“The Worse the Better” (NewsReal Blog) – by David Horowitz

David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine, Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.” His latest book is Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left (Regnery Publishing).

Twitter: @horowitz39
Facebook: David Horowitz


sds

David Frum has a parting shot for our me in our debate. Before responding let me say that it is gratifying that we could go these three rounds without acrimony, and with a sense that we could engage these issues again down the line in a fraternal manner. That speaks to the health of the conservative coalition, and I am pleased about that. And it also pleases me that we can end on a note of agreement. Sort of.

Here’s what David wrote along with my reply:

“The Plan

October 2nd, 2009 at 8:25 am by David Frum

Click here for the final round in my debate with David Horowitz that started with David’s critique of my posts on Glenn Beck and Cass Sunstein.

In the debate, David offers as explicit and considered a defense as I’ve heard anywhere of the political strategy followed by conservatives this year. I offer my countervailing vision, along with some evidence for doubting that the approach championed by Horowitz will work.

One final comment in reply to David Horowitz’s third-round presentation. He writes:

“I think Republicans generally want a fighter. You can be a centrist and a fighter. Why not? But in the first nine months of the Obama Administration, it is Palin who has set the standard in facing down the Left.

You say that angry protests did not work for the Left during the 60s. Are you forgetting that our angry protests were aimed at the Democrats and that by destroying the Democrats we elected Reagan governor of California, and Nixon president in 1968? Psychotic anger worked for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 and brought them victories in Congress and the White House. What can you be thinking?”

For those conservatives who want to import into our politics the style and attitudes of the 1960s, from the demonstrations to the promiscuous flinging of the accusations of “fascist” and “Hitlerite,” please note David’s description of its main accomplishment:

The 1960s Left succeeded in destroying the party most closely associated with it – and electing instead its fiercest opponents.

Good plan!”

My response:

David thinks the 60s New Left is a bad model for conservatives. I agree. But in doing so he misunderstands the New Left. There is no faction – no significant faction – of the Republican Party that is like the New Left. The New Left wanted the Democrats to lose, not because they preferred Republicans or thought Republicans were the lesser of two evils, but because New Leftists were in their own minds revolutionaries – destroyers – and they wanted to bring the whole system down. The strategy was called “the worse the better” and the idea was that the sooner the country becomes fascist – the sooner the mask of democracy is stripped away and the people see that it masks an oppressive, hierarchical tyranny – the sooner the revolution will come. Therefore the worse the better.

There is no faction of the Republican Party like this. And consequently David’s parting shot is off the mark. No matter. I’m sure we’ll return to this again.

  • Bellerophon

    Angry protests without actual violence can be effective, at least in putting a little fear into elected officials. Not fear for their physical lives but fear for their political lives. But can this fear translate itself into something productive? Or will it just drive them underground and make them hide their real activities. The Tea Parties and the 9-12 demonstration seem to have only accomplished the latter. Congress, determined to have a government controlled medical plan, first changed its name to "public option" then to "cooperatives" and then said that the states would run it. Failing in all three efforts they pretend to drop government control and shove it through as a reconciliation matter. When this was exposed they simply decided to tack it onto another piece of legislation. Government control of medicine is the sine qua non of their agenda and all of the demonstrations have not budged them one inch. Forget the "blue dogs". They are called "dogs" for a reason. If you give them pork treats they will roll over and play dead. For the Left this battle is life and death. They will not yield until they are put out of office and that can't happen for at least another year. The real question for the opponents of government health care is whether or not they will have the courage to repeal it once it passes. Can demonstrations actually result in the repeal of legislation? This has never happened that I can recall. The reason is that too many non leftists subscribe to the doctrine that once a battle is lost, it is lost forever. Once government gets control of something, it can never be made to let go. This is nonsense. Several countries including Chile and New Zealand successfully privatized their social security systems. New Zealand moved from being to the left of Euro-socialists to having a freer economy than the US (according to the Cato Institute). While exposing the nature of the Left and angrily opposing tyranny have their place, nothing can substitute for a long term, carefully reasoned program of philosophical education.

  • Proxywar

    “The Tea Parties and the 9-12 demonstration seem to have only accomplished the latter.”

    While I agree with much of what you said. I must disagree with you here. Have you ever been to a tea party? If not, then you do not know what is being told to these people at these tea parties. These people are not under-ground. They are regular people. I've seen them with my own eyes. I've talked to them. You do good work
    but I would not view the tea-partiers from an ivory tower. These Tea-patiers were the same people who were at the town hall meetings raising hell about Obamacare. They pretty much brought the fight to Obama. Horowitz, Coulter, Frum, none of these people brought the fight to Obama.

    Don't for get the public option survives via a new TARP bill.

    “The reason is that too many non leftists subscribe to the doctrine that once a battle is lost, it is lost forever. Once government gets control of something, it can never be made to let go. This is nonsense. Several countries including Chile and New Zealand successfully privatized their social security systems. New Zealand moved from being to the left of Euro-socialists to having a freer economy than the US (according to the Cato Institute).”

    You have a precedent but it's not absolute. For example… Social-security, medicare, medicaid, FDA, ect… All federal government programs that have been with us for decades. Yes, One maybe able to repeal them, but as our history shows this is nearly impossible once the ball gets rolling. You should be a little more skeptical and less absolute. Once someone is on the government dole their mindset transforms into that of a serfs. Look how terrible medicare and medicaid are yet they still refuse to abolish it and come up with something better and more cost effective. A little skepticism is all I ask.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.laib Steven Laib

    Since Mr. Horowitz was involved in the New Left, Mr. Frum would do well to listen to him.

    After reading and listening to him for some time now, I'm come to be of the opinion that Frum wants conservatives to lose because he believes that centrism is the only way. However, centrism appears to be only a matter of slowing the leftward pace, not a reversal. It won't work.

  • patriotwork

    Frum is of the cannonfodder,crony Washington Republicans who brought us defeat and Obama into office.If Obamacare passes in any form,vote for no Democrat.

  • Bellerophon

    “While I agree with much of what you said. I must disagree with you here. Have you ever been to a tea party? If not, then you do not know what is being told to these people at these tea parties. These people are not under-ground.”

    I guess I wasn't as clear as I thought. I didn't mean that the Tea Party participants would go underground, I meant that the legislatures would. Their response to criticism of government health care was first to change its name. Failing to fool anyone they tried several other tactics and ultimately are now trying to slip it past everyone by hiding it inside another bill.

    The reason that Social Security is so hard to deal with is precisely because of the “inevitability doctrine”. To change SS you first have to disprove the inevitability doctrine in a less emotionally charged case. In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, people were legitimately afraid of disability and retirement. It was hard to oppose a small benefit for the elderly that no one would collect for years.

    After three generations of propaganda and dependency SS is the hardest program to deal with because the horrendous consequences of the unfunded liabilities hasn't been felt yet.When payroll taxes hit 30 per cent, as they must to maintain the program, it will be easy to push changes through especially if the groundwork has been laid by disproving the inevitability doctrine of bigger and bigger government in a smaller case.

    It took eighty years to do all this damage. It may well take 80 more to undo it.