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What do Margaret Thatcher, Ayatollah Khomeini, Deng Xiaoping, and Pope John Paul II have in common? At first thought, you wouldn’t think much. But according to Christian Caryl, they were all radicals who began to change the world in 1979. In Strange Rebels:1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century (Basic Books, 2013), Caryl argues that these very different people from these very different places were brought together by one thing: a belief that the future would not be secular and socialist (as most of the old-line socialist and liberal establishment thought), but rather religious and capitalist. The Marxist project in all its forms, they said, had failed. People did not abandon their faiths, nor did they accept socialist economies. They wanted to worship and they wanted to be free. Thatcher, Khomeini, Xiaoping, and John Paul’s reactionary revolution, as it turned out, was successful. We live in the world they helped create.
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