Richard Pipes

American historian (1923–2018)

Richard Edgar Pipes (July 11, 1923 - May 17, 2018) was a Polish-American academic who specialized in Russian history, particularly with respect to the Soviet Union, who espoused a strong anti-communist point of view throughout his career. In 1976 he headed Team B, a team of analysts organized by the Central Intelligence Agency who analyzed the strategic capacities and goals of the Soviet military and political leadership. Pipes was the father of American historian and expert on American foreign policy and the Middle East, Daniel Pipes.

Richard Pipes, 2004

Quotes edit

  • In Western Europe since Roman times, private property was considered sacrosanct. The principle enunciated by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca that kings rule by the will of the people became fundamental to Western civilization, together with private property, which was the main source of productive wealth.
    • “Property and Freedom: The Inseparable Connection,” speech at an “Evenings at FEE” event, October 2004. [1]
  • We need to keep a very keen eye on our own government. It's getting too rich and redistributing wealth is a sure way of robbing us of our private property rights and other rights along with them.
    • “Property and Freedom: The Inseparable Connection,” speech at an “Evenings at FEE” event, October 2004. [2]
  • Moscow consistently favored the Nazis over the Social Democrats, whom it called ‘social Fascists’ and continued to regard as its principal enemy. In line with this reasoning, it forbade the German Communists to collaborate with the Social Democrats. In the critical November 1932 elections to the Reichstag (Parliament), the Social Democrats won over 7 million votes and the Communists 6 million: their combined votes exceeded the Nazi vote by 1.5 million. In terms of parliamentary seats, they gained between them 221, against the Nazi 196. Had they joined forces, the two left-wing parties would have defeated Hitler at the polls and prevented him from assuming the chancellorship. It thus was the tacit alliance between the Communists and the National Socialists that destroyed democracy in Germany and brought Hitler to power.
    • Communism: A History of the Intellectual and Political Movement, London: UK, Phoenix Press (2003) p. 96

Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime (1994) edit

New York, NY, Vintage Books, 1995

  • For historians of the left even to raise the question of affinities between Soviet Communism and ‘Fascism’ is tantamount to conceding the possibility of a causal relationship. Since ‘Fascism’ for them is by definition the antithesis of socialism and Communism, no such affinities can be admitted and the sources of ‘Fascism’ must be sought exclusively in conservative ideas and capitalist practices. In the Soviet Union this trend went so far the under Lenin, Stalin and their immediate successor, it was forbidden to use the term “National Socialist.”
    • p. 241
  • The third factor inhibiting inquiries into the influence of Bolshevism on Fascism and National Socialism was the insistence of Moscow on banishing from the vocabulary of ‘progressive’ thought the adjective ‘totalitarian’ in favor of ‘Fascist’ to describe all anti-Communist movements and regimes.
    • p. 242
  • [T]he view that anti-Communism equals Fascism remained obligatory in countries subject to Communist censorship until the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost. It was prevalent also in foreign ‘progressive’ circles. Western scholars who had the temerity to link Mussolini or Hitler with Communism in any way or to depict their regimes as genuine mass movements risked verbal or other forms of harassment.
    • p. 241
  • In 1925, Mussolini adopted the term [totalitarian] and assigned it a positive meaning. He defined Fascism as ‘totalitarian’ in the sense that it politicized everything ‘human’ as well as ‘spiritual’: ‘Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.’
    • p. 243
  • No prominent European socialist before World War I resembled Lenin more closely than Benito Mussolini. Like Lenin, he headed the antirevisionist wing of the country’s Socialist Party; like him, he believed that the worker was not by nature a revolutionary and had to be prodded to radical action by an intellectual elite.
    • p. 245
  • Even as the Fascist leader, Mussolini never concealed his sympathy and admiration for Communism: he thought highly of Lenin’s ‘brutal energy,’ and saw nothing objectionable in Bolshevik massacres of hostages. He proudly claimed Italian Communism as his child.
    • p. 252
  • Given the opportunity, Mussolini would have been glad as late as 1920-21 to take under his wing the Italian Communists, for whom he felt great affinities: greater, certainly, than for democratic socialists, liberals and conservatives. Genetically, Fascism issued from the 'Bolshevik' wing of Italian socialism, not from any conservative ideology or movement.
    • p. 253
  • Bolshevism and Fascism were heresies of socialism.
    • p. 253
  • One channel for transmitting Communist models to the Nazi movement were right-wing intellectuals with a left-wing bent close to Hitler, known as the ‘National Bolsheviks.’ Their chief theoreticians, Joseph Goebbels and Otto Strasser, greatly impressed by Bolshevik successes in Russia, wanted Germany to help Soviet Russia build up her economy in return for her political support against France and England.
    • p. 259
  • In 1925, Goebbels and Strasser argued in the Nazi daily, Völkischer Beobachter, that only the introduction of a ‘socialist dictatorship’ could save Germany from chaos. ‘Lenin scarified Marx.’ Goebbels wrote, ‘and in return gave Russia freedom.’ Of his own Nazi Party, he wrote in 1929 that it was a party of ‘revolutionary socialists.’
    • p. 260
  • The Nazi appealed to the socialist traditions of German labor, declaring the worker ‘a pillar of the community,’ and the ‘bourgeois’—along with the traditional aristocracy—a doomed class. Hitler, who told associates that he was a ‘socialist,’ had the party adopt the red flag and, on coming to power, declared May 1 a national holiday; Nazi Party members were ordered to address one another as ‘comrades (Genossen). His conception of the part was, like Lenin’s, that of a militant organization a Kampfbund, or ‘Combat League.’
    • p. 260
  • The three totalitarian regimes differed in several respects… What joined them, however, was much more important than what separated them. First and foremost it was the common enemy: liberal democracy with its multiparty system, its respect for law and property, its ideal of peace and stability. Lenin’s, Mussolini’s and Hitler’s fulminations against ‘bourgeois democracy’ and the Social Democrats are entirely interchangeable.
    • p. 262
  • Communism, Fascism and National Socialism exacerbated and exploited popular resentments—class, racial and ethnic—to win mass support and to reinforce the claim that they, not the democratically elected governments, expressed the true will of the people. All three appealed to the emotion of hate.
    • p. 262
  • Both Hitler and Mussolini regarded themselves as revolutionaries, and rightly so. Rauschning claimed that National Socialism was actually more revolutionary in its goals than either Communism or anarchism.
    • p. 262
  • The French Jacobins were the first to realize the political potential of class resentment. Exploiting it, they conjured constant conspiracies by aristocrats and other enemies of the revolution: shortly before their fall they drafted legislation expropriating private wealth and had the unmistakable communistic implications. It was from the study of the French Revolution that its aftermath that Marx formulated the theory of class struggle as the dominant feature of history. In his theory, social antagonism was for the first time accorded moral legitimacy: hate, which Judaism condemned as self-destructive, and Christianity (in the guise of anger) treated as one of the cardinal sins, was made into a virtue.
    • p. 262
  • If we turn to the differences separating Communist, Fascist, and National Socialist regimes, we find that they can be accounted for by contrasting social, economic, and cultural condition in which the three had to operate. In other words, they resulted from tactical adaptation of the same philosophy of government to local circumstances, not from different philosophies.
    • p. 278
  • Marxism and Bolshevism, its offspring, were products of an era in European intellectual life that was obsessed with violence. No-one embraced this philosophy more enthusiastically than the Bolsheviks: ‘merciless’ violence, violence that strove for the destruction of every actual and potential opponent, was… the only way of dealing with problems.
    • p. 500

Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution (1995) edit

Vintage Books, New York, NY 1997

  • The collapse of the Soviet Union, a state which appeared as solidly entrenched to us as the tsarist Empire did in its day, was not triggered by social unrest: there were no strike waves, no massive demonstrations, no widespread violence. The USSR disintegrated because of political decisions made at the top.
    • p. 14
  • The Empire was traditionally run by a bureaucracy and a gentry, after 1880 reinforced by a political-police organization. This political policing was a Russian invention; Russia was the first country to have two police systems, one to protect the state from its citizens, and the other to protect the citizens from each other. Subsequently, this dual structure became a fundamental feature of totalitarian states.
    • p. 17
  • Studying Russian history from the West European perspective, one also becomes conscious of the effect that the absence of feudalism had on Russia. Feudalism had created in the West networks of economic and political institutions that served the central state, once it replaced the feudal system, as a source of social support and relative stability. Russia knew no feudalism in the traditional sense of the word, since, after the emergence of the Muscovite monarchy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, all landowners were tenants-in-chief of the Crown, and subinfeudation was unknown. As a result, all power was concentrated in the Crown.
    • pp. 17-18
  • According to Marx, the evolution of capitalism would inevitably lead to the pauperization of the proletariat and then, just as inevitably, to its radicalization. It is interesting that Bento Mussolini arrived at an identical judgment ten years later. Before the outbreak of the first World War, Mussolini had been the closest analogue to Lenin in the European socialist movement, being equally revolutionary and anti-reformist. He was the Lenin of the Italian Socialist Party with the difference that, whereas Mussolini managed to rally behind him a revolutionary majority and expel the reformers, in Russia, Lenin found himself leading a minority and forced to break away from the Social-Democratic Establishment.
    • pp. 36-37
  • We cannot determine whether or not he had met Lenin during their common exile in Switzerland; Mussolini once cryptically remarked: ‘Lenin knew me better than I knew him.’
    • p. 37
  • The party which Lenin forged and led was really not a party, in the customary sense of the word. It was more of an ‘order,’ in the sense in which Hitler called his National-Socialist Party ‘ein Orden,’ bound by the members’ unshakable loyalty to their leader and one another, but subject to no other principle and responsible to no other constituency. Genuine political parties strive to enlarge their membership, whereas these pseudo-parties—the Bolshevik one first, and the Fascist and the Nazi ones later—were exclusive in that they treated membership as a privilege, restricting it to persons who met certain ideological as well as class or racial criteria. Elements regarded as unworthy were purged.
    • pp. 38-39
  • The purpose of totalitarian parties, for which Bolshevism provided the model, was not to become the government, but to manipulate the government from behind the scenes.
    • p. 39
  • Lenin wanted power. This may sound self-evident; after all, every politician is assumed to lust for power. But deep down, Lenin’s rivals did not want it.
    • p. 42
  • Another advantage of Lenin’s derived from the fact that he did not care about Russia. He cared about Germany and England in the sense that, for him, as a revolutionary, they were the key countries. Russian he viewed as nothing more than a stepping-stone to global upheaval;…
    • p. 43
  • Because he did not care about his country, Lenin was prepared to promise everybody whatever they wanted without giving much thought to the future. The peasants wanted private land for their communes? Let them take it: eventually all the land will be confiscated and collectivized anyway. Until then, ‘looting the loot’ will win over, or at least neutralize, the peasantry. The workers demand to run the factories? Even though ‘workers’ control is a detestable syndico-anarchist slogan, there is no harm in granting their desires—for the time being. Once industries have been nationalized and subjected to general economic plan of production, ‘workers’ control’ will vanish of itself.
    • p. 44
  • By 1921 it had become clear to all but the more incorrigible optimists that there would be no repetition of October 1917 anywhere else and that for an indeterminate period the revolution would remain confined to Russia and her possessions. The concept of ‘socialism in one country’ was not launched by Stalin in his conflict with Trotsky, but earlier by Lenin himself.
    • p. 72
  • Last but not least, the factor which prevented Trotsky from succeeding Lenin was his Jewishness. Trotsky hated to be reminded that he was a Jew. Whenever anybody come to him asking him to help other Jews, he would explode in anger and insist that he was not a Jew but an ‘internationalist.’ On one occasion he said that the fate of the Jews concerned him as little as the fate of the Bulgarians.
    • p. 81

Property and Freedom (1999) edit

New York: NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999

  • Aristotle based his opposition to common ownership not only on logical but also, and principally, on utilitarian grounds. It is impractical because no one takes proper care of objects that are not his: ‘How immeasurable greater is the pleasure, when a man feels a thing to be his own, for surely the love of self is a feeling implanted by nature…
    • p. 8
  • Aristotle argues, possessions enable men to rise to a higher ethical level by giving them the opportunity to be generous: ‘liberality consists in the use which is made of property’—an argument which would greatly appeal to Christian theologians of the Middle Ages. Aristotle’s preferred regime was one founded on a middle class, with an equitable distribution of assets.
    • p. 8
  • Stoicism’s contribution to the shaping of the Western intellectual tradition is probably second only to that of Jewish monotheism. If monotheism advanced the revolutionary concept of an all-powerful and all-pervasive but non-material God ruling the universe, the theory of Natural Law posited that God’s universe was rational and capable of being grasped by human intelligence.
    • p. 7
  • The main Roman contribution to the idea of property lay in the realm of law. Roman jurists were the first to formulate the concept of absolute private ownership, which they called dominium… Roman jurisprudence went to great lengths to stipulate every conceivable nuance of property rights: how acquired and how lost, how transferred, how sold. The rights implicit in dominium were so absolute that ancient Rome knew nothing of eminent domain.
    • p. 11
  • A theoretical defense of private property as a feature of Natural Law, however, was not fully made until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the age of Jean Bodin and Hugo Grotius. But that the idea occurred to Romans is evident from Cicero’s argument that government could not interfere with private property because it had been created in order to protect it.
    • pp. 12-13
  • Nothing contributed more to the emergence of private property in the West and the rights associated with ownership than the appearance in the late Middle Ages of urban communities.
    • p. 107
  • Moscow’s insistence that ‘fascism’ was the polar opposite of ‘communism’ found wide acceptance in socialist and liberal circles in the West.
    • p. 218
  • Both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany did indeed allow—or, more accurately, tolerate—private property. However, it was ‘property’ in a peculiar and very restricted sense—not the virtually untrammeled private ownership of Roman law and nineteenth–century Europe, but rather conditional possession, under which the state, the owner of last resort, reserved to itself the right to interfere with and even confiscate assets which in its judgment were unsatisfactorily used.
    • p. 218
  • The economic policies of Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany resembled the ‘state socialism’ which Lenin wanted to institute in Soviet Union upon coming to power, under which private enterprise would work for the government—an idea Lenin was force to abandon under the pressure of the ‘Left Communists’.
    • p. 218
  • From 1920 onward, [Mussolini] depicted Italy as a ‘proletarian’ nation exploited by hostile ‘plutocratic’ countries determined to deny her her rightful place under the sun. The true class struggle, according to Fascist doctrine, was the struggle between nations. Fascism strove to surmount narrow class allegiances: all classes had to subordinate their private interests to those of the nation and collaborate against the external enemy.
    • p. 219
  • Hitler did not have Mussolini's revolutionary socialist background... Nevertheless, he shared the socialist hatred and contempt for the 'bourgeoisie' and 'capitalism' and exploited for his purposes the powerful socialist traditions of Germany. The adjectives 'socialist' and 'worker' in the official name of Hitler's party ('The Nationalist-Socialist German Workers' Party') had not merely propagandistic value... On one occasion, in the midst of World War II, Hitler even declared that 'basically National Socialism and Marxism are the same.’
    • p. 220
  • On the eve of its coming to power, industrial workers composed nearly one-third of the Nazi Party membership and constituted its largest occupational groups. The party adopted the Red Flag, declared May 1 a paid national holiday, and required its members to address one another as Genossen or ‘comrades.’
    • p. 220
  • Within a month of taking control of the German government, the Nazis suspended constitutional guarantees of the inviolability of private property. Property was to be respected, but only as long as the owner used it for the benefit of the nation and state: in the words of a Nazi theorist, ‘[P]roperty was . . . no longer a private affair but a kind of State concession, limited by the condition that it be put to ‘correct’ use.’
    • p. 221

Quotes about Pipes edit

  • The Cold War remained a struggle for Western minds as much as a competition in weapons development. All academic institutes and political ‘think tanks’ in the USA were hostile to the Soviet Union. The same was true of most such bodies in western Europe (although a few of them produced work untouched by criticism of Soviet history and politics). The great dividing line was the question what to do about the Kremlin. One wing of opinion wanted a stronger position to be adopted in any agreements with the USSR. Soviet politicians were depicted as slippery ideologues bent on internal repression and territorial expansion. If they wanted to trade with the USA, then they should be constrained to respect human rights as agreed in the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe signed in Helsinki in August 1975. But better still would be the introduction of a cordon sanitaire around the communist states. Eventually, it was predicted, communism would implode in the USSR and elsewhere. Robert Conquest, Richard Pipes and Martin Malia were prominent in making the case. They argued that the communist order was doomed and that there was nothing to be gained by prolonging its death agony. The Soviet Union was the most pernicious existing example of totalitarianism, and the extension of its type of state to China, eastern Europe and other countries was the greatest tragedy of the second half of the twentieth century.
    • Robert Service, Comrades: A History of World Communism (2009)
  • Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, [historian] Richard Pipes and many other American politicians and publicists are frozen in a mode of thought they developed a long time ago. With unchanging blindness and stubbornness they keep repeating and repeating this theory about the supposed age-old aggressiveness of Russia, without taking into consideration today's reality.

External links edit