Malcolm Muggeridge, in his review of Robert Conquest’s volume The Great Terror that appeared in the February Esquire, has highlighted an issue that deserves more attention than it has received. The question he raises is one that has given concern to many of us, namely, that of the difference in attitude of the leftist-oriented intelligentsia toward the atrocities of the Nazis and those of the Lenin-Stalin era.

In his book Conquest brings together data that seem coercive in support of the view that the terrorism in the U. S. S. R. is “at least as well-attested and documented as Hitler’s directed against the Jews.” And, suggests Muggeridge, “the apparatus of terror which Stalin used was inherited from Lenin. He didn’t invent or institute it.”

In light of this, the reviewer suggests: “Yet whereas Hitler’s terrorism met with the more or less unanimous disapproval of the intelligentsia of the West, Stalin’s was almost as unanimously approved or justified by them.” Muggeridge finds it hard to understand why distinguished intellectuals of both America and Europe “fell over themselves explaining away his [Stalin’s] crimes and barbarities.” He concludes that within the processes of leftist-oriented liberals there was operating a kind of death wish.

He notes, further, that while this segment of our society no longer seeks, at least on any wide scale, to paint “Stalin and his Soviet Union” as good simply because it was pitted against our part of the world (which by definition was regarded as evil), the general tendency is still operative among us. Thus, many in today’s New Left “continue to insist that whoever is against us, whether Castro or Ho Chi Minh or anyone else, must for that very reason be estimable, and all his works praiseworthy.” ...

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