The Corner

ISIS and the Bolsheviks, Cont.

In response to California Gop

Andrew, you make such an important point about ISIS and the Bolsheviks. I remember something I heard Professor Donald Fleming say, a long time ago. (He was the eminent historian of ideas at Harvard.) In the spring of 1917, the membership of the Bolshevik party was tiny. I mean, just a paltry number, in the vast Russian empire. I hesitate to cite a figure — because my memory may not be accurate — but it was very small. And by November, the Bolsheviks were in power.

Why? Will. Terror. Determination.

Since hearing Professor Fleming say that, all those years ago, I have never been too impressed by numbers. The Communists in Cuba and elsewhere are tiny in number, too. So what? He who is willing to kill and terrorize, often rules. As Ronald Reagan liked to say, they rule “at the point of a bayonet.”

P.S. I was just doing some Googling around about Fleming. I found this obit (2008). A former student is quoted. Fleming was her adviser on her doctoral dissertation. “He was courteous, gracious, and friendly,” she said, “but when I changed to a topic on women and gender, he was not completely helpful.”

I love him all the more. A real scholar, not going in for trendy hokum.

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