Our current Western Civilisation, arguably the most advanced but no where near the longest-lived, is full of such idiots. Socialists and feminists, for instance, like to claim their own place as philosophies but of course are simply boasting. They are today's useful idiots continuing the Communist disease like a bad fever. Global warming 'enthusiasts' too. Each and all rely upon the Lie,
It used to be that the bigger the lie the better. But these days many smaller lies are employed. And it takes a lot of work to eradicate the many smaller lies than the one Big One. It takes deep knowledge, intelligence, an articulate and courageous person to bring the torch and the torchlight to bear.
One such died the other day. On the 3rd of August 2015. Barely a mention apeeared on the news in this remote place where the Tavern sits. But the customers raised their glasses when Dominic Sandbrook dropped by to hail the passing of a Hero. A Knight.
R.I.P Robert Conquest
George Robert Acworth Conquest
CMG, OBE, FBA, FAAAS, FRSL, FBIS
(15 July 1917 – 3 August 2015)....was a British-American historian and poet, notable for his influential works on Soviet history including The Great Terror: Stalin's Purges of the 1930s (1968). He was a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Conquest was born on 15 July 1917 in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, to an American father (Robert Folger Wescott Conquest) and an English mother (Rosamund Alys Acworth Conquest). His father served in an American Ambulance Service unit with the French Army in World War I, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre, with Silver Star in 1916.
He was educated at Winchester College, the University of Grenoble, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was an exhibitioner in modern history and took his bachelor's and master's degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and his doctorate in Soviet history
In 1968, Conquest published what became his best-known work, The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties, the first comprehensive research of the Great Purge, which took place in the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1939. The book was based mainly on information which had been made public, either officially or by individuals, during the so-called "Khrushchev Thaw" in the period 1956–64. It also drew on accounts by Russian and Ukrainian émigrés and exiles dating back to the 1930s, and on an analysis of official Soviet documents such as the Soviet census.
Dominic stood to tell while I filled his cups.
Hero who defied Stalin's 'useful idiots'
(who still exist on the British Left) to expose true horrors of CommunismNot long after the collapse of Communism — an event he had long predicted — historian Robert Conquest was preparing a new edition of his masterpiece The Great Terror, which charted the horror of life under Soviet dictator Stalin.When his publishers asked him for a new title, Conquest’s friend, the novelist Kingsley Amis, had the perfect answer. ‘How about "I Told You So, You F****** Fools?" ’ he suggested.Those words would make a fine epitaph for a man whose intellectual honesty and moral courage placed him among the greatest writers of the last century. And while very few historians can genuinely claim to have changed the world, Robert Conquest, who has died at the age of 98, did.
In 1968, when Worcestershire-born Conquest first published his ground-breaking account of Stalin’s atrocities, the world was a very different place. Back then, the Soviet Union appeared in rude health and the old men in Moscow ruled an empire based on fear.
It is easy now to forget just how terrifying the Cold War seemed. Across the Western world, many doubted Communism could be defeated without unleashing nuclear Armageddon.What is more, many Western intellectuals — from Marxists such as Communist historian Eric Hobsbawm and his friend Ralph Miliband (father of Ed and David, a political theorist at the London School of Economics, a devout follower of Marx and an unswerving believer in revolutionary socialism) to woolly, well-meaning Lefties in universities across the country — were quick to defend the regime whenever it was criticised.Lenin and Stalin, these ‘useful idiots’ claimed, had been much misunderstood.It was Conquest, more than any other writer of his generation, who did most to expose this deceitful drivel.At a time when intellectual fashion was on the Left, he had the guts to lay out, in devastating detail, the truth about the blood-soaked Soviet experiment.On Stalin’s orders, secret police had ripped millions of men and women from their homes, locked them in dank cells without light, food or water, tore out their fingernails, beat them black and blue, and finally dispatched them with a bullet in the back of the head.At the peak of the Great Terror in the late Thirties, they were murdering 300,000 people a year — all for the crime of not being true Stalinist believers.In one mass grave in Butovo, Moscow, Stalin’s secret police buried the bodies of 20,000 murdered political prisoners in less than 12 months.Another in Bykivnia, Ukraine, holds the bodies of an estimated 200,000 people, victims not merely of Stalin’s paranoia, but of a crazed ideological cult that sacrificed men, women and children in the name of Marxism.‘Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or 20 years time?’ Stalin once remarked, gazing at a list of people to be shot. ‘No one.’
But he was wrong.
Robert Conquest did.
And he knew what he was talking about as he had once been a man of the Left.Born in Great Malvern to an American father and British mother in 1917, he had been a Communist at Oxford University in the Thirties, when many bright young men were seduced by Stalin’s false utopia.But unlike some contemporaries, such as the so-called Cambridge Spies, Conquest saw Communism for what it was. As a British intelligence officer in Bulgaria during World War II, he was horrified by the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which the local Soviet-backed Communists seized power.Working for the Foreign Office in the Fifties, Conquest poured out a stream of papers telling the truth about the horrors in Eastern Europe.
When an American liberal academic accused him of ‘black propaganda’, Conquest simply asked him to identify a single distortion. There were none.It was Conquest’s close attention to detail that made his expose of Communism so devastating. The Great Terror was based on hundreds of accounts by Soviet dissidents and work camp inmates. He showed that life under Stalin’s regime had been even worse than outsiders suspected.After assuming supreme power in the late Twenties, the pockmarked Georgian dictator unleashed a reign of terror that almost defied belief.
From the state-sponsored famine in Ukraine in the early Thirties to the execution of huge numbers of ordinary people later, Conquest showed Stalin’s regime was built on the deaths of at least 20 million.But even that does not include the tortured men, the raped women, the brutalised children, the broken minds, the hopes and happiness sacrificed to the demented cult of Marxist-Leninism.In Ukraine, the enforced collectivisation of farms left millions starving. While Stalin’s torturers ate lavish meals, desperate peasants lived on grass, frogs, dogs and cats. Some parents, on the brink of death, threw their children onto passing trains in the hope that strangers might adopt and feed them. Others, almost incredibly, were driven to kill and eat their own children to survive.Even decades later, the Soviet state sent dissidents to toil in Siberian work camps in sub-zero temperatures. Writers and artists who questioned the Communist system were proclaimed mad and thrown into lunatic asylums.In the camps, thousands froze to death overnight. Women were regularly gang-raped; one inmate recalled that at her camp in the Kolyma region, the guards would line up, 12 to each woman.‘When it was over, the dead women were dragged away by their feet; the survivors were doused with water from buckets and revived,’ she wrote. ‘ Then the lines formed again.’Reading all this, Left-wing critics, not surprisingly, were outraged. Many simply refused to believe it.
But Conquest stuck to his guns, and among the wider public, his book was a sensation.Even today, The Great Terror is a chilling read and an unforgettable record of the bloody consequences of ideological utopianism. It is hard to read about the starving children in Ukraine or about the ordinary men and women frozen and tortured in the Siberian camps without a shudder of horror.Some of Conquest’s critics on the Left insisted Stalin had been an aberration, and that his predecessor, Lenin, had really been much cuddlier. But Conquest showed this was nonsense.
|Our 'modern' Universities still prefer this charlatan historian, Hobsbawm.|
Lenin, he argued, was the real father of the Stalinist genocide. It was he who had called for the extermination of the middle classes, who had first unleashed the Red Terror and who had first turned vast swathes of Europe and Asia into blood-soaked killing grounds.Conquest composed a limerick that encapsulated his point: ‘There was a great Marxist called Lenin/ Who did two or three million men in./ That’s a lot to have done in,/ But where he did one in,/ That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.’The Right treated Conquest as a hero, and Margaret Thatcher rewarded him with champagne for helping with her speeches.To many British Leftists in the Sixties and Seventies, though, his name was mud.But as his friend Kingsley Amis had so pithily observed, he was right and they were wrong.In 1990, with the Communist regime collapsing in chaos, Conquest was asked to Moscow for a conference and Russian academics lined up to shake his hand.The KGB even invited him to inspect their chilling headquarters, the Lubyanka, while the newly opened Soviet archives showed that far from exaggerating the Communist death toll, he had, if anything, underestimated it.‘It was extraordinarily nice to have lived to see it all, to have been vindicated completely,’ Conquest said wryly.Many of his critics, however, never really abandoned their discredited views.
Indeed, the tradition of blaming the West for the world’s ills, and bending over backwards to appease dictators, extremists and terrorists, has never gone away.More than any other writer of his generation, Robert Conquest drew the line between freedom and repression, good and evil. And although the man himself has been taken from us, his qualities of intellectual honesty and moral candour are more precious today than ever.
A Knight, a Hero, a fitting man in the bars and rooms of the Tavern.
But why should you believe me? Because... as Belloc said.....
We drink to Robert Conquest and his well-deserved Rest in Perpetual Light.