25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Confronting the dragons of nihilism,
This review is from: The Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History (Hardcover)
This opus magnum is an awesome defence of all that is good in Western Civilization, and an identification of the toxic utopian ideas that infest our culture. Conquest analyses the erroneous myths of past and present that have caused so much suffering and destruction. He identifies a certain vague and abstract idea of righteousness with its own peculiar speech, that leads to a mindset of dislocation from reality.
In this vein, he looks at the way terms like Democracy, Progress and Liberty are abused to distort reality. For example, democracy is meaningless without the rule of law and the acceptance of the rules of the political game.
In the chapter After Utopia, Conquest points out that the New Utopianism is primarily a rejection of reason and an embrace of nihilism. He brilliantly contrasts the French Enlightenment that led to the negative utopianism of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, with the British Enlightenment of Adam Smith, David Hume, James Madison and Edmund Burke, one that bore good fruits.
Western academia is still dominated by negative utopianism and most of its intellectual elites are impervious to fact or argument. In the chapter Slouching Towards Byzantium the author dissects the idea of the European Superstate with a swift, sharp sword, demonstrating its non-representative nature as a bureaucratic monstrosity ruled by elites.
Chapter 10 explores the massive deception practiced by the Soviet Union and how that propaganda was swallowed by a gullible Western media and even enthusiastically embraced by the liberal elites. Quite appropriately, Conquest alerts us to the fact that there are deeper problems than terrorism or war. From the West came the blessings of individual liberty, economic prosperity and democracy under law, but also monstrous totalitarian ideologies.
The frightening fact is that the notions of this seductive nihilism are alive and well amongst the leftist intelligentsia. The author performs a remarkable job in defining the historical falsity and the risible bankruptcy of the arguments of moral equivalence and relativism.
Dragons Of Expectation is a work of great profundity and originality. Other books that complement this illuminating work include Our Culture, What's Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple, The West And The Rest by Roger Scruton, Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal, The Death Of Right And Wrong by Tammy Bruce and The Force Of Reason by Oriana Fallaci.