Fuzzy Focus & Clear Vision

Every now and again a book appears which, despite its pervasive deficiencies, is destined to become a minor classic simply because it epitomizes the delusions of an epoch. Such, for example, were the bogus Sir John Mandeville's Travels, a compendium of medieval credulity about men who walked on their heads or had eyes in their stomachs. Such, also, were the works of Beatrice and Sidney Webb, who proved to their own satisfaction––and to that of a generation of drooling fellow travelers––that Churchill and Roosevelt were dictators while Stalin was not, and that the U.S.S.R was "the most inclusive and equalized democracy in the world." Soviet Power continues this lunatic tradition by doing for the decade of detente what the Webbs did for the age of Djugashvili; never did the birds of Aristophanes build a cloud-cuckoo-city half so wondrous as the U.S.S.R. as described by Guardian correspondent Jonathan Steele. For example, we find the Soviet leaders, undisputed masters of one-sixth of the earth's surface, whose guns, tanks, planes, and ships reflect the greatest military build-up in human history, presented by Steele as a group of humble political scholars whose "primary priority" is nothing more sinister than to gain Western "respect." Steele senses that the goal he attributes to the Bolsheviks may seem to Westerners to I be "an odd desire," but that's...

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