Death of a great anti-communist writer 6


From the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (read more here):

The Hoover Institution, today, mourns the loss of a great historian and friend, Robert Conquest.  It is with profound sadness that we reflect upon his life and intellectual contributions, which have left a lasting impression around the world. …

Conquest spent 28 years at the Hoover Institution where he was a Senior Research Fellow. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, he was a renowned historian of Soviet politics and foreign policy.  Conquest has been known for his landmark work The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. More than 35 years after its publication, the book remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Conquest was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, politics, and international affairs including Harvest of SorrowStalin and the Kirov MurderThe Great Terror: A ReassessmentStalin: Breaker of Nations and Reflections on a Ravaged Century and The Dragons of Expectation.  Conquest was literary editor of the London Spectator, brought out eight volumes of poetry and one of literary criticism, edited the seminal New Lines anthologies (1955–63), and published a verse translation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s epic Prussian Nights (1977). …

Educated at Winchester College and the University of Grenoble, he was an exhibitioner in modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA and MA in politics, philosophy, and economics and his DLitt in history.

Conquest served in the British infantry in World War II and thereafter in His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service; he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. In 1996 he was named a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

Jillian Becker writes: Robert Conquest did me the honor and kindness of writing the Introduction to a book I edited for publication after the untimely death of its author: The Soviet Union and Terrorism by Roberta Goren, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1984.
The following is from my Preface to the book:
In the late 1960s an era of terrorism began. Organized terrorist groups struck within the liberal democracies of Western Europe and North America, and in the less secure countries of South America and Africa. Groups of different nationalities acted with and for each other. One of them, the Palestine Liberation Organization, became the chief and central agency for dispensing terror and death, for supplying fighters, arms, money, training, orders and advice to customers of every shade of political and ideological coloration who were eager or willing to destroy, terrify and kill. And the power for which it acted as agent in its mission of global partisan warfare was the Soviet Union. … Those are the inescapable conclusions to which [this book] leads.
Robert Conquest states in his Introduction:
Support for terrorist organizations … now seems to be Moscow’s accepted tactic. But the author also makes it clear that from early Soviet times such support has been given in circumstances or areas where the advantages seem to outbalance the admitted negatives. It is is thus to be seen as a tactical weapon in the process of unlimited expansion as and when possible to which Leninism, and their political mind-set in general, commits Soviet leaders.
The same could be said now of Iranian leaders. Iran has succeededRussia as the foremost sponsor of terrorism. Would that we had a Reagan to bring about the downfall of that murderous and world-threatening regime!
Post Script (for which a hat-tip to our associate, Robert Kantor):
Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics:
  • Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  • Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
  • The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

John Derbyshire adds this:

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples.

Of the Third, he noted that a bureaucracy sometimes actually is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies — e.g. the postwar British secret service.


 … And – we would add – the United States of America since Barack Obama became president.


Posted under Miscellaneous by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

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