The Dethronement of Reason

The other day, according to a New York Times editorial, Gorbachev and Yeltsin were trying to put together a "reform coalition that offers new hope for Soviet politics and policy." Such a coalition might counter "the threat of a hard-line dictatorship," the paper added. Arnold Beichman probably read it, too, and I can imagine how he reacted: "Offers new hope for Soviet politics? You mean there was hope in the past?! There's no such thing as Soviet politics!!!"

The nice thing about Arnold is that, at the age of 78, he has not lost the capacity for indignation. No doubt that's what keeps him so spry. Beichman is the author of Nine Lies About America and a regular columnist for the Washington Times. He grew up on New York's Lower East Side, went to Columbia University, and worked as city editor of the New York daily paper PM during World War II. He seems to have been one of the few people of his generation and background who was at no point a socialist sympathizer—not even during the Spanish Civil War.

Now he has written a book about the history of U.S.-Soviet treaty-making over the years—a most useful and readable compendium. As he shows, that history is one of absurdity from beginning to end. Beichman's thesis is that nothing fundamental has changed in the Soviet Union, and that nothing can change as long as it adheres to Marxist-Leninist...

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