Sunday, March 28, 2004


Excerpt from an article by David Horowitz

"An ideological omerta is the Left's response to its vindicated critics, especially those who emerged from its own ranks. It is an intellectual version of Stalin's efforts to transform his political opponents into "unpersons," in order to obliterate their influence and ideas. The historian Aileen Kraditor, once a star in the firmament of the academic Left, is a less prominent intellectual figure than Von Mises and Hayek, but no less illustrative of the method by which the Left deals with its critics. The books Kraditor wrote -- The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism, and The Radical Persuasion were once routinely cited by Sixties progressives as models of the scholarship radicals produced. But then Kraditor had second thoughts and departed the radical ranks. As a pioneer in feminist scholarship, Aileen Kraditor would have been a prime candidate for high honors in todays academy. But she had the bad judgment to become an anti-Communist and to write a book puncturing the radical illusion. As a result, it is as though she had never existed, and never written.

Based on her own experience as a member of the Party during the height of the Cold War, Kraditor's last book set out to describe the intellectual world-view of American Communists. Jimmy Higgins: The Mental World of the American Rank and File Communist, 1930-1958 is the definitive study of its subject. Yet, despite an explosion of academic interest in the history of American Communism, Kraditor's work is almost never referred to and almost never cited, its insights never engaged by the academic community. Instead, Communist sympathizers like Princeton's Ellen Schrecker and NYUs Robin D.G. Kelley, have become pre-eminent academic authorities on the historiography of American Communism, while Aileen Kraditor has been made an unperson in the intellectual culture.

This politically motivated censorship and self-enforced ignorance insulates the Left from uncomfortable encounters with former comrades and necessary truths. Defectors from the radical ranks quickly discover that their ideas are ignored and their realities erased. It is the way a bankrupt intellectual tradition enforces its academic rule. The unwritten law of the radical intellect is this: Once the revolutionary idea has been called into question, the questioner must cease to exist. In a democracy, this extinction may be accomplished by personal smear or ideological exclusion. But it is required in order to preserve the faith. To the religious mind, the thought of God's death is unthinkable".

(omerta is the "code of silence" of the Sicilian Mafia)

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