As Conquest documents, many Western intellectuals and academics were delusional about the reality of the communist threat. For a host of reasons — a quasi-religious faith in utopian socialism, neurotic hatred of their own culture, vulnerability to an ideology that dressed itself in scientific garb, an adolescent romance with revolution, and sheer ignorance of the facts — many professors, pundits, politicians, and religious leaders refused to believe that Soviet leaders meant what they said about revolution and subversion.Thornton subsequently goes to explain where this failure to learn lessons hails from: Pure arrogance.
“The Communist Party,” Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko wrote in his book The Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union, “subordinates all its theoretical and practical activity in the sphere of foreign relations to the tasks of strengthening the position of socialism, and the interests of further developing and deepening the world revolutionary process.” Yet despite such clear-cut expressions of the desire for world domination and the spread of communism — expressed not just in words but in deeds — for decades in the West many explained away this motive and attributed Soviet behavior to anything and everything other than what communists themselves had been saying going all the way back to Marx.
Thus throughout the Cold War, the Western resolve to resist Soviet expansionism was undercut by “peace” movements, nuclear disarmament movements, calls for détente and “dialogue,” and claims of moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
This misunderstanding of a major force on the world scene,” Conquest concludes, “could have proved disastrous in the period between the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As it was, its influence made the pursuit of a rational foreign policy difficult. It hardly needs saying that we must do our best to avoid, or prevent, anything resembling a repetition — in fact that the lesson should be learned.”
Alas the lesson has not been learned. As we fight what Norman Podhoretz calls World War IV, the same refusal to take seriously the motives of the enemy, and the same bad Western habit of indulging our own superstitions at the expense of a clear understanding of the enemy, are compromising our actions and policies.
Conquest shrewdly links to Freudianism this strange Western habit of thinking that people are incapable of knowing their own minds and saying what they mean. Like Marxism, this materialist explanation for behavior dismissed conscious motives as so much camouflage or rationalizations for deeper, unconscious causes. “And both doctrines provided,” Conquest writes, “separately or together, that built-in proof that disagreement was due to prejudices predictably embedded in the opponent’s mind by forces understood by the elect.” Likewise with many of today’s commentators who ignore conscious motives: these “elect” know that such spiritual beliefs are mere illusions masking some deeper psychic dysfunction or compensating for some environmental cause. And they display the same elitist disdain for those who prefer to take seriously what the jihadists tell us, scorning them instead as intellectually unsophisticated or in thrall to various neuroses such as bigotry.Read also the rest, where Thornton skewers the towering double standard applied to Western 'crimes' on one hand and very real crimes committed in the name of islam on the other. His conclusion is something very much worth sharing, since it sheds an unexpected light on our current situation in relation ot the Cold War:
Rather than the dubious comparison of jihadists to fascists recently popular with some commentators, we should instead look to the war against communism for insights into our present crisis. Not because the jihadists are like communists in their ideology, but because the cultural pathologies that endangered the struggle against Soviet tyranny have not disappeared and are today compromising the war against jihad. As with the Cold War, winning this current struggle will require that we see the enemy and his motivations clearly and not dismiss them on the basis of our own prejudices and superstitions.(h/t Eurabia.nl)
[UPDATE001] Romanian blogger Modern Day Crusader has a few related thoughts.