More Kolakowski Greatness

by Steven F. Hayward

I join Derb in mourning the passing of Leszek Kolakowski; Main Currents of Marxism is simply the best large-scale survey ever written of that malignant fad.

Kolakowski was also prescient about the course of events in the Soviet Empire. Writing in Encounter magazine in May 1983 (two years before Gorbachev and his wrecking crew arrived in the Kremlin), Kolakowski predicted:

We can imagine that the Soviet rulers, under the combined pressure of self-inflicted economic disasters and social tensions, will accept, however grudgingly, a genuine verifiable international disarmament plan and concentrate their efforts on a large-scale economic recovery, which they cannot achieve without a number of social and political reforms. This might conceivably usher in a process of gradual and non-explosive disintegration of the empire.

In that same article he anticipated the “velvet revolution” of 1989: “Certainly in Poland or Czechoslovakia (or in Hungary) Communism would fall apart within days without the Soviet threat.”