Noble LiberalismnAlain Besancon: The Rise of the Gulag:nIntellectual Origins of Leninism; Continuum;nNew York.nby Lee CongdonniJy now it is commonplace that intellectualsnroutinely succumb to the totalitarianntemptation, chiefly from the left.nOver and over again they have served asnapologists for tyrannies that advertisentheir commitment to Marxism-Leninism,nprating about the villainous characternof Western “bourgeois” democracy.nSince the end of World War II, the Parisiannintelligentsia has played a particularlynprominent role in this unedifyingndrama, not least because of the presencenof Jean Paul Sartre, the most celebratednFrench intellectual since Voltaire, whongraduated from philosophic nihilism tonidiosyncratic Marxism. Although he alwaysnmaintained a certain distance fromnthe French Communist Party, Sartre didnmuch to create an atmosphere in whichnhatred of the West and sympathy for thenSoviet Union, China and Third Worldn”Marxist” regimes constituted qualifyingncredentials for admission to the communitynof advanced thinkers. Aspiringnundergraduates and Left Bank habituesnpondered his Critique of Dialectical Reasonnand awaited eagerly each ntw pronunciamientonin Les Temps Modemes.nAnd for those who preferred more philosophicnrigor, there was always MauricenMerleau-Ponty, a man of undeniable giftnwho in 1947 published a defense ofnStalin’s purges that he entitled Humanismnand Terror, without intending anynirony.nThere were, of course, some who refusednto be swept along by the Marxistncurrent; one thinks of men as different asnJacques Maritain, Jacques Ellul andnAlbert Camus. But when the intellectualnProfessor Congdon is a fellow at The Institutenfor Advanced Study in Princeton,nNew Jersey.nhistory of postwar France is finally written,none man will stand out from the restnfor his tireless and brilliant defense of thenliberal West—I mean Raymond Aron.nAn assimilated Jew who was Sartre’snclassmate at the prestigious Ecole NormalenSuperieure, Aron has done more thannany other French thinker, perhaps thannany European thinker, of his time to preventnthe flame of liberty from being extinguished.nHe represents the very bestnof the great liberal tradition, by which Indo not mean that brand of foolishnessnproffered by Senator Kennedy and theneditors of the New York Times. It is notnequality and irresponsibility that Aronncherishes, but liberty and civility. Whilenmost French intellectuals were readingnMarx, he wisely kept company with hisn”master and friend,” Alexis de Tocqueville.nAs a result, his books are landmarksnin the moral history of our time. In ThenOpium of the Intellectuals he turnednMarx’s clever taunt (“religion is thenopiate of the people”) against the Marxists;nin History and the Dialectic of Violencenhe subjected Sartre’s Marxist magnumnopus to a searching critique; innMarxism and the Existentialists henengaged Sartre and Merleau-Ponty innnnreasoned argument, to their considerablendisadvantage.nFor years Aron fought a lonely battle;nbut in the early 1970’s, the tide began tonturn. The work of Solzhenitsyn, Sakharovnand Roy Medvedev, together withnthe testimony of Russian emigre dissidentsnso stunned the French left that annumber of young men who had participatednin the May Days of 1968 metamorphosedninto “new philosophers,” turningntheir polemical skills against Marxismnand all its works. Although these firebrands—notablynAndre Glucksmannnand Bernard-Henri Levy—have attractedna great deal of attention in the UnitednStates, the Aronian liberals who havengathered around the journals Contrepointnand Commentaire are less wellnknown. This is a pity because these mennare patiendy laying the foundation for anreturn to liberal values. In the words ofnCommentaire’s motto: “There is nonhappiness without liberty, nor libertynwithout fortitude.”nAlain Besangon is among the youngernmembers of the Contrepoint-Commentairencircle. Director of the Ecole desnHautes Etudes in Paris, he is a distinguishednstudent of Russian history with anserious interest in psychoanalysis. Unlikenmany French historians, he is not attractednto the Annales school of social andneconomic history. Rather, he championsna philosophical history in the tradition ofnThucydides and Polybius. AmongnFrench historians, he admires Guizot,nTocqueville and Lavisse; his mentors innRussian history include Leroy-Beaulieu,nUniversity of California Professor MartinnMalia and Boris Souvarine. The latter,nauthor of an early (1935) and critical biographynof Stalin, has only recently beennvindicated by the researches of Solzhenitsyn,nMedvedev, Robert Conquest andnothers and enjoys, at last, the respect henhas long deserved.nIn this thoughtful volume, Besanconnset out to answer a question of political asn^•^^^31nJttly/Attgustl98Sn