Michael van der Galien

Radical Son Reflections, Part II: Personal Salvation Through Politics

Posted on January 26 2010 1:00 pm
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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[To read Part I of “Radical Son Reflections” click here.]

Last week, we started a new series here at NewsRealblog, the subject of which is David Horowitz’s autobiography Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. I started reading this book, described by P.J. O’Rourke as “one of the best political memoirs I have ever read,” for the first time little over a week ago and will share my thoughts on while reading it. This way, you’re reading it together with me.

What struck me most about Horowitz’s (accurate) description of the Left‘s ideology, is its belief in personal salvation through politics. Whereas man historically tried to reach salvation through religion and spirituality, leftists try to do so through political, and therefore material means. Writes Horowitz on page 55:

After the Russian Revolution of 1905, the philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev analyzed Communism as a form of idolatry in a way that proved to be prophetic. Berdyaev traced the origins of what he called the Marxist “heresy” back to the tower of Babel. In that story, people had tried to achieve their own redemption – without a transcendent God – by building a ladder to heaven. Communists had a similar ambition. They had projected onto fallible beings godlike powers that would enable them to overcome their human fate. In doing so, Beryaev warned, the Communists had created demons they would not be able to control.

[again my emphasis]

And on page 75:

Underneath the ordinary surfaces of their lives, my parents and their friends thought of themselves as secret agents. The mission they had undertaken, and about which they could not speak freely to anyone but each other, was not just an idea to them. It was more important to their sense of themselves than anything else they did. Nor were its tasks of a kind they could attend or ignore, depending on their moods. They were more like the obligations of a religious faith. Except that their faith was secular, and the millennium they awaited was being instituted, at that moment, in the very country that had become America’s enemy.

This explains the following (p26):

I look at my father’s words wipe out the enemy and marvel at the power he has been able to suck up from the silences and defeats of his life. The Party had given his this strength and made him a man. Yet his new power remained firmly in the Party’s control. Without it, he was nothing.

He continues, quoting a memo his father wrote, dated August 16, 1934  (p. 27):

To resign would mean:

1. To lose all my friends, and more perhaps.

2. To lose the basis for all of my thinking, to have no direction for any of the ordinary activities of daily existence; in brief, to stagnate and then degenerate mentally as well as intellectually.

The Party had become so much my father’s personal salvation that without it the possibilities of life itself vanish.

[My emphasis]

You’ve got to read the second point at least a couple of times. Be sure to let it sink in. What the author’s father really said here is that Communism gave his life direction. Without it, his life would – as he experienced it – be empty and useless. His faith in Communism went so far that he could literally not imagine a life without it. Interestingly enough, it appears that the (Communist) Party played the role to him that the Church plays to Roman Catholics.

Before reading Radical Son, I never thought of the Left‘s replacement of religion with politics in this way. But, after thinking about it for a while, I understood it makes perfect sense. It explains, for instance, why critics of the theory of man-made global warming are completely right when they charge that it’s not about science any longer to leftists, but about beliefs. Global warming has become a vital part of the Left‘s ideology. It has become one of the ways through which they try to reach salvation. Taking it away from them by telling them that global warming is a scam, is akin to telling a Christian that Jesus never walked on this earth, to a Muslim that Mohammed never lived, or, finally, to a Jew that Moses never even saw the Red Sea, let alone walked through it.

Another example is the now infamous Obama economic stimulus plan. Most respectable economists agree nowadays that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal prolonged the recession in the 1930s. Yet, President Obama and his fellow Democrats copied FDR‘s economic policy last year, by passing an incredibly expensive stimulus plan that would, like the New Deal, do exactly nothing to stimulate the economy in any way, shape or form. How can you explain this seemingly inexplicable behavior? Well, you can’t unless you understand that politics have replaced religion and spirituality to leftists.

I hope you’ll enjoy this series with me. In case you haven’t read Radical Son yet, you can order it here. Go get it and join me in the coming weeks.

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