Why I enjoy reading Paul Johnson.

Of all the contemporary historians, Paul Johnson is without a doubt the one I most enjoy, especially his quirky sense of humor and turn of phrase. Case in point:

The Marxists never grasped the significance of anti-Semitism either. Here again their minds had been numbed by Marx’s narcotic system. Marks had accepted much of the mythology of anti-Semitism in that he dismissed Judaism as a reflection of the money-lending era of capitalism. When the revolution came it was doomed to disappear: there would be no such person as a “Jew.” As a result of this absurd line of reasoning, the Jewish Marxists felt obliged to reject national self-determination for Jews while advocating it for everybody else. . . . Seeing the Jews as a non-problem, the Marxists dismissed anti-Semitism as a non-problem too. They thus entered the greatest ideological crisis of European history by throwing their brains out the window. It was a case of intellectual disarmament on a unilateral basis.

From Modern Times: The World from the 20’s to the 90’s [Revised Edition, 1991].


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