28th August 2012
Ron Radosh, a convert from communism, would like to remind us that this particular brand of stupidity is still with us.
He goes on to say that “Much of what is said and done by today’s left—including its ‘anti-Zionism’—is unintelligible without grasping that when ‘anti-imperialist struggle’ displaced ‘class struggle’ as the organizing category of thought and the basis of political identity.” After 1967, that outlook quickly became the necessity of branding the Israelis as “the new Nazis,” and the supposedly oppressed Palestinians as the “new Jews.”
Today, it is that SDS mentality — not that of Johnson and Berman — that makes up the contemporary Left’s ideology. And because the liberals adhered to the doctrine of “no enemies on the Left,” Voegeli adds, the “respectable liberals couldn’t bring themselves to criticize the tame activists, who couldn’t bring themselves to dissociate from the fierce ones.” Thus, Voegeli writes, “the 60’s liberals in academia, journalism and politics fawned over the New Left radicals who delighted in tormenting them.” After all, they thought they had a common enemy with the New Left, even though they opposed their tactics. And, worse than the New Left was the boogeyman of the Right. Hence they had a corollary to their doctrine, that of “no allies on the Right.”
The truth is that today’s liberals never came to terms with the legacy of the New Left, just as many Germans for a long time failed to come to terms with the Third Reich. Voegeli is on the mark when he writes: “The radical fringe wanted to live outside the law and also inside the law. Respectable liberals wanted to let them. They lent a hand by praising the radicals with faint damns, then quickly changing the subject to the extenuating circumstances that rendered the fringe’s deeds kinda-sorta understandable, acceptable, and even admirable.”