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Love Affair With Evil

By 3.30.09

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United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror
By Jamie Glazov
(WND Books, 264 pages, $25.95)

What drives an intelligent, successful Western person -- a professor, a movie star, a novelist -- to venerate totalitarian movements and even make pilgrimages to fawn over mass-murdering dictators? Jamie Glazov, managing editor of Frontpagemag.com (for which I've been writing for over five years), seeks answers to that question in this powerful book.

Allowing that, as a son of Soviet dissidents, "this leftist choice to support tyranny over freedom has always shocked and mystified me," Glazov starts with a portrait of the leftist believer. Such a person, he claims, suffers from "an acute sense of alienation from his own society -- an alienation to which he is, himself, completely blind." Moreover, the extreme leftist is "in denial about the character flaws that prevent him from bonding with his own people," and so he "fantasizes about building a perfect society where he will, finally, fit in."

Drawn for decades to the heinous Communist regimes of Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, and others -- and more recently to the likes of Khomeini, Arafat, Saddam, Hamas, or Hezbollah -- the Western leftist "consistently denies what is actually happening within the totalisms he worships…. But" -- and this is one of Glazov's central claims -- "privately he approves of the carnage; indeed, that is what attracts him in the first place."

If it may seem an excessive assertion, Glazov marshals impressive evidence for it. Drawing on the earlier insights of Paul Hollander, he notes, for instance, that the stream of Western pilgrims to the Soviet Union and Maoist China peaked, respectively, in the 1930s and the 1950s-1960s when the carnage was at its greatest. It was in the blood-drenched '30s that leftists like Walter Duranty, George Bernard Shaw, and Bertolt Brecht most sweetly sang the praises of Stalin's paradise; and Mao's monstrous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution of the '50s and '60s brought breathless admirers like Simone de Beauvoir, Shirley MacLaine, and Orville Schell.

Then there was the reaction of many leftists to 9/11 itself. In the U.S., philosophy professor Robert Paul Churchill said that "what the terrorists despised and sought to defeat was our arrogance, our gluttonous way of life, our miserliness toward the poor…"; history professor Gerald Horne said "the bill has come due…it is time to pay"; Norman Mailer called the suicide hijackers "brilliant"; and Susan Sontag said "this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions…."

Abroad, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen said 9/11 was "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos," and Italian Marxist and playwright Dario Fo opined: "The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty -- so what is 20,000 dead in New York?" -- and all this is only a partial list of leftist encomiums to the massacre.

Indeed, as Glazov emphasizes, if a certain ideological coherence could be ascribed to the Western leftists' love affair with Communism with its ostensible values of equality and social justice, their later romance with Arab-Islamic radicalism conclusively tears the mask off any alleged humane underpinnings. Already in the late 1970s, Michel Foucault was calling Khomeini a "saint" and referring to the "rapture" of the bloody overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi's government; and by 2003 leftists were serving as human shields for Saddam Hussein and marching en masse along with Islamists and even neo-Nazis to "oppose the war" and save his regime.

Glazov points out, however, that in some ways the leftists' migration from the fallen hammer-and-sickle to the ascendant crescent entailed not only contradiction but also continuation.

MacLaine, for instance, wrote approvingly that in Maoist China "the uni-sex uniforms…de-emphasized sexuality…. Women had little need or even desire for such superficial things as frilly clothes and makeup…." As Glazov notes, this forced desexualized attire "especially enthralled [Western] believers." From there it was no huge leap to present-day Western feminists' deafening silence about misogynic abuses in the Islamic world -- or as Glazov aptly puts it, "Leftist feminists not only refuse to criticize the burqa, but romanticize and champion it, because they cherish the idea of a tyrannical force smothering the components of womanhood that they despise in their own societies and in themselves."

This book -- concise, pungent, and a fast, addictive read -- has all the virtues of a tour-de-force while, tantalizingly, leaving some questions not fully answered. While "alienation" and "character flaws" that prevent bonding with one's own people are undoubtedly part of the pathology of the Left, can they suffice to explain the bonding by outwardly civilized people with murderous and even genocidal tyrannies and movements? Glazov's description of the psychosis is thoroughly compelling but only partly -- inevitably, I would suggest -- dispels the mystery of its motives.

There is also the question of the relation between the far-out leftists like terrorist-groupies Noam Chomsky and Jimmy Carter and ostensibly more mainstream figures; Glazov only hints at this in observing that it was the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy -- "Carter's ideological soulmates," as he calls them -- who spearheaded the Left's agitation for the U.S. to abandon Iraq just when there was progress toward democracy there. But there is more -- how influential is the radical Left, and in what ways is it distinct or indistinct from the Democratic Party? -- that could have been explored here.

Those are just a couple of caveats about an astute, profound, important book that shouldn't be missed.

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About the Author

P. David Hornik is a writer and translator in Beersheva, Israel, blogging at PDavidHornik.typepad.com.