are able to realize your own virtue and its self-reward. — P.162

Unless one is blinded by the discredited Marxisms of the political left, there is no reason that the rich should be adversaries of the poor or oppose their interests. Not in a dynamic market society. Only if the economic market were a zero sum game, as leftists believe — “exploited labor” on the one side and capitalist profit on the other — would leftist ideas make any sense. But they don’t. The real world relation between labor and capital is quite the opposite of what the left proposes. Entrepreneurs generally want a better-educated, better-paid, more diverse working force, because that means better employees, better marketers, and better consumers of the company product. That is why, historically, everywhere capitalism has been embraced, labor conditions have improved and inequalities have diminished over time whether there has been a strong trade union presence or not. — P.212

Many years ago, I lost a close childhood friend to a fringe Christian fundamentalist sect. Ironically it was the group’s twisted teachings that first inspired my long, difficult philosophical and spiritual journey that 20 years later brought me back home to the ancient Catholic faith that contains the fullness of Truth. The following passage calls to mind the tactics and paranoia my friend’s group tried to instill:

The radical commitment is less a political than a moral choice. Leaving the faith is a traumatic experience because it involves an involuntary severing of communal ties. That is why “political correctness” is a habit of the progressive mind — it is a line of fear that holds the flock in check. No greater caution exists for those tempted to leave the faith than the charge of “selling out.” Prior to temptation, leaving the faith is inconceivable, a sign that one is no longer a good person. — P.275

Here is Horowitz’s pithy demonstration of the famous liberal double-standard that lambasts Limbaugh for the splinter of a poor word choice taken both out of context and out of character, while missing the beam in Bill Maher’s (and too many others on the Left to name) serial mysogyny and grotesque obscenties hurled toward accomplished conservative women:

Shortly after Peter Collier and I first entered in the conservative world, I had a lunch with Norman Podhoretz, who warned me, “When you were on the left, you got away with everything. Now that you’re on the right, you’d better be careful, because they won’t let you get away with anything.” — P.287

More good insights:

It is the fact that the community of the left is a community of meaning, and is bound by ties that are fundamentally religious. For the non-religious, politics is the art of managing the possible. For the left, it is the path to social redemption. This messianism is its political essence. 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. — P.294

In authentic religions, each person understands himself as a sinner, and none mistakes himself for a savior. But in political religions, human beings propose to act as saviors, judging and condemning, using their wisdom and power to redeem us all. But in politics, there is no redemption. There is only the bloody history of the left, its drama of the guillotine and gulag, marching endlessly through time. — P.317

Hayek called this “the Fatal Conceit,” the idea that “man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.” I call it The Sound of One Hand Clapping.

My good friend Symeon recently introduced me Horowitz’s latest autobiographical odyssey, A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption. Much as I always respected and admired Horowitz, over the years I pigeon-holed him as someone whose trenchant insights into the utopian mindset were limited by his own lifelong secular agnostic beliefs. I assumed–without evidence as the quotes above prove– that his Marxist critique was political and secular only, missing the deeper insights of say a Whittaker Chambers who fully understood Marxism’s political and economic failings, but also the effects of its spiritual impoverishment on the human spirit:

“What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind—the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step.”
Whittaker Chambers, Witness, p. 83, 1952

I stand corrected. I see now that for a long time, Horowitz has been asking the same questions that other truth seekers throughout history have asked, and it seems he’s arriving at the same answers. Having seen first hand the dead end of secular utopian delusions, he’s been following the via negativa and finding hints of the Alpha and signposts toward the Omega in the writings of Marcus Aurelius, Dostoyevsky, Pascal and Augustine.

Looks like I have got a lot of catching up to do.