Thoughts on “Prosperous” Communism

Thoughts on “Prosperous” Communism

Khrushchev is reported to have remarked that Dr. Zhivago might have been published in the Soviet Union if only a few hundred words had been eliminated. The fact is, of course, that it was not published; but it might be worthwhile to speculate whether there is something inherent in the structure of Soviet society which must necessarily rule out the possibility.

Those of us who have maintained a sustained critical stance toward the Soviet Union may sometimes have succumbed to a certain rigidity which has hampered our judgment. Having found abundant evidence for the totalitarian nature of Russian society, we have perhaps sometimes been forced into a kind of Manichean world view according to which Russia represented absolute and immutable evil. To the extent that we indulged in such moods we may sometimes have been led to overlook possibilities of change in Russia which, though they would not alter its essential character, yet would affect significantly the quality of life. The tentative ideas which follow are to be read as an effort to counter tendencies toward the ossification of thought among radical and socialist anti-Communist thinkers.

It has been considered axiomatic that totalitarian regimes must necessarily extend their control over all spheres of social life, that none of these can be left uncoordinated since each uncontrolled sphere must be considered a source of infection from the point of view of the powerholders. Total loyalty being the pre-conditio...

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