THE UNPERFECT SOCIETY: Beyond the New Class by Milovan Djilas


Email this review


Advancing beyond his controversial attack on Party bureaucracy (The New Class, 1957) the celebrated and much-martyred Yugoslav author here reflects on human nature, on the fate of ideology, and on the future of Marxism and of the Communist regimes. Breaking with the faith to which he gave much of his life, Djilas demonstrates by careful analysis the inadequacy of Marxism as a guide to man's history and behavior. His critique, however, is only part of a broader rejection of all ideologies which arrogantly claim to predict and codify human nature; which seek to impose on man through coercion the impossible goal of a perfect society; and which ultimately give way before human unwillingness forever to tolerate dogmas which are ""no longer capable of justifying their existence as a satisfaction of human needs."" Thus the contemporary collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, and the worldwide movement toward the ""twilight of ideologies,"" both of which Djilas welcomes. The author will be criticized -- justifiably -- for failing to apply the critique of ideology to other creeds besides Marxism. His aphorisms on man are not a strong basis for a support of political theory. But his prophecy does fit East European conditions, and the book as a whole is redeemed by its validity as a personal testament. In style and content, it mirrors a rational, compassionate mind. His rejection of Marxism may again endanger his freedom, but the writer who states that ""man finds no peace in the cessation of ordeal"" is perhaps better prepared for prison rigors than most. A moving humanist manifesto.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1969
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World