It is a great honour to be asked to speak to this gathering, representing the Parliaments of the former communist states. And I welcome the opportunity to say something about the legacy of communism and what it means for us today.
Being anti-communist in 1970s Britain
I confess to being an anti-communist. During the 1970s and 1980s anti-communists were shunned in our universities in Britain. After all, we were attacking the revolution that offered to liberate mankind from the world-wide capitalist conspiracy. Our professors admitted that the Soviet Union had gone wrong; but it was wrong in practice, not in theory. We apologists for capitalism were wrong in theory, which was far worse than the mere accident of causing twenty million deaths and the extinction of individual liberty across half the globe. The fact that we were right in practice was barely noticed by our critics.
We have lived through all that, but it seems to me that the lesson still needs to be learned. Life was made hard for us by our nice colleagues, who repeatedly expressed their outrage at our nastiness, in order to put their own niceness on display. It was in those days that I learned just how nasty niceness can be. From the moment in 1980 when I came out as a defender of conservative values against the socialist orthodoxy, my life has been one long succession of attacks, designed to undermine my standing as a public intellectual. Teaching in the University of London was particularly difficult.