The disillusion with socialism and other forms of collectivism, which became the dominant spirit of the 1980s, was only one aspect of a much wider loss of faith in the state as an agency of benevolence. The state was, up to to the 1980s, the great gainer of the twentieth century; and the central failure.
–Paul Johnson in his book, Modern Times
Certainly, by the last decade of the [20th] century, some lessons had plainly been learned. But it was not yet clear whether the underlying evils which had made possible its catastrophic failures and tragedies—the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility, the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, not least the arrogant belief that men and women could solve all the mysteries of the universe by their own intellects—were in the process of being eradicated. On that would depend the chances of the twenty-first century becoming, by contrast, an age of hope for mankind.
Paul Johson in Modern Times (revised 1991 edition)
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
The outstanding event of modern times was the failure of religious belief to disappear. For many millions, especially in the advanced nations, religion ceased to play much or any part in their lives, and the ways in which the vacuum thus lost was filled, by fascism, Nazism and Communism, by attempts at humanist utopianism, by eugenics or health politics, by the ideologies of sexual liberation, race politics and environmental politics, form much of the substance of the history of our century. But for many more millions—for the overwhelmimg majority of the human race, in fact—religion continued to be a huge dimension in their lives.
—Paul Johnson, in his book Modern Times, about the history of the 20th Century
It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who had first announced that human beings could be transformed for the better by the political process, and that the agency of change, the creator of what he termed the “new man”, would be the state, and the self-appointed benefactors who controlled it for the good of all. In the twentieth century his theory was finally put to the test, on a colassal scale, and tested to destruction.
—Paul Johnson in Modern Times (1991 revised edition)
The White House
[U.S. President Warren G.] Harding
inherited an absentee presidency and one of the sharpest recessions in American history. By July 1921 it was all over and the economy was booming again. Harding had done nothing except cut government expenditure….