in broad strokes. First, he insists thatnthere are no historical inevitabilities.nFor example, he argues that the collapsenof the British Empire was not preordained.nRather, it fell primarily becausenthere was no longer “the will to keepnthis elaborate structure functioning.”nSimilarly, in surveying the “watershednyear” of 1941—“From which mankindnhas descended into its present predicament”—Johnsonnemphasizes the decisivenrole played by individual choice. “Hitlernand Stalin played chess with humanity,”nhe writes. “Neither man represented irresistiblenor even potent historicalnforces…. We have here the very oppositenof historical determinism—the qxjtheosisnof the single autocrat.”nThe author stresses “the holistic principle,”nthrough which political eventsnand moral tendencies are seen as exhibitingnconsequences througjiout the world.nAs example, he argues that industrializingnJapan became infected by the moralnnihilism rising in the West and “so castnitself into the very pit of twentiethncentury horror.”nMore importantly, Johnson stressesnthe awfiil consequences of the breakdownnof the “highly developed sense ofnpersonal responsibility” and the “dutyntoward a settied and objectively truenmoral code” which lay at the heart ofn19th-century Europe. In their place rosenmoral relativism, a knife which wouldn”help cut society adrift from its traditionalnmoorings in the faith and moralsnof Judeo-Christian culture.” But again,nsuch a transformation had consequencesneven far beyond the once-Christian continent.n”The tragedy of interwar China,”nJohnson writes, “illustrates the principlenthat when legitimacy yields to force, andnmoral absolutes to relativism, a greatndarkness descends and angels becomenindistinguishable from devils.”nAls o hammered home as a dominantntheme of our century is the new worshipnof politics, a cult which rose in the advancednnations to fill the vacuum left bynthe collapse of the old religious impulse.n”Hitler, like Lenin, was the product of annage increasingly obsessed by politics,”nthe author su^ests. “He never seriouslynattempted to make his living by any othernmeans and he was only really at home,nlike Lenin, in a world where the pursuitnof power.. .was the chief object and satisfectionnof existence.” Drawing connectionsnacross the decades, Johnson ascribesnthe same characteristics to the Frencheducatednleaders of the Khmer Rougenwho, as “Sartre’s children,” ordered thenmass genocide of their own people: “LikenLenin, they were pure intellectuals. Theynepitomized the great destructive forcenof the twentieth century: the religiousnfanatic reincarnated as professionalnpolitician.”nSo, believing in the freedom of thenwill and in personal responsibility,nJohnson dearly distinguishes history’snswelling torrent of villains from its shrinkingnrank of heroes. The former group includesnej^ected figures such as Stalinnand Hitler (“fellow ideologues” buildingnUtopias “on a frindamental division ofnmankind into elites and helots” ^o werenopponents only through “the accidentnof race”); Mao Tse-tung (“an orientalnHider” who “loved politics as theatre”nand “hated ‘civilization'” as much as thenGerman fiihrer); India’s Jawaharlal Nehrun(“the leading e3qx)nent of the higjiernhumbug”); and Indonesia’s AchmadnSukarno (the prime example of “thenpolitical religiosity and the iimer heartlessnessnof the post-colonial leadership”).nnnBut Johnson’s list of the enemies of societynalso embraces less expected names,nmen who moved through the shadowsnof our century and v^iio “sought to createnclimates rather than shape specific policies.”nMen like Lytton Strachey, centernof Britain’s eflfete and sodomizing BloomsburynGroup, who spent the Great WarnwritiagEminentVictorians, a book ridiculingn”precisely those virtues and principlesnthe men in the trenches were tryingnto uphold” and v^iiich proved “farnmore destructive of the old British valuesnthan any legion of enemies.” Men likenEdwin Montagu, named Undersecretarynof State for India in 1919, who “sufferednfrom that corrosive vice of the civilizednduring the twentieth century…: guilt.”nAnd men like United Nations SecretarynGeneral Dag Hammerskjold, severe,nhumorless, probably sexless, “guilt personified,”nand “determined that the Westnshould expiate it.”nJohnson’s painfully smaller roster ofnthe culturally and politically courageousnincludes Joseph Conrad, cdled the “onlynsubstantial writer.. .whose vision [today]nremains clear and true ” It embracesnWarren G. Harding, labeled as the victimnof a vicious and sensationalized historiography,nas “the only President in Americannhistory who actually brought aboutnmassive cuts in government spending,”nand as an “agreeably liberal” chief executivenwho cleared the jails of WoodrownWilson’s political prisoners. It claimsnCalvin Coolidge, a man “wholly uncorruptednby power,” who most comprehensivelyncarried into our age the “foundingnprinciples of Americanism: hardnwork, frugality, freedom of conscience,nfreedom from government, respect fornserious culture.” It also embraces a handfidnof postwar figures: Harry Truman,nwhose “instincts were democratic andnstraightforward”; Dwight Eisenhower,n”the most successful of America’s twentieth-centurynpresidents”; and “a group ofnEuropean titans”—Conrad Adenauer,nAlcide de Gasperi, and Charles de Gaifllen—^who reached back to an older, betternvalue system “to revivify the corpse of an115nFebruary 1984n