I have just published the second in a projected ten-volume series of my collected writings called The Black Book of the American Left. The title pays homage to The Black Book of Communism, a celebrated European text documenting the crimes of the 20th century’s most notorious progressive experiment. While the original Black Book was a one-volume affair, the literary project I have undertaken is so large as to make it unique in today’s publishing world. Outside the category of literary fiction, so far as I can tell there are no ten-volume series by living authors.
So what prompted me to undertake so unwieldy an enterprise, which involves editing a million and a half words and arranging them into themed volumes? The seemingly obvious answer — one my adversaries will certainly seize on — is writer’s vanity. Who would not want to see his words in print and between hard covers? The more the better. But if you take a moment to think about it, this is not an unambiguous advantage and therefore does not provide so obvious an answer.
Over the course of a lengthy career I have written roughly 20 full-length books, six or seven of which I consider my best work and the writing I would like others to know me by. But already the 20 volumes threaten to bury some of the better writing I have done and create problems for readers who are seeking to acquaint themselves with my ideas. Where to begin? What to leave out? And given that this is the case, why add ten more volumes, containing a million and a half words, and risk having potential readers throw up their hands and say, “This is too much for me to sort out.” So the question better asked is this: What would The Black Book of the American Left contain that would significantly add to the work I had already done? What would prompt others to read it, and justify the two years of labor that went into the making of it?
The answer is in the nature of its contents and — equally important — in concerns I have had about the way conservatives have understood the phenomenon it describes. Five years into the Obama administration, most conservatives have little idea of the depth of its malignancy, or the fact that it is the product of decades of development that has transformed the Democratic party and created, as is rapidly becoming apparent, not only America’s nightmare but the world’s as well.
A good place to begin this explanation is by reporting that some readers have remarked critically on the fact that the articles in these volumes, which span some 30 years, have already appeared in print and can be located by a diligent web search. Why then bother arranging them in a new subject order and collecting them in themed volumes with titles like My Life & Times, Progressives, The Great Betrayal (Iraq), Culture Wars, Progressive Racism, and The Left in the Universities?
The answer is that these are not articles written on random subjects that happened to catch my fancy. Nor were they written as intellectual exercises that set out to explore various aspects of current issues. They are dispatches from a war zone, written to identify the nature, agendas, and long-term goals of a political movement of historic proportions that is also global in scope. Written in the heat of battle, they are here arranged in chronological order as the events took place, in order to provide a running account of the war itself.
The nature of these conflicts as part of an ongoing war was, in my view, scarcely recognized by conservatives at the time, and has still not fully sunk in. Conservatives have rarely approached the individual conflicts with the seriousness they deserve, describing their adversaries as “liberals” — as if they subscribed to the principles of Lockean individualism, tolerance, and political compromise. Only with the advent of the Obama administration have some conservatives begun to connect the dots of origins and outcomes and to grasp the real nature of the national transformation that their adversaries intend.
It is for this conservative audience — a constituency on whom the American future depends — that I undertook to put together The Black Book of the American Left. It is first of all a narrative map of the battles fought over the last 40 years and — it must be said – lost, almost every one. The Black Book contains a record as complete as any likely to be written of the struggle to resist a Communist-inspired Left that was not defeated in the Cold War but took advantage of the Soviet defeat to enter the American mainstream and conquer it, until today its members occupy the White House.
It is an often overlooked but immensely significant fact that during the Cold War the vast majority of American progressives supported the Communist enemy, working as apologists, appeasers, and enablers for a global movement openly dedicated to the destruction of their country. For the first nearly three decades of the Cold War, the progressive movement was much smaller than it is now and was opposed by mainstream Democrats, whom progressives referred to derisively as “Cold War liberals.” In 1968, progressive activists staged a riot at the Democratic national convention. The riot was overtly designed to destroy the electoral chances of Hubert Humphrey, regarded as the Cold War Liberal in Chief because of his support for the Vietnam War.
Twenty years earlier, in 1948, the Progressive party was formed to challenge the Cold War liberalism of Harry Truman; it was in fact controlled by the Communist party. The so-called New Left that emerged in the Sixties did not represent a clean break with Communism and was not, in fact, a “new” Left at all but a continuation of the old. It developed a modernized, deceptive political rhetoric — calling itself “populist” and even “liberal” — but it was mobilized behind the same malicious anti-individualist, anti-capitalist, and anti-American agendas as the Communist movement from which it sprang.