Rare and Common Sense

In the November 2017 edition of First Things, Theodore Dalrymple skillfully reviews a biography of Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), the noted Belgian sinologist who was among the first to openly critique the monstrous brutality, vicious lies, and vile propaganda of Maoism that so entranced many willfully naive and intellectually dishonest Western leftist academics.

It is a curious fact that Communist dictatorships were at their most popular among Western intellectuals while they still had the courage of their brutality. Once they settled down to gray, everyday oppression and relatively minor acts of violent repression (judged, of course, by their own former high, or low, standards in this respect), they ceased to attract the extravagant praises of those intellectuals who, in their own countries, regarded as intolerable even the slightest derogation from their absolute freedom of expression. It is as if not dreams but totalitarian famines and massacres acted as the Freudian wish fulfillment of these Western intellectuals. They spoke of illimitable freedom, but desired unlimited power. 

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