The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century
The author discusses thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements—people such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes, and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, this book deals with the incarnation of diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals. Ultimately, the author claims that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life. He comes to the conclusion that no party, movement, or leader holds the right to dictate to the followers to renounce their critical faculties and to embrace a pseudo-miraculous, a mystically self-centered, delusional vision of mandatory happiness.
Goebbels, was the absence of radicalization of the home front), concluded unambiguously: “They were holding to the illusion that the regime was reformable, but that Hitler was unwilling to reform it. What they did not fully grasp was that the shapeless ‘system’ of governance that had emerged was both the inexorable product of Hitler’s personalized rule and the guarantee of his power.”68 In conclusion, the key distinction between these two horrendous projects of the twentieth century lies in
were the prime beneficiaries of Stalin’s warning not to transform the party from a “social and class party into a race party,”90 they were neither its initiators nor its architects. No less caught up in the same perverse mechanism of self-humiliation than their Polish and Hungarian colleagues, the Romanian Stalinists—Gheorghiu-Dej, Chisinevschi, and Ceausescu as much as Ana Pauker and Vasile Luca—were willing perpetrators of Stalin’s designs. They were allowed by the Soviet dictator to gain
interviews conducted in the early 1980s with some former leaders of the Polish Communist Party. The most illuminating of these interviews is with the former Politburo member and Central Committee secretary Jakub Berman, who tried to defend the actions of his political generation. According to Berman, Polish Communists were right in championing Stalin’ policies in Poland because the Soviets guaranteed his country’s social and national liberation. The leaders of the Soviet-bloc Communist parties
the obsession with partiinost’ (partisanship), the unbounded acceptance of the party line (philosophy, sociology, and aesthetics had to be subordinated to party-defined “proletarian interests,” hence the dichotomy between “bourgeois” and “proletarian” social science). However, in the context of the Russian proletariat’s underdeveloped class consciousness, Lenin, on the occasion of the 1905 revolution, revealed, Bolshevism, Marxism, Russian Tradition | 105 according to Ana Krylova, “the ‘true
it would be fruitful to regard Communism as a “total social fact.” The totalitarian system can be seen not only as an emotional-intellectual superstructure but also as an institutional ensemble inspired by these passions. In other words, it is not the original Marxism constituted in the Western revolutionary tradition that explains the Soviet tragedy but rather the mutation introduced by Lenin. Bolshevism, Marxism, Russian Tradition | 119 There is, undoubtedly, an authoritarian temptation at