The Devil in History

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Vladimir Tismaneanu, a Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of several books, including Stalinism for All Seasons: A History of Romanian Communism (UC Press), Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Europe, and Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel. His new book is The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century.

FP: Dr. Vladimir Tismaneanu, welcome to Frontpage Interview. It is an honor and a privilege to have you with us.

Congratulations on this fascinating, brilliant and captivating book. It is a stupendous achievement.

I simply couldn’t put it down till I finished it.

Tismaneanu:  It is a pleasure for me to engage in this dialogue. I know some of the contributors to Frontpage; I have known David Horowitz and Peter Collier since the 1980s. Your kind words honor me, especially coming from someone with your family background.

The book tries to offer a comparative perspective about those regimes that have taken a horrible toll on families like yours and mine. I am sure you noticed how important it is in the logic of my demonstration to highlight the extraordinary insights of the great novelist and moral thinker Vassili Grossman. You and I know that the Devil is not simply a theological construct, a whimsical metaphor or a speculative fantasy. Living within totalitarianism, surviving within an infernal universe, has been a real experience for millions of human being.

FP: True words indeed, Dr. Tismaneanu.

Let’s begin with what inspired you to write The Devil in History.

Tismaneanu: I owe the title to the great Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. In a famous interview with Hungarian-born, British journalist George Urban, Kolakowski spoke about the presence of the Devil in twentieth-century ideologically-driven dictatorships. We speak about the Devil anticipated by Dostoyevsky in his masterpiece “The Demons” (or “The Possessed”). It is a Devil that exploits human gullibility, who organizes hatred, rancor, envy, resentment. It is a terribly modern devil that mobilizes, inebriates, intoxicates both elites and masses with the aroma of ideology. The Devil I write about in this short treatise of historical demonology is a metaphysician, a logician, and a statistician. He pretends to offer ultimate solutions to vital (or mortal) human questions by annulling the distance between the City of God and the City of Man. His expertise is to seduce, to enhance the human propensity for grandiose utopias. Political religions promise immediate redemption via the violent purification of the community. The non-belonger, the outcast, defined racially or socially, needs to be excluded, weeded out, eliminated, killed.

FP: So share with us what the book is about exactly. What is the main thesis?

Tismaneanu:  I regard both Communism and Fascism as revolutionary projects, inherently and irredeemably hostile to liberal values. Both have used manipulative methods to arouse, to galvanize mass movements committed to an apocalyptic break with an execrated status quo. Both are secular religions obsessed with transcending the existing human condition in favor an anthropological revolution. Both are millenarianisms announcing the advent of the New Man. I suggest that a comparison between Communism and Fascism helps us understand better the nature, goals, and consequences of such movements, including their Islamist heirs. I regard them as parts of an unfinished century of revolutionary hubris.

My main question, underlying all the other ones, is: How was it possible for ideologies so different in their origin and rhetoric to result in mass murder? I see nihilism at the core of both revolutionary programs. Communism, as the great French historian Francois Furet said, is a pathology of the Enlightenment. Fascism is pathology of the Counter-Enlightenment. They are both exacerbated, inflamed, pathological expressions of the attempt to impose through violence elitist fantasies of historical grandeur.

Another main point is my polemic with the disingenuous double standards so often used in dealing with the two totalitarian visions (Communism, in any of its incarnations, and Fascism). It is amazing how prompt the criticism operates whenever dealing with Martin Heidegger’s romance with National Socialism and how meek the reactions are when focusing on Georg Lukacs, a zealot of Bolshevism until the end of his life.

FP: How is The Devil in History different from other books in this field?

Tismaneanu: It is an effort to bring together political philosophy, political history, and the history of ideas. I started working on this project many years ago, when I first tried to fathom the common roots of the totalitarian twins. For me, ideology is the crucial element in the effort to understand something that otherwise defies representation: the absolute horrors of the Gulag and the Holocaust. I see my book as a theoretical and ethical synthesis, an antidote to moral relativism. In writing it I was very much inspired by Solzhenitsyn’s approach in “The Gulag Archipelago”:

“Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied or passed over or suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that destroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.”

So, to put it briefly, my book is about Evil and evildoers. I refuse to accept the idea that Marx (or even Lenin) were innocent thinkers whose ideas were viciously bastardized by the scoundrel Stalin. In dealing with Bolshevism, I paraphrase Kolakowski’s first line in his trilogy on Marxism (“Karl Marx was a German philosopher”) and I insist that Vladimir Ilich Ulianov (Lenin) was a Russian Marxist.

FP: Tell us about your background and how you think it might give you an extra passion and insight into the phenomena that you study.

It all began when, if I am correct, you were a teenager in Communist Romania, and you got your hands on a forbidden text of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. …

Tismaneanu: I was born on July 4th, 1951, into a revolutionary family. Both my parents fought in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War; my father lost his right arm in the battle on the River Ebro when he was 24. My mother, a medical school student, was a nurse in the International Hospital. They were Stalinist internationalists, intensely and honestly believed in Soviet anti-fascism. After the defeat of the Spanish Republic, they went as political refugees to the USSR.  My two sisters were born there — Victoria in Kuibshev (now Samara), in November 1941, Rodica in Moscow, in April 1944. The family returned to Romania in February 1948. My mother, who had graduated from Moscow Medical School no. 2, taught pediatrics at the Institute of Medicine in Bucharest. My father became a communist ideologue. Because of his critical comments about the Romanian Stalinist leader Gheorghiu-Dej, he was expelled from the party in 1960. Until the end of his life, in February 1981, he remained a Marxist. My mother ended her infatuation with Communism in 1952-1953, during the anti-Semitic campaigns in the USSR and in the Soviet Bloc. She had studied under guidance of some of the accused doctors and could not accept the lunatic charges (“attempts to poison the Soviet leaders.”)

I learned a lot from my parents and their friends about the history of communism. Discussions at home were quite frank, although I disagreed with my father on the overall interpretation of Leninism. The books that influenced me the most, during my Romanian adolescence and student years, were Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, and Raymond Aron’s Opium of the Intellectuals. Please keep in mind that, because of his “maverick” foreign policy, the Ceausescu regime ceased to jam Western radio stations. I learned about these books from the enormously influential essays written by émigré intellectuals Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca, broadcast via Radio Free Europe. Their ideas played a decisive role in my formation. Initially, I was attracted, like so many in my generation, to neo-Marxist, or humanist Marxist theories, including the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory.

Later, I realized that revisionist Marxism was just another theoretical dead end, an illusion with no real chance to change the existing despotic systems. Books such as those mentioned and many others were circulating clandestinely in Romania. I read The Gulag Archipelago in French translation. I read Nikolai Berdiaev’s book on the origins of Russian communism in French, I read Orwell’s 1984 in English.

FP: What do you see as the main similarities between Nazism and Communism? You profoundly document how the drive to purify and disinfect man was one of the main driving forces of both ideologies, and so mass killing becomes the inevitable mandated result…..

Tismaneanu: Both systems destroyed civil society, rule of law, pluralism, and did their utmost to humiliate the individual. As Hannah Arendt wrote, totalitarianism is a tyranny that makes human beings superfluous. Both worshiped the ideological State (the Nazis called it Weltanschauungsstaat) and imposed collectivist values meant to destroy the autonomy of the mind. Both used secret polices to generate a sense of universal fear. Both organized state terror to eradicate any form of opposition. Both (and here I insist to include Maoism as a version of Leninism) practiced genocide.

FP: The main distinctions?

On one realm…in their application …one of the differences you point to is that a “re-education” was possible in the communist Gulag, whereas in the Nazi Auschwitz there was only death. …

Tismaneanu: Let me start with a quotation from C. S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

The distinctions are related to their avowed intentions. Communism never admitted that it aimed to physically get rid of millions of people “unworthy of life.” It was not the fulfillment of a biologically-defined vision of the perfect society. But if you think of the real conditions of communism during what we call high Stalinism (or high Maoism), the differences with the Nazi atrocities seem to vanish. The Gulag’s function was not to re-educate the individual, but to exhaust, freeze and starve him or her to the point of annihilation.

Another important distinction is that Nazism (or Italian Fascism) did not reach the point of de-radicalization the way Soviet-style regimes did. It is hard for me to imagine a 20th NSDAP Congress in which Parteigenosse Bormann (or Himmler) would condemn “Adolf Hitler’s Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” the way Nikita Khrushchev dealt with Stalin. National Socialism did not have a presumably humanist pre-history to which the militants could harken back in order to justify their prolonged commitment to the Cause even after the denunciation of the “God that failed.” Nazism and Italian Fascism were liderocentric worldviews. Bolshevism was rather partocentric. Historian Martin Malia wrote about ideocratic partocracy. Stalin was lionized as the leader of the mystical entity called Party. This is what political scientist Ken Jowitt accurately identifies as charismatic impersonalism. So, even if the leader dies and is posthumously denounced as a sociopath, the Party’s image remains sacred, unblemished, unperishable, like a Platonic idea.

FP: This is all connected to the fact that there were no Nuremberg-style trials for communist mass murderers after the collapse of communism in the 1989-1991 period. Western leftist intellectuals were not, to say the least, too supportive of such trials. As you point out, many of them, till this day, are reluctant to confront the truth about Lenin. Give us your wisdom as to the reason why.

Tismaneanu: Not only Western leftist intellectuals, but also some East European famous dissidents voiced reservations about such trials. In their case, the argument is that lustration (screening of former communist bureaucrats and secret police officers and collaborators and elimination from public office for a period of five years) could generate social turbulence and result in witch-hunts. I happen to disagree with this view: the much-desired reconciliation cannot be achieved in the absence of repentance (I am sure you remember Tengis Abuladze’s great film with this very title, Repentance). Regarding the idea of witch-hunts, I cannot but smile: first, witch-hunts were about innocent individuals accused of phantasmagoric crimes. The crimes in the former communist countries were not imagined, but absolutely, palpably, and painfully real. Second, I don’t see a reason to wax compassionate for the former communist magnates and their underlings. Most have thrived after the collapse of the inhuman regimes they had imposed on their subject. You’re right: the absence of Nuremberg tribunals has created a widespread and justified sense of malaise among many people. As for the Leninostalgia, I see it is as an expression of historical ignorance combined with a sense of desperation linked the current conditions.

FP: The nature of Stalin’s anti-Semitism?

Tismaneanu: Stalin abhorred difference, and Jews appeared to him as alien, different, cosmopolitan, i.e. threatening. He may have inherited anti-Semitic prejudices from his early years in Georgia, including the time he spent in the Orthodox Seminary in Tbilisi. Later, he clearly felt daunted, even humiliated by fellow Bolsheviks of Jewish origin (although he was quite close to Yakov Sverdlov and Lev Kamenev). He used anti-Semitic innuendo during the struggle with his rivals, especially with Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev. Much of his anti-Semitic fixations developed during and after World War II, when he became convinced that Jews were inherently unable to nourish genuine Soviet (i.e., Russian) patriotism. It is interesting that some of his acolytes were Jewish communists who shared Stalin’s phobias. One of the most notorious was Lev Mekhlis, for many years the editor of Pravda and one of Stalin’s most trustworthy lackeys. I would say, however, that anti-Semitism did not reach the point of becoming a pillar of the Soviet ideology the way it functioned in Nazi Germany.

FP: What are the main failures of Marxism in your view? Why did it (does it) create such massive evil?

Tismaneanu: The refusal to understand the foundations of liberty led to the totalistic view of man, history, and society. Marxism promised fraternity, solidarity, community, yet the result was, as Kolakowski pointed out, universal bondage. The source of evil is, in my view, the sanctification of historical violence, the apocalyptical Messianism that endowed a social class, via its self-appointed  representatives, or delegates, to exert absolute, unrestrained power. Marx failed to comprehend human psychology, or, better said, the human soul. A great Polish poet, Aleksander Wat, once said that Communism kills the inner man.

FP: Nazism and Communism viewed the sanctity of human life and the notion of the individual a certain way. That view is quite different from how the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is at the foundation of Western civilization, views the sanctity of human life and the individual. Can you talk a bit about that?

Tismaneanu: For Marxists, man is the ensemble of his social relations. In other words, the human condition is socially determined. You change social circumstances, you can expect (and provoke) mutations in human mentalities, emotions, reasoning etc. The Nazis saw man as the heir to the mythological traditions of Blut und Boden (blood and soil). Both ideologies held tradition, especially religious tradition, in deep scorn. Both abolished natural law and the time honored distinctions between Good and Evil. These distinctions were subverted by the new absolutism: the definition of Good as whatever serves historical progress or racial purity. Needless to say, these two criteria meant complete dedication to the totalitarian Party and its Leader.

FP: A very profound part of your book is your discussion of Stéphane Courtois’ introduction to The Black Book of Communism. Can you share with us the nature of the controversy it sparked and the meaning and significance of that controversy? And of course please comment on the importance of The Black Book itself.

Tismaneanu: The Black Book (translated and edited in its American edition published by Harvard University Press by historian Mark Kramer) was a catalyst for a long-postponed reckoning with left-wing totalitarianism in France, Italy, Germany, and many other countries. In France, the communist and the socialists were shocked by the analogy between the presumably noble Marxist creed and the Nazi ideology. Furthermore, Stéphane Courtois compared in his introduction the tragic fate of Jewish kids in the Warsaw ghetto and that of the children of the kulaks in Stalin’s USSR.  I would notice that the comparison that created such an uproar when The Black Book came out in 1997 is nowadays much less conducive to scholarly controversies. Politically, the refusal to accept the striking similarities between Communism and Fascism remains a highly sensitive issue.

FP: You discuss a letter that Nikolai Bukharin wrote to Stalin during the last days of his trial. Illuminate for us the contents and nature of it and how it shines a light on your own thesis.

Tismaneanu: Nikolai Bukharin (1889-1938) was the least intolerant and the best educated member of the top Bolshevik elite. Lenin treated him like the son he never had. Stalin himself maintained a warm friendship with Bukharin who, in spite of their ideological conflicts, continued to live close to the Leader in a Kremlin apartment and was one of the writers of the Stalinist Constitution. Bukharin was arrested in 1937 and figured as the star of the third and last of the Moscow show trials in March 1938. From his jail (where he was allowed to write essays and even a novel), Bukharin wrote several letters to his idol and nemesis. He was one of the very few leaders to address Stalin with the familiar ty and using his underground nickname, Koba. Stalin kept the long letter I quote in a drawer of his personal desk until his death in March 1953. No doubt he considered it a precious document and he was right.

It is precious, however, not for the reasons Stalin might have had in mind, but because it provides a paradigmatic illustration of fanatical zealotry, self-debasement, and moral suicide. Bukharin’s almost hysterical, definitely masochistic memorandum to his murderer is imbued with unmitigated feelings of adoration. He knew that he had no chance to survive and yet he was thanking Koba for his immense kindness. We should not dismiss, however, the possibility that Bukharin tried to obtain leniency for his much younger wife, Anna Larina, and their recently born son, Yuri. But he could have done it with less fervor, less abjectly, more soberly.

FP: Let me draw some wisdom from you by coming at this phenomenon from a different angle: Why did the criminal enterprises of Nazism and Communism take on an earthly incarnation?

Tismaneanu:  They are secular religions claiming to offer answers to crucial axiological dilemmas. You will pardon my philosophical terminology, but I do not know a better explanation that the one offered by the great political thinker Eric Voegelin: these are revolutionary movements aiming to make this-worldly something that belongs to the transcendent realm, to immanentize the eschaton. Communism carries to an extreme, as noticed by Dostoyevsky, the utopia of the Tower of Babel. National Socialism romanticizes the world, re-enchants it. Both are combinations of political mysticism and historical shamanism.

FP: What are your dreams for this book? What do you hope it might help achieve?

Tismaneanu: To bring back the wise insights about totalitarianism, due to major scholars and democratic thinkers, abandoned and derided during the détente years. I do not simply propose a return to positions defended by Hannah Arendt, Norman Cohn, Raymond Aron, Leonard Shapiro, Nathan Leites, Leo Labedz, Carl Friedrich, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Pipes, Martin Malia, Robert Conquest, Leszek Kolakowski, but rather a synthesis that would take into account these major writings, as well as decades of new research and countless documentary proofs that the propaganda state was not a figment of Cold War ideological frenzy and that mass terror was the foundation for this type of state.

FP: Final thoughts on your main themes, which you illuminate brilliantly: the consequences of the impulse to build the City of God and the contempt for the individual?

Tismaneanu: Nothing can be more harmful to human liberty than state efforts to impose an official vision of truth upon defenseless individuals. No state interest can justify explicit or implicit attempts to make the individual an instrument of the government. No state-sanctioned definition of Good should prevail over our own conviction that, through our actions, we are fulfilling our humanity, not degrading and negating it.

FP: Dr. Tismaneanu, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. It was truly an honor for me to speak with you.

Tismaneanu: Your questions were an intellectual tour de force. I hope that my responses have met the challenge.

FP: Thank you so much Dr. Tismaneanu. It is quite the opposite in my mind: I hope my questions have met the challenge of your most profound, vital and original contribution to the scholarship on this phenomenon.

I hope to see you again soon at Frontpage Magazine. You are always welcome here.

And we encourage all of our readers to get their hands on The Devil in History. Order it now, here!

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • Chezwick

    About Bukharin, he was – presumably – author of 'Letter From an Old Bolshevik'….which was both a critique of Stalinism and a theoretical justification for it (the Bolsheviks, in spite of their revolutionary pedigree, were in the final analysis products of the old order and were therefore impediments to the construction of the "new socialist man"). Like most of the other Party members victimized by Stalin, he couldn't psychologically break with communism because doing so would have repudiated his entire life's work. Reminds me a bit of the aging hippies in the West who could never break with their liberal beliefs because doing so would negate the glories of their youth ("sex, drugs and rock'n roll").

    As for evil….or what I refer to as "sociological evil", it exists in abundance….and denial of this fact is the height of human folly and arrogance. Leftists rightly perceive abject poverty as a sociological evil, but don't recognize that the Utopian ideal (egalitarian society) – while not in-and-of-itself evil, invariably results in the perpetration of evil….because absolute equality is a sociological impossibility and the quest for such therefore inevitably becomes an exercise in blood-letting.

    Islam is no doubt a sociological evil. Just the ascribed death penalty for apostasy makes it so. Stonings amputations, legalized discrimination, institutionalized violence (Jihad), all add to the depth of its evil.

    Another sociological evil is deficit spending. It may not be so if utilized during a national emergency (such as WWII), but when it becomes systemic and chronic – as it is today – it is generational theft on a colossal scale.

    War – by contrast – may or may not be a sociological evil, depending on circumstance. Killing in defense of one's home and family cannot be described as evil by any rational criteria. Killing to usurp the home and family of another most certainly is.

    • reader

      Bukharin stands out as the Bolshevik who justified his own execution by theorizing that the Soviet Power has the right to prosecute people not on the basis of their guilt but on the basis of whether their prosecution serves the interests of the Soviet Power. Say what you will about Stalin, but he certainly had a knack for black humor when it came to his former comrades in arms.

      • tarleton

        That's correct , they all had a role to play in the Soviet ''play '' , and were , ironically , in agreement with the need to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the Godlike ''Party'' and the revolution, in a somewhat similar way that Jesus's deciples were willing to sacrifice their lives for him…they were martyred by the Romans and not by the movement they supported

        • reader

          I wouldn't go as far as saying that they agreed to sacrifice themselves. They certainly were often forced to "incriminate" themselves in order to save his relatives or simply avoid mental and physical torture. In Bukharin's case, he had laid out his theory for "other people" before it would apply to him. Perfect case of what goes around, comes around. Or, as some contemporaries say, Karma is a b*tch.

          • Tarleton

            They never had a desire to commit suicide , but when they found themselves on the wrong side of the prison bars they decided to ''play the game '' for the good of the God-like Party , and for the good of their families

  • Robin


    I just want to thank you for this interview. Just ordered the book. After I figured out what was really going on in education under the pretext of the Common Core, I went back and read Conquest, Pipes, Revel. Especially what they were writing before the Cold War was over. So I could see the 70s through their eyes instead of looking back now. This is a helpful analysis for an instinct that is ramping back up all over the West. The comment about the State imposing its set of Values could not be more timely if the real definition of Student Growth were more widely understood.

    Insights like this help me tell the facts in a way tied to history that people can hopefully hear.

  • davarino

    And yet they flourish (communism and to a lesser degree, fascism). Thanks for the insight Vlad. I look forward to reading your book.

  • PAthena

    Fascism was invented by Benito Mussolini as nationalist socialism, in contrast to international socialism which had falsely predicted that war (i.e. the First World War) was a conflict between capitalist nations. Italy fought against Germany in World War I, and the Italian socialists led by Mussolini opposed Italy's involvement. Mussolini changed his mind and joined the Italian forces. Mussolini was the leader of the Italian socialists and editor of its paper, Avanti. He invented nationalist socialism in opposition to the claims of international socialism. Adolf Hitler's party followed, National Socializmus, or Nazi. Fascism was not the "opposite" of Communism at all, but both were forms of socialism. Soviet communism having the pretensions of "internationalism." It is no coincidence that Fascism and Communism were so similar, since they were both forms of (anti-democratic) socialism.

    • Questions

      So why did the two so easily go to war with each other?

      • reader

        Before they "went to war with each other," they had collaborated in dismantling the Versailles Treaty and going after European democracies.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "So why did the two so easily go to war with each other?"

        Opposing national interests. Why do runners compete? They should just be friends. They each want to win not for the ideology of competition but for their self-interests.

      • Smote

        Easy. They each wanted what the other had. So, they went to war over it. Oh, it is so human to covet.

      • Tarleton

        Because they saw each other as HERETICS,,,,,,,in a somewhat similar way that Christians destroyed each other in the wars of Reformation and counter Reformation

      • tarleton

        ''Thou shalt not suffer a heretic to live ''

        Naziism was clearly a heresy of the secular religion of ''class''…indeed it was a volkish neo pagan religion of RACE …a kinda Wotan cult

  • Cassandra

    Thanks. I ordered the book. Great interview.

  • Omar

    People should also read the book, Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War, to understand the truth about the USSR's true intentions in Spain. The Soviets didn't want to help the Republic. They wanted to conquer them, forcing the Spaniards to choose between the Communists or Franco's Fascists.

    • Chezwick

      The principle Soviet pre-occupation in Spain was not Franco, but the crushing of the Trotskyite 'POUM'. This is one reason the defense of the Republic was doomed.

      • tagalog

        I beg to differ; I suspect that the main thing on the mind of the Soviets was getting their hands on the national treasury of Spain. And they got it.

        Just another moment of using other peoples' money to finance the socialist/communist fantasy.

        • Chezwick

          The zeal with which the Soviets devoted to crushing the POUM, ostensible allies in the fight against Franco, wasn't lost on anyone on the Republican side, including George Orwell. Suspected of Trotskyism by the Soviets, he and his wife barely made it out Spain alive. His experiences there were formative in his eventual rejection of socialism.

        • Chezwick

          The Soviet zeal for eliminating POUM was so "enthusiastic" that George Orwell himself – perceived by the Soviets to be a Trotskyite – barely made it out of Spain alive.

          • tarleton

            They , like all true believers , were obsessed with ''purity ''; even in the midst of a losing war

      • tagalog

        I think the principal Soviet preoccupation in Spain was getting their hands on the money in the Spanish Treasury. And they succeeded at that.

        • Chezwick

          The Republic sent its gold reserve to the Soviet Union to pay for arms and supplies. That reserve was worth $315,000,000 in 1939 prices. Estimates of Soviet and Comintern aid totaled $405,000,000 in 1939 value.

        • Chezwick

          The Republic sent its gold reserve to the Soviet Union to pay for arms and supplies. That reserve was worth $315,000,000 in 1939 prices. Estimates of Soviet and Comintern aid totaled $405,000,000 in 1939 value.

  • Omar

    The link to the book is here:


    hitler / stalin pact of 1939.

  • tagalog

    I've read Furet's "The End of an Illusion," and Kolakowski's "Main Currents in Marxism." Both writers are highly intsightful as well as being lucid writers. In both books there's a new idea that you could spend months investigating on almost every page.

    I found it compeling and fascinating to think of Communism as a pathology of the Enlightenment, and fascism as a pathology of the Counter-Enlightenment. That is a way of distinguishing the two political trends from one another that I haven't thought of until now.

  • Questions

    This is a great interview that gets it right. Fascism (Right) and Communism (Left) are de facto rejections of classical liberalism, not fulfillments of it. Like Raymond Aron, Jean Francois-Revel and Hannah Arendt, Tismaneanu grasps the nature of totalitarianism. More.

    • Omar

      Questions, Fascism is not right-wing. Fascism is left-wing. The Right believes in the free-market. Get your facts straight.

  • JacksonPearson

    Satan Bound Now, the question arises,
    "Where is Satan during all this great manifestation?" Going back to Revelation 20:1-3 we read about the Devil during the millennium: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."

    What an amazing scene! The Devil is bound for that thousand years and cast into the bottomless pit. Fortunately, we do not have to speculate about the location of that bottomless pit. The Bible makes it very clear. The original Greek word for "bottomless pit" is "abussos," from which we get our English word "abyss," meaning "a deep place." That same word is used again in the Greek version of Genesis 1:2: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The word "deep" here is the Greek word "abussos" which is translated as "bottomless pit" in Revelation 20:1. In other words, this earth was called the "abussos" after God formed it; before He called order and design out of it. Lying in disorganized darkness it was referred to as the bottomless pit. shape without his evil scheming, we had better pray that he doesn't get loose, or we really are in for trouble. If he is bound now, it would have to be with a rubber chain that stretches from New York to Moscow and all around the circle of the earth. No, he is not bound today, but he will be while this earth is in confused disorder. Unable to deceive a single soul, he will inhabit this desolate planet for a thousand years contemplating the havoc his program has produced.

    The righteous are in heaven, the wicked are all dead, and he has no one to work on till the end of the millennium. I have tried to think about the Devil during this period. What is he going to do? The earth is covered with darkness, dead bodies are everywhere, and all is absolute confusion. For six thousand years Satan has been plenty busy. He has followed folk around trying to devise their destruction. His chief employment for centuries has been to accuse, mislead and destroy. Suddenly, though, he has nothing to do. They are all taken away, and he is left with his own thoughts. What will the Devil do? That will be the most miserable punishment that Satan will have to suffer. Forced to live with himself for a thousand years! No one to deceive at all; just thinking, thinking, thinking. I am sure he will think about the past and remember all the terrible deeds of darkness he has committed. He will think about the future and the prophecies of God concerning his own destiny. Listen, the Devil is a good Bible student. Do not fool yourself. Give him credit where it is due. He knows the Bible better than you do. Oh yes, holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, but the Devil was looking over their shoulder and memorizing every bit of it. The Devil knows better than we do that every word of the Bible is true. He knows that everything about heaven is true, because he used to live there. He knows that it is just as beautiful and wonderful as the Bible describes it, but he doesn't want anybody else to believe that. So, he is desperately working to keep people from studying this Book and to keep people off their knees.

  • tagalog

    I doubt that people will agree on the left-wing, right-wing thing when it comes to classifying fascism. I think it's more helpful to think of fascism as a pathological reaction to Enlightenment thought.

  • Hugh Jones

    The 99% sympathized with the Russian revolutionaries in their struggle against the Tzar and their 1% but our 1% saw to it that we opposed them in every way. In the 20' & 30's we prevented their industrialization. The only item they could use to overcome the virtual embargoes was grain thus we were indirectly responsible for the 20M deaths. Stalin moved industry far from any German incursion and goaded the Japanese into a battle that resulted in them turning south. Without Stalin's moves we could never have defeated the Germans. Now our 1% has succeeded in bringing the worst possible form of 'free enterprise' to the Russians. So much better if we had befriended Russians immediately after the revolution.

    • reader

      This is all rubbish. Stalin's Collectivization and Industrialization campaigns were essentially one giant militarization campaign, which – apart from poverty, misery and famine – produced nothing but enourmous amount of armaments. And, in fact, some american companies played a big role in it, e.g., Albert Kahn, who built plants in the USSR. Moreover, Stalin concentrated most of its military production capacity in the European part of the USSR, because his intent was to "liberate the peoples of Europe from bourgouisie and capitalists". When his enourmous army collapsed in the summer and fall of 1941 under Wehrmacht attack, he lost up to 85% of this capacity. That's when Roosevelt put him on life support with his Lend Lease.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Questions, Fascism is not right-wing. Fascism is left-wing. The Right believes in the free-market. Get your facts straight."

    It's more complicated than simple binaries. The left right thing is convenient when discussing opposing parties in a typical Western parliament or congress. You can then analyze parties according to where they seem to line up if the simple dichotomy does not apply.

    Having said that, the Nazis were closer to left-win revolutionaries than they were to the right wing conservatives. They were loyal to their own perceptions of the nation, but that was based on their new regime. They also didn't allow an opposition. Were they so far to the left that they became "right" by their very success?

    If that's how you want to look at it, fine. But if you want useful analysis, look at their ideas and tactics. They were very similar to the communists but with racial theories used to justify German superiority. The left likes to focus on that and claim they are "right wing" which to me is nonsense.

    But once they were in power they did sort of have the idea to "conserve" what they had recently established. That's bogus analysis in my mind but it's highly subjective.

    They don't fit in the classic left right paradigm but if you must use that, they had more features in common with communist radicals with racial theory thrown in as a prominent feature rather than as a by-product of class warfare. Their rhetoric was therefore very different but the results were not.

    It's hard to find anything the Nazis had in common with conservatives of today. Finding similarities with today's left is a lot easier.

    I don't know what else I can add right now but I know some people will go ballistic hearing it.

  • Tarleton

    By the 20th C science had undermined the certainties of religion in the western world…people were searching for , nay craving , a substitute and Marxism was clearly a secular religion of class
    The human mind is hardwired to believe in a God , regardless if God ever existed ; the Bolsheviks were religious fanatics shoehorned into secular form …it's quite easy to imagine Lenin as a 18th C ''holy man' 'and folks like Bukharin , Trotsky , Kamenev etc as his followers, because they all were religious fanatics ..even the serene , iconic face of Felix Dgerzinsnsky would not be out of place in the 16th C Inquisition …..maybe Stalin was judas ?

    Likewise , the Nazis were true believers in a religion of race and it's not difficult to imagine Hitler, Hess and Goeblles as German Christian fanatics during the turmoil of the Reformation …Himmler as ''Grand Inquisiter ' ?…..' or in the words of Martin Luther ''The Jews are our misfortune ''

    • Guest

      Dear Tarleton you create a powerful and impressive imagine, and I second your thoughts.
      The words you mention "Die Juden sind unser Unglück" were not put foreward by Luther, but in 1879 by Von Treitschke. Luther made several similar statements, but the later motto of the Stürmer was formulated by von Treitschke.

  • alin

    Very good job, both questions and answers, thank you. I will order the book.