Murray N. Rothbard must have seen the post-September 11 era in a dream to be able to sum it up as well as he did in his 1992 inaugural address to the John Randolph Club:

Social democracy is still here in all its variants, defining our entire respectable political spectrum, from advanced victimology and feminism on the left over to neoconservatism on the right.  We are now trapped, in America, inside a Menshevik fantasy, with the narrow bounds of respectable debate set for us by various brands of Marxists.  It is now our task, the task of the resurgent right, of the paleo movement, to break those bonds, to finish the job, to finish off Marxism forever.

Rothbard foresaw our current predicament: We are trapped inside a Menshevik fantasy, a nightmare world of perpetual war and growing government power.

In a review of Eric Hobsbawm’s memoirs, Christopher Hitchens remarked that Tony Blair is “at once the most radical and the most conservative of politicians.  Very many of Blair’s tough young acolytes received their political baptism in what I try to call the Marxist Right.”

This ideological category—the Marxist right—is quite useful.  It explains not only the policies that plunder our purses and wreak havoc on the world but the distinctly Soviet style of our rulers and their Amen Corner, as they demonize their enemies and seek to silence them.

Many of the top chieftains of the War Party are ex-leftists of one sort or another.  They owe more to Hegel, Marx, and Leon Trotsky than to Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises.  The “godfather” of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol, was a Trotskyite in his youth, and the kibitzing that went on in Cubicle B at City College of New York has achieved the status of legend.  The official line, of course, is that this was all just a youthful indiscretion and that any such allegiances have long since been put away in a trunk somewhere.  The reality, however, is quite different.

The collaboration between social democrats of the Blairite variety and the official conservative movement represented by National Review has been going on since the Reagan years.  By that time, a group of ex-Trotskyites associated with Max Shachtman—Trotsky’s former chief American lieutenant—had wormed its way into the good graces of the American labor movement and into the office of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, whose fulsome support for an interventionist foreign policy won the heart of the fanatically anti-Soviet Shachtman.

Shachtman supported the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs Invasion yet still kept his devotion to socialism intact.  He took over the old Socialist Party apparatus in the late 1950’s and changed its name to Social Democrats, USA.  In this incarnation, the group had an influence well beyond its small numbers—not on the left, which was going in a different direction, but on the American right.  During the Reagan era, a number of top Social Democrat leaders and activists were given key niches in the government bureaucracy, including Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. delegate to the United Nations; Elliott Abrams, a former staffer for Senator Jackson, a major figure in the Iran-Contra affair, and assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs under Reagan; Carl Gershman, the first president of the National Endowment for Democracy; and Arch Puddington, who worked for the U.S. Information Agency’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

National Review celebrated May Day 2002 by publishing a report by Joshua Muravchik on a kind of family reunion sponsored by SDUSA in Washington:

among those sponsoring or joining the evening’s festivities—funded mainly by the estate of the widow of Trotskyist icon Max Shachtman—were, on the right, Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Christian Coalition spokesman Marshall Wittmann, [and] former Secretary of Labor nominee Linda Chavez.

Muravchik, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former national chairman of the Young Peoples Socialist League—the Shachtmanite youth group—was also in attendance.

This penetration of the conservative movement by ideologically alien intruders extended into the ranks.  Some years ago, a private discussion club for conservative writers and activists in the San Francisco Bay Area met at the Union Club.  Participants included Bill Rusher, former publisher of National Review; San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders; Stephen Schwartz; and myself.  The young man who organized the meetings told me how he had been recruited into the SDUSA, and then into the conservative movement, because the Social Democrats had come to his campus in support of Poland’s Solidarity movement.  He described going to their meetings and feeling “weird” when they opened and closed the proceedings by singing the “Internationale.”  He explained that it was “only a tradition,” but, when he said it, he did not seem so sure.

We are now seeing the implementation of a long-standing neoconservative ambition: the imposition of a world order—in effect, an American Empire, with Washington, D.C., at its center.  The infiltration and co-opting of the conservative movement by the Marxist right and its transformation into an instrument of an ideology that is statist, globalist, and militantly expansionist was the first step on the road to empire.  Once the Marxist right had seized control of the think tanks, magazines, and activist organizations of the American right, they moved to exert control over the Republican Party.

Both the ideology and the methods of the Marxist left have been imported into the conservative movement.  Ideologically, the so-called third-camp socialism of Shachtman and his followers has been transmuted into the worship of “Democracy” as the be-all and end-all of human development.  The neocons have simply stood the old Trotskyism on its head and said that the American system—like the old Soviet system—cannot stand alone and isolated but must spread itself over the earth or face defeat at the hands of its enemies.

The ideological framework of neoconservative ideology is deeply rooted in the Marxist tradition.  Francis Fukuyama, the boy wonder of the neocons, even came up with an application of the Hegelian dialectic as the ultimate rationale for American global hegemony in his famous article on “The End of History.”  The Marxists, too, saw themselves as agents of History, and they constantly evoked images of modernity to justify their innumerable crimes against humanity.  They came as “liberators”—a favorite word of Red Army propagandists, and one that our own Pentagon has since taken up with alacrity.

The neocons retain the methods as well as the ideology of the left: party-line politics, periodic purges, and the nasty habit of smearing their opponents rather than engaging them in debate.  The neocon method echoes that of its leftist progenitors: Once the party line is established—Israel must be unconditionally defended, Iraq must be utterly destroyed, Pat Buchanan must be smeared into silence—anyone who deviates is demonized.

In an interview with Stephen Schwartz in Canada’s National Post, Jeet Heer showed just how deeply the Marxist right has burrowed into the Bush administration:

To this day, Schwartz speaks of Trotsky affectionately as “the old man” and “L.D.” . . . “To a great extent, I still consider myself to be [one of the] disciples of L.D.,” he admits, and he observes that in certain Washington circles, the ghost of Trotsky still hovers around.  At a party in February celebrating a new book about Iraq, Schwartz exchanged banter with Wolfowitz about Trotsky, the Moscow Trials and Max Shachtman.  “I’ve talked to Wolfowitz about all of this,” Schwartz notes.  “We had this discussion about Shachtman.  He knows all that stuff, but was never part of it.  He’s definitely aware.”

“Ideology is political fanaticism, an endeavor to rule the world by rigorous abstract dogmata,” said Russell Kirk in a 1991 Heritage Foundation lecture.  “The dogmata of an abstract ‘democratic capitalism’ may be as mischievous as the dogmata of Marx.”  I would add only that these two “rival” dogmas are as intimately related as are the offspring of the same parents.

“The yoking together of Paul Wolf-owitz and Leon Trotsky sounds odd,” writes Heer, “but a long and tortuous history explains the link between the Bolshevik left and the Republican right.”

Defending his remarks in the National Post, Schwartz proudly proclaimed his Trotskyite heritage on National Review Online and even coined a term for this growing grouplet: Trotsky-cons!

The Bolsheviks of the left were eventually defeated, but it took half a century to do it.  If we face another 50 years of struggle against the Bolsheviks of the right—well, then, so be it.  As George W. Bush said in quite another context: “Bring it on!”