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The Leftist Leviathan

The authors show how the culture of philanthropy has in only a few decades shifted markedly to the left, with traditional foundations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts taken over by hardened anti-capitalists. Ironically, many charitable trusts set up by business tycoons, once propelled by a neutral helping philosophy, are now overtly pledged to destroy the system that enabled the founders to make their money in the first place. Pew Trusts, Horowitz and Laksin note, “is now the largest funder of the left-wing Tides Center” and also finances extremist organizations such as the Institute for Policy Studies, a pro-Castro think tank, Earth Justice, a radical environmentalist organization, and the Ruckus Society, a violent anarchist assembly.

The same story, of leftist radicals transforming the original mandate of helping organizations, has played out across the spectrum, from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Kroc Foundation to the Howard Heinz Endowments and the increasingly fringe-militant Ford Foundation, which has come under criticism for funding anti-Israel terrorist groups. Horowitz and Laksin are not the first to reveal such a betrayal. Peter Schweizer’s Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy tracks how left-wing plutocrats such as George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky have profited massively from the economic system they are attempting to smash, but Horowitz and Laksin have pursued the subject with remarkable precision and breadth.

Moreover, as the authors explain, these foundations are “unique ideological autocracies at the heart of American society.” Unlike government agencies and profit-making corporations, they are almost entirely unrestrained, answering to no one but themselves and free from market imperatives. “Absent checks on their power and influence, they can and do disenfranchise larger and larger segments of the population,” the authors warn.

These foundations are working in concert to reshape America through every legal, educational, and community channel available: by funding legal-action groups to sue police and fire departments with claims that their entry tests are racist; by pushing multiculturalist and victim-group agendas in the public schools; by spending millions of dollars on advertising campaigns promoting disarmament and supporting international organizations to constrain the U.S. while giving free rein to hostile regimes; by organizing teams of activists to oppose states’ attempts to stop the budget-bursting flood of illegal immigrants onto their welfare rolls; by financing armies of lawyers to free Guantanamo detainees and to oppose measures to protect America from terrorist attack; by funding community forums, media blitzes, and television programming in support of socialized health care; by supporting opposition to measures for preventing voter fraud; by financing centers to indoctrinate and train future left-wing activists; by setting up radical environmental organizations to whip up public fervor over scientifically dubious threats to public health, and so on. The extent of their reach into all aspects of public debate and government policy is indeed alarming.

It is a cliché to call a book a "must read," but this one is: all who care about the democratic process, whatever their ideological leanings, will find much worth knowing in its compulsively readable pages. I am curious to see whether and how the book will be reviewed by left-wing critics, who will surely dislike its demythologizing revelations. Probably its arguments will be either ignored or denied, following the same tactic employed by those who took such satisfaction in asserting that Wisconsin’s union-busting Scott Walker was bankrolled into victory by right-wing millionaires, when campaign records show, on the contrary, that his pro-union opponents commanded far greater resources. Media Matters claims to have found ten (mainly disputable) “errors” in The New Leviathan, but tellingly refrains from addressing its figures. To launch a credible counter-attack, critics would have to show the numbers to be wrong, a hard task given that they have been taken straight from the annual reports of the foundations themselves. Those numbers speak as eloquently as Horowitz and Laksin have done in this stunning and indispensable piece of investigative scholarship.