Leszek Kołakowski, 1927-2009

Kolakowski In the BBC:

One of the few 20th Century eastern European thinkers to gain international renown, he spent almost half of his life in exile from his native country.

He argued that the cruelties of Stalinism were not an aberration, but the logical conclusion of Marxism.

MPs in Warsaw observed a minute's silence to remember his contribution to a free and democratic Poland.

Leszek Kolakowski was born in Radom, Poland, 12 years before the outbreak of the World War II.

Under the Nazi occupation of Poland school classes were banned so he taught himself foreign languages and literature.

Kolakowski's “How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist”:

Motto: “Please step forward to the rear!” This is an approximate translation of a request I once heard on a tram-car in Warsaw. I propose it as a slogan for the mighty International that will never exist.A Conservative Believes:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

[H/t: Karen Ballentine]