Today, we will start a new series here at NewsRealblog, the subject of which will be David Horowitz’s political memoirs Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. I started reading this book, described by P.J. O’Rourke as “one of the best political memoirs I have ever read,” for the first time a few days ago and will share my thoughts on it while reading it. This way, you’re reading it together with me.
In this first installment of “Radical Son Reflections,” I’d like to focus on the Left’s vision for a Utopian socialist future as described by the author in his memoirs. Horowitz describes this striving for an ideal world governed by socialism as follows:
To live up to my parents’ ideals, I knew I had to take on responsibilities in the larger world. My school, P.S. 150, provided a microcosm. Surveying my classmates, I imagined I could see the inequalities of their future estates. I was only in the fifth grade, but the natural hierarchy of the schoolyard already weighed on my socialist conscience – the gifts of beauty and grace and physical prowess that seemed to unevenly distributed; the disparity that marked intelligence as we vied for classroom grades. It seemed unjust that some, like myself, should excel, while others fell behind. I attributed my own success to the fact that my parents were teachers and gave me help, while the failure of others was due to the lack of such privilege. The remedies I devised for these injustices were cliches of our progressive culture. Physical ability was an accident of nature, emphasized too much in a society “distorted” by competition. In the world to come, athletics would be a recreational pastime rather than a contest, and everybody would be a winner. Likewise, beauty could be seen as a social myth, exterior to the individual, its standards shaped by the brainwashing influences of the commercial market. In our future, the standard would be based on inner qualities that would not leave anybody out. As a progressive I yearned for a monde ideal, where the True, the Good and the Beautiful were one.
[emphasis in bold mine]
Ponderous though they might seem for a fifth-grader, these ideas were indeed mine. Intelligence presented the thorniest problem, since it appeared to be inseparable from the self. But if one believed in the possibility of justice and the shaping power of socials forces, as I had been taught, unequal knowledge could be redressed by proper attention, opportunity, and hard work. In my developing political imagination, the schoolyard was full of mute, inglorious Miltons, deprived of their chances for achievement by a system that neglected or stunted them because it was concerned about profit alone. Socialism would provide the answer, leveling the playing field and bringing victory to all. As a result of the Marxist ideas I had already absorbed, I was thus able by the age of 11 to dispose of the enduring pathologies of our social conditions.
[emphasis in bold mine]
Understanding these passages thoroughly (and in all its implications) is important, for it lays bare the core difference between leftist ideologies such as socialism and communism, and conservatism. So-called centrists often tell us that leftists and conservatives have the same objectives in mind, they just want to use different means to reach them.
As the author’s description of the perfect socialist world he once envisioned makes clear, however, this is not even remotely true. This grand dream may cause a socialist’s heart to beat faster, but it fills mine with fear and trepidation. A world in which everybody is equal? A future in which we are all the same? I’m sorry, but that isn’t heaven; it’s hell.
The wonderful thing about life on this planet is that we are all different. We have different personalities, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. That’s not a problem, it’s one of the major blessings we experience every single day. Conservatives understand this truth: differences and inequality aren’t problematic, but natural and wonderful. It’s what makes us humans rather than robots.
And guess what, the very fact that we’re all different is also why we all belong here and why none of us are or will ever be useless or irrelevant. If we were all the same, none of us would truly add something to the greater picture. It is our differences that make the human race grand, not unnatural similarities forced upon us by idealists (Marx, Mao, Stalin, Engels, etc.) who don’t understand the first thing about human nature.
Conservatives – David Horowitz being one of them – understand that. Socialists and other “progressives” don’t and most probably never will. And that’s exactly why these leftist ideologies pose such a threat to our way of life. Our culture is a result of our human nature. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true: if human nature is denied, our culture dies.
OK, that’s it for today. Please come back tomorrow for part 2 of “Radical Son Reflections.”
I hope you’ll enjoy this series with me. In case you haven’t read Radical Son yet, you can order it here. Go get it and join me in the coming weeks.