REVIEW: 'The Enemy Within,' by David Horowitz

The events of 2020 may have seemed disordered, chaotic, and random, a perfect storm of crises that shook the United States to her core. But the keen eye of David Horowitz saw the underlying causes for the madness. 

In his newest book, “The Enemy Within: How a Totalitarian Movement is Destroying America,” Horowitz chronicles how the American left, at every turn, increases tensions and exacerbates crises. 

A long-time observer and critic of radical ideology, Horowitz argues that this is done with a single purpose in mind: the remaking of the United States in the mold of cultural Marxism.

Horowitz’s unique insight into the left comes from his early decades as a Marxist. Born in 1939, Horowitz committed to radical leftist ideologies during his academic career at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. As a young man, Horowitz organized protests against the Vietnam war. 

By the 1970s, Horowitz was aligning himself with the Black Panther Party, but it was this relationship that ultimately caused his break from the left. 

Horrified by the suspected murder of a friend and colleague by the Panthers, Horowitz was awakened to the brutal thuggery of left-wing extremism, and to the hypocrisy of the left-wing Democrat establishment which covered for it. 

In 1984, Horowitz voted for Ronald Reagan and launched his career as an author and critic of the left. To that end, “The Enemy Within” dissects the turmoil and violence that rocked the United States in 2020, ranging from COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter. 

The left’s weapon of choice, Horowitz argues, is identity politics. 

Horowitz explains that identity politics “is more accurately understood as Cultural Marxism—the idea that American society is characterized by oppressive hierarchies, and thus divided into warring races, genders, and classes.” 

Horowitz argues that the American left shares the same goals that Marx did in the 19th century, specifically a “totalitarian ambition to remake the world and dominate its inhabitants.” And to this end, it already has powerful cultural and intellectual tools at its disposal: schools, universities, media, and entertainment.

But Horowitz contends that America’s founding serves as an obstacle to the realization of this agenda. Arguing that the Declaration of Independence’s commitment to equality is a counterforce to Marxism’s obsession with power, Horowitz explains that leftist intellectuals have found it necessary to obfuscate America’s founding principles in their narratives to achieve their objectives. 

Leveraging its power in academia, the left has forced books like Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist” into the required reading lists for college students. Horowitz does not understate the damage these ideas pose.

”’White Fragility’ explains that white people are racists by birth, regardless of anything they say, do, or intend,” Horowitz writes. “‘How to Be an Antiracist’ provides a rationale for the efforts of left-wing activists to redefine racism to cover any viewpoint that doesn’t conform to theirs. In short, it is a handbook of totalitarian ideology.”

Indeed, Horowitz goes as far as to say that the “pioneers of this totalitarian censorship are the faculties of America’s liberal arts colleges…Eventually they reshaped college curricula so successfully that conservative viewpoints have virtually vanished from the institutions of higher learning in America.”

The ramifications are not limited to campus, however. Horowitz cites the work of journalist Christopher Rufo to show how these ideas are being exported through racial sensitivity training sessions at America’s corporate headquarters, and even within branches of the U.S. Federal Government. 

Relatedly, Horowitz dedicates multiple chapters of the book to refuting the many mischaracterizations and outright lies that BLM has used to stoke racial violence. Despite the facts, BLM’s identity politics narratives continue to be ones that inspires destruction.  

”The ideology prevailed first because belief in hierarchies and the mythology of oppression is essential to the identities of people who call themselves ‘social justice warriors’ and ‘progressives,’” Horowitz says. “But far more important is the utility of these myths as weapons in the wars that leftist politics provoke. Whoever is on the wrong end of the hierarchies, whoever can be stigmatized as a victimizer and oppressor, becomes a ready-made target for public abuse and annihilation.”

As a former member of their ranks, Horowitz is uniquely suited to succinctly capture the essence of the cultural Marxism that has come to dominate the Left. Horowitz’s book is a very good diagnosis of the problem, and as far as conservatives are concerned, a helpful rebuttal of leftist ideologies.