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THE FLIGHT FROM TRUTH by Jean-Francois Revel


The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information

by Jean-Francois Revel

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-57643-8
Publisher: Random House

 Though Revel's stated aim here is to examine why human beings ``neglect the genuine knowledge that is available to them and...base their conceptions and actions on false information,'' he ends up delivering mostly a tirade against the Left that becomes a vehicle for defending his earlier writings (How Democracies Perish, 1984, etc.). Revel's claim that he could as well take to task ``scholastic Aristotelian ideology'' as the ``more familiar'' Marxism sets his tone. Certainly the notion that ``we use our intellectual faculties to protect conviction, interests and interpretations...dear to us'' has merit. But Revel never explores this idea beyond applying it to the supposed acceptance of communism by Western thinkers and liberals who ``have always adhered to the official Soviet `truth' of the moment.'' He warns against the ``a priori trust in perestroika and glasnost'' demonstrated by duped Western democracies soft on communism; rails against the ``pigheaded Left''; and scolds the media for failing to credit the ``classic dictatorships'' of Franco, Pinochet, and Marcos for being better organized than their Marxist counterparts. Among his more unsettling, unsubstantiated claims: that, despite their nostalgia for Third Reich symbolism, recent ``hallucinatory resurrections of the Nazi danger,'' as embodied by neo-Nazi groups, are ``a political fable'' invented by the Left to distract attention from the horrors of communism; that ``humanitarian aid'' is a ruse, ``a gigantic racket'' engineered by calculating Marxist despots; that ``the falsification of information is today...above all a left-wing phenomenon''; and that the supposed racism of France's National Front and the apartheid state of South Africa are not akin to fascism but are mere xenophobia, being ``prompted by thoughtless prejudice, not by a clearly argued ideology.'' A conservative storm cloud of right-wing rumblings and intellectual lightning.