ANYONE WHO THINKS THE TOTALITARIAN TEMPTATION LIES BURIED IN LENIN’S MAUSOLEUM WOULD DO WELL TO READ THIS BOOK
by Linda Starr, blogging at lgstarr.blogspot.com
“…some important part of every society consists of people who actively want tyranny: either to exercise it themselves or—much more mysteriously—to submit to it…Anyone who thinks the totalitarian temptation lies buried in Lenin’s mausoleum would do well to read this book…”
Conservatives often wonder why the heck a bunch of people in the freest country that ever existed on this planet just can’t wait to take on the great burden of an ever-growing bureaucracy that will monitor and dictate their every bodily function, their mobility, their choices, and their freedom.
Amazingly, a Frenchman figured it all out!
“Last Exit to Utopia” was first published in France nearly a decade ago. It concerns itself primarily with the failure of much of the French left to come to grips with the collapse of communism and the exposure of its innumerable crimes. The events and debates under its review date mainly to the 1990s, and its author died in 2006.
Yet the book, at last available in English in this fine translation, ought to command close attention because it was written by Jean-François Revel, who—unlike such bien-pensant idols as Jean-Paul Sartre (an admirer of Stalin) and Michel Foucault (a cheerleader of the Ayatollah Khomeini)—deserves to be ranked as the pre-eminent French political philosopher of the second half of the 20th century. What’s more, the book’s themes continue to resonate today, when murderous ideologies still compete for legitimacy and “enlightened” understanding by the Western intelligentsia.
Revel’s great subject was totalitarianism, not just its practice but also its intellectual methods, deceits and disturbing psychological attractions. In books such as The Totalitarian Temptation (1976) and How Democracies Perish
(1983), he dissected the mind-set of Western intellectuals who, living in democracies, found much to admire in gulag countries like the Soviet Union and Cuba and much to detest in free ones—the U.S. most of all.
So…you’d think that the collapse of the Soviet Union woulda put an end to all that bullshit…BUT NO (as the late John Belushi of Saturday Night Live used to say)!
The tipping point, in Revel’s view, was the publication in 1997 of “The Black Book of Communism,” an 800-page compendium of the serial barbarities of communist regimes from China and Ethiopia to Russia and Cambodia. This massive scholarly undertaking, meticulous in its research and incontrovertible in its findings, was instantly greeted with fury by much of the French intelligentsia, which refused to accept that its own eyes-wide-shut apologetics for the likes of Mao, Mengistu, Stalin and Pol Pot were no less a form of complicity in mass murder than Holocaust denial.
Karl Marx gives us a hint of at least some part of the attraction to the brutality of totalitarianism:
“What is the worldly religion of the Jew?” Marx asked. “Huckstering. What is his God? Money.” Communism, according to its founding father, “would make the Jew impossible.”
And, like the race hustlers who’d be out of a job if they ever acceded to the end of racism in America,
“Utopia is not under the slightest obligation to produce results: its sole function is to allow its devotees to condemn what exists in the name of what does not.” –Jean-François Revel
Ravel has also given us a great gift–a clue to our own situation today in dealing with the radical savages who have a blind dedication to the “excommunication of modernity”:
Revel’s analysis helps to make sense of the latest version of the totalitarian temptation, this time the temptation of radical Islam…
…but you’ll have to read the whole book review in order to get this, the new modern mystery of our time.
Another book to consider: