Editor’s note: This author interview originally appeared on ConservativeBookClub.com.
Congratulations Dr. Paul Kengor on the release of your new book, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage! Can you give us an overview of the book?
Well, as you can see, I avoid provocative topics. Really though, in all seriousness, I wrote this book because of my unique background—decades of researching, studying, writing, and lecturing on ideologies and especially radical ideologies like communism, socialism, and secular progressivism. I know from that background how communists, socialist utopians, and (more recently) secular “progressives” have long sought to reshape, redefine, and effectively take down natural-traditional-biblical family and marriage. This has been a long march ongoing for about two centuries. They’ve long looked to alter the so-called “nuclear family.”
I know that ideological past. I know how it fits into the present. Most people don’t, including those today who are shockingly and unhesitatingly willing to redefine the historic Western/Judeo-Christian conception of male-female marriage. The vast majority of those who are willing to do that have no idea of the deeper, darker ideological-historical forces long at work in this wider movement. They are signing on to something that, whether they know it or not, have important links to much older and more sinister attempts by the far left to redefine family and marriage.
And so, my book details that longer effort. It goes through characters ranging from Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Robert Owen, and Charles Fourier to the likes of Margaret Sanger, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, the Bolsheviks, the Frankfurt School of cultural Marxists, the New Left, and assorted ‘60s radicals from Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to Mark Rudd and Tom Hayden, just for starters.
What three takeaways would you like readers to leave with after reading your book?
First, for two centuries, the far left—from communists to socialists—have sought to takedown the natural-traditional-Biblical understanding of family and marriage. Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto candidly spoke of the “abolition of the family,” which, even then, in 1848, they could rightly describe as “an infamous proposal of the communists.” These two men did not like marriage and family. “Blessed is he who has no family,” Marx wrote to Engels, who agreed wholeheartedly, refusing marriage to his many suffering mistresses.
Second, for the first time ever, the far left has finally found a vehicle to enable this long-sought takedown of family and marriage: gay marriage. This 21st-century novelty is utterly without precedent in the ancient sweep of human history. Though communists, socialists, and even early progressives could have never conceived the idea of same-sex marriage, they are now firmly on-board for this fundamental transformation of marriage and family. Amazingly, groups like Communist Party USA, its flagship publication People’s World, and even Fidel Castro’s Cuba—once militantly anti-gay—now support gay marriage.
Third, the American mainstream and even the gay community itself have no idea that their support of same-sex marriage actually enables the far left to achieve the takedown of marriage it has long desired. Most chillingly, they have no idea that their support of gay marriage also allows the far left to attack religion—its long-reviled foe—in a way it never thought possible with such wide public acceptance. They are oblivious to the older, deeper forces at work.
What is your opinion of the recent Supreme Court case involving gay marriage?
I’m not surprised. It was inevitable. This country and culture was destined to redefine marriage, period. America as we once knew it is long gone. It’s now comprised of people who feel they can arrogate unto themselves the right to redefine whatever they want. If you tell a modern American that her dog is a dog but she wants it to be a cat, then damn it, it’s a cat. Since January 22, 1973, we’ve rendered unto ourselves the right to redefine life itself. It’s up to each and every woman in America to decide whether the child in her womb is a baby or not.
I think of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s woeful proclamation in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), affirming abortion as a “constitutional right” in all 50 states: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Chew that one over. If Anthony Kennedy interprets liberty to mean that every American possesses his or her own right to define existence, meaning, the universe, and life itself, then why not marriage? For a country of people than can redefine life itself, and come up with their own meaning of meaning, redefining marriage is small potatoes. Really, this country and culture is toast. America, RIP.
What the court’s decision also means is a long, dark, protracted battle for religious believers who dare invoke their faith against a newly invented constitutional “right” to gay marriage. They are in big trouble. With this decision, the religious persecution will now begin full throttle. It’s amazing that these five justices have done this even after several years of watching what liberals—in the name of “tolerance,” of course—will do to those who dare to disagree with them on redefining marriage. This stunning new constitutional invention of “gay marriage” will be an extraordinary wrecking ball for the secular left to smash religious people who disagree with them.
A long period of persecution against religious Americans was launched on June 26, 2015.
Some of our readers may disagree with your view on marriage. What would you say to those who believe that same-sex marriage is an issue about equality, or a civil right itself?
Well, consider all of my earlier points. But I’ll add some more.
This requires a much longer answer on so many levels, but the absolutely fundamental starting point must be this: We have to understand and remember that two men or two women simply can’t form a “marriage.” The very notion of gay “marriage” starts from a completely flawed premise. Marriage has always been a male-female bond. That’s simply what it means. A tree is a tree, a dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, the moon is the moon, and marriage is marriage.
When we as conservatives start acquiescing to a totally relativistic culture’s redefinition of the most fundamental things, then we’re little different from progressives, and we’ve certainly ceased to be true conservatives. A progressive can come up with a new definition, a new meaning, and a new right over a grande skim latte at Starbucks one morning. That’s what progressives do; they have no absolutes, no standards. The only thing that progressives know, and do, is change. They can come up with a totally new definition of marriage tomorrow, next week, next month, or next decade. And they will do so, moving beyond same-sex marriage as well.
In fact, in my book, read closely my section where I discuss the “progressive” group “Beyond Marriage.” They’ve been ready for nearly 10 years to use same-sex marriage to move the culture and legal system beyond traditional marriage entirely.
This is a cultural revolution, folks. If you don’t understand that, then you’re quite ignorant and need to get up to speed really, really quick. The typical gay-marriage supporter has no understanding of how breaking this model, this male-female mold, will open the floodgates and truly change everything. This will undoubtedly create a revolutionary fissure in marriage and family.
One added thought on this: As for conservatives who support gay marriage, all I can say is that supporting gay marriage is absolutely and utterly incompatible with the basic tenets of conservatism. Click here for a recent piece I did on this. Conservatives conserve and preserve the time-tested values and ideals that we know have been good for people, for cultures, for societies. We don’t seek to fundamentally transform human nature and human relations through brand new revolutionary ideas that have never been done before. That’s what the other side does.
If you could advise any of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates, how would you advise them to approach the topic of marriage?
Though the Supreme Court ruling is bad for America, it’s actually politically good for the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. It will allow them to stick to something politically more popular with the electorate: protecting religious freedom from the gay-marriage onslaught.
Though Americans are split on or slightly favor gay marriage, most do not support (not yet anyway) the state forcing religious believers to bake cakes or photograph or provide flowers or whatever for a gay-wedding service that violates their religious beliefs. The candidates can now focus on that aspect of the gay-marriage debate. The supremes have spoken: gay marriage is a “constitutional right” in America now. The candidates can’t do much about that, but they can strive to protect religious liberty.
Also, I would advise the candidates to generally appeal to their faith on this issue. Most of the candidates, if not all, are religious, and (I believe) Christians. As Christians, it would be incredibly arrogant of us and downright heretical and blasphemous to render unto ourselves the right to redefine something that heretofore has been the province of the laws of nature and nature’s God. The male-female unitive, procreative, and marital bond is as old as Genesis and was reaffirmed by Christ himself in the first book of the New Testament, where Christ told his followers that humans cannot tear asunder what God ordained.
As Christians, we have no right to redefine marriage.
What books or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy?
That would be a long list, but I’m often reminded in this marriage debate of a remark by Whittaker Chambers in his classic Witness, which bears very much on the focus and argument of my book, Takedown. Witness was a favorite book of Ronald Reagan as well. Reagan and Chambers both often noted that communists (read: radical leftists) were their own gods. Whittaker Chambers noted precisely this, as would Reagan in his March 1983 Evil Empire speech, where Reagan quoted Chambers on the point. Chambers declared that Marxism-Leninism is actually the world’s second oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, “Ye shall be as gods.”
Today’s liberals/progressives, like their leftist forebears, have taken it upon themselves to reinvent our very order in their own image. They are their own determinants of truth, of morality, of what is right and wrong. They render under themselves the right to determine everything from what is marriage to what is life. Again, these things used to be the province of nature and nature’s God. And when someone disagrees with liberals’ attempts to remake these sacred institutions in their own image, they are attacked with hellfire and brimstone.
And here is where modern liberals, secular progressives, and old socialists and communists all come together and share common ground. They all unite, across the generations and centuries, in a joint willingness to permanently alter the historic Western/Judeo-Christian understanding of male-female matrimony. They reject the idea of a single absolute arbiter. They share the fatal conceit first expressed in the Garden of Eden: Ye shall be as gods.