For Rulers: Priming Political Leaders for Saving Humanity from Itself
“The dramatic, and largely unpredicted, fall of Communism in 1989 was, then, much more than the collapse of an empire: it was the end of a two-century-long epoch, in which first European and then world politics was powerfully affected by a visionary conception of modern society, in which the wretched of the earth would create a society founded on harmony and equality” (Kindle location 163-164)….”Explaining Communism demands that we enter a very different mental world – that of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara and Gorbachev, as well as those who supported or tolerated them” (Kindle location 193-195).
These challenges are posed and ably taken up in this eye-opening book which provides a comprehensive vista of the rise and fall of Communism, including description as well as explanatory efforts. Indeed, the significance of this book reaches beyond the case of Communism, however earthshaking. It provides essential material for a comprehensive theory of revolutionary historic processes, needed urgently because of the approaching quantum-leap of humankind thanks to emerging science and technology – which will constitute a “mega-revolution” totally transforming Homo sapiens.
I think the book could have gone deeper into the causes of the ultimate fall of Communism. As stated by the author on the French revolution “nothing less than a ‘new man’ was required, free of the habits of the past” (Kindle location 461-462). But, as also demonstrated by the history of the Israeli pure-type idealistic Communist Kibbutz movement, it seems that Rousseau and many others were wrong: much more than “habits of the past” shape human behavior, namely strong propensities imprinted by evolution.
There are additional critical issues raised by the history of Communism as presented in the book, such as the role of individual humans in shaping important levels of historic processes. Marx is a prime example, but the impacts of Gorbachev are also a case in point. As assessed by the author “In place of neo-liberal shock therapy and Chinese-style state-led reform, Gorbachev settled on a deeply flawed compromise” (Kindle location 11155-11156). Could other choices by Gorbachev have maintained a partly “Communist” Soviet Union, thus producing a world different from our present one?
Such stimulating questions raised by the book (though not explicitly discussed) further add to its importance. Therefore, I strongly recommend it to all who are concerned about the future of humankind. Much can be learned from it.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem