Beyond these psychological aspects, Stalin’s character had a philosophical core which made him nearly incomprehensible to Western leaders. As an old Bolshevik, he had suffered imprisonment, exile, and privation on behalf of his convictions for decades before coming to power. Priding themselves on having a superior insight into the dynamics of history, the Bolsheviks saw their role as helping along the objective historical process. In their view, the difference between themselves and noncommunists was akin to the difference between scientists and laymen. In analyzing physical phenomena, the scientist does not actually bring them about; his understanding of why they occur enables him occasionally to manipulate the process, though never according to anything but the phenomena’s own inherent laws. In the same spirit, the Bolsheviks thought of themselves as scientists of history—helping to make its dynamics apparent, perhaps even to speed them up, but never to change their immutable direction.
Communist leaders presented themselves as implacable, beyond compassion, and as unswerving from their historical task as they were unswayable by conventional arguments, especially when these came from nonbelievers. The communists felt they had an edge in the conduct of diplomacy because they thought they understood their interlocutors better than they could ever understand themselves. In the communist mind, concessions could only be made, if at all, to “objective reality,” never to the persuasiveness of the diplomats with whom they were negotiating. Diplomacy thus belonged to the process by which the existing order would eventually be overturned; whether it would be overthrown by a diplomacy of peaceful coexistence of by military conflict depended on the assessment of the relation of forces.
— Henry Kissinger, “Diplomacy” p.333-34