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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (December 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594032645
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594032646
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“[T]he 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.”

&mdash The Wall Street Journal


“Jean-François Revel was among the most distinguished intellectual dissenters of the last half-century. He was uniquely capable of disentangling the strands of misguided modernism, greed for power, and simple mendacity that led to the political collapse of the radical left. This book, his examination of the global attempt by survivors of the devastated edifice to perpetuate the influence of totalitarianism, as well as of its terrible antecedents, is bright with his characteristic perceptions. Revel’s much-admired, and much-feared, polemical style is brilliantly displayed in Last Exit to Utopia. This volume is an indispensable guidebook for those seeking to avoid the revived immoralities prevalent among the ideological elite.”

&mdash Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam

“Scary erudition, an unwavering commitment to reason, an urbane wit, literary brilliance—Jean-François Revel put all of his considerable talents into the noble project of defending freedom and democracy. In Last Exit to Utopia, he offers his testament: a reflection on the dangers of left-wing social hallucinations that will take its place in the canon of political thought.”

&mdash Brian C. Anderson, editor of City Journal

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101 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on December 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First published in French in 1999, Last Exit to Utopia examines the Left's refusal to take responsibility for the atrocities of communism, and the route of denial that leftists took after the implosion of the Soviet Empire. Although mainly dealing with the first decade after the collapse of communism, the work is prophetic in highlighting the continued support of genocidal movements by segments of Western intelligentsia. A note on semantics: Revel's use of the words "liberal" and "liberalism" refer to classical liberalism as practiced by politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher or promoted by political philosophers like Friedrich Hayek; in other words, the polar opposite of what "liberalism" means in 21st century America.

Classical liberalism was revived a decade before the collapse of communism with Thatcher's election victory in 1979 followed by that of Reagan the next year. Even under conservative governments the United Kingdom had remained the same stagnant, union-dominated, state-smothered bureaucracy that led to serious economic decline throughout the 1970s. The effects of the Reagan/Thatcher revolution swept the globe in the 1980s when deregulation and privatization became popular policies worldwide. In France, Mitterrand made a U-turn away from his disastrous statist programs as support for the Socialist & Communist Parties plummeted. A landmark was reached in 1984 when he jettisoned his government education plan.

So by the mid-1980s France's leftist parties had failed while in Britain the Labour Party and in (then) West Germany the Social Democrats had entered a lengthy phase of exclusion from power.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Milo Jones on December 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Last Exit to Utopia is an unmissable diagnosis of how and why the temptations of totalitarianism persist after the demise of both fascism and the USSR. It's vivid, convincing and disturbing in it's portrayal of the perennial impulse of self-appointed guardians of society (elected or otherwise) to control everyone and everything, and by others to be controlled. As Revel said: "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." It also fearlessly confronts apologists for totalitarianism of every stripe, not only Left and Right, but also assorted religious fundamentalists.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book written by a major intellectual who deserves a far wider audience,
and especially should have been more widely read in the West while he was still alive.
Densely written with masses of facts this serves as a very good precis
of the intellectual basis of both Nazism and Communism.
Pithy, witty and on occasion laugh out loud funny - quite a feat for such a serious book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By CAreader on May 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a tough book to get through for the average reader. There are many references to people and institutions in France that are unknown to the average American reader. But the essential message of this book comes through clearly and repeatedly. The upsidedown world we live in in which the American and European Left continue to romanticize socialism and even Communism is stunning. Revel does a good job of pointing out the hypocrasy of the Left that jails Pinochet but lauds and elevates Castro who is responsible for many more deaths. The chapter dealing with the horrors of Communism are astonding by themselves and should be required reading at every university, lest we forget! His comparison of Nazism and Communism and the similarities between the two is very interesting as is his exploration of why the Left has made sure we never forget the crimes of Nazis so that we do not look too closely at the crimes of the Communists/socialists. WHile this should be required reading of every university student taking a modern history class, we should at least encourage every parent of a university student to read this book.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 8:08 Mins
I am very sad that Revel has passed on. I opened this book thinking I'd skim it and got so caught up in it I couldn't put it down. He knew the left as well as Roger Kimball and David Horowitz do. It was simply outstanding.
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