On the Fate of Communism

On the Fate of Communism

Asked by the German periodical Die Zeit in August 1989 whether the opening of a MacDonald’s franchise in Moscow signified “the end of Communism,” Daniel Bell wrote the following reply.—Eds.

To answer the question posed by Die Zeit directly would require the wit of a Karl Kraus or the mordant irony of a Franz Kafka. I have neither. Therefore I shall have to respond as a drab sociologist.

The current Soviet (or is it Hungarian, or Polish?) definition of “socialism” is that it is the longest, most tortuous road from capitalism to capitalism. This is a profound truth, a succinct statement of the fact that the Bolshevik revolution, which posed the issue of socialism in the twentieth century in a cruel and misguided way, was the wrong revolution, at the wrong time, and in the wrong place.