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Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million

Martin Amis

Top 10 Best Quotes

“In general, writers never find out how strong their talent is: that investigation begins with their obituaries. In the USSR, writers found out how good they were when they were still alive. If the talent was strong, only luck or silence could save them.”

“Ideology brings about a disastrous fusion: that of violence and righteousness — a savagery without stain.”

“Robert Conquest once suggested that 'a curious little volume might be made of the poems of Stalin, Castro, Mao and Ho Chi Minh, with illustrations by A. Hitler.”

“Stalin's mental journey, by 1943, proceeded in the opposite direction to that of Hitler. One moved toward reality; the other moved away from it. They crossed paths at Stalingrad. And as the war turned on the hinge of that battle (and on the new psychological opposition), Stalin might have concerned himself with a "counterfactual": if, instead of decapitating his army, he had intelligently prepared it for war, Russia might have defeated Germany in a matter of weeks. Such a course of action, while no doubt entailing grave consequences of its own, would have saved about 40 million lives, including the vast majority of the victims of the Holocaust.”

“Nazism did not destroy civil society. Bolshevism did destroy civil society. This is one of the reasons for the “miracle” of German recovery, and for the continuation of Russian vulnerability and failure. Stalin did not destroy civil society. Lenin destroyed civil society.”

“The militant Utopian, the perfectibilizer, from the outset, is in a malevolent rage at the obvious fact of human imperfectibility.”

“Q: What’s the difference between a Communist car and a Communist proselytizer? A: You can close the door on a Communist proselytizer.”

“He tortured, not to force you to reveal a fact, but to force you to collude in a fiction.”

“The fact was that facts were losing their value. Stalin had broken the opposition. He was also far advanced toward his much stranger objective of breaking the truth. Or it may have been the other way about: actuality, under Stalin, was such that dread and disgust forbade you to accept it— or even to contemplate it.”

“One recalls John Updike's argument: the only evidence for the existence of God is the collective human yearning that it should be so.”

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