During the 1960s and 1970s, the consensus in Western academic and intellectual institutions was very much on the left. Writers like Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu shot to eminence by attacking the civilization they dismissed as “bourgeois.” The critical-theory writings of Jürgen Habermas achieved a dominant place in the curriculum in the social sciences, despite their stupefying tediousness. The rewriting of national history as a tale of “class struggle,” undertaken by Eric Hobsbawm in Britain and Howard Zinn in the United States, became a near-orthodoxy not only in university history departments but also in high schools. For us dissidents, it was a dispiriting time, and there was scarcely a morning when I did not wake up during those years, asking myself whether my teaching at the University of London was the right choice of career. Then came the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, and I allowed myself to hope.
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