What This Site Is About
(For articles defining the concept of the left behind the creation of this site, see these Issues: "Progressive" and "Liberalism," and particularly the articles by Barry Loberfeld and David Horowitz.)
Welcome to DiscoverTheNetwork. This site is a "Guide to the Political Left." It identifies the individuals and organizations that make up the left and also the institutions that fund and sustain it; it maps the paths through which the left exerts its influence on the larger body politic; it defines the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas and it provides an understanding of its history and ideas.
The site is made up of two principal data elements along with a powerful search engine to locate and explore the information stored. The first of these elements is a database of PROFILES of individuals, groups and institutions, which can be accessed through the heptagram on the home page, or the DTN DIRECTORY on the navigation bar. The PROFILES provide thumbnail sketches of histories, agendas and (where significant) funding sources. More than 1,500 such groups and individuals have already been delineated in the PROFILES sections of this base. The information has been culled from public records readily available on the Internet and other sources, whose veracity and authenticity are easily checked.
The second data element of this site consists of a library of articles, which analyze the relationships disclosed in the database and the issues they raise. These analyses are drawn from thousands of articles, both scholarly and journalistic, that have been entered into the base and linked in the TEXT columns that appear on the PROFILE pages. The judgments that inform these analyses are subjective, reflecting informed opinion about the matters at hand. In every case possible, their authors and sources are identified so that users of the database can form their own judgments and opinions about the reliability and value of the analyses.
DiscoverTheNetwork is an ambitious undertaking that would not have been possible before the creation of the Internet with the storage capacities and data linkage features that digital space affords and that such an undertaking requires. As a result of the information that these technologies make available, a user of this site can follow the networks described in the database to arrive at a new understanding of the forces that define our social reality and shape our collective futures.
The database will readily answer many questions that previously would have required volumes of printed text to establish. The primary question is: "Is there a left?" Since the early 1970s, radical activists began referring to themselves as "liberals" (in part to distance themselves from their failures as a socialist left. A sympathetic media culture went along with this deception, with the result that the word "left" has all but disappeared from the political lexicon. The spectrum of views is now regularly described in the media culture as extending from "liberal" to "moderate" to "conservative" or right, as though a left did not exist or was so marginal as not to matter.
Thus Howard Kurtz, the media critic of the Washington Post explains in his 1997 book Hot Air: All Talk, All The Time: "There is... no real left wing in today's talk show environment largely because the left has faded as a political force in America." Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich agrees that there is no significant left in American politics. In his book Reason: Why Liberals Will Win The Battle for America, Reich claims: "Now it's hard to find any Sixties lefties, except maybe in the rarefied precincts of a few universities where aging radicals still debate Marxism and deconstruction. Most of the political passion and intensity these days are on the radical conservative right."
These words were written in 2004 well after Sixties radicals like Leslie Cagan (head of the coalition United For Peace and Justice) organized the anti-war demonstrations in which a million protesters with publicly articulated leftwing agendas participated, and which fed the anti-war Presidential campaigns of Sixties veterans Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean.
Reich wrote his book as head of the "Social Justice and Policy" program at Brandeis University and is arguably a leftist himself. (The pervasive presence of a political left on the faculties of American universities is documented in the ACADEMIA module of this website).
By browsing this database, and familiarizing oneself with the agendas of the individuals and organizations it contains, with the scope of their activities and with the tens of millions of dollars available to support them, a user of this base will find ample evidence for the existence of this left and for the fact that it is a major player in the political destinies of the nation. (See in particular the organizations and individuals associated with ANTI-WAR groups and The Shadow Party.)
The movement to protest the war in Iraq reconfigured the presidential campaign of 2004 and has affected American policy not only in Iraq but in the War on Terror generally. It has changed the face of the Democratic Party and of American politics in general. What is the nature of this "anti-war" movement, who are its leaders, and what are its agendas? The scope and features of this database allow for definitive answers to these questions.
The database provides a complete guide to all the principal groups responsible for organizing the national protests against the war, their leaders, their core agendas and beliefs. (Follow the guide icon, which is shaped like a heptagram on the homepage, by clicking on GROUPS and then ANTI-WAR). While the database cannot account for the motivations and beliefs of all the individuals who participated in these protests or who came in an unorganized fashion to oppose the war, it can describe with reasonable certainty the identities and agendas of all the principal anti-war groups and leaders who initiated these protests, organized their events and shaped the political debate. Inspection of the database shows that without exception the agendas of these groups and the individuals who ran them were anti-corporate and socialist (often Marxist-Leninist), rather than pacifists and non-violent or merely liberal, as described in the general media. Their opposition to the war went well beyond the issue of the war itself.
The relational aspects of this database reveal the paths by which these radicals were able to influence institutions like the Democratic Party that are not radical (See Shadow Party.) Using the information provided in the base, one can thus trace the progress of a radical menu of leftwing policies and complaints into the heart of the American political mainstream.
The database also provides group profiles of the organizations engaged in organizing opposition to the Patriot Act, as well as to frontline homeland security defenses such as border control (GROUPS/IMMIGRATION) and the linkages between them. Following the network of these organizations and individuals through the base reveals that they have agendas and perspectives that range far beyond the legal issues themselves and are rooted in their radical opposition to the American status quo. These agendas are anti-corporate and socialist.
Another tool of the database is the MAPS feature which provides visual networks of the funding and organizational relations between groups and individuals in the base. To view these networks, click on the MAPS icon in the respective profiles and wait for Java to load.
Each Category of INDIVIDUALS or GROUPS comes with a GUIDE which provides analytical texts and overviews of the subject. Click on the INDIVIDUALS button or the GUIDE button to view this feature.
The Guides are supplemented by an ISSUES module that is designed to provide analytic and historical overviews of key subjects -- the terms "liberalism" and "progressive," for example; or pivotal events like the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq. Like the rest of this website, this module is a work in progress and its database will be expanded over time.
The information entered into the database has been scrupulously assembled. The sources for the facts entered and the interpretations based on them have been made as transparent as possible - and can therefore be checked by users of the base. Textual analyses of the data contained in this site and attached to the profiles, or provided separately under the ISSUES module in the heptagram and in the specific GUIDES provided on each of the search pages, are identified by author and source so that they can be independently evaluated by the individual user.
We are aware that this base may raise legitimate concerns about the effect of categorizing and labeling individuals and organizations, and that such an enterprise entails and the possibility of inaccuracies creeping into the data. We share these concerns and have provided a contact link on the homepage of this site (CONTRIBUTE INFORMATION) where corrections can be submitted. We will take immediate steps to correct any and all factual inaccuracies that are brought to our attention.
Other concerns are certain to be raised that we will not regard as legitimate but rather as veiled expressions of distress over the factual information revealed on the site. A cry of such distress has already greeted a perfectly reasonable database called Campus Watch, provided by the Middle East Forum. This site records and analyzes the views of leftwing academics concerning terrorism in the Islamic world, views that can fairly be described as apologetic and even sympathetic to the radical Islamist cause. Critics of Campus Watch, many of them with views identical to those reviewed on the site, have claimed that the very enterprise of posting such critical reviews is "McCarthyism" and an Internet "witch-hunt." Such responses reflect an anti-intellectual attitude that seeks to embargo the political debate before it takes place.
We are familiar with such attitudes because they have already been directed at DiscoverTheNetwork in advance of its publication on the worldwide web. Almost a year before the official launching, a radical group in Colorado broke into the site under construction and supplied information about it to several journalists. One of them was Gail Schoettler, a former Democratic Lieutenant governor of Colorado and a regular columnist for the Denver Post. In her column for January 11, 2004, following the break in and the article that followed it, Schoettler wrote:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft and right-wing gadfly David Horowitz no doubt share many views. They also have one dangerous common goal: They want to turn us into a nation of snitches. Just like the good old days of … Senator Joseph McCarthy, they want Americans to spy on one another…. Horowitz is seeking funds to develop a huge database of so-called 'leftist' and 'liberal' individuals and organizations, a massive snitch file."
This bizarre outburst reflects not only the partisan hysteria of the 2004 Presidential year, but also what appears to be a normal hypocrisy of partisans on the left who react with outrage to practices they themselves have pioneered. There are in fact more than a dozen political databases parallel to DiscoverTheNetwork that have been created by the left to map the political right, which have existed for years. Among these the most active are: MediaTransparency, Namebase, SourceWatch (formerly called Disinfopedia) and MediaMatters, a site created by Democratic Party funders and operatives led by George Soros and John Podesta.
These dedicated "watch dog" sites are supplemented by other leftwing sites that post extensive lists of conservative organizations accompanied by profiles designed principally to stigmatize them. People for the American Way (PFAW), for example, is an organization whose principal activity is falsely tarring conservative judicial candidates as "racists" on the basis of their dissent from leftwing positions. PFAW features a "Right Wing Watch" section of its website which applies the same loose principles of characterization to a wide range of conservative organizations and conservative individuals. Thus conservative organizations that oppose racial preferences are tarred as "racist" for disagreeing with a "liberal" political position. People for the American Way also funds the MediaTransparency site.
By contrast, every effort has been made in the creation of DiscoverTheNetwork to avoid conflating subjective judgments about policy differences with factual descriptions of attitudes expressed by the individuals and organizations listed on this site. Individuals and organizations identified as "Marxist" or "socialist," or as having agendas sympathetic to America's adversaries, are so identified on the basis of their explicit commitment to these agendas. Their profiles are generally linked to analytic articles whose authors and sources are clearly identified. If any errors have been made in characterizing individuals or organizations, the editors of DiscoverTheNetwork will correct these as soon as they are brought to their attention. As already noted, a form is provided on the homepage of this site for this purpose.
DiscoverTheNetwork is not by intent or design or consequence a "snitch file," as the former lieutenant governor of Colorado has absurdly proposed. To whom would the site be snitching and about what criminal activity?! Is the lieutenant governor implying that the leftists identified in this site are hiding something that should not be submitted to public scrutiny? Is she aware of some governmental authority with an official list of forbidden viewpoints ready to impose penalties on the subjects in this base for having offensive ideas? How would the lieutenant governor know in advance of examining the site what its nature and intentions might be? Isn't her accusation an example itself of the guilt-by-association and innuendo she claims in her column to fear?
The purpose of the DiscoverTheNetwork site is not to stifle free speech but to clarify it. We recognize that people are not always candid in what they say in public life, particularly in the arena of political discourse. Truth in political advertising would be a more accurate description of our intentions in assembling this data.
The problem of deceptive public presentation is common enough to all sides in the political debate but applies with special force to the left, which has a long and well-documented history of dissembling about its agendas. In the past, the Communist Party, for example, operated through "front" groups which concealed the radical agendas of those who controlled them. In the 1948 elections, the Party created an entire electoral front - the Progressive Party - to run a candidate in Henry Wallace who opposed the Cold War against Stalin. During the congressional investigations into the covert activities of the Communist Party, its leaders appeared before government panels to proclaim their patriotism and to describe themselves as avid defenders of free speech, denying that they had any radical agendas at all. In fact the Communist Party was an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the American political system, the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship, and the elimination of free speech for those whom it regarded as the "class enemy."
The disingenuous tradition of the political left has continued into the present. In the 1960s, the radical organizers of the mass anti-war demonstrations pretended that their only interest was to "Bring the Troops Home," when in fact their agendas embraced a radical menu that was anti-capitalist and welcomed a Communist victory. In the campaign against the war in Iraq, a similar pattern emerged, as the information provided in this database clearly demonstrates (ANTI-WAR).
Update: February 21, 2005
By David Horowitz
It is now nearly a week since we launched our new website, DiscoverThe Network: A Guide to the Political Left. This is the first web attempt to define the left and to map its networks of funders, organizations and individuals along with their agendas (both overt and covert). We are gratified by the initial comments we have received in some quarters for this effort in the taxonomy of political movements. We wish to stress that it is still a work in progress, and that we expect to make it better and better.
As we expected, the left has not taken the news presented on our site well. A pro-Islamic jihad writer for Alex Cockburn's CounterPunch regards it naturally as "David Horowitz's Smear Portal" and objects to our linking noble champions of social justice like himself with the "resisters" in the Sunni triangle he supports. But other, less politically deranged exponents of the leftist persuasion have also weighed in with objections to these inclusions. This article is by way of answering their complaints.
In the first place it should be pointed out that even though DiscoverTheNetwork consists of thousands of files, and is the product of years of work and decades of experience, these critics have launched their attacks within hours of its appearance on the web and before any serious person could have digested a fraction of its contents. It is difficult not to regard such attacks as politically motivated attempts to stigmatize, tarnish and yes, smear, the new website, and thus bury the enterprise in a way that would preclude having to deal with the information it displays.
Thus, instead of parsing and analyzing the actual contents of the site - the detailed profiles of individuals and organizations and their links to networks defined in the site - these critics have seized on a quirk in the format, an entirely innocent feature of the site, as an opening for their attacks. This is the "Individuals" search page, which functions as a table of contents for one section of the site. Actually it is even less than that. What they have attacked is a picture grid on the Individuals search page which was intended as a kind of visual enticement to enter the actual profiles of the site. Thus if one were to click on the picture of Barbra Streisand or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or Michael Moore on this page, one would be immediately directed to their individual profile pages.
The mere listing of these figures in the database was not intended to suggest that there are organizational links or common agendas or coinciding agendas between these individuals. On the other hand, Michael Moore has called the "resisters" in Fallujah "patriots" and "revolutionaries," while denying that they are terrorists. Do Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Michael Moore have a common agenda? Evidently Michael Moore thinks so. Let's name it: defeating the Great Satan -- the imperialistic, invading and occupying war machine of the United States. It should be obvious that even the otherwise innocent Barbra Streisand shares negative views of the Bush Administration and its mission of liberating Iraq with anti-American jihadists like the aforementioned Zarqawi, even though we are sure that she deplores some of his methods. She also is a fan of Moore's anti-American propaganda piece, Farenheit 9/11 and is not on record so far as we know condemning Moore's film or his sympathies for the terrorists. If one were to read the profile of Ms. Streisand in the database, however, one would never make the mistake of regarding her as a Muslim fanatic bent on exterminating infidels. Our critics so far have not bothered to take this step or check what DiscoverTheNetwork actually says.
Here is a typical reaction from the blogger Rox Populi: "Listed along with Bill Moyers, Barbra Streisand and Cornel West, you'll find the Ayatollah Khomeni, John Walker Lindh and enemy-of-the-state Pete Seeger on the "Individuals" page. Read it for a good laugh. I must admit I haven't had this much fun since I was handed a Lyndon LaRouche tract that tied the Hapsburgs to the Challenger explosion."
Of course there's nothing to "read" in the picture grid on the "Individuals" page which is the only page about which Rox Populi cares to comment. The laugh, in other words, is self-reflecting. The picture grid is not a list of anything, except a small fraction of the raw contents of the site. It is an enticement, not a thesis. It does not suggest any connections between these individuals, except in the sense that they all belong in a database about the left. Would Trotsky and Stalin belong in a database on Communism? Yet Stalin denounced Trotsky as an "enemy of the people" and put an ice pick in his head. Within the political left - as in the right - there can be differences that are both deep and final. To exclude either Trotsky or Stalin from a database of Communists, let alone leftists, would preclude creating a comprehensive database of Communism or the left and ultimately reduce it to the description of one faction. To include anything else, in the minds of these critics, would be "guilt by association."
Is it conceivable, for example, that a leftist would attempt a comprehensive portrait of the right, and include such media conservatives as George Will, Pat Boone and Bob Hope but leave out David Duke or (inevitably) Mussolini or Hitler? (Conservatives, of course, regard both Hitler and Mussolini, who were socialists, as properly belonging to the political left.)
At this point in time, no critic from the left has bothered to look at any of the actual individual profiles on the DiscoverTheNetwork site. None has argued that a single profile is inaccurate or makes invidious or unreasonable connections between the individual in question and other individuals or organizations or ideas. If the profiles of Bill Moyers, Cornel West and Barbra Streisand are fair and accurate, then what is the problem?
In our introduction to the site, we made a specific pledge not to do what we are now being accused of - smearing individuals through guilty association (something the left does instinctively, relentlessly, and all too well): "We are aware that this base may raise legitimate concerns about the effect of the categorizing and labeling that such an enterprise entails and the possibility of inaccuracies creeping into the data. We share these concerns and have provided a contact link on the homepage of this site (Contribute Information) where corrections can be submitted. We want to assure both the public at large and those individuals and organizations whose names appear in this base that we will take immediate steps to correct any and all factual inaccuracies that are brought to our attention. The integrity and accuracy of this database is as important to us as it is to anyone." (emphasis added)
Although the site is less than a week old, we have been true to our pledge. A blogger friend of Nation editor Katrina Van Den Heuvel, sent her the bullet points from her profile page(bullet points appear at the head of each profile in the site) and asked her for her reaction to them. These are the points:
Editor and co-owner of the left-wing magazine The Nation
Limousine leftwing daughter of William J. vanden Heuvel, who worked for the founder of the CIA and for Robert F. Kennedy, and Jean Stein, whose father founded MCA-Universal
Married to New York University Russian scholar and Gorbachev enthusiast Stephen F. Cohen
Fluent in Russian. Worked as reporter for state-run Moscow Times in U.S.S.R.
Van Den Heuvel objected to the statement that she was fluent in Russian and a reporter for the Moscow Times (it was the Moscow News) and - far more importantly - pointed out that she was a reporter only for a few weeks to cover Russia's first democratic elections. In other words, the bullet point (and related text) insinuated that she worked for the press of a Communist police state and she hadn't. When apprised of this mistake, we removed the inaccurate point.
When ABC's Jake Tapper called us directly to complain about a passage referring to him in our profile of the American Broadcasting Company, we immediately altered it and made it accurate to his satisfaction.
In our introduction, "What This Site Is About," we pointed out that there are several already existing leftwing sites whose clear purpose is to smear conservatives by mislabeling them "homophobic" or "racist" on the basis of policy differences (e.g., support of the Clinton military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" or opposition to racial preferences). These sites include People for the American Way's "Rightwing Watch," the report on conservatives compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and David Brock's MediaMatters. In contrast to DiscoverTheNetwork, it is the intention of these sites to misrepresent and smear conservatives. That is why they refuse to correct the defamations when they are pointed out by their conservative targets. (Exchanges exemplifying this problem between MediaMatters and myself and also the Southern Poverty Law Center and myself are available at FrontPageMag.com. (For the Center's reply see this, and for mine see this.)
In constructing DiscoverTheNetwork.com, we resolved that we would make it an informational site useful for all, regardless of political persuasion. It is for this reason that we have adopted a policy of not using labels to misrepresent and stigmatize individuals or organizations and that we are ready to correct any misrepresentations that have crept into our profiles. We are determined that this will be a resource useful to all journalists and researchers, conservative and liberal alike. We will make it as accurate and as independent of the viewpoint of the editors of the site as possible.
If you thought the confusions behind Rox Populi's attack on DiscoverTheNetwork were confined to the blogosphere fringe, however, you would be mistaken. Her canard against DiscoverTheNetwork is actually lifted (with a "hat tip") from the blog of a well-known English professor at Penn State, Michael Berube. (The "humor" that follows, as you will see, is so clumpy, however, that you would hardly suspect his expertise was literary): "The latest product of the fertile mind of David Horowitz is finally available for public use! It's Discover the Network and no, it's not a cable channel that shows mammals doing the nasty. It's "A Guide to the Political Left"-- that's right, a comprehensive introduction to some of the world's leading traitors, terrorists, and useful idiots!! And be sure to check out the 'Individuals' page, kids! Because before today, you could plausibly say that you just weren't aware of the connections between: Bruce Springsteen and Mohammed Atta; Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Roger Ebert; Martin Sheen and Ramzi Yousef;…and, of course, Barbra Streisand and the Ayatollah Khomeini -- but now you can't use that excuse any longer! So, kids, join the global war against the American entertainment industry and its alliance with Islamist religious fundamentalists whose beliefs about women, sexuality, and secularists only appear to be similar to those of Christian religious fundamentalists but are really allied with the decadent Fifth Columnists who introduced soul-sucking concepts like 'the weekend' and 'the minimum wage' into American life! Remember, everyone can fight in this war-- even Sean Hannity and Jonah Goldberg! Enlist today!"
Funny maybe not, but this is a pretty good rendering of the paranoid fantasies of the left.
Even my good and talented friend Sherman Alexie emailed me this stinging rebuke (no sense of humor in this letter):
Your DiscoverThenetwork site is disgusting. Placing the photo of Ayatollah Khomeini beside Barack Obama, Castro beside Kucinich, Mohammed Atta beside Mike Farrell? It's propaganda of the crudest sort. And it's lazy. Where are the right wing billionaires connected to Saudi oil money? Where are the right wing independent arms dealers who sell to any buyer?
I'm betting that most independent arms dealers are driven by mercenary rather than ideological motives and sell their wares to all comers. But those that are, in fact, "right-wing" aren't in this database because it is a database of the left. The same goes for right-wing billionaires connected to Saudi oil money. Sherman knows this. This is not an appeal to logic but a cry of the wounded. My friend Sherman is an honest man and understands that this database reflects links that are not merely caricatures by political enemies but are legitimate indices of a political reality that affects at least parts of the left and thus that DiscoverTheNetwork has already found its mark.
I have described the link between major elements of the left - but not all elements of the left -- and radical Islamicists as an "unholy alliance." I have written a book about it with that title:Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the Radical Left). Another way of viewing this database is to see it, in part, as a sequel to Unholy Alliance, an Internet version of a text I would have written about the left if it could be written by one man and pressed between the covers of a printable book.
In Denial: The Left Reacts To Its Portrait In DiscoverTheNetwork.com
The "alliance" between radical Islam and the left is generally not formal (though anyone imagining that there are no such alliances is naïve), but it can be easily identified in the profiles of individuals in the base, like Michael Moore or Ward Churchill, for that matter. Both regard the Islamic terrorists fighting America in Iraq as the resistance to an illegitimate occupation, and both believe the terrorists deserve to prevail. Organizations that share this view and are represented in this database include CounterPunch.org, Alex Cockburn's webzine, the National Lawyers Guild, and leading "peace" organizations like International ANSWER and Code Pink. And this is just the tip of an ugly iceberg.
Michael Moore has certainly been celebrated and supported by leading figures of the Hollywood left and, of course, by leaders of the Democratic Party. They may not share his more radical views, but they are certainly willing to stand politically closer to him than they are to President Bush and the conservatives who are leading the war against the terrorists. Thus the inclusion of various Democrats in this base along with Michael Moore and Islamic radicals is appropriate, even if their connections are not the caricatures suggested by critics. The Ayatollah Khomeini, whose revolution launched the Islamic jihad, to cite another example, was supported at the time by broad sections of the American left, including many who opposed the wars against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
My friend Sherman's complaint, therefore, is misguided. As is his complaint that the database slights the humanity of its subjects (if you read the actual profiles, it does not):
I know many of the lefties on your site, and find them to be, by and large, fragile and finite and compassionate and intelligent and misguided and honest and hopeful and hateful and loving, just like most of the righty folks I've met and know.
I know several of the lefties on my site as well. Moreover, I was part of this left for 25 years and thought of myself and my comrades as "by and large, fragile and finite and compassionate and intelligent… etc." too. But that is just the beginning of an understanding the left. The agendas and - yes, relationships - described in this site must be taken account in any assessment as well..