The New Leviathan's Suffocating Grasp

David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin's new book reveals the startling wealth disparity between conservative and liberal non-profits.

The following article was originally published in Philanthropy magazine. 

The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money-Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future
by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin
Random House, 2012
320 pp., $27

"Read this and be afraid,” advises Karl Rove in his blurb on the cover of The New Leviathan, a book just published by prominent conservative writer David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin. This new leviathan, the authors note, is a sprawling, intimidating “network of billion-dollar tax-exempt foundations and advocacy think tanks that work in concert with government unions and grassroots radical groups to make up the organizational core of the political left.”

For the thoughtful conservative philanthropist, this volume is indeed a must-read, providing a sense of the challenges facing anyone on the right who wishes to influence public policy. As Horowitz and Laksin point out, the field is in fact dominated by a massive collection of liberal foundations, deploying their resources to cultivate skepticism about the justice of America’s economic and political institutions, aiming to bring ever broader swaths of our public life under government supervision and control.

David Horowitz, now president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles, has long specialized in detailed roadmaps of the left’s serpentine organizational networks, based on his early immersion therein as a Red-diaper baby and, later, as a leading intellectual for the New Left during the 1960s. After renouncing radicalism, Horowitz’s mission has been to help the rest of us see through the appealingly idealistic facades sported by so many foundations and nonprofits on the left, down to the collectivist impulse at their core. The danger highlighted in Horowitz’s new volume is the sheer magnitude of this organizational colossus, which dwarfs the resources conservatives are able to marshal.

In the field of immigration policy, for instance, Horowitz and Laksin note that some 117 progressive groups with annual revenue of over $306 million are working to dismantle strong traditional standards for immigration and citizenship, while only nine groups bringing in $15 million per year defend those standards, leaving left-wing organizations with 22 times the annual revenue of those on the right.

On environmental questions, the ideological imbalance is even more pronounced. In their eye-opening appendices—these alone are worth the price of the book—the authors list no fewer than 552 groups promoting greater government control over the environment with annual revenue of $3.56 billion, compared to a mere 32 groups emphasizing private property and free-market solutions to environmental problems bringing in $96 million per year—an imbalance of over 37 to 1 in favor of the left. In both of these areas, the left’s resource advantage is compounded many times over when government funding is added to the mix, which flows disproportionately to progressive groups even under conservative presidential administrations.

Adding up total philanthropic resources available on either side of the ideological spectrum produces equally startling results. (Please see figures 1 and 2 below.) Horowitz and Laksin count 122 major foundations on the left, holding assets of over $104 billion, compared to 86 conservative foundations, with assets of just over $10 billion—leaving the left a ten-to-one advantage. (After 20 years in philanthropy, my startled response to this second list was: Where have all those conservative foundations been hiding?)

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