The Devil in HistoryLIBRI, Storia Contemporanea, URSS venerdì, settembre 21st, 2012
The Devil in History. Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century
The Devil in History is a provocative analysis of the relationship between communism and fascism. Reflecting the author’s personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, this is a book about political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering. Vladimir Tismaneanu brilliantly compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping, and occasionally strikingly similar systems of political totalitarianism. He examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical, revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the value and types of charisma of leaders within these political movements, the place of violence within these systems, and their legacies in contemporary politics.
The author discusses thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements—people such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes, and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, this book deals with the incarnation of diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals. Ultimately, the author claims that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life. He comes to the conclusion that no party, movement, or leader holds the right to dictate to the followers to renounce their critical faculties and to embrace a pseudo-miraculous, a mystically self-centered, delusional vision of mandatory happiness.
Vladimir Tismaneanu is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of several books, including Stalinism for All Seasons: A History of Romanian Communism (UC Press), Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Europe, and Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel.
Prologue: Totalitarian Dictators and Ideological Hubris
1. Utopian Radicalism and Dehumanization
2. Diabolical Pedagogy and the (Il)logic of Stalinism
3. Lenin’s Century: Bolshevism, Marxism, and the Russian Tradition
4. Dialectics of Disenchantment: Marxism and Ideological Decay in Leninist Regimes
5. Ideology, Utopia, and Truth: Lessons from Eastern Europe
6. Malaise and Resentment: Threats to Democracy in Post-Communist Societies
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