The Corner

Conquest’s Laws

Several readers have asked me for Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of politics.

As best I can remember, they are:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will

sooner or later become left-wing.

3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by

assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty

International as examples. Of the Third, he noted that a bureaucarcy

sometimes actually IS controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies–e.g.

the postwar British secret service.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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