HOW DEMOCRACIES PERISH by Jean-Francois Revel

HOW DEMOCRACIES PERISH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Journalist Revel followed-up the success of Without Marx or Jesus with a pair of doomsday forecasts that also headed the French charts: The Totalitarian Temptation (1977) and this entry, published in France in 1983. The enterprise is entirely speculative, since Revel doesn't discuss the perishing of any past democracies, only the combination of factors that he says eat away at democracies from the inside and will eventually lead to their demise. Among the problems are the plurality of viewpoint that prevents democracies from taking a coherent and consistent line on foreign policy, and the fact that democracies have solved so many of their other problems, especially the economic ones, that they engender discontent from rising expectations. But that's about as far as Revel gets with his pseudo-theme, lapsing almost immediately into his usual drone about the Soviet Union's trend toward world domination, aided and abetted by its fifth column among western leftists and fellow-travelers. Thus Revel will state matter-of-factly and without substantiation that when the Soviets wanted to maintain their European advantage in nuclear weapons by preventing the deployment of US cruise and Pershing missiles, they ""resurrected"" the ""old 'peace movement.'"" Revel cites the campaign against the neutron bomb, Soviet advances in Africa (the supposed ""colonization"" of Angola and Mozambique), western failure to prevent the suppression of Solidarity in Poland, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as signs, one-and-all, of Soviet expansive designs. Those who talk of Soviet defensive strategies, such as George Kennan, are considered apologists: defending their borders, the Soviets will keep pushing outward until they have no more borders to defend, says Revel. For his view of Soviet intentions he relies on Michael Voslensky's Nomenklatura (1984) and largely repeats what he finds there. A polemic parading as political philosophy.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday