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A Conservative History of the American Left

Publisher: Crown Forum • 2008 • 464 pages
4.43 out of 5 • View Ratings Details • 7 Ratings

Loony Leftism: it didn’t start with Hillary Clinton’s comparison of marriage and family with slavery and the Indian reservation system. It didn’t start when Thomas Frank wrote in What’s the Matter with Kansas about “the borderline criminality of capitalism.” It didn’t even start with the Sixties! It’s surprising but true: the loony but now — sadly — mainstream Left has its roots in some radical movements that are centuries old.

Today, with the Left’s influence once again growing in American life, despite its utter intellectual and moral bankruptcy, it’s more important than ever for conservatives to be able to mount a clear-eyed, informed resistance — and that’s why Daniel Flynn’s rollicking “A Conservative History of the American Left” is so eye-opening and timely. Here at last is the first book that dares to tear away the pious fictions surrounding the American Left, and to reveal the true origins of the loony Leftist ideas that leave conservatives frustrated, outraged, and amazed that anyone could think such insane things.

Think that the wild ideas propagated by the Left today are newly minted? Think again. Flynn (author of the acclaimed Intellectual Morons and Why the Left Hates America) shows that many of them date back to the earliest days of America. And that even includes the Left’s hatred for Christianity, its moral relativism, and its calls for government to solve all of our problems. All that and more can be traced back into the 19th century.

Flynn demonstrates that the Left’s arguments have been refuted, rejected, and discarded again and again, but generation after generation liberals trot them out again. Even liberal anti-Americanism is nothing new: Flynn notes that the famed abolitionist crusader William Lloyd Garrison, in 1848 published a piece in his newspaper, The Liberator, that read: “We only hope that, if blood has had to flow, that it has been that of the Americans.”

And Garrison is not the only forefather of the loony Left who ever haunted the American scene. Flynn introduces you to a rogue’s gallery of Leftist loons, hacks and psychopaths who were, paradoxically enough, taken seriously in their day, and left their mark on the Leftist movement ever after. These include Mary Gove Nichols, a free love advocate and anti-marriage activist who compared matrimony to slavery and prostitution, becoming the Betty Friedan of the antebellum era — until she horrified her followers by getting married and converting to Catholicism!

Then there’s Victoria Claflin Woodhull, who ran for president on the Equal Rights Party ticket in 1872, 48 years before women could vote in presidential elections. An early hero of the feminist movement? Sure — and also an advocate of far-out “scientific” religion featuring spirit rappings and the appearances of ghosts.

And don’t forget the grim and humorless Leftist ideologue Mike Gold, who denounced Gilbert and Sullivan as “the cultural pioneers of fascism” and proclaimed that “the Russian Bolsheviks will leave the world a better place than Jesus left it.”

An enthralling account of the nutty origins of the loony Left, A Conservative History of the American Left enables conservatives to understand and more effectively combat the Left today. Meet the old Leftists, same as the new Leftists:

  • John Humphrey Noyes and the Perfectionists: a 19th-century utopian community that anticipated the Left’s “new,” “cutting-edge” ideas of today — including economic collectivism, free love, hostility to the nuclear family, pacifism, anti-Americanism, and passion for eugenics
  • Robert Owen, the rags-to-riches Welsh industrialist who identified private property, religion, and marriage as “the most monstrous evils” almost two centuries ago
  • Michael Moore’s forefather: the crusading early twentieth century Leftist journalist who announced that he wanted to “destroy the facts”
  • The presidential administration that brought top-down reform by liberal technocrats, fast-paced centralization, and constitutional disposability to Washington long before Hillary Clinton was even born
  • The American Communist dupe who, with his propaganda, paved the way for the blood and violence of the Russian Revolution, and the terror of its aftermath
  • Why the American Socialist Party gets the lion’s share of attention from historians despite being far smaller and less influential than many other American third-party movements
  • The open racism of many of the most prominent Leftists of the nineteenth and earlier twentieth century — foreshadowing the racial paternalism of today’s Left Why Karl Marx’s violent, one-size-fits-all, industry-centered ideology meshed better with the post-Civil War American Left than did the gradualist, experimental, agrarian-centered Communist movements of the prewar years
  • The Democratic demagogue who secured a presidential nomination by preaching class resentment
  • Whitewashing the Reds: the non-Communist American historian of China who willingly altered his account in order to please China’s new Communist masters
  • The muddleheaded charlatan who suckered thousands of Americans — including the best and brightest of the nineteenth-century American Left — into believing him a political genius and spiritual luminary
  • Christianity should “redeem society as well as the individual from all sin”: how the Social Gospel movement was born, and quickly left behind any trace of the Gospel at all
  • The Single Tax advocate who called for a draconian land tax that would, in effect, have forced property holders to rent land from the state

“A tour de force. ‘A Conservative History of the American Left’ is a compelling read, supported by an enormous amount of research. Even those on the Left will learn something about their movement by reading this book, although they are unlikely to enjoy reading Flynn’s many revelations and poignant insights.” —Peter Schweizer, bestselling author of “Do As I Say (Not As I Do)”

“Witty, insightful, and informed, Dan Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left is the best introduction I know to this destructive and unavoidable social phenomenon.”—David Horowitz, bestselling author of “The Professors”, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Magazine

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