Dr. Jamie Glazov's new book United In Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror is not exactly light spring reading. Those seeking a diversion or the lightheartedness of so many recent polemical books will find Glazov's psycho-historical narrative an altogether different experience.
Rather than a series of jabs at the Left and the Democratic Party, Glazov cuts much deeper with his critique. United in Hate is like a pocket full of razor blades. With every step one takes through its painful eighteen chapters the old tyrannies of the 20th century and the new terrors of the 21st are revealed in stinging detail as a disturbing pattern emerges: totalitarian governments find the devoted support of some of the most talented minds and creative spirits of the West.
Glazov, the son of two prominent Soviet dissidents, asks the obvious questions. Why does this happen? How can people who claim to seek a better world support leaders that torture and murder their own people? How can a political Left that claims to defend women turn a blind eye to the misogyny of orthodox Islam? His conclusions are perhaps more disturbing than the horrors he recounts since they penetrate into the darker corners of the human soul.
The book begins with an important preface by former CIA director R. James Woolsey which makes clear who the book is not about. Woolsey selects 1984 and Animal Farm author George Orwell as an example of a man of the Left who was intolerant of totalitarianism. Glazov builds on this distinction in his first chapter, "The Roots of Denial," acknowledging not all leftists and "liberals" are partners in a romance with terror and tyranny. But Glazov ultimately argues, "But such liberals now make up a very small group of people who hold no influence within the Left's ranks. As a result, broadening the boundaries of what we label as ‘the Left' robs the term of any real meaning and, more tragic still, erases the memory of the millions of victims who were sacrificed for leftist ideals." That potential stumbling block cleared, the sharp, four-part journey Glazov has prepared for us begins.
Glazov first sets out to first clearly define "The Believer's Diagnosis" in the second chapter. His primary influence here is Eric Hoffer's classic The True Believer. Glazov builds on Hoffer, and defines the Believer as one who is alienated from his own society, and therefore rejects its values, including democracy and individual freedom. Glazov also digs into history, citing Rousseau and Margaret Mead as intellectuals who began the trend of romanticizing "the noble savage," a concept that would inform the Left as it became conflated with third world Marxists.
His book's protagonist defined, it's then off on an 90-year journey from the formation of the Soviet Union in 1917 to the War on Terror in the present day. And Glazov's pattern chapter after chapter stings: here's the Marxist dictatorship, here's some of its atrocities, and here's the adoring words of leftist intellectuals. Same Believer protagonist just with different faces as new Marxist experiments emerge. First it's George Bernard Shaw and Walter Duranty's praises of the Soviet Union juxtaposed with the horrors of Stalinism. Second is Susan Sontag and Todd Gitlin's affection for Fidel Castro's Cuba. Then Mary McCarthy with North Vietnam, then Shirley MacLaine with Red China, and finally Gunter Grass with Nicaragua. This pattern established Glazov brings his narrative to the present as Marxist tyrannies are replaced with Islamist terrors and the Believer discovers a new love.
Now the Believer cheers for Al-Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Glazov describes the Islamist worldview in Part III, laying out in disturbing detail the misogyny, anti-Semitism, and puritan elements of Orthodox Islamic societies. And then the Believer's pattern continues, this time with Jimmy Carter, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky playing the role.
Stylistically Glazov maintains a disturbing, uncomfortable tone throughout the text. The metaphor he chooses to employ is that of romance -- the Left has fallen in love with nihilism and brutality. This motif appears throughout the book, especially in chapter titles like "Flirting with Mao's Executioners," "Yearnings for Death and Suicide," and "The Bonds of Jew Hate." This frightening metaphorical creation only adds to the book's sharp edge as romance - a concept intimately associated with life - is instead employed to describe an attraction to death.
United In Hate is a successful integration of the ideas of many writers that will likely be familiar to readers of Front Page Magazine, the online publication of which Glazov serves as managing editor. Glazov regularly cites such Front Page contributors as Jacob Laksin, Ben Johnson, Theodore Dalrymple, Ron Radosh, Humberto Fontova, Robert Spencer, Christopher Hitchens, Paul Hollander, and Daniel Pipes.
But the thinker whose spirit most hangs over United In Hate is Glazov's mentor and collaborator David Horowitz. (Glazov edited and wrote the introduction to Horowitz's Left Illusions, a compilation of his writings. Glazov's introduction remains the best summary of Horowitz's work available.) Most of Horowitz's conservative texts are cited, from Destructive Generation to Hating Whitey to The Professors to Party of Defeat.
It's important to understand, though, that United In Hate is not a retread of territory that Horowitz has already covered. When first reading about Glazov's book I feared it would just be a repeat of what Horowitz had done with Unholy Alliance, a book which also showed connections between the Left and Islamo-fascism. Those concerns were quickly alleviated. United In Hate is a wholly original contribution, going from where Horowitz began and taking the leftist critique to a new level. Glazov's Ph.D. in history shows as he paints a broad, vivid picture of some of the 20th century's most painful dictatorships. He also drills deeper into the radical psyche, particularly in one of the book's most unforgettable, consequential chapters, "Cravings for Death," an exploration into the suicidal impulse within the "progressive" spirit.
If there's any substantive criticism to make of United In Hate it's that the book says only half of what the author needs to say. In a rare friendly leftist review to Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith, David Weir of Salon wrote, "It struck me, as I closed the volume, that Horowitz had effectively deconstructed the left but had not yet articulated a compelling case for the right. Perhaps that will come in his next book." Horowitz would go on to do just that in his book Uncivil Wars, a text which combined memoir, polemic, and history to both challenge the reparations for slavery cause and, more importantly, trumpet a unifying vision of the American Idea.
Similar sentiments to Weir's could be said of United in Hate. Glazov has butchered the Left but has yet to argue the philosophy that should be embraced instead. Perhaps he could do that by means of exploring the genre in which Horowitz found such success in Radical Son: the political memoir. Some of United In Hate's rare touching moments are when Glazov gets personal and talks about his family history as the son of Soviet dissidents Yuri and Marina Glazov. A book focused on telling their story and the experiences that led him to become the managing editor of Front Page and the author of United in Hate would make for a fascinating follow up.
Maybe if we're lucky he'll consider it for a future project, one that won't cut us quite as painfully.
David Swindle is a writer, film critic, and blogger. He lives in Muncie, Indiana with his fiancée, artist April Bey. Email him at DavidSwindle[@]gmail.com.