Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda may know more about novels than anyone else who lives or works inside the Beltway, but that doesn't mean his take on Communism isn't straight out of pulp fiction (granted, some of it high-level pulp fiction like Zola's Germinal). In a Monday online chat, a reader asked about the Communist beliefs of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago. Specifically, the reader wondered "how...someone so attuned to the absurdity, corruption, and abuse of power by the State [could] be an advocate of the most statist form of government available."
The Communist ideal is a noble one, it just doesn't seem to work in our fallen world. How can anyone believe it right for people to inherit vast wealth and privilege simply because they were lucky enough to be born into a family named Rockefeller or Kennedy? Why should a man cough his lungs out in a coal mine to barely support his children, while drones around him live like kings? It is easy to be in sympathy with communist ideals. But as Kant and Isaiah Berlin used to say: Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.