How the American Left Lost Its Nerve


To order David Horowitz’s “The Black Book of the American Left, Volume I: My Life And Times,” click here.

Reprinted from

They were Communists. Not liberals or progressives. They wanted the Russians to win the Cold War, and the Vietcong to defeat America in Vietnam. They didn’t even like liberals. The radicals of the 1960s were Communists. And today they continue to lie about it.

That’s the major takeaway from The Black Book of the American Left, a new book by David Horowitz. Horowitz, the son of two American Communists — with a capital C, meaning party members — was a radical student leader and the editor of Ramparts magazine in the 1960s and early 1970s. He began to turn politically in 1974, when he sent his friend Betty Van Patter to help the Black Panther Party only to have her turn up murdered soon after. For Horowitz it’s caused a crisis, then a conversion to conservatism.

Horowitz has been a well-known conservative activist for decades, but it’s quite bracing to have a lot of his internet writings compiled into one hardback volume.

And again and again in The Black Book of the American Left, he hits his main point: the “activists” of the 1960s, like the “progressives” of earlier eras, were Communists. They wanted to topple the government of the United States. Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground were not interested in mainstream Democrats like Hubert Humphrey or any liberal solution to any of America’s problems. They wanted to blow things, and people, up. They wanted a revolution.

I would argue that there is an important difference between the radicals of the early 20th century and those of the 1960s and today, and that Horowitz doesn’t capture this, but I’ll get to that shortly. For now it’s worthwhile just to sit back and listen while Horowitz, a compelling writer and honorable man, remind us that the people he rioted with in the 1960s were, yes, Communists.

Tom Hayden. Angela Davis. Bill Ayers. Noam Chomsky. Todd Gitlin. The Black Panthers. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. The Weathermen. Reds, all. Some more violent than others, but all of them called for a revolution.

A few years ago Horowitz was on a panel at Georgetown University with Michael Kazin, who had been a leader in the Students for a Democratic Society, an influential leftist group in the 1960s. All the left wanted to do in the 1960s, Kazin said, “was give peace a chance.” Horowitz reminds readers that during the Vietnam era Kazin was a left-wing revolutionary who embraced the motto “bring the war home” — i.e., cause as much violence on American streets as possible. Kazin could care less about peace. At a 1969 rally he led the following cheer: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is Gonna Win!” Give peace a chance? Kazin wanted nothing to do with it — or even with liberalism. Horowitz: “It had been liberalism that guided America to power in the postwar world. It was liberalism that had gotten America into Vietnam. Centrist liberalism was the balance wheel giving synchronicity to the entire political system. But now radicals assaulted the center; if it could not hold, America would fall.”

Ask yourself: why did left-wing demonstrators attack the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago? It wasn’t because they hated Republicans, although that was also true. They hated liberals because liberals at the time represented authority in America. Student radical Todd Gitlin, who now, like so many of his left-wing friends, is a professor, didn’t vote in 1964, even though Barry Goldwater was against the war in Vietnam, which was supposedly Gitlin’s top issue. So why didn’t Gitlin vote for Goldwater? In later years Gitlin would give a weak excuse, but the answer is obvious: he was a left-wing revolutionary who wanted to collapse the American system of government. These people were in no way, as Horowitz puts it, “mooning for Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King,” as they would later claim. They wanted to bring the war home, and topple the United States.

Horowitz connects the left of the 1930s and 1960s with the left of today. This is accurate as far as a lot of academics go, but I think that is different than the modern left in the media and popular culture. As historians such as Christopher Lasch and James Hitchcock have observed, there has been not just a political but psychological transformation in the United States over the last 40 or 50 years. Once communist radicals like Whittaker Chambers and the editors of The Nation believed in communism as a kind of mathematical religion; there were going to occur certain things as history marched towards its resolution, and the role of the revolutionary was to aid in that process. But this meant that when that system broke down, there was the chance that reason could  break through the cracks. Horowitz’s own Communist parents saw their worldview collapse in 1956 when Soviet leader Nikita Kruschchev made a speech denouncing the crimes of Stalin and the “cult of personality” that surrounded Stalin. Whittaker Chambers, as he chillingly put it, “heard the screams” and saw the lie that was communism.

Today it’s different. Most leftists that are seen on TV, online and in the entertainment industry don’t have any coherent plan or overarching cosmic concept about dialectical materialism and the gears of history. They’re just psychologically damaged and resentful losers. Rachel Maddow is not Todd Gitlin. Michael Moore is a lefty, but his entire shtick is based on jokes and self-loathing. Dan Savage hates conservatives not because of anything Lenin or Marx wrote, but because deep down he dislikes himself — his obsession with sex, shared by most of his lefty friends, reveals someone with deep personal issues. Jonathan Capeheart, the pathetic Obama toady, doesn’t want the proletariat to rise — he wants the world to be forced to embrace his gayness. These people aren’t the vanguard of a revolution; they just need counseling.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. In fact that probably makes them more dangerous than traditional Reds. With evidence communism can be revealed as a sham. But if someone has an Oedipal issue and is raging against their father, or is a sexual deviant out to bring others down to his level, or just has general free-floating anger about some childhood issue, there’s no real resolution. It just festers. In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer noted that the early Nazi were not anything fearsome. They were just a small group of deadbeats, misfits, sexual deviants and bullies. The thing that tied them together was resentment. This picture is more more accurate when looking at today’s leftists. When the revolution does come, it won’t be about a worker’s paradise. It will be about shaming, silencing, and ultimately killing anyone who hurt your feelings.


Don’t miss David Horowitz discussing The Black Book of the American Left in The Glazov Gang’s two-part video series below:

Part I:

Part II:

To sign up for The Glazov Gang: Click here.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • ZZ

    So what you’re saying is that leftists are resentful ignoramuses who think they’re mainstream, and they hate people instead of society?

    I have to agree. I think they’re unconscious Marxists who don’t even understand the social policies they espouse, just like hipsters are dorks who don’t understand that they aren’t cool.

    • Markdpez

      Their current retort is that we don’t know what socialism or communism is.
      Liars, every one of them.

  • mikeman

    I agree with ZZ and Horowitz, modern lefties do harbor more resentment and envy than is healthy. Obama/Moochie/Holder are obsessed with race and gender. But they use these issues to improve their status and bank accounts. They may be sociopaths, like a Stalin or Mussolini. And like them, they surround themselves with criminals, sycophants, and deviants.

    • Edward


      The words “immigration”, “tolerance” and “assimilation” are being used to PROMOTE a program of geNOcide against White children.

      According to International Law, open borders, FORCED integration, and assimilation is GENOCIDE.

      Except they don’t call it GENOCIDE when it’s done to White children.

      Then they call it “multiculturalism”


      Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White

  • mattogilvie55

    With regard to the last sentence, I say turnabout is fair play. When can we get started?

    • Drakken

      Never give a leftist the benefit of any doubt, when they get in your face, you give them a nice healthy knuckle sandwich or the Louisville slugger special. Give a leftist an inch, they will take a mile. We have been far to nice and kind to the left, time for the niceties and pleasantries and so called high moral ground to end, might always makes right in the end.

      • mattogilvie55

        Brother, I like your style.

  • Clare Spark

    Wrong about Gitlin, whom I knew very well during the 1970s. He was a people pleaser and blended in with whomever was likely to win. I would call him a right-wing social democrat, and ambitious too. But the author is correct about the change in the progressive movement with the ascent of the New Left. See “Communist ideas go mainstream.” The original progressives were conservative reformers or “moderates” as they called themselves.

  • Lanna

    You know the old phrase, What goes around comes around applies to most matters. A government that does not work for the people and under Godly principles, to improve lives, will in turn suffer many ramifications down the road. When you govern by unscrupulous means, your path is eventually doomed!

  • GoodBusiness


  • oneteedoffpatriot

    Great article. The only thing I’ll add is that however you look at these differing sects of leftists, they all have one founder. This is all rooted in Satanism. They may be reds, leftists, what have you. But they are all Satanists.

  • Bob Almighty

    So interesting to read his articles and re-live the incidents and the betrayals of America when you remember all these things taking place.

  • Seek

    Mark Judge should stick to the issues. By playing long-distance Freud, assuming today’s Lefties are possessed of daddy issues or narcissistic free-floating anger, he undercuts his own argument. I’ve met more than my share of screwed-up conservatives and libertarians, too.

    • lostlegends

      Me, too, but they were not out to kill others and regiment all aspects of the lives of others. Envy is the root of all evil. When I was at Univ. of California had a Jewish friend who was a girl. Was not interested in her as a girl friend. She went to Beverly Hills High, was an avowed Communist, her parents were members of the Party. Her dad was a famous director. She told me she hated blonde haired, blue eyed cheerleaders. She wasn’t just jealous, she seethed with envy and hatred, wanted to destroy them. One weekend I took her to our country club. She was incredulous she was let in. Or that my parents welcomed into their home for a weekend study session. Had a Jewish socialist across the hall from me in the dorm. One night he got into a rant about how football players had stickers on their helmets for various deeds. I had played high school ball and explained our sticker system to him. He wanted to abolish the sticker system because some positions had more chances to get stickers. Envy, destroy anything that sets people apart as different than a number. Had a Jewish socialist TA that wanted to take the nuclear scientists out of their bevatron and cyclotron labs and replace them with janitors and ground’s keeper. Make the scientists janitors. This was before Pol Pot put this into practice by years. We had socialists who wanted to make all toilet rooms coed. They put posters on them and forcibly integrated them. Now it is state law in CA. Jews were leaders in this orgy of envy.

  • liberalism is a mental illness

    Umm hi people. I’ve spent quite some time trying to figure out the left mentality/perspective. And guess what? I think I figured it out. leftards are simply losers. They blame society and government for their shortcomings. Any sane person who has encountered the leftard whether it be on the internet or in person finds their view to be insane and/or retarded. You wonder how someone could be so delluded and backward right? Well here’s the answer: leftards are crying for help but instead of directly asking for help they attack the people that could actually help them. Albeit nobody probably would help them anyway. Occupy Wall Street is the greatest example I can think of on this subject. Thousands if not millions of unemployed losers camped in tents outside of the buildings where people with jobs, spouses and families worked. The people in the buildings with jobs and homes must have been thinking “what are those losers doing?!” Occupy Wall Street was an attempt to force wealth distribution but was a dismal failure and only further proved that leftards are just losers who can’t look after themselves. Anyone agree?

  • liberalism is a mental illness

    Everyone knows leftards hate democracy and capitolism. They want communisn and marxism right? Well think about this: if the entire western hemisphere adopted communism and marxism tomorrow the very next day the leftards would be complaining and saying that they want democracy and capitolism. Am I right?

  • randy harrison

    I like to point out that the Klan were all democrats. They saw that their path was doomed and became active, through government positions, dismantling the people they were out to get. The minorities now are in worse shape than in the 60’s. It is too cruel to list all the problems they have now. The Klan couldn’t have got away with that kind of harm.

  • Ralph

    “When the revolution does come, it won’t be about a worker’s paradise. It
    will be about shaming, silencing, and ultimately killing anyone who
    hurt your feelings.”

    This really does just about sum it up. Imagine that, the world in flames and hundreds of millions of people suffering unimaginable horrors just because of a bunch of thin-skinned snot-noses. Banality of evil, indeed.