It would be hard to exaggerate the Left’s evasiveness, before the fall of the Soviet Union, about the evils of communism. In this centenary year of the Bolshevik Revolution, there are other anniversaries we could note. One is that, 35 years ago, Susan Sontag shocked and dismayed her fellow leftists with her famous declaration that “Communism is in itself a variant, the most successful variant, of fascism. Fascism with a human face.”
It was 25 years ago that HarperCollins published what is today considered something of a conservative classic, Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values. The irony is that the book was written by a liberal who avoided being drafted to serve in the Vietnam war.
During the torture session in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith, mere minutes away from the horrors of Room 101, states through cracked lips that Big Brother can’t last. Telling the Inner Party Member O’Brien that he doesn’t believe in God, Smith also expresses a metaphysical faith that the regime would collapse: I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe—I don’t know, some spirit, some principle—that you will never overcome. Smith named this “something “the “Spirit of Man.” Such a moment flies in the face of George Orwell’s reputation as a rock-solid empiricist. That his creation, Winston Smith, would rely on gut feelings over fact, about…
When National Review debuted in 1955, the liberal columnist Dwight MacDonald lamented that the thrust of the new magazine was not conservative. In MacDonald’s lexicon, a true conservative was one who “sticks to his principles even when the results go against his prejudices,” for conservatives do not “appeal to the hearts of men” but to the “laws and traditions of a country.”
Reviewing the 2004 movie Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore’s cinematic attack on George W. Bush and the War on Terror, the late Christopher Hitchens found that its message was all over the place. The movie supposedly revealed the unsavory true motive of the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Afghanistan: that the Americans wanted to establish an oil pipeline connecting Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. It also aired the complaint that not enough troops were sent for the mission to succeed. The only thing unifying its not-very-compatible criticisms was the filmmaker’s disdain for Bush’s politics and his personality.
Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, is the Rightwing version of this—a jazzy documentary that throws everything at its target but the kitchen sink. It has two agendas, both of which need work and frequently miss golden opportunities; and they don’t link up logically.
On a movie set many years ago, actress Geraldine Page found herself seated between actor Ward Bond, an enforcer of the blacklist of communists then raging in Hollywood, and his friend, the conservative actor John Wayne. Page was only accustomed to being around her fellow show business liberals, so she listened to the two men’s conservative views with a sense of “horror.” But as the conversation went on, she developed a marginally more favorable view of Wayne, whom she called a “reactionary for all sorts of non-reactionary reasons.”
In a New York Times op-ed a week ago, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) lauded the recently deceased Delmer Berg and other Americans who volunteered to fight on the Loyalist side during the Spanish Civil War, which began 80 years ago. Berg was thought to be the last living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a unit of American volunteers who fought in that storied but oft-mischaracterized conflict that took place from 1936 to 1939.