Radical Son and Scampi ala Livornese: The Choice Between Karl Marx and a Great Plate of Pasta


David Horowitz’s most profound and influential work is Radical Son. He could have simply called his book, “Radical,” but he did not. He situated his life in the only context that makes sense of any life, that of a family.

David introduced his book thus:

“An autobiography is not the complete record of a life, but an effort to make sense of one.”

It was imperative that this life “be made sense of,” since it represented the complete exodus of a mind and heart from one vision of the world, to its polar opposite. This is the decisive battle of each man and woman and nation of our age. The Marxist world-view bequeathed to Mr. Horowitz by his parents results in global slavery, though professing to do the contrary. The vision to which Mr. Horowitz turned, leaves individuals free to work out their own destinies as responsible human beings.

David writes:

“My parents taught me that ideas are important.”

The most important idea in Radical Son is that of the family. Marxism declares that the state, the collective, is the basis of society. Western Civilization declares that the family is the foundation of life. Radical Son is essentially the story of one father who believed that his great life’s work was to transform the world, and realization by this man’s son that his family was the “world” to which he needed to dedicate himself.

“What my father left me, really, was a few stories. They were mainly about himself, but in one instance the story was about his father, whom I hardly knew, and who died from cancer when I was six.”

“When I was a year and a half old, my parents enrolled me in the Sunnyside Progressive School…By leaving me in an all-day nursery and then going out every night to political meetings, my parents sent signals that might still be registering.”

The life chronicled over the next pages appears to be nothing if not the consequence of this initial parental neglect, this loss and longing for family. The great tragedy is that this neglect was not the result of selfishness, but of an ideology that stigmatized as selfish those who sought to nurture their own families. Such “bourgeois” behavior ignored the higher duty to rid the world of injustice by changing its structure.

The seeds of Revolution were planted in David’s home by his father’s unhappy childhood. Never having received love in his own home, David’s father found “family” in the Communist Party, a euphoric sense of “belonging” during a trip to the Soviet Union.

Is it possible that the Revolution attracts as a replacement for a broken or unhappy family life? Is an intact family in which the child learns love, acceptance, and to use his unique gifts and talents to better himself and those around him the cure for the cancer of Marxism?

Marxism and socialism have infected the whole world with the criteria of material well-being as the secret of happiness. Rather than seek to nurture the love and belonging that come in healthy families, we are all in dire pursuit of either wealth, or the redistribution of it.

This month, my Food Journalism 438 homework led me to a world-famous sicilian restaurant in Kansas City, Jasper’s. In 1948, the restaurant was founded by a young couple with nothing but the money left over from their honeymoon, $1.50. They worked and saved and bought a five-stool bar. After a few years, they enlarged the building and began to serve authentic Sicilian food, recipes that had been passed down in their own families for generations.

Mrs. Josephine Mirabile has written of those early days of hard work and poverty. She was obliged to take her husband’s only suit to the cleaners early every morning so he could wear it to work. Forty years later, the restaurant was named one of the top ten Italian restaurants in the country.

The true success is not that the family achieved culinary notoriety, though they certainly did. The success is the family itself, the loving relationships that exist between these people. In a recent interview, Jasper III, grandson of the founder, Jasper Sr., spoke of his family:

“Oh! In my family, food is everything, everything revolves around food. Not only here, in the restaurant, where of course, we are always thinking of food, but when we are home too. We get together around food. This came from my Grandparents who taught this love of family. The whole family, uncles, aunts, cousins…we all get together to eat and talk about our lives and yell at each other, and laugh, and share… life. It’s family that really matters. In my family, this unity is always tied to learning about food, preparing food and sharing it.”

David Horowitz was not called to a warm and boisterous family table on Saturday or Sunday evenings. He was not called to celebrate the success of a new creation in the kitchen or join in a debate about the best wine to pair with the Scampi ala Livornese.

Marxism is a destructive force. It creates nothing and leaves only loneliness and death in its wake. A life dedicated to creating a warm and loving family effects the true transformation of the world. David Horowitz’s final words in Radical Son are evidence of a true legacy he wishes to leave in place of the Revolution:

“It was time to grow up. To put away childish things and to take up the burdens of parents. To tend to our children, and to the world we had inherited, as well. Time to take responsibility for who we are and what we do. And what is there to do but to live with passion, love wisely, and know oneself?