Tuesday, November 7, 2017

100 Years Since October

Writing recently on The New York Times Book Review, Martin Amis succinctly summarized the horrifying 20th-century phenomenon whose centenary we mark today: 

It was not a good idea that somehow went wrong or withered away. It was a very bad idea from the outset, and one forced into life — or the life of the undead — with barely imaginable self-righteousness, pedantry, dynamism, and horror. The chief demerit of the Marxist program was its point-by-point defiance of human nature. Bolshevik leaders subliminally grasped the contradiction almost at once; and their rankly Procrustean answer was to leave the program untouched and change human nature. In practical terms this is what “totalitarianism” really means: On their citizens such regimes make “a total claim.”

Like World War I, which made it possible, Lenin's October Revolution occasioned a tsunami of human misery that continued to afflict the human race throughout the rest of the 20th century. Few people have left the world so damning a legacy as Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik henchmen. Few people have inflicted so much harm on so many people as Vladimir Lenin and his evil offspring - Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot.

Societies sometimes do learn from their mistakes. From the debacle of two world wars, the United States learned to step up to its responsibilities as the preeminent global power and to create and support institutions to maintain peace and stability in the world - international responsibilities which the party presently in power in the U.S. seems strangely eager to retreat from and institutions it seems ill inclined to support and maintain.

One can only hope that we all will have also learned some lessons from the experience of Lenin's evil ideology and the depraved political and social system he imposed on such a large part of the world. A presumption of suspicion directed at all such pseudo-humanistic, pseudo-scientific, rationalistic ideologies might be a good start.

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