Journeys In A Vanishing World

Theodore Dalrymple, The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World, Monday Books, 2012

Sean Jacobs, Menzies House, 10 May 2014

‘The most decisive thing that’s happened in my political lifetime,’ said John Howard in a 2009 interview, ‘is the collapse of Soviet imperialism. It dwarfs anything else.’ This is significant from Howard, whose political life covers nearly half a century.

His observation, however, is lost on a generation of younger Australians. Certainly, oppressive regimes exist today but are fewer in number, while command and control economics have been trounced by liberal market capitalism and globalisation. For anyone under forty the idea of growing up on a planet of rivalling superpowers with conflicting ideologies is no doubt strange.

Tearing around New Zealand on a recent trip I found time to wade through Theodore Dalrymple’s The Wilder Shores of Marx. Dalrymple first published this back in 1991 after visiting the heights and ruins of communism in Albania, North Korea, Romania, Vietnam and Cuba. With usual wit and insight, he elucidates both the absurdity and grimness of life under the banner of Marxist-Leninism.

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