Mindslaughter

“The true criticism of Neville Chamberlain is that he could not really imagine a man like Hitler or a party like the Nazis. “He’s  a good fellow and ’twill all be well,” whatever may be said of it as theology, it is a parochial and limited attitude when it comes to foreign politics. It is not only on the left—and, of course many on the left are exempt—that one finds this inability to grasp the totalist mentality imaginatively. The notion that people who raise the alarm about Hitler in the 1930s were being immoderate and unreasonable was found in the Times and at All Souls, in all the blinkered and complacent crannies of the Establishment. The concept of a quite different set of motivations, based on a different political psychology, was absent.”   

From the fascinating book Reflections on a Ravaged Century by Robert Conquest.  pg 12, Mind slaughter section.

Then again, George Bush had his Chamberlain moment when he met Putin and declared that “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”

So sad that Bush did not read the intelligence reports on his desk.

“Robert Conquest is the acclaimed author of many works of history, biography, criticism, translation, fiction, and poetry. He was educated at Winchester and at Magdalen College, Oxford, and has held various academic posts at the London School of Economics, Columbia University, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, among others.  Currently, he is Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.” * From the book jacket.

*He died in 2015.

There are other books and articles by and about Conquest that I am anxious to read. He is known as a scholar on Russia epecially Stalin. It would be interesting to hear his views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Other books include The Harvest of Sorrow and The Great Terror.

9 thoughts on “Mindslaughter

  1. My guess is that he would see Putin for exactly who he is, and not through the rose colored glasses that Bush wore!

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  2. Great post. Thank you for its insights on our present world. This kind of mindset has always come to light in humanity even from the ancient past. Who wanted to believe a madman who cried ‘there is a great flood coming’ and built a boat?. No one wanted to admit they might be wrong . People want to believe ‘Peace in our times!’ but are unprepared to purify repent and ensure their own hearts are. unfettered by personal opinions or/desires. I’d like you to post more as you look into this historical theme. It is interesting. Even whole nations become captivated by charismatic people.

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  3. Lori, forgive me for not knowing, but into whose eyes did pres. Bush look and “see the soul of the man”? I am reading a book about deceit and the art of the con artist and this is an interesting point.

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    1. It was Putin. I went back and updated my post because I had not made that clear whose eyes Bush looked into. The book you are reading sounds interesting. ~Lori

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  4. What we all forget is that Putin was KGB. Being honest and straight forward was never in his play book. Seeing the best in people is a laudable trait when building relationships, personal relationships, but it is at best myopic in a politician. 😦

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