In Modern Times, Paul Johnson described Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov:
Lenin was the first of a new species: the professional organizer of totalitarian politics. It never seems to have occurred to him, from early adolescence onwards, that any other kind of human activity was worth doing. Like an anchorite, he turned his back on the ordinary world. He rejected with scorn his mother’s suggestion that he should go into farming. For a few weeks he functioned as a lawyer and hated it. After that he never had any other kind of job or occupation, for his journalism was purely a function of his political life. And his politics were hieratic, not demotic. Lenin surrounded himself with official publications, and works of history and economics. He made no effort to inform himself directly of the views and conditions of the masses. The notion of canvassing an electorate on their doorsteps was anathema to him: ‘unscientific’. He never visited a factory or set foot on a farm. He had no interest in the way in which wealth was created. He was never to be seen in the working-class quarters of any town in which he resided. His entire life was spent among the members of his own sub-class, the bourgeois intelligentsia, which he saw as a uniquely privileged priesthood, endowed with a special gnosis and chosen by History for a decisive role. Socialism, he wrote quoting Karl Kautsky, was the product of ‘profound scientific knowledge …. The vehicle of [this] science is not the proletariat but the bourgeois intelligentsia: contemporary socialism was born in the heads of individual members of this class.’
— Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, first published in 1984, updated (and title amended) in 1991.
Flash-forward nearly a century, to what Paul Rahe, at Ricochet, calls “The Great Unmasking:”
Thanks to the Progressives, we now live in the worst of times, and we also live in the best of times. Our greatest misfortune is our greatest good fortune. Thanks to our benefactor Barack Obama, we live at the moment – one hundred years after the initial victory of Progressivism – when the tyrannical character of the administrative state is becoming evident to one and all, when with the help of what my friend Michael Barone calls “gangster government,” we are being made aware that, due to our abandonment of federalism and the separation of powers, we now live under a government that is irresponsible in every sense of the word. Put bluntly, President Obama is giving us the political education that we were denied in the schools and universities that the Progressives have crafted for our indoctrination. Unpleasant as it is to be confronted with gangster government, it is enlightening – and now, for the first time in my lifetime, we are in a position to think clearly about our options. No one is kidding anyone any more, and no one is pretending. We are witnessing the Great Unmasking. As William Blake once said, it is the road of excess that leads to the palace of wisdom. For us, alas, there is no other way.
What’s next? “See, in a movie, they’d just do this in a six minute montage, but life, unfortunately, doesn’t let you gloss over the hard work of a comeback via a montage.”