Values File

And above all what amis is trying to do in koba the

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Unformatted text preview: ns. It encompasses his friendship with Robert Conquest (whom he has known since he was a child). Amis' tone doesn't match the earned belligerence you find in Conquest's revised post-glasnost version of "The Great Terror." His prose gives off a sense of appalled wonder. Underneath the steady accumulation of facts and horror stories, Amis is asking how anyone in his or her right mind can still consider Marxism as a means to a more just world; how people (like his pal Hitchens) can joke about their communist past without invoking the horror that someone who joked about his fascist past would; how the apologists for Stalin, despite having plenty of evidence as to the truth of Soviet Russia before glasnost, can be thought of any differently from Holocaust deniers. Part of the answer, of course, is that the public face of anti-communism has been that of buffoons like Joseph McCarthy or the John Birch Society. For many of us on the left, anti-communism has so often led to the excesses of the right that it became an ideological taint to avoid. Who, for instance, would want to believe in Alger Hiss' guilt when that meant finding oneself on the same side as Richard Nixon? But neither McCarthyism nor the execution of the Rosenbergs (who were, of course, guilty) is an adequate excuse for denying the facts of Stalin's terror, or Mao's Great Leap Forward, or -- on a lesser scale -- Castro's persecution of homosexuals, among other groups. (The catastrophic failure of Castro's revolution has increasingly become the subject of Cuban crime fiction, including Jos Latour's "Outcast" and Daniel Chavarra's wonderful "Adios Muchachos.") Anti-communism has, in some essential way, never been accepted as the moral equivalent of anti-fascism. When Paul Mazursky's film "Moscow on the Hudson" came out in 1984, a friend of mine, a Canadian who has lived in the United States for years, praised it in print only to have friends back in Canada ask him, "What's happened to you there?" -- "there"...
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