Friday, February 21, 2003
The Grand Old Man of Terror - 21st February 2003, 20.12

Although the Guardian has acquired a reputation for onanistic handwringing, it still provides the occasional gem. Said newspaper ran a well-rounded article with biographical detail on Robert Conquest, whose services to British foreign policy need no further mention here.

A few highlights include his limyrickal thrust against Hobsbawm and his ilk:

There was a great Marxist called Lenin
Who did two or three million men in
That's a lot to have done in
But where he did one in,
that grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.

and the ultimate accolade of coining his own law:

Conquest and the elder Amis campaigned against the expansion of university education, on the grounds that it would dilute standards. "More will mean worse" was their slogan and neither ever saw anything to make them retract that judgment. From this period dates "Conquest's Law", which states that "Everyone is a reactionary about subjects he understands". This was later supplemented with the balancing rule that every organisation behaves as if it is run by secret agents of its opponents.


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