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Samizdata quote of the day – All revolutionaries become conservative

All revolutionaries become conservative in the very act of effecting their revolution. From the moment a change has been brought about their concern is to prevent it from being reversed. They seek means to guard the power they have taken into their hands against all possibility of a counter-revolution.

– Enoch Powell, Freedom & Reality, Paperfront, Surrey 1969. It appears to come from a speech made in Bognor Regis in November 1966.

27 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – All revolutionaries become conservative

  • lucklucky


    Unto Caesar [by] F.A. Voigt. has some considerations on Marxism , he was a journalist for Manchester Guardian and abandoned it when he wrote this book.

  • Snorri Godhi

    All revolutionaries become conservative in the very act of effecting their revolution.

    Exactly right… and it shows the foolishness of assuming that “Left” and “Right” are Platonic concepts, independent of time & place.

    One could add that revolutionaries turned conservatives, become reactionaries once the counter-revolution has taken place.

    One word of caution: while all revolutionaries turn into conservatives if+when successful, not all conservatives used to be revolutionaries.

  • Steven R

    I had a professor tell me once that when you get down to it, every major factor in history from wars to revolutions to religions to institutions all come down to one thing: Power. Who has it, who wants it, and what are they willing to do to gain it or keep it. The names and ideologies and governments and motivations and all the rest are incidental.

  • lucklucky

    I disagree with premise based on French Revolution and Stalin, murdering in large scale continued.

  • llamas

    God, but that man was smart. Who recalls now that he was a full professor (of Greek, at the University of Sydney) at age 25, returned to the UK at the outbreak of WW2 to join up as a buck private, and ended the war as a brigadier (one-star) general?

    His knowledge and understanding of history was just awe-inspiring. It would have been a privilege to sit and listen to him duscussing it.



  • bobby b

    I think this concept stems from an over-simplification of the concept of conservatism.

    It’s easiest/simplest to think of conservatism as a Chesterton’s Fence sort of philosophy – protect against unwise change – but to be accurate, I think we have to distill it back to, what state of things we deem it wise to conserve.

    If progressives change society drastically, and we seek to change it back, Powell’s definition makes the progs the conservatives, and it makes us conservatives into something else.

    I’d prefer to think of conservatism as a small-government philosophy, not a never-change philosophy. When government gets too big, we are indeed seeking to change it – back to a smaller government. That’s the conservative essence – not some idea that we must then protect huge government so that there is no change.

    Or maybe I’m just gaming the words.

  • AndrewZ

    @bobby b
    I think that you are highlighting the importance of defining what “conservative” actually means, and Powell uses the word carelessly in that quote. It’s clear enough what he meant, but his choice of words is questionable. The simplest formulation of the idea is that the people on top always want to stay on top and there are only a few ways to do that, so a new boss class soon becomes much like the old boss class because form follows function.

  • Kirk

    Enoch Powell is going to go down in history as the greatest example of “a prophet without honor” during the latter half of the 20th Century. And, the sad thing is? He only needed a slight amount of prescience and the ability to connect causative “A” with consequence “B” to become such.

    There’s really not any of his prescience that couldn’t have been foreseen by anyone else, of a normal intellect. All it took was clarity of vision, and I dare say that there were probably some very unimportant people in Britain who were saying the same things that Powell got shouted down for, but who weren’t well enough credentialed or prestigious enough to be heard and paid attention to.

    What Powell really did was voice the things that anyone with common sense was saying, and he did so despite the fact that the “popular madness of crowds” within the circles of British elites were saying the exact opposite.

    That he had the testicular fortitude to do so? That, I am afraid, is what he should be admired for: Going against the “conventional wisdom” of his era, which was neither wise nor truly “conventional”.

    A good deal of our trouble, these days, stems from just this sort of “Bright Ideas” being put into effect, against all common sense. Which, in turn, is sadly not all that damn common. It’s practically a superpower, the way the elites treat it. I doubt that there’s a single beat cop, anywhere in the US, who’d have said “Oh, yeah… That’s the ticket: Decriminalize all the things…”

    However, those beat cops ain’t the ones making the decisions, are they? Those are the exclusive purview of the credentialed “Brights”, who keep coming up with all these ideas that never seem to work out, and yet, who also never seem to pay any price for their multitude of stupidities and bad decisions.

    I honestly don’t think that there’s much of a difference, these days, between “liberal” (Democrat) and “conservative” (Republican). I can honestly say, after watching these morons at work since the early 1970s, I don’t think you can even argue that there is a difference, other than what demographic they’re grifting. Republican “conservatives” blow as much cash and perform as many social policy stupidities as the Democrat “liberal” types do, and they’re often indistinguishable except by name and who sponsored the legislation. It’s all equally stupid, ineffective, and expensive. The only people benefiting from all of this are the bureaucrats, the consultants, and the staff of all these “helping agencies” like the ones meant to do away with homelessness. How’s that working out for you, middle America?

    I believe it is far past time to cease paying attention to these jackasses, and find something that works. The conservatives don’t conserve, and the liberals are bunch of Karen-caricature control-freak assholes, far worse than the Moral Majority ever was. A pox on all their houses.

    The real dichotomy in today’s society isn’t between “liberal” and “conservative” but between “dumbass” and “pragmatist”. Right now, the pragmatists are a minute minority with no power, while the dumbasses are front and center, running the show into the ground.

    What really yikes me is that the Republicans have sworn, all my life, that they’re really the “Party of fiscal responsibility…” and “social conservatism”, yet when they were in power…? Did they do anything to rein in spending? Did they do much at all to stop the slide into social chaos? Nope; instead, they worked hand-in-glove with their supposed dire enemies, the Democrats.

    Hell, look at the spectacle in the House, right now. Never mind the merits of it all, what the hell are the Republicans doing working with the Democrats to pass continuing legislation that will fund all the Democrat spendthrift programs and policies that I voted for those selfsame “Republican” jackasses to at least fight against? Why bother to vote for them, if all they’re going to do is sigh heavily and say “Oh, well… We can’t stop the Democrats, so…”

    The day is coming when these assholes of the Uniparty are going to rue the last sixty years of partying on our dime. Diane Feinstein was worth a cool 160 million bucks when she died. How’d she manage that, on a Senator’s salary? I want a damn forensic accounting for where every penny of that came from, because I guarantee you that there’s a huge chunk of that “generational wealth” that she didn’t earn in any other manner than graft and corruption.

    Same with the Biden Krime Krewe. How the hell are they not being investigated, with all the evidence that’s come out? If I did what any one of the Bidens has done, I’d have been buried under the prison, not in it… How many millions of dollars processed through how many front companies, and for what? What, exactly, were those foreign “investors” buying? What service were the Biden’s providing? Or, are they going to claim that Joe and Hunter were just such charming and entertaining characters that they chose to give them millions of dollars, just for being who they are?

    Seriously? The assholes running this show want us to believe that Hunter was worth 80,000 dollars a month in salary, because of his “expertise” in the energy industry? WTF? How stupid do they think we are…?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Steven R., that is an interesting observation. Does that mean that Switzerland, with its’ decentralized system of Cantons, is safe from revolution? Perhaps we should all adopt this style of Confederation?

  • DiscoveredJoys

    Perhaps we should tease out the difference between the Rude Mechanicals challenging the Elite (rebellion or insurrection) and a new Elite replacing the old Elite (revolution). According to Peter Turchin’s Cliodynamics Theory the Elite soldier away consolidating their grasp on power and wealth and then they fail to maintain their pre-eminence by overproducing Elite children – too many to share the wealth without squabbling or competing for scarce careers. There’s a period of chaos and then a new Elite emerges, possibly by revolution, rarely by insurrection.

    The USA (and to a lesser extent the UK) are currently in the chaotic period between elites. All this guff about identity politics is mostly the grown up children of the old Elite struggling to find a way onto the gravy train (and stay there). The new Elite will emerge, possibly as a pragmatic response to the current absurdities. It won’t arise out of the current Conservatives for they are part of the old Elite, the old Establishment. But the brand may continue. But as per Enoch Powell the new Elite will then set about consolidating their grasp on power and wealth.

  • Snorri Godhi


    I’d prefer to think of conservatism as a small-government philosophy, not a never-change philosophy.

    That would be correct in the Anglosphere, but certainly not in “continental” countries, especially if Catholic.
    Or to put it another way: that is true of Burke-conservatives but not of Maistre-conservatives. The latter often have more affinity for fascists than for classical liberals. (And it seems to me that even in the Anglosphere, “progressives” think that Burke-conservatives are actually Maistre-conservatives: bigoted, authoritarian, anti-rationalist.)

    Having said that, Giorgia Meloni is a Burke-conservative… at least if we go by her speeches.

    In any case, it seems clear from the context that Powell did not mean Burkeans.

  • Paul Marks

    It is a quote that sounds clever – but it is wrong.

    It is true that “Stalin” showed some social conservatism – for example, his opposition to the Frankfurt School hated of the traditional family (originally the Frankfurt School – what is today called Critical Theory or “Woke” Marxism was ruled “Politically Incorrect” by “Stalin” but they took that term and made it their own – with, by the 1980s, the Frankfurt School Marxists deciding what was or was not “correct”), but “Stalin” had always been rather socially conservative, at least by the standards of his fellow Marxists.

    Mao started off a social radical – and remained one to the end, being in power for some 37 years did not make him any less radical.

    Ditto Fidel Castro and-so-on.

    Rather than changing people power seems to just bring out, make obvious, what they have always been.

    John Enoch Powell also thought that the Soviet Union was a conservative power – seeking to protect itself, rather than advance Marxism around the world.

    And Mr Powell was also WRONG about that – as when “Stalin” talked of “socialism in one country” he did NOT mean that he had given up the desire for world-wide Marxism, he meant that the best way to achieve world-wide Marxism was by making the Soviet Union stronger – as well as by a massive subversion campaign around the world.

    Indeed, contra Powell, the Soviet Union continued its world-wide radical subversion campaign into the 1970s and 1980s.

    I suspect that he was alive to day Mr Powell would be saying that the People’s Republic of China had become a conservative power – uninterested in radical subversion round the world, and he would be totally mistaken.

  • Paul Marks

    Domestically there is also the view that if the radicals are allowed into the establishment they will become less radical – more “conservative” “at least with a small c”.

    Again this view is totally wrong – allowing the radicals into establishment, into the institutions they now dominate, has not made them any less radical – not on Frankfurt School Marxist “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (called in Britain “EDI” rather than “DEI”), or “Net Zero”, or on anything else.

    Again what Mr Powell said seems clever – but it is wrong.

    Indeed the radicals seek to outdo each other – not hesitating for a moment in destroying life long “friends” for any sign of moderation. And they do not become more moderate when they take over an institution (public or private), if anything they become more extreme.

    “But Paul – the logical conclusion to draw from that is that they will never moderate, that they will totally destroy society”.

    Yes it is – they will totally destroy society, unless they themselves are destroyed.

    For example, one can not reason with the creatures who now control the United States government – they reject reason, on principle.

  • Martin

    I suppose there may be some truth in this if you are using ‘conservative’ as meaning the defender of a prevailing orthodoxy. If a revolutionary regime lasts long enough and takes over the major institutions of society (and/or destroys or at least sidelines rival ones), its ideology eventually becomes the orthodoxy of that society.

    There is, of course, examples of revolutionaries, who while able to tolerate periods of ebbs of revolutionising, were fundamentally seeking to having ongoing revolution. There may be periods of retrenchment and even backsliding. But eventually they’ll be a new period of revolutionary zeal. One can see that in Stalin and Mao Zedong certainly. The latter you see Mao back off slightly after the Great Leap Forward, only to launch the Cultural revolution several years later. You see it in the ongoing civil rights revolution that has been ongoing in the United States since the 1960s.

    You do see with many revolutions many so-called ‘moderates’ who go along with revolutions to a point but get pushed aside by those more radical, such as the Presbyterians in the English revolution, the likes of Lafayette in France, Kerensky in Russia, many of the non-Communist Cubans who allied with Castro against Batista etc. And more trivially, the kind of people who say they were in favour of affirmative action and gay marriage but are queasy about BLM violence and kids getting gender transition surgery. I don’t really think such people are conservatives even if they eventually baulk at the increasing radicalism of revolutionists.

    Although there are exceptions (e.g. Hitler, Mussolini – revolutionaries but particularist and inegalitarian rather than universalist/egalitarian), most modern day revolutionaries have universalist ideologies. What I perceive as genuine conservatism has to have some kind of traditionalist and particularist flavour. I’m comfortable with English and French conservatism having different emphasises, let alone Chinese or Indian conservatism, for example.

    that is true of Burke-conservatives but not of Maistre-conservatives. The latter often have more affinity for fascists than for classical liberals.

    Please elaborate who these ‘Maistre-conservatives’ are and who the ‘fascists’ they supposedly have affinity for.

  • Snorri Godhi

    A postscript to my previous comment:
    Contra bobby, “Chesterton-fence” conservatism is indeed a small-government philosophy: it makes people skeptical about change initiated by government. Sure, some change initiated by government increases freedom, but most such change doesn’t, so it is libertarian to be skeptical about change (but not dogmatically opposed to change).

    By contrast, continental (Maistre) conservatism seems to me intrinsically anti-libertarian: it is a principle of legitimization for a particular form of government. I base this opinion on
    (a) Isaiah Berlin’s essay on Maistre and
    (b) personal association with Italian old-style conservatives (a species on the way to extinction, but my association happened decades ago).

    I might as well add that attitudes to Putin are a good, if not infallible, test to distinguish between small-government Burke-conservatives from authoritarian Maistre-conservatives. No small-government conservative can fail to see Putin as a long-term threat, but seeing Putin as a threat is no guarantee of being a small-gov. conservative.

  • Martin

    I thought you may refer to Berlin’s essay. I have read it myself. I only recently began reading Maistre, and while I can’t claim to be an expert in the topic, I’ve seen a fair amount of recent scholarship by Maistre experts which is quite damning of Berlin’s essay, including by one scholar who Berlin was the doctoral supervisor for (see ‘Berlin, Maistre, And Fascism’ by Cyprian Blamires). I’m not aware of any serious fascism scholars who maintain Maistre as a forerunner to fascism, except for perhaps having some influence on Charles Maurras.

    We also have the testimony of Il Duce himself, who even made his feelings clear on Maistre:

    “The fascist negations of socialism, of democracy, and of liberalism
    must however not make anyone think that fascism intends to bring the
    world to what it was before 1789. … We do not turn backwards. Fascist
    doctrine has not chosen Maistre as prophet. … A party that governs a
    nation by totalitarianism is a new fact in history

    I’ll grant that Maistre is no libertarian and profoundly anti-liberal and against the enlightenment (I have ambivalent views on liberalism and the enlightenment so don’t necessarily see this as bad). However, I don’t think he has much to do with fascism or 20th century totalitarianism.

    I might as well add that attitudes to Putin are a good, if not infallible, test to distinguish between small-government Burke-conservatives from authoritarian Maistre-conservatives. No small-government conservative can fail to see Putin as a long-term threat, but seeing Putin as a threat is no guarantee of being a small-gov. conservative.

    Where are these ‘small-government’ conservatives who oppose Putin? I mean actually implement small-government rather than just preach it as empty rhetoric? The British Tories for example are almost universally supportive of Ukraine. Many of them still claim to favour a small state. Yet in practice they’ve bloated the British state massively.

  • llamas

    Paul Marks wrote:

    ‘John Enoch Powell also thought that the Soviet Union was a conservative power – seeking to protect itself, rather than advance Marxism around the world.’

    Not to be snippy or anything, but can you provide a cite for this statement? Not saying you’re mistaken, but as I thought I knew a good deal about Powell (he being one of the highest-profile politicians of my youth) I had never heard this said of him before. Thank you kindly.



  • Kirk

    I think you’ll be waiting a long time for that cite, llamas.

    I’ve read a good deal of Powell, and I don’t think I ever ran across that quote, and I’m pretty sure that it ain’t what you’d term “consonant with his other work”.

    I would say, however, that Stalin’s Soviet Union was, in a sort of odd way, extremely conservative. Thing is, the thing they were “conserving”? Traditional Russian despotism. All that really changed was the names and the iconography; the average Russian shifted somewhat seamlessly from worship of the sainted Little Father in St. Petersburg to worship of the proletarian prince in Moscow. Very much the way they did the same to Putin.

    It is really disconcerting to watch all those plaintive video clips of Russian soldiers pleading with their abusers, who they are certain would intervene on their behalf, if only the Tsar/Stalin/Putin knew…

    It’s an age-old scam in Russia. Even has a name: “Good Tsar/bad boyar”. It’s a nice little swindle; the guy on top gives the orders, and the guys in the middle take the blame while the lowly remain convinced that the big guy really, truly cares for them.

    In that regard, I think we could term the Russians intensely conservative in the sense that they don’t change. Or, seem to learn very well from experience. You’d think that after Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, all the Romanovs, and then the various Communist supreme leaders, they’d have cottoned on to it all, and learned not to fall for the whole setup.

    They haven’t, however. Slow learners, apparently. Sad.

    A point I’d like to raise is the semantics of it all; the Marxists created the term “Capitalist” to describe traditional market economics, and have managed to make that slander stick while maintaining the primacy of their virtue by terming their own ludicrous ideas as “socialist”. Were they more honest, they’d call the two systems of economic thought “traditional market-based” and “command-directed theft”.

    Similarly, the “liberal” and “conservative” labels are totally inadequate. The liberals are anything but, being more doctrinaire and controlling these days, and the supposed conservatives are just going along to get in on the graft opportunities. They don’t conserve squat, so calling them that is a false label. They should be termed “Parliament of whores and pimps” for the supposed liberal types, and “Parliament of whores and pimps, lite” for the conservatives. There’s not a knife-edge of difference in effect between the two of them, just a lot of mugging for the camera and continual swindling of the constituencies.

    Frankly, I think we’d all be a lot better off if all of our political elite, across all nations, were dangling from lamp posts. They’re all grifting grifters who grift, and who demonstratively do not act in the general interest of their electorates. Doubt me? Take a look at the way they all get rich, effortlessly, for no reason, while in office. Feinstein? Pelosi? Biden? Obama? Care to explain to me, in tiny little words, how they got so wealthy while humble government employees? Same goes for many others who manage to somehow eke out considerable “generational wealth” while in “public service”.

    Only servicing the public gets from these assholes is the same sort of servicing the bull gives the cows–A thorough screwing.

  • Paul Marks

    I see no evidence that, for example, that the Islamic Republic of Iran regime has become conservative (although the lying international media and establishment sometimes calls it conservative).

    The regime is just as radical now as it was 44 years ago (the Revolution of 1979) – and it continues to push radical subversion around the world.

    Again the quotation sounds clever – but it is wrong.

  • Paul Marks

    “All Revolutionaries become conservative”.

    Mao was as radical when he died as when he took power 37 years before, he was still trying to smash traditional Chinese society and spread revolution around the world.

    The claim that “all Revolutionaries become conservative” is false.

  • Paul Marks

    The false idea at the base of Mr Powell’s false claim that all Revolutionaries become conservative, is the idea that a Revolution is just a singular event.

    That is NOT how, for example, Marxists see Revolution – to Marxists the Revolution is just the start of a process to totally transform society. It is not some single event that happens and then it is a matter of “well that is done now”.

    Highly intelligent man though he was, Mr Powell never really understood Marxists – which explains his hopelessly innocent view of the Soviet Union.

    To the Shia “12er” followers of Islam who created the Revolution in Iran in 1979 the Revolution was NOT a single event either – it was the start of a radical process that would, eventually, lead to the coming of the “Hidden Iman”. The “Hidden Iman” has not turned up – so they must continue their radicalism, at home and around the world, till he does turn up to lead Islam to world conquest. It is much the same with Sunni groups – anyone who believes the Taliban when they say they are not interested in subverting other lands, just in ruling Afghanistan, is an idiot (yes I am saying that Tobias Ellwood M.P. is an idiot – gallant soldier though he was).

    Expecting Revolutionaries to become “conservative” – to expect them to just focus on “preventing the Revolution from being reversed” is wrong. And it is more than wrong – it is dangerous, as it leads to lowering one’s guard.

    On this Edmund Burke was wiser than J. Enoch Powell.

    Edmund Burke pointed out that there were “armed doctrines” (his term) that never become conservative – that are always determined to expand and to transform (at home – and in other lands) he identified Islam as one such “armed doctrine” and the Jacobin part of the French Revolution (which later was developed into Marxism – when Karl Marx and others got hold of the ideas of French speaking Collectivists such as Rousseau – by the way Rousseau is also the grandfather of the “Green” doctrine) as another such “armed doctrine”.

    You must defend against an “armed doctrine” NOT expect it to become conservative over time.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Martin: please do not misrepresent what i write.
    I did not write that Maistre was a forerunner to fascism, and did not write anything that contradicts your quote from Mussolini.

    Which quote, for the benefit of others reading this, is from the Doctrine of Fascism; and it is from the section written by Mussolini himself, not from the section ghost-written by G.Gentile.

    In the following paragraph, Mussolini wrote:

    We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State.

    No wonder Maistre-conservatives have affinity for fascism: Mussolini advocated authority, the collective, and the State, and he used the same definition of “right-wing” as they use, for good measure.

    –NB: I do not engage with Paul Marks because, once again, he starts from the assumption that words do not mean what people* mean when they use them, they mean something else.

    * Enoch Powell, in this case.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for Putin, Martin is again failing to read what i wrote:

    … seeing Putin as a threat is no guarantee of being a small-gov. conservative.

    He rephrases the same concept, claiming that it proves me wrong.

    Martin better wakes up to the fact that parties in the European Conservatives and Reformists group are prevalently pro-Ukraine, and most MEPs who do not support Ukraine are of the “far-left”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Oh, I see that I.Berlin also wrote an essay titled: Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism.

    But that is not the essay that i read: this is.
    I apologize for the confusion.

  • Tammly

    Kirk the trouble is that many intellectual judgements are clouded by ideology.

  • Kirk


    The root of the problem is the entire concept of ideology.

    Paul Marks said this, higher up:

    That is NOT how, for example, Marxists see Revolution – to Marxists the Revolution is just the start of a process to totally transform society. It is not some single event that happens and then it is a matter of “well that is done now”.

    He is exactly right, here. But, the extension can and should be made to ideology of all stripes, whether it’s traditional monarchism or today’s various flavors of Marxist-derived bumwad. The fundamental problem with ideology is that it’s a straight-jacket; thought goes in, and does not come out. Some brilliant theorist comes up with an idea; he sells that idea, then men and women of far lesser intellect adopt it as their own, as though they’d converted to a new religion.

    Meanwhile, all that ideology ever was? It was an Idea; untested, unverified, with no experimental validation or ability to adapt to the world as it is, either empirically or pragmatically. Ideologues are in love with the Idea; they cannot think outside of it; they cannot bring themselves to even observe its failures.

    You can, should you care to look, observe a hell of a lot of contiguity between today’s left and the various Doomsday Cults scattered throughout history. You talk to the true believers of either, and ask “So, why hasn’t the world ended/true communism come about…?”

    If you don’t recognize the similarity after both parties have their say and voice their excuses for the continued existence of our world, well… I think you should listen more carefully. The religious fanatic that “believes really hard” in their faith is only different from the political fanatic who believes in their cause by the things they worship. It’s just a different expression of the same underlying intellectual vacancy and what should be in the DSM-IV as a mental condition.

    Ideologues have substituted what they’ve been told for thinking. Few of them are really capable of their own thought, to any degree, so they grab on to what others hold out to them with the fervor of a drowning man clutching his life preserver. They will not examine their belief system, because to do that would be to acknowledge that they were inadequate, as well as swindled.

    If you approach anything from an “ideological standpoint”, you’ve already failed. It’s like running a science experiment with the premise that you’ve already determined what is correct, and now you just need to find the evidence…

    I’ve yet to meet a “true believer” in anything that wasn’t intellectually deficient, or demonstrating some form of mental disfunction like being on the autistic spectrum. You cannot believe in an ideology with fervor while still retaining the ability to actually observe and think. An ideologue approaches everything with a pre-conceived set of notions and beliefs, ignoring any evidence or experience that contradicts his or her holy Idea. You can’t argue with these people; their minds were made up that one time, and they’ll never change them, short of some (for them alone, hopefully…) world-shattering event.

  • Steven R

    Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. It isn’t a question of the Marxist or Fascist regimes politics becoming more Conservative; it’s that once the new guard becomes the old guard, they will do anything to keep and stay in power.

    I doubt Mao or Stalin believed even a quarter of what they wrote, but they did believe in keeping the masses riled up against an enemy and that kept the masses from deciding Mao and Stalin needed to go.