I was grieved, but not unduly surprised, to learn of the passing of noted historian, scholar and fervent anti-Communist Richard Pipes, one of the world’s leading authorities on Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution which took place there and a hero in the fight against the evil which arose from them. Throughout his ninety-four year journey on this earth, Professor Pipes lived a very full life. From gazing upon Adolf Hitler from a distance at the age of sixteen, to being a poor refugee sending postcards to over a hundred American colleges asking for financial aid and part-time work, to being an adviser to the great Ronald Reagan himself, Pipes had a life story most historians can only dream about. However, despite the adventures which life sent his way, Professor Pipes was first and foremost a true scholar who understood Russia and the Communist Revolution better than almost any human being during his lifetime. He made it his life’s work to educate students, the public, and even high-ranking government officials on the nature of the Communist threat to the civilized world. His efforts and his valuable assistance in Reagan’s crusade to topple the Communist empire, make him a truly great hero to the civilized world. A Hero Beyond Time, whose memory and work should be revered and studied by grateful generations to come.
Pipes made it part of his life’s work to tell the truth about what really happened in Russia during the period of the Communist Revolution. He took the time that so many historians of his time did not (and which many common people could not) to actually research the actual facts of what took place when Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky and their Bolshevik Party took power and then put it in print for the world to see. He called out the Soviet Union for its lies about having the will of the people behind them and showed how they were actually a minority faction which seized power and then imposed a tyranny on the people of Russia and later the Communist Bloc. He explained to the world the shocking crimes which the Communist regime committed against their own people and showed that they were not simply mistakes made by idealists who were figuring out their ideology, but rather were deliberately planned by utopian-minded, morality-lacking tyrants. He understood the premise of the Totalitarian ideology which drove Communism and that they were bent on world domination no matter what tactics they needed to accomplish it. This understanding enabled him to give valuable insight to Ronald Reagan, when he took power in 1981, as to the strategy the United States should adopt in confronting the Communist Empire. As evidenced by the fall of the Soviet Union ten years later, it is probably not a understatement to say that Pipes’ advice played a major key role in helping Reagan accomplish this end.
His role in assisting Reagan alone would have made Pipes a hero of the Cold War. However, when this in addition to the literary legacy on the Cold War which he left us in his extensive writings is taken into account, his place in the fight against Communism takes on an even more heroic posture. Pipes went against the dominant academic posture on the Soviet Union and the Cold War which tended to defend or absolve the Communists’ crimes. His stance opened him up to ridicule and name-calling from many of his academic colleagues who favored Soviet Communism and its totalitarian, atheistic principles. Yet, in spite of this and the loneliness it bred in his academic circles, Pipes never wavered. He stood fast to the facts as he presented them in his classic works and never backed down from his assertion that the Communist regime in Russia had truly been, as Reagan called it, an Evil Empire.
Professor Pipes’ loss is a great one to the world. Yet he left us his legacy in his outstanding body of work. In a world today which is dealing now more than ever with the disinformation and intellectual confusion spread by the Communist Empire during its heyday, his works on Communism, the Russian Revolution and the history surrounding that monumental event should be studied and shared with the younger generations now more than ever. The world owes Richard Pipes a great debt of gratitude for his work and if the next generation of leaders truly wish to learn from the mistakes of the not-so-distant past, they should begin by learning from the lessons Pipes left for posterity.
Rest in Peace Professor Richard Pipes and Thank You. We will never forget you.
© 2018 Grant Dahl & On This Terrestrial Ball. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without permission from the author of this piece.