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Home The Left Were Domestic Enemies From the Founding

The Left Were Domestic Enemies From the Founding

Our particularly American addiction to the now, the new, and the what’s next means we tend to perceive our political conflicts through the lens of “breaking news,” or at most, the weekly news cycle. It doesn’t help that more and more of us, especially young people, get our news from the ever-advancing timelines of social media, which draw us constantly forward moment by moment, denying us the time to reflect upon events in a broader historical context.

But as my brilliant colleague Daniel Greenfield reminds us in his long-awaited first book, Domestic Enemies: The Founding Fathers’ Fight Against the Left, “current events” is a misleading label for an ongoing, epic political struggle between Left and Right that is actually rooted deep in America’s origins.

As every regular reader of FrontPage Mag knows, for many years prolific columnist and investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Fellow and Executive Vice President of Programs at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, has been a veritable water cannon of insightful, original reporting at FrontPage Mag and at his Sultan Knish blog site on every imaginable political topic, from the external threats of China and Iran to the internal subversions of TikTok and DEI, from domestic political corruption and Big Tech censorship to pandemic totalitarianism and environmental alarmism, from jihadists to European globalist elites, from the weaponization of the IRS to the left-wing radicalization of our military leadership.

In his brand new work from Bombardier Books, Greenfield demonstrates the truth of the axiom attributed to Mark Twain that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. The present-day battles in which we are engaged – “pandemics, stolen elections, race riots, fake news, globalism, terrorism, class warfare, inflationary spending, school indoctrination, and socialism” – are not new but echo ones faced as far back as America’s founding.

“The Left has been plotting against America for more than two centuries,” Greenfield writes in his preface. “Domestic Enemies shows how we arrived here and reveals how the great men and women of our nation’s history took on the same challenges we face now, and how America prevailed against the left.”

Relying heavily on first-person accounts of early American letters, diaries, autobiographies, and newspaper reports, Greenfield elucidates “some of the most explosive periods in our nation’s history, when, much like today, the very notion of truth had been cast aside in the heat of causes whose stakes to the participants appeared to be the future of the nation and even of the human race.”

Greenfield explains in his introduction that the origins of the Democrat Party are rooted in the French Revolution of 1789. The Jacobin radicals dreamed of bringing that violent upheaval to America’s shores, where revolution had fallen short of the French vision of the ideal society. The Founding Fathers, after all, “had unleashed a revolution and then bound it within the confines of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the constitution.”

The American left, just like the French left, wanted not a republic restrained by a recognition of the limitations of our flawed human nature, but a utopian new world order. To lay the groundwork for that, clubs or organizations called Democratic Societies, modeled on radical Jacobin clubs, were set up with the assistance and funding of foreign emissaries of the French Revolution. These societies “formed the backbone of what would become the country’s first true political party as part of a radical plan to bring the French Revolution to America.”

“They functioned,” Greenfield writes, “as incubators, organizing, radicalizing, and imbuing their members with an ambitious vision before paving the way for a new generation of mainstream organizations that would go on to implement their radical visions.” As a strategy, they learned to scale back from apocalyptic utopianism to radical change through incremental progress – a revolution in stages from within the system.

This sets the stage for Greenfield’s examinations of various conflicts in American history in subsequent chapters, the titles of which cleverly emphasize the correlation to today’s political battles: “1793-1800: How America’s First Community Organizer [Aaron Burr] Used a Pandemic to Build the Democratic Urban Political Machine and Steal an Election,” for example; “1794-1800: How Fake News and the First Globalist Plot Against America Created the Democratic Party”; “1863-1864: How the Democrats Set Off America’s Worst Race Riots to Steal an Election.”

For those readers like myself who are history buffs (as conservatives typically are), Domestic Enemies is packed with entertaining revelations. (It’s no wonder that pundits Victor Davis Hanson, Robert Spencer, and Bruce Thornton, all of whom bring an erudite historical perspective to their work, contributed glowing cover blurbs.) Greenfield proves to be a riveting storyteller, taking us on page-turning deep dives into such characters and topics as:

  • how the yellow fever epidemic of 1798 created a subversive opportunity for the nation’s first true community organizer – darkly ambitious Vice President Aaron Burr;
  • the forgotten story of the struggle for the Constitution against socialism in the inflationary paper money that Rhode Island’s secessionist radicals were printing for social justice;
  • how the globalist Left sought to destroy their hated enemy George Washington through smears and lies for his refusal to bow to French radicalism;
  • how failed experiments in radical utopian communes nevertheless inspired transcendentalists, socialists, anarchists, and other radicals and paved the way for the “slow long march of the counterculture through the culture”;
  • how a bad novelist created a secret society – the Knights of the Golden Circle – which plotted political terror and an invasion of Mexico, spawned assassin John Wilkes Booth, and ultimately gave way to a new organization for territorial expansionism, the Ku Klux Klan;
  • how one of the most pivotal battles of the Civil War, America’s first true race riot, and New York’s first major terror plot all took place on the island of Manhattan;
  • and much more.

Greenfield’s first book truly is one of the most unique and compelling works of political history on the shelves today.

In his conclusion “What We Can Learn From America’s Long War Against the Left,” Greenfield notes that the left is constantly waging war on the past – consider, for example, the desperate historical revisionism of the Left’s propagandistic 1619 Project. “The Utopian Left is convinced that history can be broken away from the past and that its ideology will carry us away to ‘the right side of history,” writes Greenfield. The past is an inconvenient reminder to these utopians that human nature exists – it is not merely a social construction – and that any endeavor to engineer a perfect society inevitably begins with coercion and ends not in the ideal society but in mass misery and death. “History offers the undeniable truth that the Left will lose,” Greenfield asserts.

But that is no excuse for our complacency. Unlike the Left, conservatives are often afflicted with a debilitating streak of pessimism, even fatalism. We cannot allow this to take us out of the fight. Daniel Greenfield concludes Domestic Enemies with a stirring exhortation to remember that “We fought these battles before. We will fight them again. And we can win.” He lays out the strategy that the Right must pursue, drawn from America’s successes against the relentless Left throughout our short history. “When conservatives forget the past,” he declares, “we lose. But when we use it as our moral and intellectual fortress, we win the future.”

See Mark Tapson's original review here at Front Page Magazine.