Totalitarianism is the possession of reality by a political Idea — the Idea of the socialist kingdom of heaven on earth, the redemption of humanity by political force. To radical believers this Idea is so beautiful it is like God Himself. It provides the meaning of a radical life. It is the solution that makes everything possible; it is the end that justifies the regrettable means. Belief in the kingdom of socialist heaven is the faith that transforms vice into virtue, lies into truth, evil into good. For in the revolutionary religion the Way, the Truth and the Life of salvation lie not with God above, but with men below — ruthless, brutal, venal men — on whom the faith confers the power of gods. There is no mystery in the transformation of the socialist paradise into communist hell: liberation theology is a Satanic creed.
Totalitarianism is the crushing of ordinary, intractable, human reality by a political Idea.
Totalitarianism is what my father’s funeral and your letter are about.
Your letter indicts me because my ideas have changed. But the biggest change in me is not in any new political convictions I may have. It is in a new way of looking at things. The biggest change is seeing that reality is more important than any Idea. Reality — the concreteness of events and of people. In the years since we were close, I have gained respect for the ordinary experience of others and of myself. It is not a change I wanted to make. It is something that happened to me despite my resistance. But it is a change that has allowed me to learn from what I know. To connect, for example, the little episodes of our progressive heritage (like my father’s memorial) with the epic inhumanities that its revolutions inspire. It is because you have not changed that these connections remain invisible to you.
From the Writings of David Horowitz: April 15, 2010
Filed Under: David's Blog, NewsReal Blog Tagged With: bad faith, concreteness, heaven on earth, human reality, kingdom of heaven, liberation theology, political convictions, political idea, radical life, socialist paradise
About Michael van der Galien
Michael van der Galien is managing editor for the Dutch website De Dagelijkse Standaard (The Daily Standard) and lives in Izmir, Turkey.