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Last Exit to Utopia: The Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era

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Here is a tasty paradox: How did the Leftist legions regroup after history delivered its fatal blow to the Soviet system? Simple, argues Jean-Francois Revel: the Left retreated to the impregnable fortress of the Utopian ideal. After all, socialism incarnate was always vulnerable to criticism. Utopia, on the other hand, lies by definition beyond reproach. With the demise of Here is a tasty paradox: How did the Leftist legions regroup after history delivered its fatal blow to the Soviet system? Simple, argues Jean-Francois Revel: the Left retreated to the impregnable fortress of the Utopian ideal. After all, socialism incarnate was always vulnerable to criticism. Utopia, on the other hand, lies by definition beyond reproach. With the demise of the Soviet system, there is no longer a vast and flailing embodiment of their vision, and Utopia’s haughty champions can again rage boundlessly. In Last Exit to Utopia, the latest English language translation of one of Europe’s most controversial intellectuals, Jean-Francois Revel takes aim at socialist apologists who have attempted to erase or invert the manifest failures of socialist ideology. As the tide of Big Government rises in America, Revel’s forewarnings here are as prescient as they are frightening.


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Here is a tasty paradox: How did the Leftist legions regroup after history delivered its fatal blow to the Soviet system? Simple, argues Jean-Francois Revel: the Left retreated to the impregnable fortress of the Utopian ideal. After all, socialism incarnate was always vulnerable to criticism. Utopia, on the other hand, lies by definition beyond reproach. With the demise of Here is a tasty paradox: How did the Leftist legions regroup after history delivered its fatal blow to the Soviet system? Simple, argues Jean-Francois Revel: the Left retreated to the impregnable fortress of the Utopian ideal. After all, socialism incarnate was always vulnerable to criticism. Utopia, on the other hand, lies by definition beyond reproach. With the demise of the Soviet system, there is no longer a vast and flailing embodiment of their vision, and Utopia’s haughty champions can again rage boundlessly. In Last Exit to Utopia, the latest English language translation of one of Europe’s most controversial intellectuals, Jean-Francois Revel takes aim at socialist apologists who have attempted to erase or invert the manifest failures of socialist ideology. As the tide of Big Government rises in America, Revel’s forewarnings here are as prescient as they are frightening.

30 review for Last Exit to Utopia: The Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    If you tend to roll your eyes at the thought of reading tracts by French political intellectuals, well, who can blame you? The odd thing is that, in my experience, France's marginalized classical liberal intellectuals--such as Jean-François Revel--are just brilliant and rhetorically savage. Revel's book, written shortly before he died, is worth a place on the shelf of anyone who hopes that the left's utopian collectivist schemes don't end up killing another 100 million people in this century.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Canoeist

    Revel studies the logic of the European Left in its manifestations over the last 50 years or so. I'm not sure I've ever read such surgically precise analysis. The book would deserve five stars had it moved beyond the limits of the European arena, which seems too easy for the author. A key Revel understanding pops up here several times: "The totalitarian phenomenon is not to be understood without making an allowance for the thesis that some important part of every society consists of people who a Revel studies the logic of the European Left in its manifestations over the last 50 years or so. I'm not sure I've ever read such surgically precise analysis. The book would deserve five stars had it moved beyond the limits of the European arena, which seems too easy for the author. A key Revel understanding pops up here several times: "The totalitarian phenomenon is not to be understood without making an allowance for the thesis that 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." If you are sympathetic to Leftist politics, get your armor on. Or stay far away from this guy -- he will give you major trouble.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    Amazing read...Revel documents the way Communists' justifications for their failed economic system can be summed up by the old Marx Brothers line: "Who you gonna believe? Me,or your own eyes?"

  4. 5 out of 5

    César

    3'5 Repetitivo en ocasiones, no es el mejor libro de este hombre pero sí una sensata descripción de las paradojas y amnesias selectivas de la izquierda ideológica y su contumaz resistencia a bañarse en las aguas de la realidad.

  5. 5 out of 5

    C. Townsend

    I am a huge fan of Revel and this is one of his best works. Revel is one of the greatest societal/political commentators of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He doesnt get the credit he deserves as he is a gadfly poking at the foibles and issues on the Left, being from and on the Left he is succinctly qualified to do so. Unfortunately the left doesn't like being poked and reminded of ideological contradictions and rectifications so he never got the credit he deserved.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve. g

    Nobody talks about Utopias any more, do they? They used to of course and not so very long ago. We still talk about revolutions, all the time, and some people can get quite poetic and significant about the French revolution. The Russian revolution, acording to this line of thought, somhow went wrong and while they dont dream of a return to the cold war and having Reagan back they do get a bit dewy eyed about the 'idea' of communism. Which is what utopia used to be called before it was tried. For Nobody talks about Utopias any more, do they? They used to of course and not so very long ago. We still talk about revolutions, all the time, and some people can get quite poetic and significant about the French revolution. The Russian revolution, acording to this line of thought, somhow went wrong and while they dont dream of a return to the cold war and having Reagan back they do get a bit dewy eyed about the 'idea' of communism. Which is what utopia used to be called before it was tried. For one thing everybodies idea of utopia would be a bit different and for another organising every facet of human life on scientific lines pre-supposes that human beings are logical creatures- and if i can presume to speak for all of mankind -we're not. We're very fond of it of course when it comes to putting up a fence or balancing the houshold spending but we're not slaves to it. Golf, surfing and falling in love to give just 3 examples of things that we would willingly do that defy logic. There was a time though, long ago, when clever people or rather people with too much time on their hands made some pretty big plans, or plans to do planning- some sketchy ideas based on principals. Well not so much principals as asperations; with things like peace, brotherhood/sisterhood, fairness and the wholesale extermination of all those who disagreed. Blinded by the ideology of the former there were those who excused the latter despite the fact that those carrying out the latter turned out not to mean the former. In this boofk JFR storms around the quiet reading rooms,the reference libraries, the thoughtful discussion programmes, the smoky left wing enclaves and coffee shops looking for these folks like Cyrano de Bergerac after that chap who was foolish enough to mention his nose. He cares not one jot for the fragile sensitivity of 'intellectuals' who batted radical 'spirit of 68' eyelashes through the iron curtain. He wants the arguement had, he wants it had now, and it resembles nothing so much as a tornado ripping through a half built shed. Loved it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    Jean-François Revel, member of the French Academy and former leftist and speechwriter for French President François Mitterrand of the social-democratic Socialist Party, saw the intellectual conflict between socialism and classical liberalism as a conflict between a set of a priori assumptions and a set of principles derived from observation, respectively. Revel writes: "Ideology [..] has the singular property of causing zealots to project the structural features of their own mentality onto others Jean-François Revel, member of the French Academy and former leftist and speechwriter for French President François Mitterrand of the social-democratic Socialist Party, saw the intellectual conflict between socialism and classical liberalism as a conflict between a set of a priori assumptions and a set of principles derived from observation, respectively. Revel writes: "Ideology [..] has the singular property of causing zealots to project the structural features of their own mentality onto others. Ideologues cannot imagine that an objection to their abstract systems could come from any source other than a competing system." Revel's novel claim is that that capitalism is more of an application of observation and analysis to the production of useful economic principles than an ideology. The thinkers who described capitalism made no assumptions about how the world should work. Revel notes this, and declares socialism an ideology because it starts off with a set of assumptions and notions derived from introspection, not experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sean Rife

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Dietrich

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Schroeder

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mihai

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Sánchez González

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jay Coleau

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven Mchugh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sinmediastintas

  18. 5 out of 5

    Outis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jazzthierry

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jude

  21. 4 out of 5

    Livius

  22. 4 out of 5

    Helga Maria Saboia Bezerra

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ignacio De Leon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bryce Jancarek

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ludwig

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Dewey

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Pattison

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juan P.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darren

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