Book Review – The Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance

Book Cover for Silent Revolution by Barry Rubin
Book Cover for Silent Revolution by Barry Rubin

Over the last several years, I have watched as the Progressive movement in the United States has hijacked the once proud Democratic party, elevated a man who is a proven radical to the Presidency, and held the economy and our national culture hostage to their political goals.  From the deeply unpopular Affordable Care Act to myriad foreign policy failures to increased lawlessness, contempt for the Constitution, demonization of the opposition and disrespect of American traditions, the Progressive left has demonstrated convincingly that they are, indeed, “fundamentally transforming America” – and for the worse.

Over the course of the past two years, in particular, I have learned more about how the Progressives have taken control of US_Democratic_Party_Logo_svgthe Democratic Party – the party of Jefferson, Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Kennedy and transformed it into an illiberal, angry mob demanding that America conform to their vision or else; and that the social conservatives have taken the Republican Party – the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan and transformed it into an equally illiberal, angry mobGOP Logo demanding an end to abortion and seeking to abolish same-sex marriage.  Meanwhile, moderates in both parties have been purged by their more ideological peers, pushing the two main parties even further apart.  The result: gridlock in Washington and state capitals, extreme partisanship such that working with the other party is the exception rather than the rule, and strident demands for change from angry partisans on both sides.

The vast majority of Americans – those of us somewhere in the middle – are left with increasingly unpleasant choices in whom to vote for – the social conservative who favors smaller government at the price of outlawing abortion, or the progressive Democrat who supports gay marriage but wants to extend the heavy hand of government into every aspect of Americans’ lives.  A vote for a third party, such as the American Constitution, Green or Libertarian parties, is often a throwaway vote, or worse, a vote for the least desired candidate.

Through the miasma of our ever-sickening body politic, I have often wondered how it happened.  How did it come to pass that an extreme leftist like Barack Obama – a man with a dubious background and an extremely light resume get elected to the highest office in the land not once but twice?  How did we go from a country that was imperfect but coping with its imperfections to a country writhing in guilt over past infractions real and imagined?  How did hypocritical Hollywood celebrities become our virtual cultural overlords, declaring that we must disarm ourselves and reduce our carbon emissions while they live in high energy-using mansions in gated communities with armed bodyguards and travel around the world in private jets and limousines?  (And produce TV shows and movies rife with gun violence).

In Barry Rubin’s excellent book the history, causes and key events in this transformation are chronicled and described in Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance.  In the Introduction to the book, Mr. Rubin describes how the fundamental transformation of America has already taken place and how the movement that caused it is an “ideological defacing” of traditional liberalism.

According to Rubin, this transformation took place over a four-stage process:

Step One: Radicalism took over liberalism

Step Two: The new “liberalism” portrayed its only opponent as a reactionary, right-wing conservatism.

Step Three: The radicalism (liberalism) represents all that is good in America and a correction to all (a lot of it) was evil.

Step Four: The new radicalism (liberalism) has a monopoly on truth and a right to fundamentally transform America.

In the first three chapters of the book, Rubin describes in further detail how the fundamental transformation of America has already happened.  Using the words of President Barack Obama from his second inaugural address to explain the new progressive paradigm – that the “altered approach was one of an unprecedented degree of statism, an imperial presidency that went far beyond Richard Nixon’s dreams: record high levels of government regulation, taxation, and debt.”

Through the first chapter, Professor Rubin uses Barack Obama’s own words to describe how classical liberalism was redefined to encompass an extreme turn to the left and the rise of a movement he calls “the Third Left”.  The Third Left is the ideological continuation of the previous two failed left-wing movements – the Communist Party in the 1920s-1950s and the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Many of the leaders of the Third Left are veterans of the 1960s and 1970s leftist movements that tried, yet failed to fundamentally transform America. Rubin describes how these activist leaders went on to adjust their ideas to twenty-first century realities, all the while egged on by the mass media, which had been transformed into a “cheerleading section for the Third Left and “Progressive” liberalism”.

Through chapters Two and Three, Rubin recaps the rise and core philosophies of the Marxist/Communist ideology, how they arose, and why they failed.   Marxism/Leninism arose in part due to the early failings of capitalism in the time of the Industrial Revolution.  Some reasons the Communist movement never gained much ground in America were because of the classical liberal approach to blunting the edges of the early capitalist failings, the success of the capitalist system in lifting the working class and even the poor to elevated living standards, and in later years the demonstrated failure of the Communist systems elsewhere in the world.

In Chapters Four, Five and Six, Professor Rubin outlines the origins and growth of the Third Left, describes how he observed and researched the nascent Third Left movement as a graduate student in the 1970s, and describes how the lunatic fringe of 1960s radicals became the professors, administrators, editors, publishers and bureaucrats who now run America’s educational systems (aided and abetted by powerful teachers unions), government and non-governmental bodies (aided and abetted by powerful public employee unions), news media and entertainment industries.  He traces the evolution of student radicals to thought leaders grooming and promoting the 44th President of the United States, people like Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Mike Klonsky and others are shown to have been instrumental in building the new Third Left.

One paragraph from Chapter Six sums it up succinctly:

“By turning entertainment into propaganda, education into indoctrination, and mass media into thought-directing rather than news-providing organs, the Third Left achieved miracles. By demonizing those who disagreed, intimidating the fainthearted into silence, and recruiting opportunists onto what seemed the winning side, a small group of Third Left supporters, say 5 percent of the population, came to control a larger liberal base of around 30 percent by persuading them to be “Progressive” liberals, and another large segment of centrists or those without strong views by convincing them that they were merely holding mainstream views while their opponents were crazed reactionaries.” [Emphasis mine]

The next three chapters of the book chronicle the background and rise of Barack Obama and the key figures in his life including the backgrounds of his father, mother, grandmother, key professors and spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  Rubin points out how when the radical, anti-American nature of these mentors came to light, Obama had ample opportunities to distance himself from them and their teachings and did not do so, implying that he continues to embrace the extreme philosophies he learned from them.

In Chapter Seven, Rubin describes in detail the background and education of Barack Obama.  His “…favorite professor was Roger Boesche, who spoke of Marxism’s superiority to American democracy in an April 1981 lecture given while Obama was a student.” Another of the future President’s professors was James Lare, who “…extolled the virtues of Communist China, a country of maximum repression and minimum achievement at the time…” .

Barack Obama’s “…thinking was largely developed in places where the traditional American system did not apply: in other countries, academia, and radical circles passionately opposed to the historic liberal-conservative political spectrum.”   Barack Obama Sr., the President’s father, was a Kenyan socialist.  His son, the future president, was raised to believe in America as an evil imperialist oppressor of poorer countries.

Another one of Obama’s mentors was Frank Marshall Davis, a journalist, poet and pornographer, who was a Communist activist who had a tremendous influence on Obama.  His influence led Obama to become a radical leftist on economic, foreign policy and racial issues.  Obama has never disavowed the teachings of this mentor.

More well-known is Obama’s association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was and probably still is Obama’s spiritual mentor.  What type of faith did Wright teach to Obama?

“Was it a faith in the fatherhood of God and the equality of all people in His sight? Of forgiveness and love for all groups? No, it was not the type of liberal Christianity so prevalent today – and common in African American churches – but rather a radical faith, a Christian version of the racialist Nation of Islam, from which Wright had himself come.”

Not only does Wright further radicalize Obama, he becomes more important to the man than his own grandmother who raised him.  Obama has never disavowed or really denounced this mentor either.

This chapter contains much more about Obama than can be summarized in a book review.  It is an exhaustive look at how the progressive movement co-opted, groomed and promoted this radical leftist to start a mediocre political career, spend a few years in the United States Senate, and get elected President of the most failed administration in history.

In Chapter Eight, Rubin continues with his analysis of Obama and the Third Left’s fundamental transformation of America.  He deconstructs the hidden agendas behind the speech Obama gave in Osawatomie, Kansas in December 2011.  This is another long but insightful chapter, and the methods and practices of the Third Left are laid bare.  For example:

“So the first step in the Third Left’s case was to accuse America of being guilty of political crimes that didn’t really exist, then to propose remedies that actually embodied such characteristics.  Bailouts, handouts, different rules, giveaways, and dependency, rather than “responsibility from everybody”, were justified in the name of fairness, equality, compensation for past wrongs, and social justice.”  [Emphasis mine]

The one critical area that is not addressed in the book is one that has troubled me for some time: why do so many wealthy individuals embrace this philosophy when it demonizes the rich, demands that they pay ever-increasing “fair shares” of income taxes, and in general makes them the villains for what is wrong in our society.  Of course, wealthy progressives like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Tim Gill and Pat Stryker get a pass, but wealthy libertarian/conservatives like the Koch Brothers are vilified in very ugly ways.  I would like to see an observer offer some insights into this conundrum.

At 304 pages, this book will take several hours to read.  It is very well written, but not a casual read.  The reader needs to pay attention, and mark or highlight key passages to review later.  In my Kindle version, I have highlighted so many key passages that over 50% of the book is marked up.

In summary, then, this is a hugely important book.  It is important to anybody who wants to know what has happened to our beloved country.  It is important for those who want to know what the progressive threat represents and how to combat it.  It is especially important as the nation goes through this summer and fall election season, and how concerned citizens and partisans alike vote in November 2014.

If you only read one book about current events this year, I recommend you read this one.  It is the most important and relevant book I have read since The Blueprint by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer.

Sadly, Professor Rubin passed away this year and is not able to promote his book.  I will do it for him.

By Richard D. Turnquist

June 27, 2014


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