The deconstruction, if you will, of the Berlin Wall twenty-five years ago this week perversely led to the erection of a similarly oppressive barrier, now to critical thinking rather than to the free movement of persons and goods, which has long been begging for deconstruction in turn: the trope, I mean—and it is no more than a trope—that the end of the Berlin Wall, a creature barely more than a quarter-century old, caused or vaguely heralded the end of socialism, a tradition of political thought and action stretching back roughly two centuries with antecedents at least a millennium or two older than that. This Nation editorial from late 1989, especially its concluding paragraph, is a bracing reminder of who exactly benefits from the proliferation of the idea that history ended the year before the editor of Back Issues was born.

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