David Joel Horowitz is an American writer. He is a founder and president of the think tank the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC); editor of the Center’s publication, FrontPage Magazine; and director of Discover the Networks, a website that tracks individuals and groups on the political left. Horowitz also founded the organization Students for Academic Freedom.
From 1956 to 1975, Horowitz was an outspoken adherent of the New Left. He later rejected progressive and Marxist ideas and became a defender of conservatism. Horowitz recounted his ideological journey in a series of retrospective books, culminating with his 1996 memoir Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. The following interview was initially published in FrontPage Magazine, in March 2020.
Grégoire Canlorbe: You have long established yourself as a Jewish intellectual committed to the defense of your homeland America and its Protestant values. While in conservative circles it is not uncommon to address the totalitarian commonalities between Islam and Marxism, you like to raise the connection of Marxism (and other laicized socialist ideologies) with the Pelagian heresy. Could you tell us more about this filiation?
David Horowitz: Pelagius, a 4th Century Christian Monk—even more than Rousseau—is the father of all leftist schemes to remake the world into a social justice paradise. Pelagius believed that sin was against human nature. Therefore if people would just be true to their nature—and therefore good Christians—they could build a heaven on earth. Leftists believe that people are good at heart, and therefore if they are good Marxists, or good socialists, or politically correct, they can build a paradise on earth. Saint Augustine was Pelagius’ nemesis. To counter his utopian vision, Augustine posed the doctrine of original sin—that we all participate in Adam’s sin because it is in our nature to sin, not against it. In secular terms, the root cause of all social problems, of all human problems is us. That’s why when progressives achieve total power they kill and impoverish millions—even hundreds of millions—of people who refuse to participate in their schemes because they go against their nature.
Grégoire Canlorbe: It turns out that a number of icons of the sixties and the seventies who were most often considered left-wing at the time—for instance, David Bowie, Kirk Douglas, or the duo of Easy Rider, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper—are rather positively perceived among right-wing nationalist youth today. As a repented lieutenant of the counterculture, how do you react to this lasting popularity?
David Horowitz: I don’t take actors seriously. After all, they’re actors.