Socialist Radical to Culture Warrior: the Improbable Life of David Horowitz
David Horowitz was born to Phil and Blanche Horowitz in New York City in 1939. His parents were dedicated members of the American Communist Party and strong supporters of Joseph Stalin. Dedicated. Yes, while other American families watched The Lone Ranger or The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, the Horowitz’s watched riveting Soviet propaganda films. According to Horowitz, Phil and Blanche thought of themselves as secret agents waiting for the coming revolution.
As it happened, it never came.
Even so, David proved no less dedicated to the socialist cause than his parents. After receiving degrees in English and English literature from Columbia University and the University of California-Berkeley, he became a Marxist intellectual and a founder of the “New Left.” In this role, he joined other standard-bearers on the Left protesting Vietnam and agitating for revolution in the West.
The revolution, it turned out, was in David’s thinking. In a stunning about-face—not unlike the one his Leftist colleague and friend, Christopher Hitchens, would make after 9/11—Horowitz broke with the Left and made the decision public in a 1985 Washington Post article titled “Goodbye to All That.” In the column, Horowitz explains his political defection and why he voted to give Reagan a second term.
Since that time, David has been a champion of the Right. He is founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and, with his colleague, Peter Collier, has co-authored three New York Times Bestsellers: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987).
Of particular interest to me (and the events for which we have scheduled him to speak) are his books Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left; The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America; and his new book, Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America.
Cultural critic Camille Paglia has said of David Horowitz: “I respect the astute and rigorously unsentimental David Horowitz as one of America’s most original and courageous political analysts. . . . As a scholar who regularly surveys archival material, I think that, a century from now, cultural historians will find David Horowitz’s spiritual and political odyssey paradigmatic for our time.”
Norman Podhoretz, former editor of Commentary magazine, says of Horowitz: “[He] is hated by the Left because he is not only an apostate but has been even more relentless and aggressive in attacking his former political allies than some of us who preceded him in what I once called ‘breaking ranks’ with that world. He has also taken the polemical and organizational techniques he learned in his days on the left, and figured out how to use them against the Left, whose vulnerabilities he knows in his bones. (That he is such a good writer and speaker doesn’t hurt, either.) In fact, he has done so much, and in so many different ways, that one might be justified in suspecting that ‘David Horowitz’ is actually more than one person.”
David Horowitz is a kind of hero to me and to thoughtful conservatives of my generation. Not only is he a brilliant man, he is a brilliant writer. As such, I was honored to discover that he had written a strong review and defense of my book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. Wonderful as it was to have Chris Matthews and Ravi Zacharias praise my book, David’s assessment of the book—“a literary gem”—meant more precisely because I knew who he was and I knew the caliber of his writing. That I had neither met nor communicated with him prior to this review—indeed, that his review was entirely unexpected—only added to the honor.
I am very excited to say that David will visit us in April. Did you enjoy our “Saving America’s Future” event with Oxford Professor John Lennox? Then you’ll love this one-night-only event featuring one of the great conservative intellectuals of our time: “Unhinged: How the Secular Left Threatens Democracy” | April 18 | 6:30 pm | Thomas Jefferson Tower