Man is not the best of things in the universe.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI, Chapter vii; 3-4 (H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library, 1926, 1982, p. 342)

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Ayn Rand (born Alice Rosenbaum) is a fascinating person and an inspiring advocate of freedom but a very mixed blessing philosophically. Her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still best selling introductions to the ideas of personal freedom and of the free market. As literature they may have drawbacks, but they are compelling "reads," which is certainly what Rand would have wanted. Rand's passionate and moralistic tone, while off-putting to many, is nevertheless probably a real part of her appeal and is no less than an equal and opposite reaction to the self-righteousness that is still characteristic of leftist rhetoric. Few writers convey an irresistible ferocity of convictions as Rand does. To many, including the present writer, raised and indoctrinated with the standard disparagements of capitalism, a novel like Atlas Shrugged can produce something very much like a Conversion Experience. At the same time, the harsh certainty of an autodidact and self-made person, and the high handed authoritarian manner of Rand's personality, worked against her case, her cause, and her life.

Although David Kelley, Leonard Peikoff, and others now try to develop her thought into a complete philosophical system, nothing can hide the relative shallowness of her knowledge:  She despised Immanuel Kant but then actually invokes "treating persons as ends rather than as means only" to explain the nature of morality. Perhaps she had picked that up without realizing it was from Kant [note]. At the same time, the Nietzschean inspiration that evidently is behind her "virtue of selfishness" approach to ethics seems to have embarrassed her later:  She very properly realized that, since the free market is built upon voluntary exchanges, capitalism requires firm moral limits, ruling out violence, coercion, fraud, etc. That was certainly not a concern of Nietzsche, but it was very much a concern of Adam Smith, who realized that, in a context of mutually voluntary exchange, people will always go for the best deal, producing the "invisible hand" effect of mutual and public goods being produced by private preferences. This confuses people enough in regard to Smith; and that makes it all the easier to mistakenly see Rand as advocating a view of capitalists as righteous predators -- especially unfortunate when the popular vision of laissez-faire capitalism is already of merciless and oppressive robber barons. A careful reading of Rand dispels that idea, but her rhetoric works against a good understanding.

Rand also confuses her case with her emphasis on individuals being deliberately "rational." That sets her against the Austrian and Chicago principles of economics that the free market is the means of coordinating limited knowledge, not some place where rationalistic supermen (e.g. the John Galt of Atlas Shrugged) display superhuman intellectual and moral powers. That makes it sound like the free market works just because such supermen exist to control it. Rand herself was actually aware that was not true:  At her best moments she asserts only that capitalism is superior because it automatically, through the "invisible hand," rewards the more rational behavior, not because some superrational persons must exist to hand out those rewards. That would have been F.A. Hayek's "intentionalistic fallacy." Nevertheless, one is left with the impression that Rand and her "Objectivist" successors do commit Hayek's "fatal conceit" by supposing that heroic characters will exercise a superrationalistic control over themselves and the economy, and that capitalism is not really a way of coping with ignorance, or with dispersed knowledge.

Rand certainly tried to exercise a superrationalistic control in her own life, with disastrous results:  Her psychological understanding of people, and even of herself, was clearly and gravely limited. Thus she engineered the marriage between Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, even though (according to Barbara, in The Passion of Ayn Rand) they weren't all that attracted to each other -- their unease was "irrational" to Rand. Then she decided that she and Nathaniel should have some sort of "rational" love affair, like characters in her novels. That Nathaniel was not comfortable with that, especially since they were both already married, does not seem to have mattered. When he finally refused to continue their relationship, Rand furiously expelled him from her "movement" and then scuttled the "movement" itself. That was, curiously, all for the better, since under her control the Objectivist movement was taking on more and more of the authoritarian or totalitarian overtones of the very ideologies it was supposedly opposing.

In another incident, related by the columnist Samuel Francis, when Rand learned that the economist Murray Rothbard's wife, Joey, was a devout Christian, she all but ordered that if Joey did not see the light and become an atheist in six months, Rothbard, who was an agnostic, must divorce her. Rothbard never had any intention of doing anything of the sort, and this estranged him from Rand, who found such "irrational" behavior intolerable.

It is revealing that as Rand refined her idea of the heroic personality from the Howard Roark of The Fountainhead to John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, the type became steadily drained of, indeed, personality. Galt seems little better than a robotic mouthpiece of merciless ideology. Howard Roark was already peculiar enough, since he would just sit staring at the phone while waiting for work. He might at least have read magazines. Subsidiary characters, like Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart, possess something more like real personalities. This deadness of such central characters is an excellent warning that Rand had passed beyond a desire for mere human beings as her ideals. (Jung probably would have detected an animus projection.) This was an unhelpful bit of falseness, not to mention humorlessness, with which to burden her case for capitalism.

One drawback of Rand's literary method to present her ideas, although it follows in the great Russian tradition of philosophical novels, is the manner in which it sometimes obscures historical realities that would reinforce her argument. Thus the Taggart Railroad of Atlas Shrugged may strike someone with an average knowledge of American history as the kind of thing that never existed. Most people know that the transcontinental railroads were built with federal subsidies and federal land grants. They may also know that such railroads were tangled up in hopelessly corrupt, politicized financial schemes and in the end were so badly run and managed that they all (Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, & Northern Pacific) went bankrupt in the Panic of 1893. It takes somewhat better knowledge to know about James J. Hill (1838-1916), who built his own transcontinental railroad, the Great Northern, without public subsidies or land grants and often with the political opposition and obstructionism of the rival Northern Pacific and its political backers. Some of Rand's stories about the Taggart, for instance the challenge of building a Mississippi bridge, seem to have been inspired by real incidents in the building of the Great Northern. Unlike the other transcontinentals, Hill's railroad was financially sound; and after they went bankrupt, he was able to buy the Northern Pacific and also the Burlington. Hill, sadly, had to end his days furious and frustrated with the ignorant manipulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission. By merely fictionalizing Hill, Rand did not help combat the standard, biased history of American railroads (cf. Albro Martin, Railroads Triumphant, The Growth, Rejection & Rebirth of a Vital American Force, Oxford University Press, 1992).

Rand's fiction also obscures another side of the story. The Taggart Railroad does not begin, like the Great Northern, in Minneapolis, but in New York City. The description of its terminal there does fit that of a real place:  Pennsylvania Station, built by another great forgotten figure of American railroad history, Alexander J. Cassatt (1839-1906), President of the Pennsylvania Railroad (1899-1906). Cassatt successfully built, not only the first railroad tunnels under the Hudson River, but the first such tunnels under the East River also -- for the Long Island Rail Road, which was acquired by the Pennsylvania for just that purpose. Like any Randian hero, Cassatt had to battle the corrupt political machine of New York City to build something that would only be a benefit for everyone. Cassatt, who had retired, was offered the Presidency of the Railroad in a scene that could have been right out of Roman history, indeed, just like the act of Cincinnatus being offered the office of Roman Dictator:

And so on a lovely day, June 8, 1899, shortly after [President Frank] Thomson's death, a sober-suited delegation from the railroad's board journeyed out on their Main Line to Haverford [Pennsylvania]. Under a glorious bowl of blue sky they drove past the clipped emerald greensward of the Merion Cricket Club (of which Cassatt was president), and onto a meandering drive past a flock of Shropshire sheep cropping buttercups. Nestled among the trees stood Cheswold, Cassatt's charmingly gabled fieldstone mansion, now completely ivy-covered with gaily striped awnings at all the windows. Cassatt, the master of this country paradise, was out in the fields exercising one of his beloved horses. The men redirected their carriages down another road and spied him.

Cassatt stood in the June sunshine, perhaps thinking of his very good life as a country gentleman, knowing as well as anyone present the almost insuperable problems bedeviling the railroad. His fellow board members got down from their carriages, and offered him their greatest honor, the presidency of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He paused and then responded quietly that yes, he would be very interested. [Jill Jonnes, Conquering Gotham, A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels, Viking, 2007, pp.36-37]

Rand's respect for philosophy is one virtue of her system, but her epistemology and metaphysics miss much of the point of modern philosophy. Indeed, her ideal, rather like Mortimer Adler, was Aristotle. This could be good, since Aristotle's view of substance steered Rand away from a reductionistic materialism. Her development of Aristotle, on the other hand, ends up with something rather like Leibniz's view of concepts:  Concepts refer to every characteristic contained in every individual of their kind. This was not an improvement on Aristotle, who realized that if there are natural kinds, then there are both essential and accidental characteristics of those kinds. The meaning of concepts would be about the essential characteristics. For Leibniz's view of concepts to work, one would have to have, as Leibniz well understood himself, the infinite knowledge of God:  It would be impossible for our finite understanding to encompass all the characteristics of all the individuals of their kind. One suspects that Rand was not one to let God claim some superior status to human (or her) comprehension and knowledge.

Rand's description of "concept formation" seems more sensible. Qualities are "abstracted" from experience and formulated into concepts. Rand shoots for a "conceptualist" theory of universals, which avoids an Aristotelian "realism" of substantial essences on the one hand and the subjectivism of "nominalism," where universals are just words, on the other hand. However, a conceptualist theory cannot be consistently maintained (and this is not just a problem for Rand). Even if concepts may be conventional and arbitrary in many ways, they can only be connected to reality if they are based on some abstract features that are really in the objects. Thus, as soon as Rand allows that the terms for features "abstracted" from experience refer to features that are really there, then she has let in some form of Aristotelian realism, whether she wants to or not. And if there are indeed natural kinds, then there must be natural, and real, essences. Otherwise her theory is nominalist and subjectivist. Evidently aware of that tension, we have the motivation for Rand's idea that concepts refer to everything in the objects. That preserves the objectivism of her theory, and so the appropriateness of "Objectivism" as the name of it, but, as we have seen, it leads down the paradoxical road of a Leibnizian theory of concepts.

Rand's theory of concepts, regarded by both Rand and her successors as the centerpiece of her thought, leads, as in Leibniz, to a view of all truth as essentially analytic. Such a theory, in turn, is pregnant with the potential for speculative dogmatism, ultimately relying, as it must, on a Rationalistic (and Aristotelian) sense of the self-evidence of first principles. Rand's "Objectivism" is, indeed, Rationalistic metaphysics. A good indication of this is that the principle of causality is itself viewed as a corollary of the principle of identity. Identity (either (x)x=x or P->P; stated by Rand as "A is A") itself is a tautology of no positive content, overinterpreted by Rand as the basis of various substantive propositions. Few philosophers since Hume, apart from speculative metaphysicians like Hegel, have regarded causality as logically related to any tautological or analytic truth. The watershed insights of Hume and Kant are thus overlooked and their theories denigrated. Peikoff ("The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy," in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Meridian, 1990) even confuses Kant's definition of synthetic propositions with the Logical Positivist interpretation that all synthetic propositions are contingent. Since Kant would not accept such a trivialization of his theory for a minute (he would even regard it as a misunderstanding of Hume), Peikoff cannot even begin to address the substance of the issues that Kant considers. "Objectivist" epistemology has not been awakened, as Kant was by Hume, from its "dogmatic slumber."

Rand's fundamental law of morality, that one is never justified in initiating the use of force against others (though I am now told that this originally came from Lysander Spooner), has been adopted as the basic Principle of the Libertarian Party. This is an illuminating version of the Moral Law in that it highlights an aspect of morality, politics, and law often overlooked:  That they are about the justification of the use of force. People who casually toss around ideas about what should and should not be allowed in society, or about how much of people's income should be taxed, or what restrictions should be put on property rights, often don't seem to be aware that they are talking about sending men with guns, the police, against people who don't agree with such dispositions and who may not be willing to comply with them. Thus, since it has not seemed wise to many to "allow" people to harm themselves by freely using opiates, cocaine, or marijuana, people have shown themselves willing to harm the uncooperative with equal or greater severity by fining or seizing their wealth and property, putting them in jail for long periods among hardened, violent criminals, and denying them various rights and privileges of citizenship and commerce in addition to the natural penalties, such as they may be, of drug use -- in short, by ruining their lives in retribution for disobeying "society." Behind even those sanctions, furthermore, is the threat of death should the uncooperative choose to defend their Natural Rights to control of their own bodies by "resisting" the representatives of "authority," the men with guns, by force. Few Americans have sympathy for people who resist the police, whatever their reasons.

Despite this edifying emphasis, however, Rand's moral principle is clearly incomplete. First, it makes no provision for "privileges of necessity", which means it would be morally acceptable to let a drowning person die or a starving person starve even if it would present no burden or difficulty to rescue them. No use of force would be involved, simply a wrong of omission. Since wrongs of omission present difficulties of definition and implementation in any case, this is not too serious a fault for Rand's principle, unless it is to be insisted upon that the principle is perfect, rigorous, and exhaustive. It would be foolish to do so, though many do. The second problem with the principle is that it leaves issues of property rights entirely undefined. Is stealing someone's unattended luggage at an airport a moral wrong? It involves no obvious use of "force" against the victim's person. Therefore, if "force" is to mean any unauthorized action against property, property rights must be independently defined; and historically, among libertarians, there have been considerable differences of opinion about the scope of property rights -- including "Georgist" ideas that more property should not be allowed than can be used. Decisions in that area, however, can be no logical consequence of Rand's moral principle. As with cases of necessity, such a difficulty with Rand's theory does not discredit it but does show its limitations and incompleteness. The only really serious error would be to deny such limitations and incompleteness.

Consequently, Ayn Rand as a philosopher has relatively little to contribute to the doctrine of the Friesian School. She may be taken, nevertheless, for what she will continue to be:  An inspiring advocate for the free market and for the creativity of the autonomous individual. With her intimate, personal knowledge of the Russian Revolution, and all the loathing that it inspired in her, Rand will always be an invaluable witness to the practice and folly of totalitarianism. She is also a useful one person test to distinguish libertarians from conservatives:  Her atheism alienates most conservatives, who may even speak of her bitterly and dismissively. A defining moment in that respect was the savage review by Whittaker Chambers of Atlas Shrugged, when it came out, in the National Review. Many admirers of Rand have never forgiven William F. Buckley or conservative Cold Warriors for that attack. At the same time, Rand presents a difficult case for the Left. Since the preferred political universe for leftists contains a one dimensional spectrum from "progressive" to "reactionary," where the reactionary end is a seamless fabric of capitalism, religion, racism, and sexism, Rand is disconcertingly off the track and invulnerable to typical modes of leftist ad hominem religion and race baiting argumentation. Also, as a tremendously successful self-made woman, long before the ascendancy of political feminism, she is invulnerable to the typical feminist mode of gender argumention against "dead white males." These inconveniences make it preferable for the Left to ignore Rand, which mostly they can and have, given the minority and ignorable status of libertarianism. Rand herself and her followers have made that easier by often resenting and taking a sort of heresiological attitude towards fellow libertarians who are suspicious, as Charles Murray has recently put it [in What It Means to be a Libertarian, a Personal Interpretation, 1997], of the "well fortified" ideology of "Objectivism." Rand herself even wanted to sue Reason magazine for running a cover story on her in the late 1970's. Such conflicts and absurdities are typical in ideological movements, but it is a weakness. Rand's own seriousness about philosophy, although to her credit, was also a weakness, in that it complicated and ideologized her case for capitalism and gave her followers this heresiological attitude and a standoffishness to other advocates for freedom. That seems less of a problem for the self-made Objectivist David Kelley than for the anointed successor of Rand, Leonard Peikoff. But, like most philosophers, Rand is better taken as a goldmine for ideas than as authoritative doctrine.

Another of Rand's sins against the Left and still of current interest was her willingness to testify as a "friendly witness" in the 1947 hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Acitivies (HUAC) on Communist infiltration of Hollywood. Rand's only complaint was that they didn't let her testify enough. She was the only person at the hearings who had actually lived under Communism, indeed been a witness to the entire Russian Revolution and Civil War, and she wanted to explain how anti-capitalist messages were included in many mainstream Hollywood movies. It may not be remembered much now that Rand got her real start in America working in Hollywood, living for many years in the San Fernando Valley. This is still of current interest because, after many years of hard feelings, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 1999 finally gave an Oscar to Elia Kazan, director of such classics as On the Waterfront (1954) -- which itself was about a man fighting with his conscience over whether to expose his gangster (i.e. Communist) friends. Kazan, after leaving the Communist Party, was willing to "name names" to HUAC in 1952.

While Communism failed and fell in the real world, in the make-believe world of Hollywood Communist propaganda succeeded quite nicely, and many people still believe that the HUAC investigations were "witch hunts" for non-existent enemies or well-meaning idealists. Well meaning idealists there were, but they were not the targets of the Committee. Instead, they became the "useful idiot" liberals, in Lenin's words, who whitewashed all the real Communists and their activities. The useful idiots are still at it, though since the 60's many of them, as anti-anti-Communists, have been all but indistinguishable from their Communist friends in Vietnam, Cuba, and Nicaragua. As it turned out, the easiest way to find the Communists in Hollywood was just to subpoena all the suspects. Almost everyone who then refused to testify or took the Fifth Amendment, it happened, actually were Party members (acting on Party orders) or fellow travelers, as we know now from many sources, including the Soviet archives that also reveal the Soviet funding and direction of the Communist Party USA and its activities in Hollywood. These were not idealists but willing agents of tyranny, murder, and crimes against humanity. Rand would have no more patience now with leftists whining about "McCarthyism" than she did in 1947 with the lying and dissimulating agents of the living mass murderer Josef Stalin.

The Vice of Selfishness

Infantile Atheism

"Why I am not an Objectivist," by Michael Huemer

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Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Note

Thus Rand says:

The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others... ["The Objectivist Ethics," 1961, The Virtue of Selfishness, Signet, 1964, p.27]

While Rand's apologists now want to say that she knew this was from Kant, I haven't yet heard the citation where she said so. Indeed, Rand typically never credited anyone but Aristotle as a worthy precedessor to herself. And although she had many reservations even about Aristotle, and while she condemned the ideas of many historical philosophers by name, referencing other philosophers from whom she may have derived ideas as much as from Aristotle never became part of her methodology. Kant is never mentioned in her writings except with demonization and caricature. Critics of Rand regard her manner, at times, as approaching plagarism -- it certainly often involved ingratitude, as with her lack of tribute to Isabel Paterson, from whom she may have derived much knowledge -- both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden note that Rand actually didn't do much reading in philosophy herself (though now Rand apologists tend to say either that this is a lie or that Rand had already done as much reading as was necessary).

As it happens, Rand makes the same mistake with her means/ends principle as many critics of Kant. On her own terms, as being essentially a trader, the good person actually is "the means to the ends or the welfare of others." This is why economic exchanges take place, to further the ends and improve the welfare of each transactor. The missing term is that no one should be forced to be "the means to the ends or the welfare of others" against their will. There is also the ambiguity of what it means for a human being to be "an end in himself." This properly means respecting the will and autonomy of others, but it could also have a substantive interpretation, that respecting their own human nature and human life imposes duties to themselves on autonomous individuals to realize their nature. This is rather like what we actually get in Aristotle and even in Kant, and it can be the basis of paternatistic laws to criminalize actions by which people do things that are simply supposed to be bad for them. It is the ground of old laws involving "crimes against nature." Is it also an implication of Rand's principles? Yes indeed, if we look at Rand's practice as well as at her teaching. People who disagreed with her, even about things that were their own business, were condemned, browbeaten, and even "expelled" from Objectivism. Apparently they weren't living up to the promise of being human, as understood by Rand.

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The Essential Anti-Communist
Bibliography

NEWT: "My mommy always said there were no monsters,
no real ones; but there are."

RIPLEY (SIGOURNEY WEAVER): "Yes, there are, aren't there?"

Aliens, 1986, 20th Century Fox Pictures


The second stage... is known by the misleading name of 'war communism.' The name suggests that the policies of this period were conceived of as temporary and exceptional measures to cope with the monstrous difficulties imposed by civil war and intervention. In fact, it is clear from the relevant writings of the leaders -- in particular Lenin, Trotsky, and Bukharin -- that they all envisaged this economic policy (the abolition of free trade, coercive requisitioning of 'surplus' -- i.e., whatever the local leadership considered to be suprplus -- from the peasants, universal rationing, forced labour) as a permanent achievement of the new society, and that it was eventually abandoned not because the war conditions which had made it necessary no longer existed, but as a result of the economic disaster it had caused. Both Trotsky and Bukharin were emphatic in their assurances that forced labour was an organic part of the new society.

Leszek Koakowski (1927-2009), "The Marxist Roots of Stalinism," 1975, Is God Happy? Selected Essays, Basic Books, 2013, p.97


E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.

Dante Alighieri, Inferno XXXIV:139
["And thence came forth to see again the stars."]

With exquisite irony, just as the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Empire fell in the years 1989-1991, American 60's radicals, who were essentially Communist sympathizers, were completing their takeover of American higher education and other "circles," as the Soviets used to say, of the American intelligentsia. Just as a flood of "English Department Marxism," largely innocent of economics, history, and logic, began to dominate academic publishing and "informed" media opinion, the presumptive beneficiary of all this, the Soviet Block, was no longer there to enjoy it. Of course, Fidel Castro was still there, approaching forty years of dictatorship over impoverished Cuba, so he could still bask in the praise of his clueless, "useful idiot" (as Lenin said) American supporters. His heir apparent looked to be Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, at whose court anti-American political pilgrims then paid their respects (in 2013, a heartless reality, or perhaps a vengeful Deity, caught up with Chávez). Thus, with the Cold War long over, the American Left is still fighting it, a long, desperate rearguard action when the main force no longer even exists. In 2005, we had one recent and one new movie about a Christ-like Che Guevara and a new movie about Edward R. Murrow fighting the forces of tyranny -- not to be sure, Josef Stalin, but Joseph McCarthy:  the Cold War investigators of Communist spying are now portrayed as far worse than any mass murdering Communist dictator.

This is a living and important political issue, since American politics is still largely a matter of socialist and Marxist clichés being widely accepted and promoted. A television history of the Cold War made by Ted Turner made it sound like the Soviets were the good guys and the United States was merely consumed with paranoia -- and Harry Truman was "naive" for becoming alarmed about Josef Stalin and building the alliances to contain the Soviet Union. In a December 2008 interview with Bill O'Reilly, Turner said that "it has never been proved" that Castro executed political enemies -- perhaps he thinks it has "never been proved" that Stalin or Mao did either. Examinations of the Communist "Hollywood Ten" on the "E!" Entertainment cable network praise them for "standing up for what they believed in," even though they didn't stand up for what they believed in (Communism), since they either refused to say anything or took the Fifth Amendment, and, what's worse, they did so on instructions of the Communist Party! They certainly didn't believe in free speech, as their defenders now say, since the regimes they supported never allowed it and, now that the like minded have taken over American universities, dissenting conservative and libertarian speakers are regularly shouted down, physically attacked, and, with the cooperation of administrators, kept off campuses.
"Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart."

Thomas L. Friedman, "Reno for President," New York Times, April 25, 2000

A majority of Americans actually thought that little Elián González, after his mother died trying to get him to the United States, should be sent back to slavery and brainwashing in Cuba with his father -- who, of course, did not gain custody of Elián:  The boy, as the Cubans have frankly admitted, is the property, like all Cuban children, of the State. The Cold War thus continues, even if now largely an internal American conflict -- though by way of Islamic Terrorism, which has found willing allies on the Left, the struggle again has taken on a geopolitical character. The Hollywood Ten are held up as martyrs, for losing their jobs and spending a few months in prison for contempt of Congress, even while they had the blood of the millions murdered in Russia and Eastern Europe on their hands, as the conscious and willing agents of Josef Stalin (who was still alive, remember, and still killing people at the time, even readying a pogrom against the Jews), a greater mass murderer than Adolf Hitler. If the Hollywood Ten had been Nazi symathizers and German agents, the fashionable Left would be shedding no tears over them now; but they were, as a matter of fact, the moral and practical equivalent of Nazis.

The books here are mainly those describing the plain truth about Marxism, the practice of Communism, and Soviet spies and sympathetizers in the United States. These are not "classics" of Anti-Communism (like the immortal Witness by Whittaker Chambers [1952, 1980, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC]), but all from the 80's and 90's. The books are alphabetized by (first) author. A recent correspondent, who, with the dishonesty of many leftists, was pretending to be merely a curious and disinterested websurfer, nevertheless betrayed herself with the complaint that some of the books here displayed "poor scholarship." Of course, the real complaint is that they all hit the target too squarely. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr's most recent book examines the "scholarship" of pro-communist historians who still must rationalize and excuse, or deny, the crimes and folly of the Soviet states, or the treason of the Americans who spied for them. The 2007 book, Blacklisted by History, the Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy by M. Stanton Evans, draws on many sources to demonstrate that Senator McCarthy's original accusations against the Truman Department of State were honest and accurate, as was well known by the Administration and especially by the F.B.I., which had accumulated years of evidence against Communists sympathizers, Party members, and Soviet spies at State. That the Democrats, and even President Truman, were willing to sacrifice the truth just to avoid political embarrassment, in the process creating an anti-anti-Communist mythology, is a disgrace. In the hands of the New Left, that mythology grew into a general political correctness according to which even open Communists (e.g. Angela Davis) could not be identified as Communists without committing the mortal sin of "Red Baiting" or "McCarthyism."

The Museum of Communism

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Copyright (c) 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Post-Modern or
"Leftover" Left

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

...those who thought they could save the essence of the Communist "dream" by separating it from its rotten Soviet penumbra were, I suppose, useful idiots, if only to that rotted penumbra itself. Today they are just idiots.

Tony Judt, "Rehearsal for Evil," New Republic, 10 September 2001, p.35.

That Mr. [Noam] Chomsky wears the mantle of respect, that he occupies the position of "intellectual," and that he continues to confuse and debauch the young with his filth is a shame. To abide this shame is a part of the price of living in a free society.

David Mamet, The Wicked Son, Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews [Nextbook, Shocken, New York, 2006, p.143].

The destructive work of totalitarian machinery, whether or not this word is used, is usually supported by a special kind of primitive social philosophy. It proclaims not only that the common good of 'society' has priority over the interests of individuals, but that the very existence of individuals as persons is reducible to the existence of the social 'whole'; in other words, personal existence is, in a strange sense, unreal. This is a convenient foundation for any ideology of slavery.

Leszek Koakowski (1927-2009), "Totalitarianism and the Virtue of the Lie," Is God Happy? Selected Essays, Basic Books, 2013, p.57 (cf. Hegel on the ontological unreality of individuals)

When the Left complains about being "silenced," it is not because they are actually prevented from speaking, but only because they are contradicted. In their Orwellian, or Marcusan, universe, "Free speech" is when the Right is silenced.

Enklinobarangus () [cf. the theory of Marxist Herbert Marcuse that free speech for "reactionaries" is "repressive," i.e. "repressive tolerance." Only the speech of "progressives" should be genuinely tolerated -- a principle whose application is evident in the practice of many students, faculty, and administrators at American universities.]

Surveying the fall in support for the governments of Barack Obama, New York City's progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio and France's Socialist President François Hollande, a diagnosis of the current crisis begins to emerge:  The political left can win elections but it's unable to govern.

Once in office, the left stumbles from fiasco to fiasco. ObamaCare, enacted without a single vote from the opposition party, is an impossible labyrinth of endless complexity. Bill de Blasio's war on charter schools degenerated into an unseemly attack on poor New York minority children. François Hollande's first act in 2012, like a character in a medieval fable, was to order that more tax revenue be squeezed from the French turnip.

Mr. Obama's approval rating is about 43%. Mr. de Blasio's has sunk to 45% after just two months in office, and Mr. Hollande hit the lowest approvals even recorded in the modern French presidency. The left inevitably says their leaders failed them. The failure looks self-inflicted...

Rather than resolve the complexities of public policy in the world we inhabit, the left's default is to simply acquire power [the recommendation of Lenin and Saul Allinsky], then cram down what they want to do with one-party votes or by fiat, figuring they can muddle through the wreckage later [and silence or criminalize dissent]...

Making the unworkable work by executive degree or court-ordered obedience is one way to rule, and maybe they like it that way. But it isn't governing.

Daniel Henninger, "Why Can't the Left Govern?" The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2014, A15, comments added

John 3:20:  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

The World Trade Organziation meeting in Seattle, Nov/Dec 1999, surprised almost everyone with the level of violence and vandalism that was manifest. Although there were many indignant and militant radicals at the demonstrations, the lawlessness was largely the doing of self-styled anarchists, often recognizable by all black clothing and black face masks, not to mention actual black flags. This "Black Block" contingent was also conspicuous at the political conventions in 2000. This seems to be the largest reactiviation of self-consciously anarchist action since the 60's and is perhaps understandable given the level of incoherence, irrationality, and desperation in recent leftist thought. Nor is it surprising that the ignorance and nihilism promoted by public eduction would produce the crop of clueless idiots who seem to be involved in this movement. The folly of such people is painful, when nothing is more brightly written on the pages of history than the fact that, when they actually get the kind of Revolution that they want, anarchists are subsequently the first people to be massacred by the more realistic militants, e.g. Lenin.

There are, indeed, libertarian anarchists, e.g. Murray Rothbard. Few libertarians have much love for the World Trade Organization, and there is nothing in principle to prevent such people from using violence, even Revolutionary violence (as in, indeed, the American Revolution). But an animus for capitalism, business, and "corporations" in general, trashing and looting small businesses, and rejection of free trade at all, not just the "regulated" trade of the WTO, distinguishes the leftist bent of the conspicuous anarchists, as with their opportunistic allies in the following categories.

Despite the painful level of folly among the anti-capitalist anarchists, they can invoke apparently significant intellectual support. Seminal linguistics pioneer Noam Chomsky, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has for years spent much of his energy on a lunatic fringe political crusade against capitalism, the United States, and Israel. Chomsky considers himself an "anarcho-socialist," regards people like Lenin as "right wing," and supports free speech to the extent of travelling to France, where it is illegal to deny the existence of the Holocaust, to defend the questionable people who were doing just that. Chomsky, to be sure, should be particuarly sensitive about such an issue, since he was one of the people who at the time indignantly denied that a holocaust was going on in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Nevertheless, Chomsky's views are otherwise in general little
"...in comparison to conditions imposed by U.S. tyranny and violence, East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise."

Noam Chomsky

"But we cannot be blamed for not taking seriously people who, unable though they are to remember correctly any single fact from our [i.e. Polish] history or to say which barbaric dialect we speak, are perfectly able instead to teach us how liberated we are in the East."

Leszek Koakowski, 1974, "My Correct Views on Everything," Is God Happy? Selected Essays, Basic Books, 2013, p.128

more than a depressingly familiar repeat, root and branch, of Soviet propaganda points. Thus, the United States is wealthy and successful only because it "exploits" other countries and its own poor. In this the United States is merely the logically and causal successor of Nazi Germany, whence it derived an irrational and vicious hatred of the Soviet Union. Chomsky, consequently, is one of the people who tend to regard the repressive totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union, or other Communist countries, as merely the excusable response to American opposition. Their hearts were in the right place, and if they did bad things, it is our fault -- and they certainly didn't have corporations. Chomsky can only honor any such regime that refused to participate in the Western economic system, with the United States at its rotten core, and grieve its passing. Indeed, he thinks that U.S. policy is to destroy even economically insigificant countries (using unspeakable levels of torture and terror, his view of the U.S. role in El Salvador and Nicaragua) just so that the possibility of their setting an alternative "good example" is erased. Unfortunately, when such countries, like the Soviet Union itself, Vietnam, and Cuba, actually do break free of American control and the Western economic system, it is nevertheless still our fault that they do not subsequently prosper economically. How they can continue to fail although free is mysterious, although perhaps, if Chomsky is an anarchist, he assumes that they maintain a repressive state apparatus only to protect themselves from us, and that otherwise the state would "wither away" in true Marxist fashion, allowing a prosperity that the state as such precludes.

Curiously, Chomsky even explicitly endorses greater state power in the United States. He says "[R]ight now I'd like to strengthen the federal government. The reason is...in this world there happen to be huge corporations of private power which are as close to tyranny and as close to totalitarian as anything humans have devised...[s]o you end up supporting centralized state power" [Class Warfare, 1996, pp.122-123, boldface added]. The real sin of corporations, of course, is simply that they are private. If they were truly tyrannical and totalitarian, they would be able to arrest people, imprison them, and execute them. They cannot do that, however, unless they get governments to do it for them. But Chomsky wants to strengthen the government. Some anarchist. Indeed, this is the basic absurdity of anarchism:  In the absence of government, people will be entirely free to form organizations for their own purposes, whether legitimate or wrongful. To stop the vicious organizations, the innocent ones would need to achieve enough power to defeat and contain them -- they would, in short, become governments. Since there will therefore always be governments, and since Chomsky doesn't like private property, wages and prices, or private corporations, only a totalitarian level of socialist government, i.e. a communist government, will be sufficient for his purposes.

However much Chomsky's worldview seems like a Twilight Zone of counterfactuals and dishonest, unfalsifiable ideology, his influence is nevertheless great in a generation whose own political and economic education is a mush of incoherent welfare statism -- the true fascism whose affinities are, indeed, more with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union itself than with laissez-faire capitalism or American Constitutional government. But since Chomsky presumably doesn't like any of those things, there is literally no precedent for the kind of regime he would prefer and no evidence for the practicality, or even coherence, of whatever economic and political system he envisions. The idea of giving power to anyone of the sort is terrifying. When I find self-identified anarchists (including one of my own students) complaining that it is an outrage that conservatives are able to be heard on talk radio, I have no doubt that the excuses for Communist regimes that someone like Chomsky offers can very easily become excuses for their own violent repression of dissent should they ever have the chance to do so. As in the Soviet Union itself, free speech and such can be allowed after class enemies are eliminated and the state does wither away. Thus, until the whole world is assimilated to their system, they don't have to apologize for any acts of violence or oppression. By resisting, we are to blame.

By the end of 2010, the mere vandalism of anarchist groups has begun to grow into something far more sinister. A century ago, anarchists made a name for themselves with terrorist bombings and high-profile political assassinations, such as that of President McKinley and the tragic Empress of Austria, Elizabeth of Bavaria (d.1898). Now we are beginning to see anarchist bombings again, initially in Italy and Greece, where there is already a history of leftist terrorism. The frustration of such people with the woes of Euro-Socialism must be acute, and mindless violence is the only response that they can conceive. We have not heard of alliances yet between them and Islamic Jihadists, but their tactical programs are so similar that a meeting of the minds cannot be far off.

In the 1993 movie Bram Stoker's Dracula [Columbia, American Zoetrope/Osiris], there is a scene where Count Dracula, confronted with his pursuers, turns into a figure made of rats, who then scatter and run in all directions. This is rather like what has happened to Communism since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Few in the West today would identify themselves publically or self-consciously as Communists (though some do, like the recent poet laureate of New Jersey, Amiri Baraka, who sees no hope for the United States outside a "Marxist-Leninist" political party), but a large body of leftists and even advocates of "liberal" opinion, when taken together, can more or less be reassembled into Soviet attitudes and policies. As Talleyrand said of the Bourbons, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. For instance, a Hobbesian absolutist statism can be found in the popular historian Garry Wills (cf. A Necessary Evil), who denies that government can be limited by laws, since it makes the laws, and so cannot really be limited or divided at all. This rejects, consequently, all the principles of the rule of law (which is now only invoked by the Left to require blind obedience to the government), separation of powers, checks and balances, enumerated powers, and all the other devices conceived for the limitation of government. Wills, in short, doesn't believe in and doesn't like any of the basic or original principles of Liberal, Constitutional, or traditional American government. What we get instead is an authoritarianism which is exactly what the Left wants for its other assaults on freedom. These assaults in general are what can be assembled as the rats to reconstitute the whole of Communism, even when we overlook the explicit Marxists who can be found thick on the ground at every American university. Thus, besides socialist economic policies that dismiss property rights, and that endorse price fixing for wages, medicine, gasoline, and whatever else seems unsatisfactory at the moment, we also find a growing totalitarian dimension in attacks on personal rights and voluntary association. A crude joke at work is now a "civil rights" offense (unless it is done by someone on "our side," like Bill Clinton). Any activity whatsoever, indeed, with any dimension that can be construed as economic, like advertising for a roommate, is now subject to high standards of anti-discrimination and political correctness. All of this not only violates the Fifth Amendment prohibition against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation but really breaks the Thirteenth Amendment prohibition of "involuntary servitude." When we then find fashionable theories denying that free speech should be allowed, or that it even means anything (cf. Stanley Fish -- with practical manifestations in common university "speech codes," as well as hostility, obstructionism, and tolerated violence towards non-leftist speakers at American universities), the direction in which the whole project is headed should be clear. Communism did not die; its unrepentant followers and sympathetizers simply executed a tactical dispersal. Since Communist strategy was always one of deception, misdirection, dissimulation, and dishonesty, there is nothing out of character about all this.

More overt Communism can be found in a recent book that has become beloved of the Left. This is Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri [Harvard Unversity Press, 2000]. Part of what is going on here is evident in who Antonio Negri is. Formerly a political science professor at Padua, Negri is presently under house arrest in Italy because of evidence of his connection, even participation, in the infamous terrorist campaign of the "Red Brigades," including the kidnapping and murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. That Negri is not in prison may be due to the continuing influence of the (former) Communist Party in Italian politics. Nor are the Red Brigades ancient history. On March 19, 2002, Marco Biagi, an economics professor adivising current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the reform of Italian labor law, was gunned down outside his home in Bologna. A group identifying itself as the Red Brigades claimed credit for this, as part of the post September 11 fight against "imperialism." Michael Hardt is a literature professor at Duke University, thereby nicely fitting the profile of an English Department Marxist, at a school infamous for a reign of deconstuctionist political correctness. What Negri and Hardt want is a fantasyland version of Marxism in which the Soviet Union was "in fact...a society crisscrossed by extremely strong instances of creativity and freedom." Perhaps this is why no art of note, except for novelists who were then suppressed, was produced after the 1920's in the Soviet Union, and nothing significant ever invented outside of the Soviet military sector (of which, of course, the space program, which never did get to the Moon, was a part). The "Empire" of the book's title is thus the Leninist image of capitalism as imperialism -- a point where Chomsky, of course, is unlikely to disagree. This all gives us an extremely fine example of intellectuals as fools, self-blinded to the most conspicuous events of recent history, vicious fools for whom terrorism may be the most promising tool for bringing about the revolution.

Environmentalism can be thought of as a broad based and popular movement, but its activist and militant wing goes far beyond what most people would think of as protecting the environment. Vandals and terrorists who break equipment on isolated ranches, who "spike" trees so that lumber mill saws (and saw mill workers) will be destroyed, and who burn down houses in developments of which they disapprove, may seem to be a mere lunatic fringe, but all organized environmentalism shares many views and strategies with the rest of the Left, with the distinguishing feature that, while traditional Communism believed in expanding production and ever greater wealth for all, many or even most real environmentalists, fringe or not, do not believe in economic growth ("consumerism") and would just as soon have many fewer humans living in virtuous poverty. Few will say in public, of course, "Most of you should go and die," but slow growth policies, to preserve the "quality of life," imply that anyone shut out by the lack of construction or economic growth should simply go elsewhere. When a California law professor goes to Cuba and finds "ecotopia," precisely because of the poverty into which Communism has plunged the country, we have a very curious reversal on the failures of Communism and a striking point of alliance between environmentalists and unreconstructed Communists. When Castro is the darling, not just of crypto-Communists, but of environmentalists, one may well suspect that the Greens are truly "watermelons" -- green on the outside and red on the inside. The popularity of the Green political movement with former socialists, and even Mikhail Gorbachev, may reveal that the stated purposes of socialism, like greater wealth, were never the most important things. Instead, it was power and control that mattered, regardless of either its positive or negative effects on economics.

The purely political dimension of the Green movement is especially clear in the nomination by the American Green Party, two times in a row, of "consumer advocate" Ralph Nader. Nader has relatively little interest in environmentalism, is not a member of the Party, and, at least in 1996, admitted that he hadn't even read the Green Party platform. But the Greens know that Nader's anti-corporate and anti-business views are something they are comfortable with and that there is nothing incongruous with him representing their movement. Indeed.

The poverty of ecotopia and an anti-capitalist assault on all the conditions of modern life, which will be productive of general poverty, will all be happily conformable to the beliefs of those who actually want to preserve or return humans to pre-modern ways of life. Thus, an anthropologist at Hunter College and the City University of New York, Marc Edelman, has written a book, Peasants Against Globalization [Stanford University Press, 1999], in which the indictment of capitalism, free trade, and "globalization" is pitched in terms that traditional peasants tend to be forced off the land, which destroys their way of life and simply makes them underpaid urban workers. This is a far cry from Marx's remark about the "idiocy of rural life," let alone the hatred that Lenin and Stalin had for peasants and their intention to destroy them as a class, which they did. Mao, who did not have enough of an urban proletariat to make a revolution (the orthodox Marxist requirement), used the peasants to make the Chinese revolution, but then he put the peasants on communes, just like Stalin, and denied them what peasants had always actually wanted, a bit of land of their own. What Edelman seems to want is less arcane:  tariffs, price supports, commodity cartels, and all the other (neo-Mercantalist) devices of protectionism. Peasants in Central America are leaving the land because the international prices of coffee and corn are falling. This kind of thing has been rendering much agricultural labor superfluous for a long time. Thus, in the United States in 1840, 68.6% of the work force was in agriculture. By 1880, this was below 50%; by 1950 it was only 11.6%; by 1980 2.2%; and by 1990 1.6%. Edelman wants to "protect" traditional rural life by preventing the prices of food and other agricultural products from falling. This implies the rather paradoxical idea (although long popular with American farmers) that expensive food is a good thing. Since Edelman worries about possible famine in Central America, it is especially curious that his policy prescriptions would make food more costly. He does seem to realize that displaced farmers could find other kinds of employment, but then he complains that high interest rates prevent the kinds of loans that could fund small business creation. What Edelman doesn't seem to know is that in the 19th century the Chinese in Malaya, Indians in East Africa, and even the Jews in America did not start businesses with loans from colonial authorities or other ethnic groups that usually were unsympathetic or actively hostile to them. They worked at some of the most thankless labor available, rubber plantations for the Chinese, the Kenya railroad for the Indians, and Lower East Side sweatshops for the Jews, but nevertheless they managed to accumulate capital and rise in business, in all these three cases to dominate the economies in the areas where they found themselves. For this to work in Central America, where there is little of the entrepreneurial culture manifest in the immigrant Chinese, Indians, or Jews, Edelman (and the countries of the area) must allow foreign capital and foreign business -- perhaps even Chinese, Indians, and Jews. But Edelman can countenance no such thing. Foreign capital and business will exploit the locals and refuse to pay a "living wage." Thus we come full circle:  Marx was right, capital exploits labor, and we must use all the force of the state, not just to drive up commodity prices, but to drive up the cost of labor also. If what Edelman wants is to preserve pre-modern poverty, this will certainly do it. But what Edelman wants isn't even coherent -- expensive food to prevent famine and high labor costs to prevent unemployment. What he wants, in short, are all the devices of a command economy, with the illusion (or ignorance) that these things have not been dismal failures.

Although the assault on freedom and on the proven institutions of the free market and liberal democracy was given a bad moment by the events of 1989-1991, the pace and the confidence of the Left is picking up again. Since the intellectual and moral case for collectivism, command economics, and coercive, authoritarian politics is still bankrupt, the "Post-Modernist" adaptation of irrationality and relativism has proven useful. Ad hominem arguments were always the bread and butter of the Left anyway. All a Marxist ever had to do was identify someone as a class enemy, and then arguments were unnecessary -- just kill 'em. Now it is a matter of "race, class, and gender" enemies -- the only thing good about the "dead white males" (Plato, Milton, Jefferson, etc.) was, indeed, the first attribute.

The reason for the renewal of the Left through all these movements, anarchist, Communist, and Green, may be the muddled nature of the victory of freedom in 1991. Few realized that the socialist approaches of the New Deal and of earlier Progressivism were discredited along with Lenin and Stalin. Even Chomsky says, "New Deal liberalism [sic]...[and] its achievements, which are the result of a lot of popular struggle, are worth defending and expanding" [The Common Good, 1998, p.5]. But these "achievements" were foreign growths in free institutions; and, like a cancer that has metastasized, the removal of the tumor does not mean the end of the disease. The cancer comes back. Thus, to the Democratic Party, the Press, and the "chattering" university and literary elites, something like nationalized medicine is still a wonderful, progressive idea; and they can hardly wait to burden the already foundering systems of Social Security and Medicare with further expenses, control, and obligations. Having refused to learn better, they are ironically heartened by their own failures:  That the War on Poverty failed, is now the reason to try it all over again. That "progressive" education (with teachers unions and a federal Department of Education) has resulted in ignorant and illiterate students, is now the reason to spend even more money on the same approaches (and self-interested institutions). One hardly knows, indeed, whether to laugh or cry.

Early in 2003, the Left, with their useful idiot supporters in Hollywood and anti-American (i.e. anti-capitalist) forces around the world, committed themselves to protecting the neo-Nazi dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. This tyrant, who recently engineered his "reelection" with 99% of the vote, has conducted a terror regime for more than twenty years, with constant torture, the use poison gas against Kurds and others, invasions of Iran and Kuwait, and defiance for 12 years against international sanctions requiring him to account for and destroy the stocks of chemical and biological agents that he admitted to possessing. This person was then elevated by the Left into the leader of the heroic struggle of the Iraqi people against America. Thus, one of the most violent and vicious rulers in the world, whose son reportedly regularly kidnaps, rapes, and murders women, becomes the "progressive" poster child for "peace." The most cutting retort to this seems to be that the United States supported Saddam Hussein against Iran. Well, the United States supported Josef Stalin against Hitler, and I don't hear any complaints about that, even though Stalin ended up murdering more people, and certainly enslaving more for longer, that Hitler did. But then Stalin was a good guy to these people, and we were bad for later opposing him.

The hard Left credentials behind many of the organizers of the "peace" movement were discussed by columnist John Leo on 23 February 2003:

The sponsor of the [recent] New York [peace] rally was the umbrella group United for Peace and Justice, which can be described as the crazy far-left on its best behavior. The co-chair is Leslie Cagan, an oldtime radical organizer and a member of the Committee on Correspondence, which came out of a split inside the American Communist Party in 1991.

UPJ comes on as moderate enough to attract the churches and groups like Greenpeace. Its real function may be to deflect attention from the real power in the anti-war movement, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which doesn't bother to look moderate. ANSWER is a front group for the hard-left International Action Center (IAC), which is a front group for the Workers World Party, an old-line Stalinist group with legendary organizing skills. The WWP supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary, backs China's massacre in Tienanmen Square and fiercely supports Kim Jong Il's fanatic regime in North Korea. Few people in the "peace" movement seem bothered by having to listen to Leninist orators or walking along in marches with fans of North Korea.

The "peace" movement, therefore, like the "peace" movement in the Vietnam era, is not really for peace, it is for the defeat of America, by Communists if possible, but by anyone (like Hussein) if necessary. If Saddam Hussein has biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, and if these can be put into the hands of terrorists, to kill thousands (more) or millions of Americans (and Jews), that is the consummation devoutly to be desired. The fools, who didn't mind when Bill Clinton overthrew the government of Haiti or bombed the hell out of Serbia, now naively marched with people whose fondest hope was that Saddam Hussein would survive and be able to kill us.

The United States, however, overthrew Hussein and occupied Iraq in three weeks. A country that has never had a liberal society or a democratic government, and is vulnerable to the attractions of Islâmic Fascism, is a poor candidate for "nation building." The American experience in Iraq therefore may very well turn out no better than it was in Lebanon in the 80's or Somalia in the 90's; but any day such a dictator can be overthrown is a good day for humanity. This is what the Left can never admit, if such an event is ever of any benefit to the United States itself.

The Left endured a stunning defeat with the Presidential election of 2004. It was not for want of trying. Hollywood went all out, from the summer blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, with environmentalist doomsaying and caricatures of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, the greatest political "documentary" since Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935). While the likes of Moore, and money man George Soros, attacked George Bush and the war in Iraq, it was evident what their real targets were:  free trade, globalization, and Capitalism itself. To Moore, Capitalism is a "diabolical" system, and he happily quotes Lenin. He had already done his bit for the police state with his deceptive and mendacious anti-gun "documentary" Bowling for Columbine. Moore is a thoroughly disgraceful person, but he was warmly embraced and displayed by the Democratic establishment -- who had been a lot harder on Hugh Hefner back in 2000. The Press also went all out. Although John Kerry never authorized the release of his military service records, and George Bush did, it was Bush who kept being attacked over his Air National Guard service (after years of their defending Bill Clinton for no service at all). This reached its height with the use of forged documents by CBS News to try and show that Bush had disobeyed orders. Although the forgery was exposed within hours (from an era when documents were typewritten, the documents curiously were products of Microsoft Word), CBS took days to admit that there was a problem, and even then continued, with no evidence, to claim that the story was nevertheless true. But we already know about Dan Rather. Anger at the Press turned out to be a factor in the turnout for Bush. In the postmortem of Leftist commentators, all they could do was bewail the stupidity of American voters in continuing to vote for Capitalism, not to mention smearing voters as bigoted Christians because gay marriage was rejected in eleven States (even in a State, like Oregon, that went for Kerry). That this was simply an affirmation of traditional morality offended everyone for whom "morality" means no more than socialist political activism.

The combined red and black flag for anarcho-communists was evident at some rallies organized by ANSWER in April 2006, purportedly in support of "immigrants rights." While many illegal aliens marched in such rallies merely in the hope of being legalized and becoming American citizens, there was a conspicuous element of radicals who clearly hated America and were demanding to be legalized even though they believed they were legal already as Mexicans, since the United State stole the Southwest from Mexico -- the chant was that "we didn't move over the border, the border moved over us" (i.e. 160 years ago, after the Southwest had belonged to Mexico for all of 25 years, with a population consisting mainly of native Indians, not Mexican immigrants). This amounts to a very peculiar set of demands, since they were on the one hand for American citizenship and all the political and welfare benefits of the American state, but then on the other hand for the abolition of America, with the return of the Southwest to Mexico (I suppose that the Chumash, Navajo, etc. would not be consulted, again). While most Americans are outraged at the incoherent combination of insolence and hatred in such demands, the press tends to avoid showing or mentioning the radical elements in the demonstrations, and rarely says anything about the nature of the organizers (like ANSWER). This betrays a political judgment that conforms to the approach of the Democratic Party in the matter, which is that no amount of hatred for the United States is too much to preclude using it for political benefit. The Democratic Party expects that legalized illegals would vote Democrat, and the more radical the better, since the less likely they would be to vote for Republicans. Thus, Democratic legislation is long on legalization and short indeed on measures to prevent further illegal immigration. While the Republicans are intimidated by cries of "racism," neither side pays much attention to the desires of the majority or what would be best for the country.

After the public has began to weary of the war in Iraq (which now has continued five years), and the Democrats took back Congress in 2006, the Democrats may also be poised to take the Presidency in 2008, perhaps even with greater majorities in Congress. The Republicans largely have themselves to blame for this, and the chances of Democratic victory may well depend on Conservative disillusionment with the Republicans and especially with the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, John McCain -- the kind of politician people call a "RINO," "Republican in name only," which means they think that the way to appear appealing and compassionate is to advocate a sort of "Democrat light" kind of government. But, of course, Democrats aren't going to vote for them anyway. The result of such an election could well be what Lenin said of the Russian Revolution:  "the Festival of the Oppressed," as "oppression" is now understood in fashionable academic opinion, i.e. that "oppression" consists of free speech, free markets, free association, etc. In other words, America could come to the ruled by the crowd who have agreed with Barack Obama's minister, Jeremiah Wright, when he said, "Not God bless America. God Damn America!" There is no doubt that the Left wants to simply silence Conservative media opinion -- their complaint was never about being silenced themselves, just about being contradicted. The public may not realize how extreme the extremists have gotten. We will perhaps find out. This is why I have elsewhere pronounced American politics now hopeless.

The victory of Barack Obama in 2008, with the Democrats seizing strong majories in Congress, led to a fairly open program to begin building socialism in the United States. Indeed, Newsweek magazine announced on its cover (before it was sold for a dollar and discontinued a print edition), "We are all socialists now." Yet Democrats still officially act insulted or puzzled if they are asked about socialism. Privately, thanks to cellphones, we often hear other talk -- which only goes to confirm the accusation of conservatives that Democrats cannot honestly admit what they have believed and planned to do.

They did enough, however, to go down to stunning defeat and lose the House of Representatives in 2010. In the Senate, with few Democrat seats vulnerable in this cycle, they lost some numbers but kept a majority -- although the defeat of long time leftist icons like Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was all but unbelievable. If the Republicans maintain any kind of discipline in the House, the socialist joy ride is over.

Since the Republicans had discredited themselves by 2006 with overspending and corruption (i.e. pork barrel "earmarks"), giving rise to the "Tea Party" movement in response, they have a real challenge to avoid their previous failures and keep faith with a newly aroused electorate. The best that the Republicans can say in retrospect is that they weren't as bad as what the Democrats subsequently showed themselves to be. But since what the core of the Tea Party really wants -- the Restoration of Constitutional Government -- is a truly radical purpose that is congenial to only a few, if any, Establishment Republicans -- it would, after all, undo the New Deal, with which Einsenhower Republicans made their peace long ago -- the political future of the country promises, to say the least, to be interesting.

That Hideous Strength: Satan is a Democrat, It is the Blue States that are Red, & The Evil Empire Strikes Back

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