New Left

Old-line Marxists claimed [falsely] that they were champions of reason, that socialism or communism was a scientific social system, that an advanced technology could not function in a capitalist society, but required a scientifically planned and organized human community to bring its maximum benefits to every man, in the form of material comforts and a higher standard of living . . . . [T]oday we see the spectacle of old Marxists blessing, aiding and abetting the young hoodlums [of the New Left] (who are their products and heirs) who proclaim the superiority of feelings over reason, of faith over knowledge, of leisure over production, of spiritual concerns over material comforts, of primitive nature over technology, of astrology over science, of drugs over consciousness.

If concern with poverty and human suffering were the collectivists’ motive, they would have become champions of capitalism long ago; they would have discovered that it is the only political system capable of producing abundance. But they evaded the evidence as long as they could. When the issue became overwhelmingly clear to the whole world, the collectivists were faced with a choice: either turn to the right, in the name of humanity—or to the left, in the name of dictatorial power. They turned to the left—the New Left.

Instead of their old promises that collectivism would create universal abundance and their denunciations of capitalism for creating poverty, they are now denouncing capitalism for creating abundance. Instead of promising comfort and security for everyone, they are now denouncing people for being comfortable and secure.

Intellectually, the activists of the New Left are the most docile conformists. They have accepted as dogma all the philosophical beliefs of their elders for generations: the notions that faith and feeling are superior to reason, that material concerns are evil, that love is the solution to all problems, that the merging of one’s self with a tribe or a community is the noblest way to live. There is not a single basic principle of today’s Establishment which they do not share. Far from being rebels, they embody the philosophic trend of the past 200 years (or longer): the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis, which has dominated Western philosophy from Kant to Hegel to James and on down.

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.