From “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World” in Philosophy: Who Needs It:
It was World War II that destroyed collectivism as a political ideal. Oh, yes, people still mouth its slogans, by routine, by social conformity and by default–but it is not a moral crusade any longer. It is an ugly, horrifying reality–and part of the modern intellectuals’ guilt is the knowledge that they have created it. . . .
Today, their perfunctory advocacy of collectivism is as feeble, futile and evasive as the alleged conservatives’ defense of capitalism. The fire and the moral fervor have gone out of it. And when you hear the liberals mumble that Russia is not really socialistic, or that it was all Stalin’s fault, or that socialism never had a real chance in England, or that what they advocate is something that’s different somehow–you know that you are hearing voices of men who haven’t a leg to stand on, men who are reduced to some vague hope that “somehow, my gang would have done it better.”
The secret dread of modern intellectuals, liberals and conservatives alike, the unadmitted terror at the root of their anxiety, which all of their current irrationalities are intended to stave off and to disguise, is the unstated knowledge that Soviet Russia is the full, actual, literal, consistent embodiment of the morality of altruism, that Stalin did not corrupt a noble ideal, that this is the only way altruism has to be or can ever be practiced. If service and self-sacrifice are a moral ideal, and if the “selfishness” of human nature prevents men from leaping into sacrificial furnaces, there is no reason–no reason that a mystic moralist could name–why a dictator should not push them in at the point of bayonets–for their own good, or the good of humanity, or the good of posterity, or the good of the latest bureaucrat’s latest five-year plan. There is no reason that they can name to oppose any atrocity.
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