… is from page 182 of Kristian Niemietz’s superb 2019 book, Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies:
[T]he this-time-is-different claim is not remotely new. The idea that previous models of socialism were bad, but that the model which is currently in vogue represents a complete break from that, has a long history. Ever since Soviet socialism fell out of fashion, Western socialists have always explicitly defined the socialist model du jour in opposition to previous models. This time is always different – until it turns out that it was not so different after all.
DBx: Niemietz follows in the tradition of the late Paul Hollander in documenting the praise, then the excuses, and then, finally, the denials that leftist intellectuals emit about various socialist ‘experiments’ over the past century. (Niemietz acknowledges Hollander’s work and its importance, and cites him frequently.)
Likely in the future I’ll write a longer post on this matter, but one reality that struck me as I read, years ago, Hollander’s book and, more recently, Niemietz’s volume is just how creative and elastic is the human mind at rationalizing almost any belief. (Of course, neither David Hume nor Jonathan Haidt would be surprised.) It’s genuinely depressing to encounter throughout the works of Hollander and Niemietz quotation after quotation after quotation from various intellectuals about socialism – quotations predicting the earthly wonders socialism will bring but never does, quotations excusing the economic misery and authoritarianism that socialists promised would not arise but always do, and quotations insisting that this brilliant new ‘system’ or that courageous new ‘leader’ is nothing at all like any of the failed systems or corrupt and power-mad leaders of the past.