Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More from Radical Son

I've just finished Radical Son. Those who recommended it to me were correct; it's a fascinating account of one of the biggest political "changers" of recent times. David Horowitz was way to the left of me in his "before" shot, but we seem to have ended up somewhat in the same place now.

Horowitz's book is filled with quotable quotes. From time to time I will post a few. Here he is in 1986, addressing a pro-Sandinista crowd at Berkeley (in the belly of the beast, as it were):

Twenty-five years ago, as one of the founders of the New Left, I was an organizer of the first political demonstrations on this Berkeley campus--and indeed on any campus--to protest our government's anti-Communist policies in Cuba and Vietnam. Tonight I come before you as a man I used to tell myself I would never be: a supporter of President Reagan, a committed opponent of Communist rule in Nicaragua.

I make no apologies for my present position. It was what I thought was the humanity of the Marxist
idea that made me what I was then; it is the inhumanity of what I have seen to be the Marxist reality that has made me what I am now. If my former colleagues who support the Sandinista cause were to pause for a moment and then plunge their busy political minds into the human legacies of their activist pasts, they would instantly drown in an ocean of blood.

When confronted by a reality he couldn't deny, Horowitz refused to retreat into the world of pretty ideas. He finally faced up to the reality of the carnage created by Communism (and enabled by its "useful idiots" on the left) during the course of the 20th century, from Stalin's murders to Vietnam and Cambodia after the US pullout. History proved him right on the Sandinistas, too, although I wonder how many in that Berkeley crowd ended up taking note of that fact.

"They would instantly drown in an ocean of blood"...yes. Horowitz didn't pull his punches when he spoke for the left, and he certainly doesn't do so now that he's on the right. That, at least, has not changed.


At 12:31 PM, June 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean "Radical Son" don't you? I am reading it myself at the recommendation of my wife's cousin, who came around many years before I did (I am a "9-11 Republican"). I just got past the slower earlier parts, and am into the (to me) more interesting parts.

At 12:52 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger Brad said...

"A very popular error: having the courage of one's convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions!"

- Friedrich Nietzsche

At 1:01 PM, June 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Radical Son of course, I will change it (well, it's about change, after all, isn't it?).

It's funny--I've made that error twice now, enough to conclude that the wires in my brain are crossed up on this topic. I seem to have morphed David Horowitz into Richard Wright, which would be quite an accomplishment. Wright, by the way, I've also in the past crossed up at times with poet Richard Wilbur.

I guess that's what happens when you read too much, and you get old--the files get rather full :-).

At 1:41 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger sygamel said...

I'm 1/4 of the way through Radical Son and reading it on your recommendation, n-nc.

At 2:00 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger the Ol' Sheepdog said...

I guess that's what happens when you read too much, and you get old--the files get rather full.

I agree. Sometimes I'm afraid every new fact stuffed into the mental pigeonholes forces an older one to be forgotten.

At 2:15 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger Minh-Duc said...

Everyone on the Left said that the Communist in Nicaragua was popular. The first election, people eagerly voted for an unknown opposition showing how popular the Sandanista was.

If Communist like Castro believe he is popular, he would have allowed for free election.

At 12:42 PM, June 17, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Reality always looks worse in the comparison of an idea, and its ideal result, against a reality based on the alternate idea.

Most Bush-bashers are even worse -- they have an unstated Unreal Perfection as the alternative.

They call it "higher standard", but it means they can justify Bush-hate by any and every imperfection.

Do you have any possible futures that could change your mind, back?

Like, if the terrorists in Iraq are successful at killing 10 000 more Iraqis in the next year?
Or 100 000?

(I would favor more agressive action at about 5 000, and increasingly agressive Iraqi state action.)

At 3:10 PM, June 17, 2005, Blogger Minh-Duc said...


How do you quantify the cost and the benefit of the war? or the cost and benefit of not going to war?

Millions of people died in World War II, did the benefit outweighted the cost? One quarter of Central Europe population died during the 30 years war. That war changed Western World forever, giving birth to modern Europe.

My father often wondered if we should have surrendered Saigon on April 30th, 1975. On the day President Duong Van Minh announced the unconditional surrender, my father thought it was the right thing to do, preventing civilians from being massacred. Later living under oppressive Communism, my father question that belief.

At 7:10 PM, June 19, 2005, Blogger Ho Chi Minh said...

Interesting posts here. I Hate to spoil the party, but:

Speak of Communism, but leave out Czar Nicholas (and his royal relatives)?

Speak of Nicaragua but leave out General Samoza (and United Fruit Company)?

Speak of Vietnam and leave out French colonial slavery, Japanese collaboration, and betrayal?

Speak of Cuba and leave out Batista (and United Fruit Company)?

Leave out all the root causes of conflict and demonise people for rising up against something we our selves would never tolerate?

Fair elections after a right good spanking (bombing)?

Let's pour more oil on the fire, shall we, and see if we can't kill more people this century then the last. I know you can do it. Bravo.

At 7:40 AM, June 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too enjoyed Horowitz's book, although I can't help feeling that although his political beliefs have changed, his style of political campaigning hasn't, nor his intense determination that everyone has to agree with whatever position he has adopted at any given time. With him I see a change in ideological content, but scarcely behaviour.


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