November 6th, 2013

David Horowitz: come back to tell you all

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
———–T.S. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

David Horowitz has written a new book, although it doesn’t have much in it that’s new. It’s composed of essays Horowitz has written over the last two and a half decades. He is a chronicler of the left, with a unique perspective that comes from having been one of its leaders until the mid-1970s, and then turning right and making an announcement to that effect in 1985.

Horowitz looks back, aghast but analytical, and tries to warn of the dangers for the future. It’s as though he were attempting to expiate his own political sins by sounding a clarion call to people to recognize and pay attention to the left’s methods and goals, and to realize that the left never, never, never ever gives up, even when it might appear to do so.

The title is The Black Book of the American Left, and Scott Johnson discusses it and offers a lengthy excerpt at Powerline. This following is from the book’s introduction (but please read the entire excerpt at Powerline):

The essays contained herein describe the left as I have known it; first from the inside as one of its “theorists,” and then as a nemesis confronting it with the real¬world consequences of its actions. In all these writings I was driven by two urgencies: a desire to persuade those still on the left of the destructive consequences of the ideas and causes they promoted; and second, the frustration I experienced with those conservatives who failed to understand the malignancy of the forces mobilized against them. Most conservatives habitually referred to leftists who were determined enemies of America’s social contract as “liberals.” In calling them liberals, conservatives failed to appreciate the Marxist foundations and religious dimensions of the radical faith or the hatreds it inspired. And they failed to appreciate the left’s brutal imposture in stealing the identity of the intellectually pragmatic, patriotic, anti¬totalitarian “Cold War liberals” whose influence in American political life they began killing off in 1972 with the McGovern coup inside the Democratic Party…

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 the left as an adversary; and if sheer volume were the measure, as its principal intellectual antagonist. Some have seen an obsession in my efforts to define the left and analyze what it intends. In a sense that is true; I had left the left, but the left had not left me. 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.

I’ll close with another fragment of poetry, from Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”:

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

15 Responses to “David Horowitz: come back to tell you all”

  1. leigh Says:

    I believe I have read every book that David Horowitz has written, beginning with his autobiography “Radical Son”. He is a treasure trove of information and a fine mind with a clear writing style. He is easy to read, yet the subjects he deals with are by no means light.

    David knows all the players on the left (before they reinvented themselves as the “new left”), indeed he was personally acquainted with many of them and knows tales they prefer not be told.

    I urge everyone to read “Destructive Generation” about the societal devastation that was born in the 1960s. David is an old man now, and I fear he is feeling his mortality. He is an agnostic, but I wish him Godspeed.

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    I wonder if the title is a reference to “the Black Book of Communism?”
    That was an informative read.

  3. Mac Says:

    I’ll probably read this, too. I may be one of those “conservatives who failed to understand the malignancy of the forces mobilized against them,” because the lefties I know now are all nice people who want nice things to happen, and have no more desire to establish a totalitarian state than I do. But these aren’t the people he’s talking about–they may be useful idiots, but they’re not malicious. I have to think back to the few very serious leftists I knew in the ’60s to remind myself. I think a lot of those people got over it, but if I try to imagine what they would be like if they didn’t, I begin to get the idea.

    I had thought of Horowitz as a sort of gadfly/bombthrower, which of course at one level he is, but when I finally got around to reading Radical Son I found out that he was much more. Originally skeptical of the jacket blurb comparing it to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, I changed my mind–it is very much worthy of the comparison. Horowitz is a serious thinker and a fine writer who goes deep. I strongly recommend his philosophical meditation A Point In Time. He’s an agnostic/atheist and I’m a Catholic, but he really gets to the heart of the matter.

  4. Matt_SE Says:

    “the lefties I know now are all nice people who want nice things to happen, and have no more desire to establish a totalitarian state than I do. But these aren’t the people he’s talking about–they may be useful idiots, but they’re not malicious.”

    Sadly, these people don’t realize the nature of their leadership either. They will be thrown under the bus when it becomes convenient.

  5. Don Says:

    “Sadly, these people don’t realize the nature of their leadership either. They will be thrown under the bus when it becomes convenient.”

    Heh. Yep. “White hispanic” George Zimmerman was one Obama supporter thrown under the bus. The left is always willing to eat its own.

  6. Ripple Earthdevil Says:

    Horowitz has done and continues to do great work in exposing the left but his joining Ron Radosh’s vendetta against Diana West is very disappointing and disturbing.

  7. Don Carlos Says:

    “To him my tale I teach”
    Aint enough teachables out there.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    He decapitalizes the Left because….?

    Makes the “New Left” stand out more, was that a small rule they implemented in the day?

  9. carl in atlanta Says:

    Ripple wrote:

    “…but his joining Ron Radosh’s vendetta against Diana West is very disappointing and disturbing.”

    Yeah, what is behind that particular flame war? I have not read Ms. West’s book, but saw a lengthy interview of her (maybe by Ginnie Thomas over at The Daily Caller?). She did not sound like the lunatic that she’s been made out to be.

    Someone (can’t remember where I saw this) has recently opined that Horowitz and Radosh believe her theory (about the extent to which the USSR commies infiltrated and influenced the USA) is at heart anti-Semitic. I didn’t get that from the interview I saw. She has clearly done something to enrage them.

    Anyone have the inside dope on this?

  10. leigh Says:

    Horowitz and Radosh’s beef with Ms. West is her sloppy research and that she is not bringing anything new to the table as well as misrepresenting long held well researched opinions.

    One can read the entirety of the exchange at Horowitz’ Frontpage Magazine.

    Ms. West does not acquit herself.

  11. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Most good-hearted, moral people naturally tend to believe that everyone else is pretty much just like them, and find it extremely hard to envisions people imbued with the kind of hatred, malevolence, and lack of morality that many Leftists exhibit.

    So, the evidence can be found in many sources, including Horowitz’ books, but it isn’t sought out and certainly not believed.

  12. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    A valuable insight from Horowitz’s pamphlet, “Barack Obama’s Rules For Revolution.”

    “What they had – and still have – is a vague idea of the kingdom of heaven they propose to create, in Marx’s case ‘the kingdom of freedom,’ in Alinsky’s ‘the open society,’ in the case of the current left, ‘social justice.’ These ideas are sentimental and seductive enough to persuade their followers that it is all right to commit fraud, mayhem and murder -usually in epic doses – to enter the promised land. But otherwise, revolutionaries never spend two seconds thinking about how to make an actual society work. How to keep people from committing crimes against each other; how to get them to put their shoulder to the wheel; how to provide incentives that will motivate individuals to create wealth.”

    Kind of explains Obamacare. The leftists really don’t have any idea how to get to the promised land except by compulsion at the point of a gun. (Government edict!) They have no concept of individual freedom and motivation – what it means for creation of wealth and a better life for most (not all) people. They are blind to the lessons of the egalitarian experiments of the past – which led only to death and equality of misery. Horowitz understands it and is trying to point it out to any who will listen. Unfortunately, not many do.

  13. Gringo Says:

    The event which precipitated David Horowitz’s leaving the left was the murder of Betty Van Patter. Horowitz had recommended Betty Van Patter for a bookkeeping job with the Panthers. Shortly after she found some irregularities in the Panthers’ books, she disappeared. Her body was found a month later, in January 1975. After much investigation, her daughter Tamara Baltar decided that the Panthers had killed her.

    Denial about who killed her mother didn’t help Baltar in the early years. “I didn’t think my mother was murdered by the Black Panthers for nearly 10 years,” she said. “For me, this was a crime committed within my own community — the sub-community of the left,” said Baltar, now 56.
    “While I did not know a single Panther, everyone on the left in the Bay Area was part of a huge family back in the 1960s and 70s. I guess it’s tantamount to a family member committing murder, in a way,” she said.
    Looking back, it was Horowitz, a one-time Panther insider and former leftist writer turned conservative, who tried to tell her otherwise.
    “On the way to Betty’s (Van Patter) funeral, I said, ‘I think the Panthers killed your mother’ and Tamara said, ‘They’re good people.’ When you are in the left, you don’t see it,” said Horowitz, who introduced Van Patter to the Panthers and adds he has spent the last 32 years regretting it.
    “It derailed my life,” Horowitz said in a recent telephone interview from his Los Angeles home. “I had been a left-wing activist leader. I never did another (liberal) political thing after that. I realized that everything that I believed had led to that point where I got involved with this group of people and recruited Betty.”

    Recently a book on the history of the Black Panthers was published: Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party . The book has no mention whatsoever of Betty Van Patter. A bookkeeper for the Black Panthers who was murdered? Rage against the Empire! Not. It is of note what the book says about David Horowitz.

    Accusations abound about Newton’s alleged criminal activities during this period. People agree on the specifics, and few of the accusations have been ferified: Newton eventually defeated every one of the major criminal charges in court. Some of the most widely touted accusations come from right-wing activists such as David Horowitz and Kate Coleman, who seek to vilify the Black Panther Party. Yet retrospective accounts from a range of sources add some credence to these accusations. [page 379]

    The assumption is made that because David Horowitz is a “right-wing activist,” that his charges against the Panthers should be dismissed. One is reminded of the propagandists who said that what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said about the Soviet Union and its gulags should be dismissed out of hand, because he was “anti-Soviet.” As Alexander Solzhenitsyn had good reason to be “anti-Soviet,” David Horowitz has a very good reason to be against the Panthers: the death of Betty Van Patter. The murder of Betty Van Patter, and what this said about the Panthers, is the main reason why David Horowitz left the left and became a “right wing activist.”

    The book cites Horowitz’s and Collier’s Destructive Generation in the bibliography, which discusses Betty Van Patter, so the authors cannot plead ignorance. Which in any event is not a good excuse for a college professor.

  14. Ripple Earthdevil Says:

    Howoritz and Radosh’s behavior toward West has been thoroughly reprehensible. Rather than offering a rational rebuttal they have indulged in the lowest kind of name calling and censorship. It’s redolent of none other than the Left that they left.

  15. southpaw Says:

    Wallo Dalbo :
    as the wise Jedi knight Yoda succinctly described your observation, “Hard to see, is the dark side, ummmm”

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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