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The Book's Premise is Wrong - the Left has always been anti-American

Reader comment on item: Lee Harvey Oswald's Malign Legacy

Submitted by Steve Rogers (United States), Nov 23, 2007 at 17:26

As other comments have said, the premise of this hypothesis is false - the Left has *always* been anti-American. The Left has always recognized that the general public and American institutions in general are set against them ideologically, and that their agenda requires a complete reshaping of America. They've been working on that for the last 100 years or so (see, for example, Horowitz's book Radical Son for a particularly gripping account of growing up in that world).

The Left has always been about reshaping America from an individualistic capitalistic country into a collectivist government-operated state. It's what the Left was about very quietly in the 30s-50s, what erupted onto the streets in the 60's-70's, and what burned-out into the cynical hateful Left we have today. They have always had the same basic focus: - vilify business - tear down the family, - undermine objective rights-based law by vilifying the police - downplay the spectacular success of America, and portray it as the result of injustice or exploitation of some faction.

The answer to the opening question: "What happened to the self-assured, optimistic, and practical Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy? " is that such a thing never really existed. It would be more accurate to ask "Why can't the Left evade their true nature now when they did it so well for many years?" The Left can make their platform look optimistic and rosy because Americans are largely predisposed to accept the Leftist morality. It is the same creed as religion: self-sacrifice is one's duty and the highest moral ideal. The downfall of the Left is that they promised real results here on earth, rather than a mystical heaven as promised by religion.

Religion doesn't claim that altruism will be good for you - sacrifice might lay up treasures in heaven, but it doesn't do anything for you now. (Religions making promises of tangible results, like Jim Baker's PTL Club, fire up quickly and then vanish.) The Left, however, has set forth socialism as a practical way to organize society that will yield tangible benefits. That's where the optimism and heroic quality of the Kennedy Left comes from - it's the altruism that most Americans give lip service to on Sunday, but the Left advanced it as the organizing principle of society.

America's youth were drawn to this movement because it took everything they had been taught as children about how the world *should* be and told them that it could be real - that the hypocrisy of their parents was wrong and unnecessary. Today's bitter and hateful left is the result of continuous failure of Leftist ideas in every realm, not the untimely death of Kennedy. His death certainly changed the cultural landscape, but if anything it provided a scapegoat for failure in the short-run, and diverted calls for accountability from the welfare state - a call that has never come.

This American love-affair with altruism was inevitable given the social climate - a country with laws and political institutions based on the Enlightenment, but where Kant has driven Enlightenment philosophers out of the universities, and religion defines morality for most people. If it hadn't found an expression in Kennedy, it would have found a comparable figure. The 60's weren't something that the Left did to America, they're an expression of America's split philosophical identity.

The decline of the Left is also inevitable, because 1) their ideas a wrong, and 2) they promised tangible results from their social revolution. Kennedy's death wasn't what made the Left cynical - that is an inevitable result of holding a mistaken view, and blaming reality for the disaster that results when it's put into practice.


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