From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship by Paul Hollander - review by Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray

Brainboxes & Brownnoses

From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship

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Cambridge University Press 325pp £22.99 order from our bookshop
 

Is there any greater pleasure in life than watching clever people making fools of themselves? Perhaps the only thing to dampen the joy, as Paul Hollander reminds us, is that the enthusiasms of Western intellectuals are so often harmful. In his seminal Political Pilgrims (1981) Hollander explored the Western devotees of the revolutions in Russia, China and Cuba, who in the name of ‘progress’ exalted the worst societies on earth. In his new book he expands his reach to take in Italian and German fascism, as well as some later and more minor 20th-century dictatorships. 

Of course, much of this is well-travelled ground. There is little new to turn up on Mussolini and Hitler in particular, most of us being well enough aware of the enthusiasm that Ezra Pound, Martin Heidegger and the like had for them. But the closer the book gets

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