Thursday, October 07, 2004

How the Left Sees the Right

David Horowitz, Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey (Spence, 2003), p. 273:

The image of the right that the left has concocted -- authoritarian, reactionary, bigoted, mean-spirited -- is an absurd caricature that has no relation to modern conservatism or to the reality of the people I have come to know in my decade-long movement along the political spectrum -- or to the way I see myself. Except for a lunatic fringe, American conservatism is not about "blood and soil" nostalgia or conspiracy paranoia, which figure so largely in imaginations that call themselves "liberal," but are anything but. Modern American conservatism is a reform movement that seeks to reinvent free markets and limited government and to restore somewhat traditional values. Philosophically, conservatism is more accurately seen as a species of liberalism itself -- and would be more often described in this way were it not for the hegemony the left exerts in the political culture and its appropriation of the term "liberal" to obscure its radical agenda.

BV: I've highlighted the crucial thought in red. Note the qualifier 'modern American.' One of the reasons the original neocons (Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol) called themselves such was to differentiate their classically liberal position from the leftism into which liberalism was transmogrifying. Of course, there is much to discuss here. There is perhaps a paleocon element in contemporary American conservatism to which Horowitz is not sufficiently attending. But this is a huge topic, and it's time for my dinner date with Bill O'Reilly.