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Silent Scourge

Barry Rubin’s last book dissects the hegemony of radical thought in America.

by
Janice Fiamengo

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July 24, 2014 - 12:06 am
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This is an angry, sorrowing book, and Barry Rubin’s indefatigability in completing it while facing what he knew to be his final illness (the respected historian and Middle East analyst died of cancer in early February of this year) indicates to some extent the measure of the thinker who has gone. Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance brims with insight and evidence; if one could read only one book this summer on the revolution that has occurred in American politics, this should be it.

Passages of incredulity punctuate the otherwise controlled, effectively developed arguments the author presents about the “fundamental transformation” of America that had already taken place by the time Barack Obama proclaimed it, just prior to his election. That is Rubin’s core thesis: that it was not Obama himself who changed America, or even the leftist ideologues and czars he appointed to carry out his socialist vision — though the effects of their policies have been profound — but legions of true believers, many working independently and without centralized direction, who have remade the culture in a remarkably short time. Together, they laid the groundwork for the most radical and culturally alien president in American history to present himself credibly, and with almost no concerted opposition, as a mere modernizer of traditional American practices. This movement also enabled millions of mainstream Americans to buy into assumptions and programs that guarantee the end of American exceptionalism.

How could such a monumental cultural shift have occurred with so little general recognition, let alone organized dissent? How was it possible that so many people accepted as “liberal” ideas and policies that would, just a few decades earlier, have been immediately identified (and denounced) as radically anti-American and anti-liberal? To answer such questions, a review of twentieth-century American Leftist history and especially of the phenomenon of the 1960s New Left underpins Rubin’s analysis of what he calls the “silent revolution” of our time — silent not only because its leaders have taken pains to disguise the true nature of their goals, but also because (and this is the real genius of the movement) many members of the revolutionary army are not themselves fully aware of its radical dimensions.

That movement has involved the co-optation of classic liberalism (now tragically defunct, according to Rubin) by the Left, such that a once-marginal, statist, and anti-capitalist philosophy has claimed the middle ground of American thought that liberalism once honorably occupied. This radical philosophy has argued, successfully though falsely, that the progress achieved under the American free enterprise system — workers’ rights, environmental protections, women’s liberation — was possible only as a result of the far Left of the Democratic Party, and that conservatives would, if returned to power, take it all away.

Conservative criticisms of radical ideas have been effectively sidelined through their demonization. The new hegemony has enabled Obama, in the guise of safeguarding liberal freedoms and opportunities for the middle class, to implement “an unprecedented degree of statism, an imperial presidency that went far beyond Richard Nixon’s dreams, [and] record high levels of government regulation, taxation and debt,” while also presiding over, in universities and the mass media, an ideological straightjacketing of intellectuals that is the very opposite of the classic liberal emphasis on individualism and free exchange.

Rubin calls this hidden movement — an inchoate, uncoordinated, and de-centralized phenomenon — the Third Left. He argues that it grew from the failures of the two previous Left movements: the first under the Communist Party of the 1920-1950s and the second in the form of the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s. What differentiates the Third Left from the New Left, with which it has many affinities, is the Third Left’s unparalleled mainstreaming of radical ideas. An almost complete infiltration by Third Left cadres of the entertainment industry, mass media, and the entire education system — from kindergarten through university — has normalized what were once shocking ideas, making hatred of capitalism seem natural and desirable, anti-Americanism the only decent response of conscientious citizens, and social inequality a crime for which any level of government control is not only acceptable but necessary.

Rubin’s brief and fascinating history of the Left in America shows how the Third Left learned from the successful strategies and ideas of its predecessors while turning some Leftist tenets upside down. In the early 1920s, with prosperity in America and extremism in the Soviet Union damaging Communists’ ability to win support, Leftists made a move that the 21st century Third Left would duplicate: it disguised itself as Progressive. (In fact, the early twentieth-century Progressives had wanted to save capitalism through reforms rather than destroy it, but the radical Progressives used the name to legitimize a far more absolutist agenda.) By the 1950s and 1960s, when it was increasingly obvious that American capitalism was taking people out of poverty, reforming itself, generating wealth to support expanding social programs, and creating greater opportunities for ever larger numbers of citizens, the almost universal recognition of this truth was undermined by new strategies of mobilization focusing on counter-culture youth and a few simple ideas.

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Ah humans. Now that we’ve had a biblical-scale technological revolution that has enabled existence to take a giant step back from the edge of chaos, to make life less nasty, brutish and short, we now become a bunch of ungrateful ass-hats who constantly complain and even adopt a new culture that would never have been able to produce the 19th and 20th century miracles in the first place. Dear God, please don’t smite us even though we’re a bunch of thankless morons who richly deserve it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fascism is a form of socialism. Benito Mussolini was a leader of the Italian Socialist Party in World War I. It opposed Italy's participation in the war (on the side against Germany) because of the Marxist dogma that war was between capitalist nations. In 1917, he changed his mind. He founded the Fascist Party as a nationalist socialist party, referring to a symbol of authority in ancient Rome, the fasces (a sheaf of wheat bound up with an axe). In Germany, that National Socialist party was founded, in German "Nazional Sozialismus," "Nazi" for short. What is now called "liberalism" is a euphemism for "socialism."
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very insightful and a thing still ignored today. But that invisible army which falsely claims to represent old liberalism has a name: it's not a "Third Left" but radical intersectional feminism. They've co-opted feminism though they despise traditional feminism. They claim to represent the old civil rights movement though they bitterly oppose colorblindness. They claim to speak for all women but are statistical zero of all women. They claim to speak for all gays but men are no part of their picture.

The very fact words like "patriarchy," "trigger warning," "cultural appropriation" and "privilege" are now mainstreamed into the American consciousness shows what this movement is and how successful it's been at becoming the mainstay of Dem politics. Those quoted words have one source and one source only.

Intersectionalism is the go-to latest, greatest and most edgy driving force in liberal politics. It has been working at America in a slightly different form for decades but only 10 years ago was still considered so crazy no one really paid attention to it. But now, you show me virtually any dust-up in American politics today and if you look for the source you'll find a woman who self-identifies as an intersectionalist behind it. It's simply a matter of research.

None of that changes the fact Rubin is spot on in his appraisal. The reason so few people see this change is because old anti-oppression movements have been hijacked, but the goals are far different. Intersectionalists claim to be anti-bigotry and anti-supremacy but they are in fact racist supremacists who don't want equality but to tear the entire system down and start from scratch.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (30)
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Very interesting.

However, I once read a book seems 20 years ago that predates Mr. Rubin's book (who I will greatly miss as I always enjoyed his wisdom and his writing) that forewarned of these very things. And we've done little to confront it since and we are doing little to confront it now as a nation. We talk much and do little.

And best I can tell, for the man's troubles, he was rejected by much of America then and most of America now, even ridiculed for its basic precepts because he had a major flaw that carries a Scarlett Letter of 'C' in popular media circles, as in Christian. It's not politically correct.

The man's name was Robert Bork who recently passed away - a great man, a wonderfully wise man, and the name of his book was 'Slouching Towards Gomorrah.'

None of what has happened in the last 20 years has taken me by surprise - but the magnitude of the apathy in the Christian community has in our response. Anyone who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and called themselves Christian, is either a deceived so woefully confused to be worthless.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can't speak for all. But anyone who tries to take my property from me, earned by my labor, will be met with lethal force, if required. We are only here once. We don't belong to the state.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama's favorite professor was political scientist Roger Boesche. Boesche was definitely a socialist. I taught with him while I was in the political science department at Williams College. http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/09/even_republicans_rejected_info_about_obamas_past.html
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I met young Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College. I can report he was a hard-core Marxist-Leninist at the time looking forward to a revolution. See, http://pjmedia.com/blog/barack-obamas-marxist-ghosts-of-christmas-past/
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Long answer - buy the book.
Short answer - Satan, anyone?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, I miss Barry and always enjoyed his opinions. I believe he is exactly right in putting his finger on the surge of ideas today, that thirty years ago were at least not mainstream, and many would be widely considered traitorous or insane. But as to the whys and hows of that, I'm afraid I believe it was very complex. It sounds like Barry put his finger on some evidence, but root causes can be more difficult, and no single narrative may easily capture them all.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ah humans. Now that we’ve had a biblical-scale technological revolution that has enabled existence to take a giant step back from the edge of chaos, to make life less nasty, brutish and short, we now become a bunch of ungrateful ass-hats who constantly complain and even adopt a new culture that would never have been able to produce the 19th and 20th century miracles in the first place. Dear God, please don’t smite us even though we’re a bunch of thankless morons who richly deserve it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
fitting pic to go w/ the subject at hand.

today's cabal of stealth commies include feminists, minorities, radical muslims, dumbed down, affirmative action promoted 'intellectuals', the msm, illegals and the usual handout crowd. they have their allies abroad like putin, but keeping track of who's who there takes a computer. they employ many of the same tactics as their predecessors of old: misinformation, diversion, shaming, blaming, murder, coercion, information control, and whatever else sticks to the wall.

in the past the u.s. took major hits (Pearl Harbor), but was always able to recover. our little 'abomination that makes desolate' has pretty much crippled our economy so as to neuter any global dominance we once enjoyed. why do you think he just keeps on spending $$ we don't have. he's like tiny tim, tiptoeing through the countries throwing our borrowed $$ at everybody and everything in sight. every week a new cause to give million$/billion$.

these people have had a plan for our subjugation for over half a century. it is a dynamic plan that is designed to go w/ the flow. the main tenets are always the same: destroy our military, destroy our economy, destroy our national identity, destroy the middle class, destroy our faith, destroy our borders, destroy our unity, destroy everything that was America.

war is upon us, make no mistake about it. 'Americans will always do the right thing...after they have exhausted all the alternatives'. Winston Churchill

I think we are running out of alternatives about now.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, the public school indoctrination into "Third Left" perverted thinking has been fierce and relentless, over decades, cultural destabilization being fundamental to the "transformation".

"...(Rubin) fears that the inroads of the Left on American ideals have been too corrosive to admit recovery."

Very possibly true.

"An almost complete infiltration by Third Left cadres of the entertainment industry, mass media, and the entire education system — from kindergarten through university — has normalized what were once shocking ideas, making hatred of capitalism seem natural and desirable, anti-Americanism the only decent response of conscientious citizens, and social inequality a crime for which any level of government control is not only acceptable but necessary."

Wonder if the rather corpulent and very rich Scandal producer at whose Beverly Hills mansion Obama was partying last nigh believes all that. Wonder if she and the 450 or so other rich democrats in attendance applauded when the complainer in chief whined about "phony scandals".

Obama's description of republicans last night effectively describes himself:

"So they obstruct, and they obfuscate and they bamboozle, and they sometimes don't tell exactly what's truth - that was a euphemism,' he said."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2702827/This-time-Obama-fundraising-bit-Scandal.html
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Americans have traditionally hated arrogant egg-heads who think they know better than everyone else. Being a Magic Negro has helped him tremendously. The Democrats will find the magic gone if they put a Magic Hag in office.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Readers may enjoy this! I was at Lucky today, and someone put all the copies of the latest Hillary screed into the Children's books section with the coloring books and such!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The magic was never there in the first place, except behind the eyes of the brain dead and the gullible.

My up close and personal training in exactly who and what the new, third, modern (whatever) LEFT is was the main takeaway of my years at Bezerkley & stayed with me far more deeply than what went on in the classroom.

Last night, Obama spoke of republicans as bamboozlers. There is no bigger bamboozler than Bam himself.

Projection, it's who they are.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can't help coming up with some bumper stickers to help out all those PC stricken and impotent republicans. (John Boehner could be the poster child.)

"oBAMa puts the BAM in bamboozle !"

"The democrat party IS the war on women !"

(5¢ please)
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The education component seems the most vital and frightening aspect of this.

There are people who genetically cannot feel pain. Like Midas' golden touch, this seemingly advantageous condition is actually quite risky and frustrating, since the pain-immune can't tell then they've skinned a knee or done far worse damage to themselves.

We have legions of educated idiots now well into adulthood (and even many high political offices) who can't find the G8 nations on a map, have no idea who Napoleon, Alexander or Sherman were, but can tell you every last detail about Rachel Carson, Cesar Chavez or Ryan White. Like the pain-immune, they don't know what they don't know and therefore are dangerous to themselves and in turn others.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We have legions of educated idiots now well into adulthood (and even many high political offices)..."

Think you're talking about the likes of Harf and Psaki over at State.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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