Ideologists tend to see the future in terms of the past. The pioneers of the Great French Revolution paraded as Brutuses. The Bolsheviks in turn imitated the Jacobins, hoping to improve on their predecessors’ performance while escaping their fate. Now the Bolsheviks again serve as models by which other turning points in history are judged. Thus critics of the Weimar Republic compare its origins in 1918 unfavorably with the enthusiastic faith of 1789 or with the social radicalism of 1917. There they see the everdeepening seriousness of the revolution, the emergence of ever-new strata from the depths of society and the release of ever-new and unsuspected energies; here the mere supersession of one leading elite by another,’ and...
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