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Unformatted text preview: being Reagan's America. His acceptance of even Mazursky's gentle portrait of a USSR with all sorts of shortages and the KGB menacing citizens who didn't toe the party line was seen as succumbing to grotesque capitalist propaganda. Amis comes close to explaining the enduring allure of communism in the letter to his late father that ends the book. Quoting his father's essay "Why Lucky Jim Turned Right," he finds this sentence about the elder Amis' goodbye to the faith. "The ideal of the brotherhood of man, the building of the Just City, is one that cannot be discarded without lifelong feelings of disappointment and loss." As Amis the younger points out, that sentence embodies the naivet that leads many to communism in the first place. "Just what is this Just City?" he asks. "What would it look like? What would its citizens be saying to each other and doing all day? What would laughter be like, in the Just City? (And what would you find to write about in it?)" Amis is saying that the desire for an "ideal" society is, of course, a desire for the totalitarian state. And that desire is the first step toward a willingness to put ends before means. Terror cannot be separated from Marxist philosophy: it is apologism Charles Taylor, contributing writer, Salon.com, July 16, 2002, http://www.salon.com/books/review/2002/07/16/amis/index.html, downloaded July 16, 2002 It would be false optimism to detect any hope in that sort of laughter. But perhaps this bleak mirth does indicate that, even in Stalin's Russia, there was the possibility of some sort of truth-telling, however covert. And above all, what Amis is trying to do in "Koba the Dread" is to clear the mental decks, to synthesize what various sources have to tell us about the reality of a major episode of 20th century history and to disdain any attempt to apologize for it or explain it away. That he does not consider himself especially political may be why his tone is so even (though firm), why he's without either the...
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- Fall '13