Book Reviews

Whence the Moon-Bats?

By January 13, 2009 No Comments

Moon-bat is the new descriptor for those stalwarts of the agitprop-rent-a-mob; the perennially indignant with a placard for every issue that occurs to them. Over the years, they have become adept at forgetting history and have cultivated an enormous flexibility in their standards while overriding principle with selective outrage. There was a time when their passion was not indirectly self-destructive.

Bernard-Henri Levy may be one of the world’s leading intellectuals, and a man with impressive values; but his new book Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (Random House, New York, 2008) contains some heavy sledding for lesser minds. This is a long essay about the progressive left, what they had been, what they are now, and what they are in danger of becoming. It is also rife with references to French culture, politics and intellectual life; which many of us poor benighted North Americans often don’t understand.

Still, when much of the feast seems alien, there remains much to nibble on. Levy’s explanation of Europe’s chronic anti-Americanism, for instance: To European intellectuals who rejected the Enlightenment of the 18th Century, America and all of its successes and contributions over the last 200 years are a humiliation that makes Arab feelings about Israel seem pale in comparison. Likewise, of course, all of the Western Liberal tradition is to be despised and brought down – even though the Left once helped to create and sustain it.

Levy pleads for the Left to recover and work for what it had once believed in – a universal concept of Liberalism for all of humanity based on respect for the individual and human rights: To find that Left which once stood for Albert Dreyfus, and later against both Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism. What Levy sees now is an increasingly illogical Left quietly yearning for a Hitler of its own, for a new hatred of Jews, and cuddling with Islamofascist causes. This is a Left whose future is to isolate itself in the darkness, chewing on cold entrails, until it dies bereft and miserable in the ashes of the culture that once created it.