Communism

What Maisky Knew

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In the November 21 issue of The Weekly Standard, I have reviewed The Maisky Diaries, edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky. This fine volume covers the personal writings of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom during the critical period of 1932 to 1943. Here’s a bit of my judgment of the man:

In the 1930s, British foreign policy was still a matter of balancing the continental powers, particularly France and Germany; and if we avoid the arrogance that hindsight can bring, we should also remember that Neville Chamberlain genuinely thought he was securing a course for peace in Europe. Britain knew how weak its armed forces were—its army, especially—and this knowledge, as Lloyd George told Maisky, was doubtless a factor in Chamberlain’s “deal” with Hitler at Munich.

Maisky, however, had nothing but contempt for such calculations, coming across at certain times here as a kind of thirties neoconservative. Indeed, it’s hard at times to discern that Maisky was a Communist at all, or that he represented a brutal, totalitarian government. His comportment in these pages is measured; his language free of cant. Even his looks—the well-fed, portly body, the kindly eyes, the authentic smile—will strike the reader as very different from the dour, self-defensive faces of that era’s most prominent Soviets.

Read the whole thing here.

In Memory of Arnaud de Borchgrave

In my first piece for The American Interest, I write about the amazing career of the late Arnaud de Borchgrave, whom I had the privilege of meeting about a year before his death. Arnaud was one of the last practitioners of a dead age of journalism we desperately need back:

When he talked, he peered at you, his head cocked down slightly so that his eyes, set behind wire-rimmed spectacles, seemed fixed behind rather than on you. It was not a creepy or uncomfortable stare; it was simply the confident gaze of a man born and cultivated in a very different era. I suspect Arnaud was always aware, and always proud, that he was becoming more of an anachronism as the years wore on.

Read the whole thing here.

Rest in peace, Arnaud. Thanks for returning my e-mail.

Some Thoughts On Open Borders, The Schengen Agreement, etc.

Something from me in Quadrant:

I actually remember my first experience of the radical Schengen arrangement. I crossed the Austrian-Hungarian border by train and ended up in Budapest’s Keleti station — a large, old-fashioned railway hub in a part of the city that can’t have changed much from the days of Communism. (Keleti station was, you might recall, recently one of the epicenters of the migrant crisis.) I stepped off the train amazed that I had actually crossed into a different country without anyone caring. No bureaucrat had any idea where I was. No one had asked me any questions. It felt good, but it also felt contrived and unnatural. I remember thinking to myself, “this can’t last.”

There is still much to be thankful for. The Anglosphere remains the freest set of nations in human history. Can that last?

 

When Will The Campus Left Have Its Minsky Moment?

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last comments on the untethered freakishness and authoritarianism of today’s radical student Left:

…the radicalism has migrated outward into the broader culture, too. It’s the kind of insanity we haven’t seen in America since the bad old days of the early 1970s.

The good news is that these sorts of perversions always burn themselves out-they’re too untethered to reality. Eventually people realize that the radicalism is really about just one thing: power.  And once people begin to challenge the dogmas, they collapse in a cascade. Because as they lose their power to exact a price for criticism, they attract more of it.

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