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The memoir of former 60's Marxist David Horowitz and how he made a political about face to become a Reaganite Republican. Cripes.
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An Interview with David Horowitz (1 2 3 )

An Interview with David Horowitz
Interviewed by Sander Hicks

I truly enjoyed Radical Son, the memoir of former 60's Marxist David Horowitz and how he made a political about face to become a Reaganite Republican. Horowitz also wrote a book called the Art of Political War that was praised by the Bush's top brain Karl Rove and used as a political manual by large numbers of Republican party leaders. Horowitz was in part responsible for the Rove/Bush "compassionate conservative" strategy. However, in our interview Horowitz was vitriolic, exasperated and jumpy. This interview took place May 28, 2001, in the evening, on the phone. It lasted about an hour. This is a full transcript from the tape, minus some unnecessary digressions. It gets really good at the end, when Horowitz can't name any Bush qualities or accomplishments off hand, and he panicks and runs.

[I began to tape with:]

HICKS: I think this should be on the record. You've been to the White House. You're one of the leading intellectuals that the White House looks up to, both Rove and Bush.

HOROWITZ: I don't know. That's not "ideas."

HICKS: OK, then let's try and talk more generally about "ideas."

HOROWITZ:Ask me about Compassionate Conservatism and that kind of shit. ...I am a Republican because I believe I have abandoned the agendas of the Left, because they are incredibly destructive. The idea that of helping people that have fallen behind, should be given maximum opportunity to get ahead, that we should have a democratic society where the government treats people equally, all those agendas remain with me. The reason I'm a Republican is because I believe Republican policies serve those agendas better than any others. And I'm trying to push the Republican Party more in that direction.

HICKS: How does that affect the Party's position on social programs?

HOROWITZ: Well, let's make it more "Conservative." The conservative analysis of poverty is right. To me the Democratic Party is a left-wing party.

HICKS: You'll have to clarify that for me later.

HOROWITZ: Have you read the Politics of Bad Faith?


HOROWITZ: OK, there's a chapter on the meaning of right and left. HICKS: It goes back to Hegel, the historical origin.

HOROWITZ: No, no, the "Left" goes back to the French Revolution. The Jacobins sat on the left, the Chavres and their parties sat to the right.

HICKS: Oh really I heard the same thing about the Hegelians in the German Parliament.

HOROWITZ: No, no, it comes from the French Revolution. ...I think the Left is intellectually incoherent, and Marx was a crackpot. A very brilliant one, but very crackpot stuff. You may find that extreme but if you think hard and long enough you'll come to that conclusion. So, when you look at poverty, I just stumbled off the Thermstrom's book, America in Black and White. I came off a little statistic, let's see, "Poverty today is entirely caused by failure to work." It used to be jobs were too low-paying. You couldn't rise below the poverty line because there were just jobs that kept you below, then. Today, only 2.5% of black males who are fully employed are poor. That's an outstanding statistic. If you have a job, any job, and it's full-time, you will not be poor in America.

HICKS: How does that compare with other data I've seen about how more and more families have to work two jobs to make ends meet?

HOROWITZ: It all depends on the definition of ends. This is the legal definition of the poverty line...this comes from U.S. government statistics....

HICKS: Which is an income of something like mid-twenties for a family of four?

HOROWITZ: Exact-well whatever it doesn't really matter because as you and I know, not only if you fall below the poverty line do you get a lot of subsidies, but people in the inner city do not pay the same for televisions or anything else that other people pay for.

HICKS: Wait what do you mean by that?

HOROWITZ: well there's a whole hidden economy. If you know ANYBODY who lives in the inner city you know that....

HICKS: Well I live in the inner city.

HOROWITZ: costs 25 bucks or a hundred bucks or whatever. It doesn't really matter. The point is just that we take an arbitrary thing. We're not talking about in the eyes of God-Just, if we could rearrange society, what would be a just order, we're talking about the real world, and in the real world, you're not poor if you work. In fact, if you work and marry, and stay married, the family's aren't poor either. Poverty is really a product of dysfunction.

HICKS: How would you respond to the data that real wages have actually diminished in the last 20 or 30 years.

HOROWITZ: I don't know how these statistics are arrived at and I don't even think that's relevant. We're talking about what's the opportunity out there, is there mobility? Who's responsible for an individual's poverty? And you have to say, it's that individual.You can't say that the social order is set up, the ruling class arranges it so it can have these reserve army of the unemployed around and on and on.

HICKS: Well actually, a question naturally popping up is that there is a capitalist economic model that says for growth you need a certain percentage of unemployment so that you can create a new enterprise, and always know there's a labor pool out there to hire from. So that's why you have the Federal Reserve to adjusting interest rates to keep growth controlled and keep unemployment at a certain level.

HOROWITZ: No, I think that's ridiculous. I think that there's a reality that we've had over full employment....

HICKS: When?

HOROWITZ: For the last 5 or 6 years, it's been down to under 4%...3%....

HICKS: But why don't we have full employment?

HOROWITZ: First of all, people are fuck-ups. They are lazy. I mean c'mon. You've been in organizations. There are always three people that run an organization. Right?

HICKS: Well...

HOROWITZ: Maybe there's ten.

HICKS: answer that, no. There's all these new models, in the experiences I've had, I have some coworkers here that are in my company that are in more of a direct-action, consensus model. Do you know what the consensus model is?

HOROWITZ: I was doing this in 1957.

HICKS: OK, so you know. Everyone has to agree.

HOROWITZ: You can't run anything that way.

HICKS: Yeah, I tend to be kind of skeptical of it myself.

HOROWITZ: I tried. Anyway look...your normal organizations, the PTA...there are always some people who have the extra energy, the drive, they end up controlling the organization. That's why people like the ISO, the Communist Party, can go into big organizations and take them over. Because not everybody is participating. And they're never gonna. I don't know how we got onto this. We got onto this by talking about unemployment. Trust me. Nobody's plotting. Nobody's in control of the system....

HICKS: I've been reading Paul Krugman lately.

HOROWITZ: He's a big Johnny one-note. He's a leftist who just can't stand tax cuts.

HICKS: Well I don't know if he's really a leftist, he's more of a Keynesian.

HOROWITZ: Well you have to read, again....

HICKS: Hayek?

HOROWITZ: What Hayek did for me, is you need a model that's alternate to the one you have, the whole idea of classes. Hayek, who was a Socialist himself, he...[in the] Constitution of Liberty, the Fatal Conceit, it's a whole different way of looking at the world. One is based on the individual, most things that go on are not ordered, he calls it the spontaneous. order. It's why Socialism doesn't work you can never plan an economy...the decisions that go into anything, the information that goes into supply.

HICKS: About prices, yeah I remember this now

HOROWITZ: Yes, prices, you know how Marxists we always rail against the reification of the economy? That's the beauty of the economy. The beauty is that it's an impersonal set of rules. People are naturally...they're greedy, they don't know when to stop, you know that about yourself and about everybody else. If you can get away with it you will, it's just so human...and the economy is an imposed order that nobody controls, the market, it's just perfect, it's like the dotcomthing, people are throwing money they can look and see I mean fucking Amazon isn't making any money but it's worth, 50 billion or something. And they keep buying it until the bubble bursts.

HICKS: Right.

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