Anyone who thinks that the collapse of the Soviet and East European regimes discredited Marxism and socialism is-to put it charitably-having an off day. As Alasdair MacIntyre, no sympathizer, once observed: “The barbarous despotism of the collective Tsardom which reigns in Moscow [is] as irrelevant to the question of the moral substance of Marxism as the life of the Borgia pope was to that of the moral substance of Christianity.”
In fact, the withering away of Soviet communism is not only one of the best things that ever happened; it’s one of the best things that ever happened to Marxism and socialism. Some misunderstandings are, after all, easier to cope with than others. Better to be regarded by our potential audience as harmless fossils than as apologists for totalitarianism; better to be greeted with amused incredulity than with fierce indignation. It might be just a bit easier now to get people to sit still for an explanation of why it suited the ruling classes of East and West alike to identify Soviet and Third World communism with genuine socialism....
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