Political Terminology

Who and What Comprises the Far Left in America Today?

What term or terms should be used to identify the political left in the U.S? Current usage refers to everyone left of center as "liberal." Yet, as former leftist David Horowitz points out, "what are currently identified liberals liberal about except hard drugs and sex? In regard to everything else, they are determined to intervene, regulate and control your life, or redistribute your income."

Exactly right. (And even when it comes to drug prohibition, many if not most "liberal" Democrats are just as opposed to legalization or decriminalization as any Republican.)

Obviously, when terrorist-loving left-wing reactionaries like Ramsey Clark and Communist hacks like Angela Davis are referred to as "liberals" - as they routinely are in the "liberal" press and TV media - the obfuscation works to their advantage and against the interests of veracity and what's left of our constitutional republic. Instead of calling them "liberals" perhaps they should be called welfare-state neofascists.

Another aspect of political lexicography, however, involves how to identify the "hard" Far Left, i.e.,, those who are dedicated enemies of America, private property, market capitalism (i.e., the freedom to exchange, save, and invest), and who instead support higher taxes, heavy government regulations, and/or outright socialism (political ownership and control of the major industries, including education, transportation, communication, and health care).

It is usually fairly easy to identify such leftists and it is not difficult to describe them. They almost always champion the failed system of socialism and are often either self-conscious Marxists or have absorbed much of the rhetoric of the old Marxist Left. These include those who have sympathies with such hostile regimes as those now in control of North Korea, Cuba, and mainland China, or - more commonly -- those who believe that most if not all the ills of the world are caused by American capitalism and White middle-class greed. Having absorbed a great deal of leftist propaganda, they tend to believe the United States to be the imperialist guardian of a world system that the militant Left (i.e., anti-capitalist reactionaries) must defeat before they can impose their "social justice" dictatorship all over the world.

Adherents to this anti-American creed variously describe themselves as "Marxists," "Trotskyists," "anti-globalists," "anti-war activists," "Larouchites," or, more generally, "progressives" or even "radicals" -- even though what they really want to do would take the world back to something resembling medieval serfdom if not Stalinist totalitarianism. I hasten to point out -- as I have before elsewhere -- that by no stretch do I consider all those who are truly anti-war to be necessarily part of the Marxist Left -- and if "anti-globalist" includes those who oppose a One World socialist regime, then count me in that category myself! No, I am talking about the hard-core leftists who oppose the spread of market capitalism and American influence anywhere in the world, and who spend their time inveighing against what they call "American imperialism" as being far more of a threat to world peace and freedom than either communism or Islamic extremism.

Their belief system claims that America is responsible for oppression, exploitation, and poverty across the planet and this belief results in their regarding the U.S. and market capitalism as the equivalent of militant Islam's "Great Satan." This explains the otherwise incomprehensible practical alliances that individuals who claim to be avatars of social justice make with Islamo-fascists like Saddam Hussein. (An apparent exception to this anti-American attitude of the hard-core Left is the tactic used by the followers of political cult leader Lyndon Larouche (aka Lyn Marcus) who initially seem to be patriotic and pro-American, but on closer examination reveal a far-left agenda for America and the world.)

The leaders of this anti-Aemrican Left include Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, and Cornel West along with such aging red icons as Angela Davis, Ramsey Clark and Mikhail Gorbachev. Its cultural noisemakers include Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, , . Among its political gurus are Ralph Nader and the heads of the three major "peace" organizations (Leslie Cagan, Brian Becker and Clark Kissinger) and the leadership of such groups as the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party. Its most outspoken and extreme elected representatives include Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-California) and Congressman Dennis Kucinch (D-Ohio).

Among its activist organizations:are the misnamed Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild, just to name a couple. And, its publications and media outfits include The Nation, Z Magazine, The Progressive, Counterpunch, Pacifica radio, Indymedia.org and commondreams.org. Its front groups include many sham "environmentalist" organizations which seek government controls on American industry and economic growth. Like the Communist Party in the heyday of the Soviet empire, the influence of the today's hard left -intellectually and organizationally - extends far beyond the institutions, organizations and publications it controls.

One of the Marxist Left's survival tactics has been its ability to divert attempts to identify it to the public by labeling those who do as "red-baiters" and "witch-hunters" -- as though even to name it honestly is to persecute it. These same people, on the other hand, think nothing of labeling their opponents "racists" and "fascists," or calling the President of the United States a "Nazi" puppet of an oil cartel. Standing on the freedoms recognized by our First Amendment, they get away with propagating lies and half-truths, but when they are exposed as telling lies or even if someone merely disagrees with them, they react shrilly as if their freedom of speech is being taken away from them by force of censorship! They act as if freedom of speech is only for them -- not for those who dissent with their views. This technique has successfully silenced many of the Left's detractors, especially on college campuses where the "poilitically correct" left-wing thought police often have great influence in punishing dissenters. Yet, unfortunately, that strategy has been a highly effective ploy in the tolerant American society they are determined to destroy.

As writer David Horowitz -- himself a former hard-core leftist who knows whereof he speaks -- observes:

"I myself have been called a 'red-baiter' and 'McCarthyite' for pointing out that the current "peace" organizations like International ANSWER and Not In Our Name are fronts for the Workers World Party - a Marxist-Leninist vanguard that identifies with North Korea - and the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist sect. The facts are obvious and unarguable, but their implications are unpleasant and therefore suspect [to "liberals" in denial]."
Of legitimate concern is that the term "Communist" in the context of the contemporary left can be somewhat misleading. While the Communist Party still exists and is even growing, it is a minor player and enjoys nothing approaching its former influence or power in the left. Even in the hard left, the Communist Party USA is only a constituent part of the whole whereas once, along with its front groups, it dominated so-called "progressive" politics.

Because of this and other reasons, Horowitz maintains that the best term to describe this new "New Left" is "neo-communist" or "neo-coms" for short.

By way of background, during the late 1950s and early sixties, what became known as the "New Left" emerged after temporarily jetisoning its old Communist (Marxist-Leninist) substrate or at least some of the more doctrinaire jargon.

Communist expert David Horowitz recalls, "While starting out as a rejection of Stalinism, by the end of the Sixties the 'new left' had devolved into a movement virtually indistinguishable from the Communist predecessor it had claimed to reject. This was as true of its Marxist underpinnings, as its anti-Americanism or its indiscriminate embrace of totalitarian revolutions and revolutionaries abroad.

"The New Left imploded at the end of the Sixties a victim of its own revolutionary enthusiasms, which led it to pursue a violent politics it could not sustain. America's withdrawal from Vietnam in the early Seventies deprived the Left of the immediate pretext for its radical agendas. Many of its cadre retired from the 'revolution in the streets' they had tried to launch and entered the Democrat Party. Others turned to careers in journalism and teaching, the professions of choice for secular missionaries. Still others took up local agitations and discrete campaigns in behalf of saving the environment, feminist issues, and gay rights -- without giving up their radical illusions. In the 1980s, spurred by the Soviet-sponsored 'nuclear freeze' campaign and by the 'solidarity' movements for Communist forces in Central America, the left began to regroup without formally announcing its re-emergence or proclaiming a new collective identity as its Sixties predecessor had done.

"At the end of the decade, the collapse of the Soviet empire ushered in an interregnum of confusion for the left, calling a temporary halt to this radical progress. In the Soviet debacle "revolutionary" leftists confronted the catastrophic failure of everything they had believed and fought for during the previous 70 years. Even those radicals who recognized the political failures of the Soviet regime, believe in what Trotksy had called 'the gains of October' - the superior forces of socialist production. But the leftist faith proved impervious to this rebuttal by historical events. Insulated by its religious devotion to the progressive[sic] idea, the left survived the refutation of its socialist dreams. Instead of acknowledging their wrongheaded commitment to the socialist cause, they looked on the demise of what they had once hailed as 'the first socialist state' as no more than an albatross that providence had lifted from their shoulders.

"In short, having defended the indefensible for 70 years, they were suddenly relieved that they would no longer have to defend it. Turning their backs on their own past, they pretended it was someone else's. They said, 'The collapse of socialism doesn't prove anything because it wasn't real socialism. Real socialism hasn't been tried.' This subterfuge rescued them from having to make apologies for abetting regimes that had killed tens of millions and enslaved tens of millions more. Broken eggs with no omelet to show for it -- not a workable socialist result. Better yet, there was no need to acknowledge that the country whose efforts they had opposed and whose actions they had condemned had liberated a billion people from the most oppressive empire the world had ever seen. They had no need for second thoughts about what they had done. They just went on to the next destruction, the newest incarnation of the radical (i.e., reactionary leftist) cause."

In other words, the Left's ideology stands fully refuted philosophically (by Ayn Rand), economically (by Bohm-Bawerk, Bastiat, and Mises), and practically (by the historical examples of the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea -- anywhere hard-core socialism has been approached in the real world), but those who still believe in the false promises of socialist utopias are so intellectually dishonest that they refuse to acknowledge their intellectual bankruptcy and continue, like blind robots, with their irrational hatred of America and capitalism and private property and freedom to trade -- and they continue to try to tear down or take over the U.S. while using its freedoms and tolerance for dissent to do so. The Left is acting in bad faith. But, then, it always has.

The difference is that it is increasingly obvious to any rational observer today that the contemporary left wing in America can no longer even pretend to be "scientific" or "rational" at all (as the Marxists of old tried to do) -- and what pseudo-scientific trappings remain are increasingly falling away to reveal the mystic cult movement that the Far Left always was. But I will have more to say about that on another occasion.

So what do we call it? None dare call it "communism"? Well, actually, some do dare call it that, at least with the prefix "neo" to distinguish it from the old-fashioned Commies of the past. Horowitz, for one, says:

"If one looks at almost any aspect of this Left - its self-identified intellectual lineage (Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, Fanon, Gramsci -- in sum, the totalitarian tradition), its analytic model (hierarchy and oppression), its redemptive agenda (social justice as state-enforced leveling), and its enemies - 'imperialist' America and the American 'ruling class' -- one would be hard put to find a scintilla of difference with the Communist past. Of course leftists themselves will have none of this. Most of them will proclaim their anti-Stalinism (even as they embrace its practices); and will not defend the Communist systems that have in any case collapsed. But so what? The Soviet rulers denounced Stalin. Were they any less Communists for that?
"It seems appropriate, therefore, to call the unreconstructed hard-liners 'neo-communists' --a term that accurately identifies their negative assaults on American capitalism and their anti-American 'internationalist' agendas. . . . . "
Hmmmm, maybe David Horowitz has a point. For those who have a prejudice against using the left-right political spectrum (or the up-versus-down spectrum which I endorse), the term "neo-com" may have appeal.

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Left-wing "anti-war" protest signs