Monday, January 5, 2009

American present worth defending

I just finished Destructive Generation, Second Thoughts about the ‘60s, by Peter Collier & David Horowitz. It is difficult to tell when every element of this book was written, but I’ll assume that the comments at the end were written at the time of the latest copyright, 1995. They write on page 361, “What have we learned by the middle of the journey? In brief, that the radical future is an illusion and that the American present is worth defending; and that we were part of a destructive generation whose work is not over yet.”

A few years ago I read Horowitz’ Unholy Alliance; so I knew he was from the left, but weren’t we all, I said to myself assuming that our growth had been similar? But that wasn’t the case. Horowitz had Leftist parents. His father had been a Communist. He was supportive of the same things Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were. He and Collier put out a Leftist publication that inspired many to join the left. They opposed America and worked against it by supporting Leftists and Leftist causes. My own Leftism wasn’t like that. I bought into some Leftist ideas and thought the ideal of Marxism commendable, but at the same time I believed that one ought to fight for one’s country. I joined the Marines during the Korean War and there was never a time during my Leftist phase when I believed that was a wrong thing to have done. Horowitz and Collier during that time would have been appalled at the idea.

I believed the Soviet threat overrated and since I worked in Aerospace, was suspicious of the forces at work in Aerospace, Business, and Government to make the Soviet Union seem more powerful and dangerous than it really was. I did have “insider information” back then and much of what I believed was true, but I underestimated the effect of the Soviet, Stalinist, Marxist-Leninist, ideal. I thought, clinically, that it would work or it wouldn’t, and if it didn’t, everyone would abandon it as a noble effort that failed. But that isn’t what happened. It, the epitome, the Soviet Union, did indeed fail, but there was a spiritual element to it that lived on. I never really understood that back then. Perhaps Collier and Horowitz didn’t either, but they realized it eventually. They go on,

“In the middle of the journey, we feel none of the reassuring certitude we felt at the beginning. Then, defeats were merely momentary setbacks, preludes to the final victory; then, time seemed clearly to be on our side. It is difficult now not to feel almost the opposite – that the losses America suffers in the world may be permanent; that the victories democracy achieves may be reversed. In this mood, we find ourselves remembering Whittaker Chambers’ remark to his wife when he decided to defect from the Communist cause: ‘You know we are leaving the winning world for the losing world.’ Later, he explained: ‘I meant that, in the revolutionary conflict of the 20th century, I knowingly chose the side of probable defeat.’”

Chambers wrote Witness the same year I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I never thought we would be defeated, but Chambers didn’t have military conflict in mind. He was thinking of the “spiritual” force. Collier and Horowitz continue,

“Why, despite its monstrous record of criminality and failure, should the revolutionary cause continue to prosper? Chamber’s answer was that the Left, whose real enemy was liberal society, had nonetheless succeeded in the industrial democracies in making itself appear to be the ally of liberal progress. This was partly because the secular society the Enlightenment created could not satisfy the human longing for belief, which had previously been satisfied by established religion. The Left had stepped in with a creed that could.”

While believing this, that Leftism is a creed, I have nevertheless over many years engaged Leftists in debate. I studied more than they did and my arguments were better, but I couldn’t get them to agree that my conclusions followed from my evidence, they would slip away and engage in something I may as well now term “spiritual.” They knew they were right even though my evidence and arguments said they were wrong. They had faith in their spiritual ideal and no amount of argumentation was going to sway them from that. And Chambers seeing that long before I did believed they would win, that we had nothing that could stand against their spiritual force. Well, it didn’t turn out that way. The invincibility I believed in as a young Marine was closer to the truth than Chambers’ defeatism. He overestimated Stalinist spiritualism. They became cynical and while they got their way for a long time, the number in Russia who believed in the ideal, who had “faith” got smaller and smaller over time. Yes, there are some in Russia revising history, but not to seek a return of Marxism-Leninism. One article referred to what they are doing as seeking a “Return of the Czar.” The Leftists over here in the U.S. no longer have a Soviet example to hold high as Moses held his staff high so the Israelites could keep winning. The modern Leftist true believers seem content to continue their intellectual Fifth Column subversion, not so our enemies can win, but so that the U.S. will lose. Perhaps out there in the Third World, some new nation will have a true revolution and become the new epitome of what they desire. Perhaps it will be Venezuela. Perhaps it isn’t too late for Cuba. But regardless, the Leftists believe, America must be defeated.

And of course I disagree with that. I have read more history than they have, at least more than the people I have argued with, and think our Liberal Democracy a noble experiment that is worthy of being defended. Leftists aren’t “Liberals” though they like to be called Liberals. We Conservative Americans are “Liberals.” Our Liberal Democracy is the epitome of Liberalism. The modern definition of Human Rights originated in our Bill of Rights and our constitution. We are a nation that emphasizes the rights of the individual. Leftists have faith in their ideal, but every time a nation has tried to put their spiritual ideal into effect, the result has denied human and individual rights. Totalitarian regimes take over these nations and create laws that keep the leaders in power. Leftist Leaders claim that they epitomize “the people”; so any opposition is “attacking the people,” and those who do so are “enemies of the people.” Leftists make the same mistakes over and over, but hope for a different result. There is only one system that guarantees individual rights and that is the American system, Liberal Democracy. If Leftists read a bit more history, they would realize that if Leftism ever took over the U.S., most of the current Leftists would be purged. Eric Hoffer once wrote about this. The Soviet Leaders purged those who believed almost the same thing they did, those who jockeyed with them for leadership. If we had a Leftist takeover in America, who would lead? And what would become of all you Leftists who think you are on the right track? Check out what happened to such people as you in the Soviet Union, in China, in North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and in Cuba. The only people who did well from those revolutions were the ones who fled to the United States.

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