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Customer Review

56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critic misses the point, November 4, 2010
This review is from: Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky (Paperback)
Most reviews of this book are positive, but those which are critical have, I believe, missed the point.

It is easy to accuse Dr. Johnson of ad hominem attacks on these leftist icons. However, his main thesis, as pointed out by others, is that in their own lives they manifestly embraced completely different principles. They clearly did not believe the ideas they were advocated to the rest of us. In some cases -- Bertolt Brecht in particular -- it is clear that they simply profited personally from promoting ideas favorable to the state or to other powerful interests. In other cases -- Marx, for example -- we see the resentful expressions of people who had vaulting opinions of themselves and believed the world owed them a lavish living for sharing their genius with us.

The ideas themselves -- communism and socialism -- have, of course, been thoroughly dissected, debunked and disproved in the course of the 20th century. Unfortunately, they have not been entirely discarded; they are still revered by the current crop of intellectual elites.

Incidentally, is is technically correct that there are conservative intellectuals. However, the term, like "progressive", has been largely co-opted by the political Left, so that its basic meaning has been supplanted by an ideological one.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 30, 2010 8:37:27 PM PST
Thomas Brown says:
This is an excellent and poignant response.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2011 4:48:38 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 24, 2014 12:30:45 AM PDT]

Posted on Mar 4, 2011 10:38:33 PM PST
Gregory Moss says:
Hear! Hear! Excellent post. Mordant and astute. Thank you for taking the time.

Posted on Mar 14, 2011 5:59:40 AM PDT
Police, public schools, the military, etc. exist in every form of society, and existed long before anyone every heard of socialism. They are funded through taxation, which has existed since ancient times. Sorry, Joe Pants, you haven't proven your point.

Posted on Oct 28, 2011 8:15:22 AM PDT
J_Onyx says:
Everything has a context and that context must be observed for purpose of understanding and discussion. Johnson & "Uncle Rick" clearly mean socialist government, socialist society, when they say "socialism". They have something quite specific in mind, namely the state dictated collectivist system as subscribed by political thinkers and activists known as socialists. They do not mean socialistic or socialism as every social institution, they do not mean "socialism" as a left wing propagandist would loosely and dishonestly use the words. Clearly, the strictist free market capitalist does not oppose insurance, which is precisely what retirement funds, life insurance, or workman's compensation schemes are. To call anything that is the result of collective action or collective risk "socialism" is not only raw propaganda and spin, it is plain rediculous. It is silly. If it is proper to do that then a capitalist can argue any socialist country in existance or has ever existed is "capitalist" because they do have instances where they assign individual (personal) responsibility to activities such as coming out of the rain, seeing to it one's monthly food rations last the month, denial of million dollar surgery to a 99 year old man who will thereby live a few more weeks (violates the marxist religious dictate of "to each according to his needs".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2014 10:38:47 PM PST
Ian says:
There is a difference between government institutions and socialism. The military, the police, the fire department being government institutions doesn't make them socialist.

Posted on Sep 24, 2014 4:09:29 PM PDT
I'm curious as to what Dr. Johnson has to say about Ayn Rand, whose refused to live the conservative philosophies she espoused, except for the part about looking down on everyone she considered to be her intellectual inferior.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2014 7:00:41 PM PDT
Uncle Rick says:
Yeah. The political left has no monopoly on narcissism.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2014 7:04:01 PM PDT
Uncle Rick says:
Well stated. Context is always important and it seems to take some training and practice to seek and understand it.

As a strictly pedantic aside, I would observe that there is only one kind of economy, and that is capitalism. Socialist states simply limit who can be a capitalist. Not that it matters, of course; it's just a trivial observation.
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