Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Barton Swaim has written a book review of a series of essays by philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, who died in 2009. Kolakowski was a Polish intellectual who observed both the Nazi and Communist tyrannies first hand. It explains one of the great questions of the 20th Century
To those younger than 35, communism must seem like some ridiculous hoax. How could so many Western intellectuals have defended an ideology—and defended it into the late 1980s—that had never produced anything but economic devastation, cultural perversion and mass murder? And yet they did. In "Genocide and Ideology," from 1977, Kolakowski asked why Soviet communism attracted so many artists and intellectuals and Nazism so few. He pointed out that Nazism at least stated its aims straightforwardly: Nazis promoted Teutonic racial superiority and the conquest of Europe. Communism, on the other hand, "never preached conquest, only liberation from oppression; it never extolled the state as a value in itself, only stressed the necessity of reinforcing the state as an indispensable lever to destroy the enemies of freedom." All it took to gain the loyalty of influential writers and thinkers, in other words, was some heavy-handed rhetorical legerdemain.
We see a repeat of that in the United States where Obamaism ever preaches “fairness” instead of confiscation, “compromise” instead of submission and the Federal Government as the only thing that protects the people from the greed of private individuals.