Morgan Meis on The Straight Talker, Kolakowski

ID_NC_MEIS_KOLAK_AP_001 Speaking of 3QD people, Morgan Meis over at the Smart Set on Kolakowski:

Leszek Kolakowski died a couple of weeks ago. He was a philosopher, a man of letters, historian of ideas. He lived the 20th-century life. It sucked. But like many a Pole, he made the best of a bad situation. The opening lines of the Polish National Anthem are, after all, “Poland has not perished yet.” Poles know that everything will turn out for the worst. It always does.

Kolakowski grew up during the Nazi occupation of Poland and came of age when the Nazis were exchanged for the Soviets. Liberation, in Poland, is the name for a short period of chaos between oppressors. Kolakowski did his best to think with the times. He started out a Marxist — not a ridiculous position for a young anti-fascist to take in those days. It was not, however, a position that any self-respecting Eastern European could hold past the mid-’50s. Kolakowski had some self-respect.

That's where it gets interesting. Never an either/or sort of fellow, Kolakowski opted for nuance. There were things about the socialist mindset that he liked. He also considered himself fundamentally conservative. It's a tricky position, a perfect place from which to be misunderstood by everyone, on every side. For better or worse, Kolakowski was too smart to care.