Bret Stephens reviews Last Exit to Utopia today in the Journal, and discusses Jean-François Revel’s analysis of the surprisingly resilient “totalitarian temptation”:
[After the fall of Communism] the left’s new refrain was that, whatever the excesses of communism, they were as nothing next to those of “liberal totalitarianism” and “savage capitalism.” Communism, in this view, more than redeemed itself through its aspirations for social justice. And to the extent that actual Communist regimes — namely, all of them — fell short of that ideal, it merely proved that they hadn’t been Communist to begin with!
Of this mental fortress, Revel acidly writes: “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.” Thus the political collapse of communism offered members of the hard left an avenue of ideological resurrection, since they could return to their favorite pastime of lambasting globalization and other American conspiracies to enslave the world without having to suffer any unpalatable reminders of some of the alternatives — the Berlin Wall, for instance.
Stephens calls radical Islam “the latest version of the totalitarian temptation.” One might suggest another candidate for that designation.