Robert Conquest was an historian who is sometimes quoted for his "Three Laws of Politics":

  • Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  • Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
  • The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

While these laws have been attributed to him (e.g. by John Derbyshire, a columnist for the National Review in 2003), it isn't clear that he ever stated them.

A Google search revealed either people copying and pasting from John Derbyshire or just writing up their own spin on the issue.

Did Robert Conquest ever write down his "Laws"?

  • 1
    I'm finding no primary sources, everything seems to be referencing itself. Don't bother with wikipedia, it seems to be a circular reference and itself is looking for a better source outside of a blog post from 2008.
    – DenisS
    May 5, 2017 at 20:05
  • 1
    The second law looks like O’Sullivan’s First Law
    – Golden Cuy
    May 7, 2017 at 3:49
  • 3
    Wikipedia links to an article written by O'Sullivan in 1989 which specifically coined his "First Law". O'Sullivan also mentioned "Conquest's Second Law" (which is stated as the 'Third Law' here). So the second bullet point is likely 'solved', but the first and third are still open. May 7, 2017 at 11:11


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