Suicide of the Liberals, by Gary Saul Morson.
Between 1900 and 1917, waves of unprecedented terror struck Russia. Several parties professing incompatible ideologies competed (and cooperated) in causing havoc.
Instead of the pendulum’s swinging back—a metaphor of inevitability that excuses people from taking a stand—the killing grew and grew, both in numbers and in cruelty.
How did educated, liberal society respond to such terrorism? What was the position of the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party and its deputies in the Duma (the parliament set up in 1905)? Though Kadets advocated democratic, constitutional procedures, and did not themselves engage in terrorism, they aided the terrorists in any way they could. Kadets collected money for terrorists, turned their homes into safe houses, and called for total amnesty for arrested terrorists who pledged to continue the mayhem.
One sometimes hears that “the pendulum is bound to swing back.” But how does one know there is a pendulum at all, rather than—let us say—a snowball accelerating downhill? It is unwise to comfort oneself with metaphors. When a party is willing to push its power as far as it can go, it will keep going until it meets sufficient opposition.
Seriously. Read it. History doesn’t repeat, but it very often rhymes.