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When I returned from the first of my travels in Eastern Europe, in the early 1960s, and uttered such elementary truths as that the Communist regimes were cruel, repressive dictatorships; that they had no regard for human rights; that they showed undisguised contempt for the people they governed; that their normal methods had always included torture, the imprisonment of opponents, and judicial murder; that they were hated and feared by most of the people who lived under them; that they contained as an all-pervading feature inequalities of personal power wider than could be found in the West; that they did not even have the redeeming feature of being efficient, but were, on the contrary, inefficient to the point of near-shambles; and that they devoted colossal resources to trying to cover all this over by lies, including most of their official statistics—I found virtually no one willing to believe me. Most of my Labour Party friends thought I was passing through some sort of McCarthyite episode. Nor was it only left-of-centre people who reacted against the truth in this way. My conservative friends thought I was ‘exaggerating wildly,’ ‘going too far,’ ‘over the top,’ and so on; and they kept responding to my remarks with sentences that began ‘Come, come.’

Bryan Magee (from Confessions of a Philosopher, 1997)

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