It was only towards the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to realize that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy.-Czeslaw Milosz
FOR four and one-half decades we have waited for the Soviet Union to mellow. Repeatedly, we have thought we were witnessing the longed-for change, of dynamism, direction or heart, which would make Communist totalitarianism in power just "one state among many"-different of course, but a member of the comprehensive genus of orderly, constituted governments, content to tolerate orderly neighbors and act according to the not-too-generous rule of live and let live by which governments, reluctantly, indifferently or a little contemptuously, suffer each other's presence on the same earth.
A review of the judgments of statesmen and analysts over these 45 years makes melancholy reading. From the notion that Lenin's régime would last but a few weeks or months (Lenin shared this view for a while) to the certitude that power and responsibility always sober; from Lenin's N.E.P. to Stalin's "socialism in one country" and Khrushchev's "thaw"; from the celebration of Russia's entry into the League of Nations through the shock of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to the Grand Alliance that was to build "one world"; from Stalin's "peaceful coexistence" to Khrushchev's "peaceful competition"; from the "collective leadership" following Lenin's death to that following Stalin's, to the personal rule of Khrushchev-at every zig we have proclaimed, "At last it has come," at every zag muttered, "Surely it cannot last!"
In London I chanced some time ago on the diary of a deceased noble lady, one entry of which noted that Fridtjof Nansen had come to tea, bringing glad tidings: "Our troubles with Russia are over: Lenin is returning to capitalism." The entry was made in 1922, the lady's informant being one of the most knowing of Soviet experts in his generation.
Four decades after that entry, I read in a work of
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