May 02, 2003


Democratic politicians, entertainers and liberals of all stripes have been full of righteous indignation in recent weeks, in protest of the suggestion, (expressed or imagined) that their opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq, or the War on Terror in general makes them somehow "unpatriotic". There was "a chill wind" blowing for Tim Robbins, and Hillary literally shrieked that Republicans wanted to make "disagreement" the equivalent of a lack of patriotism.

Some who were strident in their opposition in the lead-up to the Iraqi intervention are now "weaseling" for political purposes by use of the "I support the troops, but oppose the mission" stance. Even after the liberation and the attendant revelations about Saddam's regime, Bush is still excoriated by the left, and America's motives are called "imperialistic". This could be dismissed as just garden variety political partisanship, an opposition to the Bush agenda whatever it might be. If it were truly a principled opposition to U.S. military intervention, surely we would have heard from these people a few times during the Clinton administration.

Or this illogical opposition to the deposing of a monster could be taken as a statement against America itself. Pure, unadulterated anti-Americanism by Americans. People who are ideologically opposed to the democratic republic that is our mode of government, and the capitalist economy that is the engine of our prosperity and power. Who would deny that this sentiment exists within the American left today? Those on the "hard-left" are self-identified. In many cases, they are admitted socialists. It doesn't require a "red-baiter", a modern day Joe McCarthy to "out" them. They're out.

David Horowitz calls them the "neo-coms" in his new two-part essay "Taking on the Neo-Coms", at (Part 1 )(Part 2) Horowitz defines the neo-coms as:

....people who identify with hostile regimes like North Korea, Cuba, and China, or – more commonly -- believe the United States to be the imperialist guardian of a world system that radicals must defeat before they can establish "social justice" on the planet.....Adherents of this anti-American creed variously describe themselves as "Marxists," "anti-globalists," "anti-war activists" or, more generally, "progressives." Their secular worldview holds claims that America is responsible for reaction, oppression, and exploitation across the globe and causes them to regard this country as the moral equivalent of militant Islam’s "Great Satan."

Horowitz also does us the service of identifying said neo-coms, from intellectuals Chomsky, Said, and Vidal to cultural icons like Tim Robbins and Michael Moore, to Congressional sympathisers like Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich. It is useful to assign a name to this group, Horowitz says:

The purpose of the term “neo-communist” is to identify a segment of the left that regards the United States as the root cause of international evil because it is the guardian of the international property system. In the eyes of radicals, this makes America the bulwark of the prevailing system of “social injustice” in the world. These propositions have profound implications for one’s political loyalties and commitments, and explain how individuals who claim to honor peace, justice, equality and freedom, can interpose themselves between America and a fascist like Saddam Hussein.

My problem is that the ideological lines of separation on the left are kind of fuzzy as we move along the line from Ramsey Clark to Edward Said to Barbara Kingsolver to Michael Moore to Hillary Clinton. In other words, from those who openly hate America to those who would have a shit fit if you suggested that they were "unpatriotic", much less "anti-American".

And those lines are fuzzy because the people at both ends of that spectrum advocate statist, socialist positions and programs, in terms of what our government ought to be and do, and seem hostile to the notion that American power can be a force for good around the world. As Horowitz notes, however, they are quick with the "defense" if called by their name:

One of the hard left’s survival secrets has been its ability to embargo attempts to identify it by labeling those who do "red-baiters" and "witch-hunters," as though even to name it is to persecute it. These same people, on the other hand, think nothing of labeling their opponents "racists" and "fascists," or calling the President of the United States a "Nazi" puppet of the oil cartel. Yet their defense strategy is highly effective in the tolerant democracy they are determined to destroy. I myself have been called a "red-baiter" and "McCarthyite" for pointing out that the current "peace" organizations like International ANSWER and Not In Our Name are fronts for the Workers World Party – a Marxist-Leninist vanguard that identifies with North Korea -- and the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist sect. The facts are obvious and unarguable, but their implications are unpleasant and therefore suspect.

The core of the message from Horowitz of course, is that despite the catastrophic and murderous failures of socialism in the 20th century, there still exists the utopian impulse in America today, and that impulse is personified by the neo-coms and their ideological cousins in the Democratic Party, and finally, that the "leopard" has not changed its spots:

A key to the mentality of the left is that it judges itself by its best intentions, and judges its opponents -- America chief among them -- by their worst deeds. Or by the fantasies of what their worst deeds might be. By imagining a perfect world of social justice that leftists (unopposed) will surely create, even America’s most positive achievements can be made to look bad. If a world can be made in which everyone will be fed and have shelter and medical attention, then the fact that they don’t can be attributed to America, because America is the guardian of the international “status quo.”

Without any "successes" of socialism to point to, the left has only "negative" ammunition, according to Horowitz:

There are always (and inevitably) two sides to the revolutionary coin. The first is negative and destructive, since it is necessary first to undermine the beliefs, values and institutions of the old order which must be destroyed before a new one can be established. The second is positive and utopian, a vision of the future that condemns the present and encapsulates the idea of a redemptive fate.

For half a century now, ever since Khrushchev’s revelations about the crimes of Stalin, the left has been exclusively driven by its negative agendas. (This has become even more the case since the pathetic implosion of the socialist system.) Leaders of the contemporary left have put forward no serious plans for the post-capitalist future. More importantly, none of the energies that drive them are inspired by such plans. The left’s inspirations are mainly negative and nihilistic, and have been so for nearly fifty years.

An optimistic America, confident in its freedoms, prosperous economically, succeeding in its war on terror, and helping to bring "government by the people" to the far corners of the globe, is the worst nightmare for the neo-coms.

The Republicans have repudiated Trent Lott and marginalized Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for their "unrepresentative" positions. Their love of country has never been in doubt. Yet the mainstream Left continues to march behind the banners of International A.N.S.W.E.R., cheer the hate speech of Edward Said, and then act insulted if it is suggested that they might share some of that knee-jerk antipathy to traditional American ideals.

Let's ask all of the Democratic candidates to renounce socialism as a failed economic and social model, as a precondition for representing one of our nation's great political parties in the coming election. That shouldn't be too difficult for Tim Russert or someone to accomplish, should it? I won't hold my breath.

Let's hear Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton or Tom Daschle or John Kerry renounce the extremism of the neo-coms. Why is it beyond the pale to call on purported "moderates" to publicly validate American ideals by repudiating those who openly despise her and seek to destroy her? Horowitz once again, on the bankruptcy of the idea of socialism:

In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy. In the vast library of socialist theory (and in all of Marx’s compendious works), there is hardly a chapter devoted to the creation of wealth – to what will cause human beings to work and to innovate, and to what will make their efforts efficient. Socialism is a plan of morally sanctioned theft. It is about dividing up what others have created. Consequently, socialist economies don’t work; they create poverty instead of wealth. This is unarguable historical fact now, but that has not prompted the left to have second thoughts...

....Neo-communists survive on bad faith. In the past, Communists believed in what they did; today, neo-communists justify their deeds by invoking the excuse of good intentions. But isn’t this just what all utopians do? If you believe in a future that will redeem mankind, what lie will you not tell, what crime will you not commit to make the future happen?

Posted by dan at May 2, 2003 10:53 PM
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