The Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky once described Stalinism as “the perfect theory for glueing up the brain.” What he meant was that a regime as monstrous as Stalin’s, which murdered 40 million people and enslaved many times more, was nonetheless able to persuade progressives and “social justice” advocates all over the world to act as its supporters and defenders. These enlightened enablers of Stalin’s crimes included leading intellectuals of the day, even Nobel Prize winners in the sciences and the arts such as Frederic Joliot-Curie and Andre Gide. But brilliant as they were, they were blind to the realities of the Stalinist regime and, therefore, to the virtues of the free societies they lived in.
What glued up their brains was the belief that a brave new world of social justice — a world governed by progressive principles — existed in embryo in Soviet Russia and had to be defended by any means necessary. As a result of this illusion, they put their talents and prestige at the service of the totalitarian enemies of democracy, acting, in Trotsky’s words, as “frontier guards” for the Stalinist empire. And they continued their efforts even after the Soviets conquered Eastern Europe, acquired nuclear weapons, and initiated a “cold war” with the West. To the progressives seduced by Stalinism, democratic America represented a greater evil than the barbaric police states of the Soviet bloc. Even half a century later a progressive culture still refers to the formative phase of the Cold War as the “Red Scare” — as though the fifth column of American progressives whose loyalties were to the Soviet enemy, whose members included Soviet spies, was not a matter of serious concern, and as though a nuclear-armed, rapacious Soviet empire did not pose a credible threat.
How were these delusions of otherwise intelligent and well-intentioned people possible? How were otherwise informed individuals able to deny the obvious and support one of the most brutal and oppressive dictatorships in history? How did they come to view a relatively humane, decent, and democratic society like the United States as evil, while regarding the barbarous Communist regime as the victim of America? The answer lies in the identification of Marxism with the promise of social justice and the institution of progressive values ( to take place in a magical socialist future). Defense of the progressive idea trumped recognition of the reactionary fact.
To Western progressives, once the Stalinist regime was identified with the imaginary progressive future, everything followed — its status as a persecuted victim and America’s role as a reactionary force standing in the way of the noble leftist aspiration. Every fault of Stalin’s regime, every crime it committed — if not denied outright by progressives — was attributed to the nefarious actions of its enemies, most glaringly the United States. And once the promise of progressive redemption was juxtaposed to an imperfect real-world actor, all of their responses became virtually inevitable. Hence, the glueing of the brain.
The Soviet Union is gone, and history has moved on. But the Stalin-apologist dynamic endures as the heritage of a post-Communist Left, which remains wedded to fantasies of an impossibly beautiful future that collides with the flawed American present. The Left is now the dominant force in the American Democratic party. Its extreme disconnect from realities is encapsulated in the support for the transparently racist movement called “Black Lives Matter,” which attacks law enforcement and defends street predators, excusing their crimes with the alibi that “white supremacists” created the circumstances that make some commit criminal acts. This extremist movement has the “strong support” of the entire spectrum of the “progressive” Left (including 46 percent of the Democratic party, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll).
Black Lives Matter is a movement built on the fiction that police have declared open season on innocent black Americans.
Black Lives Matter is a movement built on the fiction that police have declared open season on innocent black Americans. According to progressive fictions, police are the agents of a “white supremacist society” — a claim alone that should make one wary of the sanity of those who advance it. The facts belie the very basis of the claim that African Americans are being indiscriminately gunned down by police: African-American males, accounting for 6 percent of the population are responsible for more than 40 percent of violent crimes. But a Washington Post report on all 980 police shootings of 2015 reveals that only 4 percent of fatal police shootings involved white officers and black victims, while in “three-quarters of the incidents, cops were either under attack themselves or defending civilians,” or, as Michael Walsh observed in the New York Post, police officers were “in other words, doing their jobs.”
One incident in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., became the launching point for the Black Lives Matter movement and its malicious claim that innocent blacks were being wantonly gunned down by racist police. The alleged “victim,” Michael Brown, had just committed a strong-armed robbery and refused to comply with Officer Darren Wilson’s order to surrender. Instead the 300-pound street thug attacked Wilson in his vehicle, tried to wrest his gun from him, and then walked away before turning and charging him. Several shots failed to stop Brown, until one killed him.
Ignoring the facts, Black Lives Matter promoted the lie, invented by Brown’s robbery accomplice, that Brown had his hands up and was attempting to surrender when he was shot. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” quickly became the anthem of the movement. But this lie was refuted not only by black eyewitnesses testifying before the grand jury convened for the case and by forensic evidence, but by a review conducted by former attorney general Eric Holder’s Justice Department, otherwise bent on demonstrating the existence of bigotry in the Ferguson police department. Meanwhile “protesters” went about setting fire to Ferguson, causing millions of dollars of damage, because if there was no justice — no hanging of Wilson — there would be no peace, as the now familiar mob slogan framed it.
Black Lives Matter then set about taking its crusade to other cities, most prominently to Baltimore, where a career criminal named Freddie Gray became another cause célèbre. Gray had suffered fatal injuries inside a police van where only another captive was present. As the Black Lives Matter–inspired mobs began to gather in “protest,” Baltimore’s black Democratic mayor ordered police to stand down, allowing them to destroy millions of dollars of property. The state’s black Democratic prosecutor then indicted six police officers, three of them African American, on various ludicrous charges including first-degree murder.
How could any reasonable citizen — let alone one with progressive aspirations — support a roving lynch mob like the one in Ferguson? How could half the Democratic party support a movement that condemns America as a white-supremacist society, disregarding the reality that the president and chief law-enforcement officer, and thousands of civil servants and elected officials, including the mayors and police chiefs of large urban centers, such as Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta, and Philadelphia are black? (In Detroit the new mayor is actually the first white mayor in 40 years, while its police chief is still black.)
One can embrace the absurdity that America is a white-supremacist society only if afflicted with the illusion that all statistical inequalities affecting African Americans, like high crime rates, are not reflections of culture and character but marks of racist oppression. (This particular absurdity — universal as it is among American progressives and the current U.S. Department of Justice — is easily refuted: If statistical disparities proved racism, the National Basketball Association in which 95 percent of the starting multimillionaires are black would be an association controlled by black racists, as would the National Football League, while the National Hockey League would be under the thumb of white racists.) Progressives are delusional about black racism and black crime because they are in thrall to the vision of an imaginary progressive future in which social justice will guarantee that every individual outcome is the same.
The Left is blind to the responsibility of inner-city populations for their off-the-charts violent-crime rates.
The Left is blind to the responsibility of inner-city populations for their off-the-charts violent-crime rates. The failure to embrace the responsibilities of parenthood is as characteristic of the progressive attitude as is its blindness to the betrayal of inner-city communities by Democrats, responsible almost entirely for the disgraceful condition of America’s cities. Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, and numerous other centers of out-of-control black poverty, failed public-school systems, and black-on-black violence are 100 percent controlled by the Democratic party and have been so for 50 to 100 years. Yet 95 percent of the black vote and 100 percent of the progressive vote continues to go to Democrats who oppress African Americans.
Unfortunately, progressives’ sordid history of supporting criminals at home is accompanied by an equally dishonorable record of sympathy for America’s enemies abroad. The Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was one of the monsters of the 20th century, launching two aggressive wars, dropping poison gas on the Kurdish minority, and murdering 300,000 Iraqi citizens. But when America proposed deposing him, more than a million progressives poured into the streets in protest. At first, the Democratic leadership supported the Iraq invasion as a just and necessary war. But three months later, with American men and women still in harm’s way — and under pressure from the progressive Left — they turned against the very war they had voted to authorize and, for the next five years, conducted a malicious propaganda campaign, worthy of the enemy, to discredit America’s intentions and to obstruct our military mission.
Because the Bush administration chose not to defend itself by confronting the Left’s subversive actions — including the exposure of three national-security programs — leftist myths about the Iraq War persist to this day, even in some conservative circles. To set the record straight: Bush did not lie to seduce Democrats into supporting the war, and could not have done so, since the Democrats had access to the same intelligence reports he did. The war was not about extant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, as Democrats dishonestly claimed: It was about Saddam’s violation of 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to prevent him from pursuing the WMD programs he was developing. The Democrats’ betrayal of their country’s war effort crippled its progress and, with the election to the presidency of an anti-war leftist in 2008, led directly to the explosion of terrorism and bloodshed that has since engulfed the Middle East.
But it wasn’t just the surrender mentality of the Obama administration that fueled these catastrophes. With the full support of the Democratic party, President Obama embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and America’s mortal enemy, Iran, providing its ayatollahs with a path to nuclear weapons and dominance of the region — causing Sunni Arab states to prepare for a Middle Eastern civil war.
Just as leftists acted as propagandists for the Soviet empire, discrediting America’s Cold War effort and conducting deceptive campaigns to hide Soviet crimes, so the Left today disparages the Islamist threat and opposes the security measures necessary to protect the homeland — most alarmingly the sealing of our southern border. Progressives have created seditious “sanctuary cities,” which refuse to cooperate with Homeland Security and the immigration laws in more than 300 outlaw municipalities under Democratic control. This betrayal has gone un-reversed for years and led to the needless deaths of numerous American citizens at the hands of illegal-alien criminals, of which there are more than 200,000 in our jails alone, and obviously many more inside our borders.
Leftists and Democrats have also joined the Islamist propaganda campaign to represent Muslims — whose co-religionists have killed hundreds of thousands of innocents since 9/11 in the name of their religion — as victims of anti-Muslim prejudice, denouncing critics of Islamist terror and proponents of security measures as “Islamophobes” and bigots. But in truth, 60 percent of religious hate crimes are directed at Jews, with a small minority directed a Muslims.Exploiting the myth of Muslim persecution, progressives oppose scrutiny of the Muslim community, including terror-promoting imams and mosques. They immediately denounce proposals to screen Muslim immigrants as religious bigotry, and thus close off any rational discussion of the problem. Led by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats have enabled the Islamist assault on free speech, which is a central component of the Islamist campaign to create a worldwide religious theocracy. Most notoriously the president and his operatives cynically spread the lie that an obscure Internet video about Mohammed was behind the Benghazi terror attack. Speaking like an ayatollah before the U.N. General Assembly, shortly after the attack, Obama declared: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” What an American president should have said is: “The future must not belong to those who murder in the name of Islam.”
Our country is at a perilous crossroads, one that is made immeasurably more dangerous by a national party that blames its own country for the crimes of its enemies, and by a political opposition too feckless and timid to hold its fellow citizens accountable for their unconscionable acts.
— David Horowitz is the author of Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left.