August 25, 2005


Reality Denial: a review of The Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History by Robert Conquest (Angelo M. Codevilla, June 2005, The American Spectator)

The second part of the book consists of case studies -- rather, of observations on cases -- of contemporary intellectuals' willful resistance to reality. Since Conquest spent most of his life as an exemplary student of the Soviet Union, the examples are drawn primarily from that fertile field.

The flood of documents from the Soviet Union's collapse by no means caused academics to repudiate their adherence to Communist falsifications. Conquest had shown in his earlier writings that, even when much less information was available, historians who worked honestly had enough to see things as they were. The failure of academics now to bring their judgments into line with today's plenitude of information simply disqualifies them. There never was any evidence, writes Conquest, that Lenin's Bolsheviks ever represented anybody but themselves. Absolutely all the evidence concerning the October Revolution of 1917 shows that, outside the Party, which he controlled, Lenin got outvoted in every venue at every level. If ever there was a case of a gang hijacking a government, the October Revolution was it. Why then is the view to the contrary of British historian Eric Hobsbawm and of so many others still canonical? Why -- long after real economic figures became available and proved that Stalin's massive diversion of social resources to industrialization did not raise the pace of his country's development but rather retarded it -- are the works of E.H. Carr still treated with respect? Because those who so treat it, like Carr, have a fondness for the idea of a planned society and disdain for those who oppose it. Exposure to harsh Soviet realities did not dent their own intellectual identities.

Heck, you don't have to look any further than our comments section to find folks who think the Bolsheviks were popular heroes of the Russian masses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2005 4:38 PM

Baited him good, OJ, but he's not biting.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 26, 2005 10:36 AM

Orrin misrepresents my position. I don't mind. I'm a big boy and can speak for myself.

I'd like to understand a mind that thinks that a minority like the Bolsheviks taking control over a majority of politically inert rustics is any different from what Orrin has been beating the drum for in Iraq over the last many months.

However underrepresented in Russia, the Bolsheviks could not possibly have been more so than democrats in Islam.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 27, 2005 12:26 AM

Of course you don't understand, that's my point. The Bolsheviks could never have held and won the democratic elections that the Shi'a and Kurds have in Iraq, nor govern and write a constitution openly. Bolshevism was popular only in the minds of you and yours. The same sort who think stalin was different than Hitler, the Soviets could have won the war without Allied aid and the Japanese surrendered because of the Soviets.

Posted by: oj at August 27, 2005 12:31 AM

I don't mean any harshness by this, but I think it's really remarkable how Mr. Eager consistently represents the conventional wisdom of 50-70 years ago. I'd love to know why that is.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 27, 2005 1:24 AM

By the way, the book reviewed above is excellent and like everything written by Robert Conquest you should go read it immediately.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 27, 2005 1:27 AM


DIDN'T the Soviets win the war with only moderate Allied aid ?

In one of the longer WW II discussions, didn't somebody say that the major aid provided was thousands of trucks, but that the Soviets could have eventually prevailed without them ?

Even before the aid arrived, the German advance had been halted.

Further, Orrin, are you refining your WW II American isolationist stance to say that, although American troops should not have fought in WW II, we SHOULD still have supplied the Soviets with materiel ?

If the aim was to exhaust both Communism and Fascism, wouldn't we have been better off letting them grind each other down ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 27, 2005 1:30 AM


Lend-Lease as a Function of the Soviet War Economy By Jason Long

Soviet historians have typically denigrated the Allied efforts to supply the Soviet Union with war material as paltry in comparison with her own production and that it was not essential to the Soviet victory. In armored fighting vehicles this is somewhat true, in aircraft less true and in raw and semi-finished industrial materials this is a bold-faced lie. [...] Based on Soviet data on war production and Lend-Lease records it is now possible to show just how critical Lend-Lease was to the Soviet war effort. And, in short, the answer is that Lend-Lease allowed the Soviets to focus their own production almost solely on the production of weapons and ammunition.
Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 27, 2005 1:38 AM


No, I'm saying that we shouldn't have supplied the Soviets with anything because then WWII in Europe and both regimes would have ended in a futile war of attrition between themselves. The world's best interests were served by Nazism and Communism fighting each other or one trying to take over and control the other. Saving the Soviets caused the Cold War which was far more damaging than WWII.

Posted by: oj at August 27, 2005 8:57 AM

Matt: You had spoken too soon; he hit it like a bass nailing a Jitterbug at sundown.

I agreee that it hard to understand why some people continue to entertain outdated and discredited notions about Commmunism. The lame attempt to posit some sort of equivalency between Bolshevism and democracy seems like nothing more than puerile, fatuous oversimplification.

That kind of bizarre thinking to very similar to something I had observed on the part of some of my erstwhile collegues in public education. It was not unusual to hear those whom I knew to be rather sensible, conservative-minded teachers spouting hard-left, wacky slogans.

They were sort of red-diaper grandkids, with a reflexive, kind of nostalgic, attachment to partisan causes which was entirely out of keeping with their personal and professional personae.

For the most part they are useful idiots, but useful to our side, not to that of their Comsymp grandparents, for they afford us opportunities to, like the samurai, test the sharpness of our swords.

Michael and oj: I suggest that we had played the Ribbentrop allies against each other quite well. Yes, we did give the FORMER SOVIET UNION significant assistance, and yes, we timed the Endseig to weaken them both. Our operations on other fronts, our logistic assistance and our strategic bombing campaign all made the Russian victory possible.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 27, 2005 1:28 PM


The Russian victory was a strategic mistake.

Posted by: oj at August 27, 2005 3:44 PM

I'd like to understand a mind that thinks that a minority like the Bolsheviks taking control over a majority of politically inert rustics is any different from what Orrin has been beating the drum for in Iraq over the last many months.

I think it's safe to say there's a bit less contempt for the rustics this time 'round, if only because it's not possible to show any more than Harry does, and I'll take his attitude as representative of his movement's.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 27, 2005 6:10 PM