Thursday, March 10, 2005


The Impermanent Revolution

I really must recommend Ronald Aronson's review of Isaac Deutscher's Trotsky trilogy in the Nation. Not to give away the ending or anything, but I think that the last paragraph is quite compelling in a broader, more general sense, outside of the context of Deutscher's books (as any good review should hope to achieve) for those of you who don't have the chance to go read the whole thing:
It turns out that hope based on illusion is no more than a false hope, and has led, time and again, to disaster. But that is the easy lesson. The more difficult one is that sometimes it takes a lifetime, even generations, to dispel the power of illusion. Earlier generations of the left fell under its spell; gone today is our faith in history, gone today is the belief that radical acts of will can transform the world without degenerating into brutality. Perhaps the illusion that we have most recently abandoned is, as the late Nation writer Daniel Singer (himself a Deutscher protégé) said, the kind of thinking that misses "the connection between ends and means." To put it crudely, but in a way that indicts Trotsky and some of the wilder spirits of the New Left no less than Stalin, we have learned that force cannot create a humane society. It is a lesson that the neoconservative architects of the Iraq War and their liberal hawk fellow travelers have yet to absorb.
Well said.

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