The Empire Breaks Up
February 20, 1989
Gorbachev’s nationality crisis.
The Barricades and Beyond
November 09, 1987
Octavio Paz on the Spanish Civil War.
In Strange Company
April 21, 1982
Has Niebuhr-mania gone too far?
October 07, 1981
Ideas, in the last century, were the masters of facts, but in this century the facts have returned to haunt them. The duty of free minds once was to discover vast new conceptions of humanity which would free more minds and smash the tyrannies; but the tyrannies generally were not smashed, they were replaced, and the vast new conceptions only reshackled the minds they were meant to free. The duty of free minds now is to discover these facts.
The Light in the East
September 20, 1980
During the last week in August in 1980 a new kind of light appeared in Poland, illuminating the world scene in an unexpected way. An eerie sentence swam into my mind, the one that Winston Churchill wrote about 1914 when the pall of the parochial Irish crisis hung over the warm summer evening of the British Empire; and when the parishes of Fermanagh and Tyrone faded into the mists and squalls of Ireland, "and a strange light began immediately, but by perceptible gradations, to fall and grow upon the map of Europe." That strange light, in 1914, was the glimmering advent of World War I.
December 29, 1979
The Soviet Union’s greatest mythological figure is 100 years old this week.
The Death of the Moderns
August 06, 1977
Why the International Style failed.
TRB from Washington: Matters for Mencken
July 09, 1977
How H.L. Mencken would have skipped his paunchy knee and twinkled his china-blue eyes in cynical rapture over the Neutron bomb as another example of human folly. Really, the thing is wasted without Mencken around. The Neutron bomb, you see, is small, it's "clean"; it's teensy-weensy; it's a cutrate H-bomb that kills all the people in the neighborhood with radiation but lacks the punch to destroy buildings. How economical. What a weapon tor cleaning out cities. And what a plaything for the generals. At last we have invented a humane bomb: humane to buildings.
Life Among the Refuseniks
August 24, 1974
After eight days without food, the Sinologist Vitaly Rubin had an alert, rapid, feverish way of explaining things. "I am no parasite, what they call. I work at Hebrew University, only I am still in Moscow. I was summoned to KGB to fill out a form: What is your working place? and I answered: Hebrew University." Odd to discuss such matters with men deliberately starving themselves to death. "It is possible to live here," Vitaly Rubin was saying, "but not if you have any dignity. I am specialist in eighth and ninth century China." He was laughing a fierce, feverish little chuckle.
Détente and Dissent
September 22, 1973
East-West detente has had a chilling consequence in Moscow. The long war between repression and dissent has escalated as the Kremlin tried to show the Soviet people that rapprochement abroad does not mean ideological relaxation at home —and Westerners have begun to ask if detente has any meaning when it has such side effects.