Thursday, August 06, 2015

Robert Conquest, RIP

Nice appreciation from Roger Kimball:

In memoriam: Robert Conquest, 1917-2015

His magisterial book about Stalin’s infamous tyranny, The Great Terror, was published in 1968 to snivels of opprobrium from the bien pensant left-wing establishment, who complained that he had wildly exaggerated the death toll of Stalin’s effort to bring about utopia. When the Soviet archives were finally opened after the fall of the Soviet Union, it turned out he had actually underestimated the butcher’s bill.
Remember The New York Times received a Pulitzer Prize for helping cover-up and explain away the brutality that Conquest wrote about.

In his Reflection on a Ravaaged Century, Conquest explained why the Communists held sway over so many "smart people" for so long:

The Austrailian poet James McAuley wrote pentetratingly of the pro-Communist phenomenon: 'During the thirties and forties Austrailian intellectual life became subjected to an alarming extent to the magnetic field of Communism. All sorts of people who would regard themselves as being non-Communist, and even opposed to Communism, in practice were dominated by the themes and modes of discussion proposed by the Communists, danced to the Communist tune, and had serious emotional resistances to being identified with any postition or institution which was denounced by the Communists as "reactionary".' He adds that 'one reason for all this was that schools of thought genuinely independent of and opposed to Communist suggestion were in this country not well organized and publicly present. They lacked prestige, that magical aura which captures the minds of the young in advance of argument and establishes compelling fashions
If you think about it, that also helps to explain why the Left and the MSM (sorry, is that redundant?) love Jon Stewart so much.

Also worth noting, as Klehr and Haynes document in In Denial, that hstorians have been waging decades-long battle againt the truth about Stalinism and other communists. That fight continues to this day.

No comments: