The left-wing firebrands who turned to the right

Daniel Oppenheimer’s Exit Right: the People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century examines the apostates who crossed the political divide.

Writing about Whittaker Chambers, who, from being a member of the Communist Party and later an ­operative for Soviet intelligence, defected to become a leading figure of the American right, Daniel Oppenheimer comments: “The party, for Chambers, was less a political organisation than a crucible for the forging of his own Bolshevik soul.” It is an astute judgement, one that applies to some degree to all of the six apostates from the left whose lives and beliefs Oppenheimer examines in this arresting and at times revelatory study. Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz and Christopher Hitchens were different from one another in many ways, some of them quite fundamental. And yet, for each man, his volte-face was much more than a response to world events: it was an exercise in self-creation, in which what was being fashioned was the meaning of a life.

The chattering class of Chambers day is no different than what we face today, the deceit is identical.

If you haven’t read it I recommend picking up  a copy of Witness.

  • Brenda

    I hope it’s better than Norman Podhoretz’s book on how he fell out with everyone on the Left. Writing insightfully on the conversion process is very hard, I’ve noticed.

  • QiPo

    “Witness ” is fab and an education! Follow up with “Blacklisted by History” M Stanton Evans, then Diana West’s “American Betrayal “. My personal historical trinity.

  • andycanuck

    I’m not trying to pick a fight and I know Hitchens was anti-Islam along with the right and neocons contra the left but did he ever (completely?) renounce leftism?