Praising someone for being “politically incorrect” has, alas, become a tiresome cliché. That’s a shame, because we need eloquent critics of that pernicious worldview now more than ever. Yet we toss the phrase “politically incorrect” around as easily as a Nerf ball, and thereby render it about as effective.
So when I call Jamie Glazov’s new book United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror “politically incorrect,” please refrain from hitting your mental snooze button.
United in Hate will remind many of Paul Johnson’s seminal Intellectuals. Reading that 1988 book has been an eye-opening experience for many budding conservatives. A month ago, a young man I’d just met excitedly shared his latest used-bookstore discovery: Intellectuals, that anti-hagiography of modernity’s liberal heroes, the ones that same young man had been taught to revere by his professors. You could see the glow of intellectual liberation in his eyes. His eagerness to discover and share even more “unspeakable” truths was palpable.
“What’s important about Intellectuals,” observed “libertarian bookworm” Timothy Sandefur, “is that it reveals the extent to which the ideological ‘leaders’ of modern culture have been willing to lie, cheat, and steal — literally — in the pursuit of anti-rational modern ideologies like socialism, communism, and the regulatory welfare state.”
Johnson also revealed — some would say reveled in — the sexual and moral deviancy and hypocrisy of the likes of Sartre, James Baldwin, and other leftist demigods. In Intellectuals, he created a conservative Hollywood Babylon, but with bigger words and without those gruesome crime scene photos worthy of Weegee.
Alas, Johnson himself — a very public traditional Catholic moralist — was later revealed to be an adulterer with a very British penchant for B&D. For a man of renown and high social station who enjoyed private humiliation, this more public variety surely must have stung more than any cane to the bottom. Hypocrisy being the most serious sin in the liberal establishment catechism, Johnson’s reputation, and that of his most famous book, suffered enormously and never recovered.
And a generation or two later, facts that Johnson rightly considered shocking — Rousseau’s and Gauguin’s blithe abandonment of their children in search of “personal fulfillment,” for example — may not seem so troubling to today’s morally unmoored youth. After all, some of today’s children’s parents abandoned them, and who are they to judge?
Which is where United in Hate comes in.
Besides the usual celebrity suspects — Susan Sontag, Che Guevara, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Mary McCarthy, Oliver Stone — Jamie Glazov sets his sights on an enemy Johnson couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago: radical Islam. Glazov is unsparing in his critique of both left-wing Western intellectuals and their new and highly unlikely anti-intellectual, anti-feminist allies — violent Muslim belligerents — and that makes United in Hate a timely sequel of sorts to Johnson’s original potboiler.
Glazov’s thesis is that Western leftists and Muslim terrorists share a pathology, a morbid mental defect. Glazov is not a professional psychiatrist, so some readers will look askance at his conclusions, which he calls “the believer’s diagnosis.” In an interview with Pajamas Media, Glazov explained his conclusions and his rejection of the overly generous contention, put about by liberals and conservatives alike in the wake of the Spanish Civil War and Stalin’s purge, that leftists were and are merely confused, well-intentioned “do-gooders.”
“The typical leftist,” Glazov explained, actually “wants to shed himself of his unwanted self and melt into a totalitarian blur. He wants to fit in. And he wants to create a disinfected earth where he doesn’t have to face the challenges that come with freedom. That disinfection demands destruction. It demands Ground Zero, so that the earthly paradise can be built on its ashes. Radical Muslims perpetrate the destruction against free societies that the leftist is dreaming of and supports. Both sides want to create paradise on earth and they cannot accept man for who and what he is. Because of that, every time they try to create heaven, they engender hell. And there is nothing baffling about this alliance. It makes total logical sense.”
Glazov writes with the blunt passion of a convert, but he’s never been a leftist. He comes by his brutal candor honestly. Glazov’s parents were Soviet dissidents: Yuri Glazov was one of the signatories of the 1968 Letter of Twelve denouncing Soviet human rights abuses; his mother, Marina, circulated samizdat. Fortunately, detente made it possible for the Glazovs to escape to America in 1972. Jamie Glazov was five years old.
In United in Hate, he writes:
While we were cherishing our newfound freedom, we encountered a strange species: intellectuals in the universities who hated my parents for the story they had to tell. … Thus, when I am confronted with the Left’s current romance with militant Islam, I see something very familiar.
During the Cold War, says Glazov, the Left masked its sinister motivations “through the pretense of being on the side of ‘social justice’ and ‘equality.”
But on September 11, 2001, the Left “tore off its own mask.” That day, he told me, “I braced myself for what I expected would happen: my leftist acquaintances and leftists on the international stage began rubbing their hands with glee.” People like Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky, not to mention some in Glazov’s own circle, “couldn’t even disguise their celebration and feelings of kinship with the terrorists that carried out that crime against humanity.”
Glazov became determined to get to the bottom of the Left’s, and radical Islam’s, self-hatred and arrogance, their “romance with tyranny and terror.”
The key, if Glazov’s theory is correct, is a fascination with death and destruction. It’s a fascination we often observe in misfit teenagers enamored of self-destructive idols like Sylvia Plath and James Dean. However, this fascination becomes downright pathological when it carries on into adulthood and becomes justified as a coherent intellectual, philosophical worldview — a worldview one dare not mock or question without being branded a bigot or a troglodyte.
Luckily, Glazov isn’t swayed by this new “etiquette.” In United in Hate, he writes about Michel Foucault, for decades one of the academy’s most revered and influential intellectual theorists. In doing so, he — in the tradition of Paul Johnson — describes Foucault’s ugly (and in many “respectable” liberal circles, unspeakable) demise.
Glazov writes: “For a person who had always been fascinated by death and its interconnections with sex, Foucault’s life came to an eerie ending when he died of AIDS in 1984,” having “embraced” the San Francisco bath house scene when its dangers were well known, and its inherent immorality — even before the AIDS era — should have been, in any case, self-evident.
“As we shall see later in this chapter,” Glazov continues, “many leftist homosexuals would follow this pattern of self-hate and a craving for death. This pathological behavior mirrors that of other leftist intellectuals supporting tyrannies that murder intellectuals” — Foucault, for instance, was a vocal admirer of Iran’s Khomeini.
Sadly one doubts that Glazov will be getting many invitations to speak on that topic at Berkeley in the near future.
It is Glazov’s chapters on radical Islam that many will find the most difficult to read, what with their uncensored descriptions of frankly bizarre psychosexual activities that are, if the experts Glazov cites are to be believed, fairly commonplace in the Muslim world.
Acknowledging that he doesn’t “know any simple answers to this,” Glazov speculated to Pajamas Media that the “Muslim religion’s misogyny and fear and hatred of female sexuality leads to a hell of a lot of pathology. And this pathology, in turn, plays a monumental role in engendering terror. The hate of the female, and the impulse to stifle her desire and to also stifle the desire for her, is very much at the root of Islamic terror. Wherever you find a misogynist culture, you will find suicidal impulses in that culture.”
Asked what aspect of his research findings particularly troubled him — and make no mistake, United in Hate is an overwhelmingly troubling read — Glazov replied:
After living a life of hearing and reading about what the communists perpetrated against their own people, there is nothing really shocking for me. Depressing, yes. Things that crack my soul and traumatize me, yes. I think perhaps I didn’t know how much radical Muslims actually venerate actual human blood. In one scene, a Muslim terrorist actually laps the blood off the floor of his dead victim. It makes sense, of course, since the craving for the pure and sterilized earthly paradise is ultimately an outgrowth of the hatred of human beings and, therefore, the thirst for their blood. That’s why socialists and Islamists have their hands soaked in it.