Personally I find Bernard-Henri Lévy rather insufferable--a fine journalist of the Atlantic Monthly mold who has convinced and been convinced that he's a philosopher, but in reading a recent review of Left in Dark Times, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I came across this odd sentence:
For Lévy "nothing good can come for the Left" without breaking with much of its history, especially softness on totalitarianism.I suppose it has more meaning within the context of the French leftist intelligentsia, which was for Stalin before it was against him, or sort of for Stalin before it was against him, or had a couple of notably pro-Soviet members who eclipsed in the reactionary imagination the very fraught and difficult relationship between European leftists and the Soviet Union. As a general diagnosis, however, it engages the old, callow smear: that the "left," whatever and wherever that might be, was soft on Communism, the most monstrous of all ideologies.
The truth is that the adherents to and proponents of all political ideologies are the heirs of and aspirants to totalitarianism--the left was soft on socialist tyrannies and the right on fascist ones. At the root of political ideologies is the desire to rule, and the desire to rule obliterates ideological distinctions ever more quickly as it begins to achieve its desired ends. The idea that one or other politics is most prone to tolerating authoritarian government is mere chauvinism. No corner of the political spectrum is inherently more limited in its aims than any other.