By Rebecca Bynum
JihadWatch.org | Monday, June 13, 2005
In his new book, The End of Time, David Horowitz reveals himself with an intimate immediacy that comes through only occasionally in most of his other work. Here, he writes about his father and how their relationship determined the course of his early life, both having followed the radical dream of re-making the world through communism. He writes about his wife, April, and her redeeming love for him in his later and more disillusioned years. He even writes about Mohammed Atta and contemplates Atta’s faith in the idea of the necessity for destruction in order that there be redemption -– an idea that inspires and motivates radicals of all stripes. Mainly, however, he writes about the experience of facing his own mortality and of his struggle with cancer, which, thankfully, now appears to be in remission.
Like me, Mr. Horowitz was raised in an atheist family. His father told him at an early age the same thing my grandfather told me, “We begin to die the day we are born.” Both older men thus transmitted their own feelings of fear and helplessness, in the face of what seemed to be a pitiless universe, to the small and vulnerable children we were then. It was like being thrown into the deep end of human thought; left to swim if we could, or to sink in despair at the thought of our extinction at the end of our own brief time, just as they did.
Perhaps this is what spurred Mr. Horowitz’s quest for truth and to create a framework of transcendent value that has characterized his work from the beginning. In describing his own spiritual experiences, he writes, “The word ‘sense’ expresses this intimacy between feeling and knowledge. When we ‘sense’ something to be true, we mean it has touched us even if we cannot articulate just how. To know through feeling is to know the heart.”
Spiritual perception is always difficult to explain. Mr. Horowitz seems a little ill at ease in this area, for he leaves it quickly. Like trying to explain the color red, for example, we cannot actually know for certain that any other person experiences red the same way we do. Those who have experienced red know it, and for those who have not experienced it, red can never really be explained.
Horowitz quotes liberally from Blaise Pascal, seeing in the 17th century mathematician a kindred spirit, one whose head was unsure about God, but whose heart held more certainty: “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.” And as Mr. Horowitz, in his own inimitable fashion, contemplates the great gulf between faith and reason, he makes many interesting observations about life, truth, love and growing older. But in the end, he seems to draw back from making that faith-leap of the heart, and instead settles back into the more familiar state of mental agnosticism. The saving faith that leads to certainty of eternal life eludes him: “one moment I’ll be here and the next I’ll be gone” is how this memoir ends. Fortunately for the rest of us, however, it seems Mr. Horowitz has many more years in which to continue his quest, to grow in the spirit, and to share the fruits of that growth with us in future volumes.
Always a loner, Horowitz reveals his longing for home and a feeling of belonging in the universe. The old questions: why was I born, what will happen when I die, what is the meaning of my life; all these are contemplated with his usual unflinching eye. Eventually, he allows himself to be grateful for existence itself and for his time of experience, the pain and the joy, the defeats and the triumphs — all of it. This is the mark of a mature soul, but one whose spiritual journey is still beginning.
Mr. Horowitz is at his best when discussing the psychology of the revolutionary, and here his latest observations do not disappoint: “To the devoted [revolutionary], the source of human misery cannot be located in a deficiency of self, let alone the wish to escape it. That would diminish the suffering and make human beings responsible for themselves. To the revolutionary, the source of this misery can only be a corruption in ‘society,’ a fault in the world that other men have made. The revolutionary mission is to cleanse the world of this corruption and its agents, and reverse the human Fall…” [italics added]
He continues: “Marx explained the difference between the revolutionary desire for social justice and all other attempts at social reform: ‘[The revolutionary class] claims no particular right, because it claims no particular wrong, since wrong in general is perpetrated against it.’ In other words, injustice is not a specific dysfunction. The very order of the world is wrong and the revolutionary’s task is to make it right… For believers the creation of a just world is the end of history, and therefore its beginning. Their vision is total, and nothing escapes it. Because it is both the beginning and the end, the mission to create a new world justifies anything. And everything.”
This one paragraph goes a long way toward explaining the new nexus between the radical left and Islamism. A One World Islamic System is the ultimate goal embodying the world’s redemption, and with it, the end of history; therefore, all means are justified to that end. In this, communism and Islam are identical, while the social movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King are their antipode. To both of these great men, the means were everything.
Writes Horowitz, “We come into this world unequal and each follows a unique path to the seat of judgment. What is justice, if it cannot recognize our human uniqueness? How can there be a social justice that is not an offense to who and what we are?”
In Islamic thought, as in communism, the denial of the individual and the elevation of the collective permeates all reasoning. The greatest “good” in Islam is the complete submergence of the individual within the Islamic system. Individual questioning of the system is discouraged, to say the least. The call for “social justice” in Islam is actually a call for the artificial elevation of the Muslim over the non-Muslim, just as an identical call from communism lead to the elevation of the “worker” over the “non-worker.” Both goals arise from the false sense of the superiority of one group over another. Bloodshed and misery are the identical results of the implementation of both.
Explains Horowitz: “Here is the paradox of all dreams of a redeemed future. The more beautiful the dream, the more the necessary the crime.”
He continues, “Self-loathing is the secret revolutionary passion. Every transformer of mankind is inspired to destroy a world that condemns him. Every revolutionary despises the other who tells him who he is. It is the unbelievers who provide the mirror in which the truth confronts him: the peasant who wants a piece of earth; the Jew who triumphs despite a defective birth; the infidel who finds pleasure in a world of dust. To the radical soul, it is this that is finally unbearable… They cannot live with themselves or the fault of creation, and therefore are at war with both… If they do not believe in God, they summon others to act as gods. If they believe in God, they do not trust His justice, but arrange their own.”
Perhaps this explains why Muslim peoples, condemned to a parasitic existence by Islam, hate that which they can never hope to produce on their own, under the Islamic system: a freely innovative and truly tolerant society. The Islamic system instead continually stifles its best and gives free reign to its worst. But, if the worst should continually overcome the best everywhere, what becomes of our hope? What becomes of our world, and our own vision for a future of civilization and progress for our children?
Writing from experience, Horowitz explains: “In the realm of the spirit, it is easier to slide a mile back than to advance a single step. The lesson I had learned through all my trials was to note, and never forget, that some have fallen further than others and will not come back. To my own children I would say: Do not take the sympathy of others for granted. Do not presume they will respond as you do, or that they share your human compassion. To act without caution on such assumptions is to invite consequences as severe as death. The lack of respect for immovable difference is the cause of endless human grief…”
According to Islam expert Robert Spencer, “Islam is unique among world religions in having a developed doctrine mandating violence against unbelievers. This has spawned in our day a global network of Muslims dedicated to jihad. Are Jews targeting non-Jews, or Christians non-Christians, on a global basis? Of course not. Until the Muslim and non-Muslim world are ready to acknowledge the role of Islam in inspiring people to violence, that violence will continue.”
How many times throughout history has the failure to accept basic reality been the cause or “endless human grief”? It is interesting to note that the Hebrew prophets, stretching backwards in time from Jesus to Isaiah, all sacrificed themselves for truth and justice. Muhammad, Stalin and Mao, on the other hand, sacrificed everybody else.
As we confront Islamists and their fellow travelers with this reasoning, we should remember that the choice between Islam and reason was made long ago, and remember: it was Islam that won then. The question before us now is, will Islam win against reason today? Let us hope that with valiant truth seekers like David Horowitz in our corner, the light of reason will prevail and go on to eventually triumph in the end. For truly, there is no “end of history” as the Islamists and Communists would have it. And if I could speak heart to heart with David Horowitz, I would tell him what I know to be true: there is no end of personality, no extinction in the blackness of death. Indeed, there is no “end of time;” rather, eternity gently beckons.
Rebecca Bynum is news editor of Jihad Watch.
Rebecca Bynum is publisher and senior editor of New English Review.