October 25, 2005

Left To Right

I don't believe I ever self-identified as a liberal, so I can't claim to have experienced anything like the political evolution of the well known left-to-right apostates that I have since come to read and admire. But I've always been fascinated by their stories, as much for the insight into the basis of their early utopian dreams as for the principled stands they took when the collectivist impulse finally demonstated to them the tyranny of which it is capable whenever men and governments set about to enforce it.

Although there are others, I speak mainly of Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz and David Horowitz, three men who became intellectual heroes, and who have undeniably shaped my worldview here in mid-life. Chambers' Witness and Horowitz' Radical Son cemented my conservatism as much anything else I can specify. And while I came later to read Podhoretz, Ex-Friends was as much an eye-opener into the mindset of the Left as were the two autobiographies.

More recently, prominent leftists Christopher Hitchens and Ron Rosenbaum have publicly departed the movement, in large part owing to disgust with the reaction of many of their brethren to the 9/11 attacks, where America was drawn as the villain, and a Taliban regime that oppressed women, stoned gays, and executed dissidents at home while murdering innocents abroad, was spared condemnation. It was illogical, knee-jerk anti-Americanism that drove away Hitchens and Rosenbaum.

All of that as setup to this FrontPage forum featuring several more modern day apostates, including Tammy Bruce, Phyllis Chesler and Keith Thompson relating their own stories of breaking with the Left. You'll need to pack a lunch, but it's good stuff. The common thread in these stories is the same as that of the Big Three above; principled people who experienced confusion or disillusionment of some sort when the actions of their Left came to conflict with its stated values. And to a person it seems, they have been denied much of that fabled liberal tolerance since their intellectual evolutions.

Read more from the native Ohioan Thompson in this interview on his site, as well as his essay "Leaving the Left".

UPDATE 10/27: More "second thoughts" reading from discoverthenetworks.org.

Posted by dan at October 25, 2005 7:47 PM