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The Censored History of the Political Left
Another wonderful review of Norman Berdichevsky's new book, The Left is Seldom Right by Billy Rojas at Amazon:
Norman Berdichevsky's new 2011 book deserves serious attention. Entitled, The Left is Seldom Right, the volume discusses a range of important --current-- political issues from a unique perspective that so far is mostly absent from the blogosphere and from the writings of the punditocracy.
Berdichevsky clearly has strong political views and is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, but he is a political independent more than anything else and analyzes contemporary problems in an altogether fresh way.
The book starts with a tribute to Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, but takes the story much further. Still, for anyone who has read Goldberg's book Berdichevsky's follow-up will be very welcome. Here is the influence of Liberal Fascism but given new perspective, so unlike many other writers who also have been impressed by Goldberg but mostly have taken his theory as strict doctrine, rather than as a starting place from
which to rethink contemporary politics.
From one viewpoint Goldberg's thesis, that the far Left and the far Right converge, needs substantial modification since he seems to assume only a Marxist Left as bona fide, when in fact the Left was an amalgam of many different radical movements until well into the 20th century. Hence there is this weakness in Berdichevsky's volume also, since he does likewise. However, and the word deserves highlighting, there is so much more to Berdichevsky's overall argument that it would be almost pointless to get into a debate about this kind of reservation.
When reading The Left is Seldom Right you may also come to think to yourself,as I did, that several chapters should receive further treatment. Again and again you will probably find yourself saying, "I thought I knew the subject but here is
something else that previously completely escaped me. If only other people knew this information it really would make a major difference in political thinking generally."
Possibly half of the book's 25 chapters are in this category. Not because they are too short, but because they generate genuine curiosity for even more.Several seem to be especially important. such as :
10. The Anachronistic American Jewish Affection for the Left
13. Franco, Fascism and the Falange : All Far Right but Not One and the Same.
19. Communist Party Support of Both Castro and Batista
21. Israel : From Darling of the Left to Pariah State.
Be prepared for a wealth of little known historical information that has major importance for how most people interpret contemporary politics.
There are two problems with the book, nonetheless, even if neither subtract from its overall value. One is a need for greater balance, since a variety of questions can be raised about the all-too-often dubious past of the Right( which sometimes is not "right" itself ). And then there is the author's overuse of words spelled out in ALL CAPS for added emphasis, a practice that is inexplicable on the part of a published writer who, in all of his scholarly articles that I have read so far, never does anything similar. But this sort of thing is almost entirely confined to scattered passages in the first half of the book. Otherwise the volume has few problems and, in any case, as anyone who reads it will likely say, the information in it is extremely valuable.
Almost always a pleasure to read, Berdichevsky has a sense for style and each chapter tells a story, not just presents facts and theories.
Several chapters in the book also discuss the part Islam plays in the modern world. One quote will tell you something about both the writer's style and about his interpretation of the substance of Islam as it is practiced by a majority
of the world's Muslims :
" Our media and government and even more incredibly the forces on thepolitical Left in much of the world have essentially promoted ignorance of what motivates Muslims to undertake violent acts, preferring to focus, on their individual problems..."
This nails it. Indeed, it should be regarded as axiomatic that the position of the Left is only possible because popular ignorance is taken for granted. Which is also my own independently derived theory. And such ignorance is anything
but limited to the issue of Islam. It is pervasive. What you will read in The Left is Seldom Right will make this abundantly clear.