Over the past fifty years, a silent revolution has allowed the radical left to seize power to an extent unthinkable only a decade ago. Stranger still, no one has noticed.
Throughout the twentieth century, leftists worked tirelessly toward their goal of a proletarian revolution. But they continually fell short. American workers rejected socialism in the 1920s and declined to join the international communist movement in the 1930s. The New Left flowered briefly in the 1960s but petered out with the end of the Vietnam War. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, radical Marxism seemed to have been defeated and discredited for good.
Not so fast, says the political scientist Barry Rubin in this sharply pointed history of the modern American left. Far from disappearing, the radical left has undergone an ideological revolution and has rebranded itself as liberalism. Rubin traces the roots of this new ideology to the ideas of domestic radicals like Saul Alinsky, cultural Marxists like Antonio Gramsci, and Third World revolutionary thinkers like Frantz Fanon. This new brand of leftism constitutes a Third Left that now dominates the liberal movement in the United States.
The Third Left's main ideological innovation is the abandonment of the working class as a revolutionary vehicle. Instead it targets the education system, and it has now trained several generations of Americans to think in leftist terms of fairness and social justice. Imbued with this new "common sense," these young people have fanned out through the professions, the government, and the media, where they unhesitatingly advance the ideas and goals of the left: anticapitalism, a state-controlled medical system, the seminationalization of key industries, the redistribution of wealth, and a rejection of America's leading role in the world. As a result, without any real debate or understanding, the citizens of the United States have elected the most radical left-wing government in the country's history.
Silent Revolution offers a brief, readable, and utterly devastating critique of the radicalism that masquerades as liberalism today.