The Best Quotes From David Horowitz’s “Left Illusions”

by John Hawkins | March 19, 2012 4:45 am

From David Horowitz’s Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey[1].

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

The truth is that man cannot live for himself alone, that sooner or later the emptiness of such life overcomes him and he seeks involvement with others. — P.28

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

In all my efforts on behalf of black people, I had never thought to ask: would my black comrades extend themselves to gain justice for me? –P.95

There is protest against murder and repression in Nicaragua but not Cambodia, Chile but not Tibet, South Africa but not Uganda, Israel but not Libya or Iraq. Political support is mustered for oppressed minorities in western countries but not in Russia or the People’s Republic of China, while a Third World country that declares itself “Marxist” puts itself — by the very act — beyond reproach. — P.104

Let me make this perfectly clear: those of us who inspired and then led the anti-war movement did not merely want to stop the killing, as so many veterans of those domestic battles now claim. We wanted the communists to win. Is it true that some of us may have said we only wanted the United States to get out of Vietnam, but we understood that this meant the communists would win. “Bring the troops home” was our slogan; the fall of Saigon was the result. — P.111

In 1989, for two hours’ labor at the minimum wage, an American worker could obtain, at a corner Sizzler, a feast more opulent, more nutritionally rich and gastronomically diverse than anything available to almost all the citizens of the socialist world (including the elite) at almost any price. — P.137

(Soviet joke: “What is socialism? The longest road from capitalism to capitalism.”) — P.139

The teachings of Elijah Muhammad mirror the white supremacist doctrines of the southern racists whose rule King fought. According to his teachings, white people were invented six thousand years ago by a mad scientist named Yacub in a failed experiment to dilute the blood of the original human beings, who were black. The result was a morally tainted strain of humanity, “white devils” who went on to devastate the world and oppress all other human beings, and whom God would one day destroy in a liberating Armageddon. Why is the image of this bizarre fringe racist blown up several times life-size to form the iconography of a National Civil Rights Museum? It is as thought someone had placed a portrait of the leader of the Hale-Bopp Comet cult in the Jefferson Memorial. — P.153

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

The left is hostile to the very idea of assimilation. Its agenda is the deconstruction of America’s national identity and culture, and particularly the American narrative of inclusion and freedom. — P.198

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

…McCarthy was right about the presence of Communists posing as liberals, …virtually all of McCarthy’s victims were Communists (and lied about being Communists)… — P.249

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

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

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

In the first five years of the epidemic, sexually transmitted AIDS was virtually confined to the white gay communities in three cities — New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. As a result of the obstruction of testing, reporting, contact-tracing, and infection-site closing by gay leaders and their allies in the Democratic parties controlling the administrations in these cities, public health officials could not warn communities in the path of the epidemic of the danger approaching them. — P.331

Democracy arbitrates life’s uncertainties through electoral pluralities. In America, nobody gets to decide what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong without the consent or at least the tolerance — of a plurality of the American electorate. If the electorate is wrong, only the electorate can remedy the error. Hence, the appropriate respect for the people’s judgment is a moral imperative as well as a political necessity. — P.345

Here are the principles of political war that the left understands, but conservatives do not:

1) Politics is war conducted by other means.
2) Politics is a war of position.
3) In political warfare, the aggressor usually prevails
4) Position is defined by fear and hope
5) The weapons of politics are symbols evoking fear and hope.
6) Victory lies on the side of the people. — P.349

But politics isn’t just about reality (if it were, good principles and good policies would win every time.) It’s about images and symbols, and the emotions they evoke. This is a battle that Republicans almost invariably lose. — P.358

But whatever they do, Republicans must remember to:

* Think politics along with policy.

* Speak the language of moral indictment.

* Frame Democrats as oppressors of minorities and the poor.

* Use the romance of the underdog to win the American heart. — P.366

Credulous advocates of appeasement in the west like Ted Turner and the wife of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair are in their own minds so superior to the Muslims who hate them that they don’t consider the possibility that the Islamic faithful could actually mean what they say. — P.371

There is no Arab spokesman who will speak for the rights and sufferings of Jews, but there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Israel — and all over the world — who will speak for “justice” for the Palestinians. How can Jews expect fair treatment from a people that collectively does not recognize their humanity? — P.404

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. — P.437

  1. Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey:

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