Saturday, October 6, 2012

"One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic."

Stalin is reported to have justified his crimes by saying [perhaps quoting Robespierre] that "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." Last week a lifelong unrepentant Stalinist died, described in the New York Times as simply "...Britain’s pre-eminent Marxist historian," with honorary degrees, and the Companion of Honor awarded by Tony Blair. The Weekly Standard doesn't think his political faith should have been so lightly passed over.
...[W]e would like to think that even Blair might have hesitated to embrace this “tireless agitator for a better world” had he pondered this exchange on the BBC in the early 1990s:
INTERVIEWER: What your view comes down to is saying that had the “radiant tomorrow” actually been created, the loss [in Soviet Russia] of fifteen or twenty million people might have been justified?
HOBSBAWM: Yes.
Suppose Eric Hobsbawm had been a lifelong fascist, a member of the Nazi party long after the death of Hitler and the collapse of the Third Reich, sentimentally attached to the “dream of the...revolution,” and happy to justify—decades after the end of World War II—the killing of fifteen or twenty million people for National Socialism. Would Cambridge have awarded him an honorary degree? Would the New York Times have set aside four columns for his obituary? Would Tony Blair overlook Auschwitz to celebrate Eric Hobsbawm’s sense of compassion and justice and intellectual history of the highest order?
The question answers itself. (The Weekly Standard, Oct. 15, 2012, p. 4)