NOT FOR1 -
One afternoon, the summer beforeasriendTs place in Leningrad looking at some paintings. My friend had setrivate exhibition for several young Leningrad painters and had crowded the walls of his one-room apartmentarge number of intriguing canvases that ranged in style from passe cubism to the latest extravagances of non-objective art. We had been talking about painting, mainly about how it was now quite risky to run such private exhibitions as his because the previousouple of them had been raided by the authorities, when the conversation turned to writing. Boris began to talkoung writer he had recently discovered whose stories delighted him. This young man, whoas writing storiesragic cast about the problems of old age, and, according to Boris, he rtvealed an astonishing insight?erson so young into the psychology of old people. But this wasn't what particularly delighted Boris about the stories, What delighted him about them was that they were written in an easily understandable, straightforwardly realistic prose style, and were refreshingly free of the involuted eorrplexities of the avante-garde literarythat, Boris complained, so many of the manuscripts of the young Russian writers he had been reading exhibited.
What could be more deliciously ironic? asountry where Socialist Realism is the literary law ofand where any manifestation by writers of an interest inexperimentation continues to be officially denounceddecadence*'; and here was Boris, starving amidst adecreed abundance of realistic prcse for the plaincf words without ulterior meanings and plots andseme recognizable relation to life. Of course, Boris1very specialized. He had been reading hisndecisively experimental or formalistic vein it wasthey wrote for people like Boris, and not for publication* was never able to determine how extensive this kind ofamong ycung Russians. When he was in America not very longEvtushenko told me that writers who privately experimentprose styles are the exception in the Sovietthan the rule. But judging by Boris* predicament, he hadmanaged to surround himselfonsiderable number of -
I have net recalled this incident here because of the amusing irony it contains in itself, but rather because it is illustrativearger irony connected with Soviet appearances and Soviet reality
us who-know-Russia well- have-not run-inta a
stubborn show cf disbelief when describing to our countrymen the relative impervicusness of intelligent Russians to officialtheir political open-mindedness, or their critical attitudes toward their government? Thereettled conviction in the West,
nurtured by such thinkers as George Orweil, by the superficial accounts of Russian life of various Moscow correspondents, and by the hastyof Western visitors to the Soviet Union, that the Russian people arc in the mass like-minded copies of their leaders. Toypical example. Max Frankel, who summed up several years of duty in Moscoweries of articles on the Soviet Union in The Hew York Times, tells us that Russians not only lack freedom, they also "lack an appreciation of the meaning of personal freedom." Russians have lived so long without freedom, Mr. Frankel implied, that they have lost the awareness of what it is. Or take the case of Arthur Schlesinger,ho the year before last returned from the Soviet Union, where he wentember of an American writers' delegation, and wrote an account of his experiences in Encounter magazine. Mr. Schlesinger was shrewd enough to realize that he had to discount as mere parroting of the official line much of what he heard from Russian writera during delegation discussions. And when he writes of his dominant impression of the Soviet Unionthat ittheological" society, certain of the infallibility of its leaders, its ideology and its victorious historical destinyhe is carefulmit the relevance of this characterization to the official Soviet intellectual atmosphere he was exposed to. Nevertheless, he somehow allowed himself to be taken in by the official ideological din, and he expanded his characterization of official Soviet society to cover the Soviet intellectual elite, which he described as displaying the faith, dogmatism,and stereotyped thinking appropriate to the leading members ofeligious community as he perceived the Soviet Union to be.
on't want to appear clever at Mr. Frankel 'a and Mr. Scfclesinger's expense by reaping the eesy benefits of hindsight. illingly admit that it tookear of living in unrestricted and intimate contacts with Russians to shed my own inclinations toward similar beliefs.
I went to the Soviet Union with the ideaould be livingifferent breed of people who would be separated from me in-tellectuslly by all the crocked ways of Soviet dialectical logic, and withould find it difficult, if not impossible, tonew, .of course, there would be exceptions. But, after all, last November marked the forty-third anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, and for all those forty-three years the Russian people have beento the most steady, highly saturated and insidiously varied propaganda yet devised by governments. It was only natural to expect that all those years of propaganda had had their effect, and that on political issues the common attitudes of Russians would be sharply opposed'to'the attitude's* of" people with access to objective information. But my biggest surprise in the Soviet Union was to find thatrwellian gap"ad expected to separate me from Russians, does not exist at all as far as intelligent Russian opinion is concerned.
Of course, there were many people who for various reasonsouthful naivete, stupidity, lack of education, or vested interestsexhibitedthe qualities of raindlessness and stereotyped thinking that Soviet indoctrination aims to inculcate. However, what was astonishing to find was that so often, no matteralked totaxi drivers, students, scholars, or just plain people met by chance on the street orestaurantthat these peopleid share basic values with reference to which we evaluated Soviet life in the same way. There was no basic disagreement between us; none of the blankof people whoifferent world of moral and social valuesad exdected to encounter in discussions with Russians on such topics as freedom of the press, for example, or the prohibition of information from the West, or,.again, the lack of genuine democratic political institutions in the Soviet Union.
1 had gone to the Soviet Union armed with moral indignation,oon had to lay down my arms. oon found myself ceasing to tell Russiansasty place it was they lived in. They knew betterhat they were unfree, that they were miserably poor, perhaps needlessly so, that their leaders lied to them, distorted facts and concealed information from them. ould sum up myin the Soviet Union with respect to this question by saying that almost all of my dialogues with Russians illustrated the. simple maxim that "he who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches."
Now it is always odd when two or mere observers come toopposed conclusions on the basis of presumably similar experiences. And ifm about to write is to be at allust attest to give some answer to the question of how it happened that Mr. Frankel and Mr. Schlesinger on the one side, and myself on the other, did come to opposite conclusions.
The cast of Mr. Frankel is simple enough. There is no more dangerous manoviet Russianestern journalist and he ls
.the last person in theussian would be inclined to be frank with. During the wh-ie of my year at Leningradnew of only cne student who was expelled from the university for political reasons*. This young man had succeeded in establishing foreputsticnon-cenformist and oppositionist. He was one of the very few younget in Leningrad who was genuinelyn religicn, and he made no secret of it. He read English well, and because he hadoint of despair not uncommon among Russians that drives themurt disaster rather than put up
lying and ^subterfuge, he conspicuouslywhatever unorthodcx English reading matter he could lay his hands- on. He was one of the outstanding students at the Economics Faculty and he wastudy cf the American economy in which he came to conclusions offensive to the orthodoxies of Marxism-Leninism: his faculty advisor used to tell him how mach better off he would be if
would only make up his mind to "be with us, instead of against us." The authorities didn't like any of these things about this young man, but no measures were taken against him snd he wasto go on studying. Then, in the Springerip to Moscow where he somehow managed to get himself interviewed by an American reporterid-Western newspaper. The interview, Identifying him and describing some critical remarks he made of the Soviet Union was published in America, came to the attention of the Soviet authorities, amj caused his expulsion from the university.
The Soviet authorities are not as impatient with open(as long as it is unorganized) as is often thought, but expressing itoreigner, especiallyoreign journalist,orm of attack they will not tolerate. This to them is tantamount to betrayal to the enemy; it has almost the weight of treason in their eyes. This, incidentally, is the reason why most Soviet tourists abroad are even more guarded and rigid with foreigners than they are at home.
Mr. Schlesinger's impressions were gathered mainly from official delegation discussions. These are not, to say the least, exactly the circumstances in which one can expect to have frankwith Russians. One soon learns in the Soviet Unionew elementary rules have to be observed in order to know Russians honestly. The first is never toussian to speak candidly with you in the presence of other Russians, unless they are his trusted friends. The second rule is never toussian who is talking to you in an official capacity to risk his job or his freedom (or, sometimes, to betray his trust) by revealing his private self. This must be kept firmly in mind if you have anything to do with Soviet cultural delegations, where both rules are bound to be intensified by the presence of people who are responsible forover their fellow delegation members and for directing the discussions along "proper lines."
o not wish to suggest that no one who spoke to Mr. Schlesinger was honest with him. Many of the literary people one meets in delegation circles are likely to be representatives of the despised Stalin generationhe careerists, sycophants andmediocrities who rose to the top of Soviet society whenthat was intelligent, talented and in dependent-minded in it was swept away by the purges. Some of these people actually do possess the qualities of mind Mr. Schlesinger attributes to the Soviet intellectual elite; and, yet, even among them, if they are genuine intellectuals and not mere party bureaucrats, the rule is cynicism
tupidity^ and what they say canpot be taken .as evidence
"for what they believe. As for the other writers and intellectuals Mr. Schlesinger may have talked tothose who deserve thelite" not because they are highly placed in intellectual society, but because they are the advanced minds of the Soviet intelligentsia
we can be sure that if they impressed him the way they apparently did, it was because they were being less than candid with him. Mr. Schlesinger suspected that the very men "who seem rigid andwhen foreigners voice doubts are actually voicing the same doubts themselves in private." He was right. And yet he did use hiswith them as the basis for defining the state of mind of the Soviet intellectual elite as "theological."
I suppose that after having talked for several weeks with human beings theresychological compulsion to believe that you have been in touch with realities and not in some schizophrenic never-aever land where everyone says one thing but thinks another, so that in the end you are left unable to make any judgments at all based on what people have said to you. However, iticked fact, butact, that whatever genuine intellectual life there is in the Soviet Union exists under the surface, and that Russians, when they feel they have to, can lie (not only to foreigners,but also to cne another) with the flawless skilleople gains from having lived under conditions of political oppression for as many years as they have.
To thism troubled by the memoryadoung philosophy teacher at Moscow university. ad only just arrived in the Soviet Union. It was early October, and colder than'I remembered any October to have been back home. ad been given only one blanket for ay bed and was making inquiries about getting anotherery intelligent looking young man, who, as it turned out roomed just down the hall from me, offered to lend me an extrahe said he had and invited me to his room. It was the firstad been completely aloneoviet Russian. Here was myto find out what "made the Russians tick." Just as soonould, after we had gotten over the polite formalities of making each other'segan to raise thead been storing up for justoment. Mycon found out, was notatriot, heper-patriot; he seemed thoroughly imbued with the faith, and delighted by this unexpected chance to proselytizt it to cne of the uninitiated. as Impressed by the passionatewith which hethe virtues of the Soviet system,it to be the freest and mcst democratic in the world; snd equally impressed by the sincere show of warmth with which he pitied me for having to live in the wcrld cf capitalism, exploitation and intellectual toadyism. onfronted him with an account of Khrushchev's secret speech ath Congress, trying to describe as vividlyould some of the ghastly crimes Khrushchev accused Stalin of. How could his faith remainsked, in the face of the knowledge that such "things had" happened" in his 'country? was"uite faithful to the then current line, and quite insane. Stalin, he said, could not be blamed for the "mistakes" that took place during his reign; this as everybody knew, was the fault of Beria, who, as
everybody knows,apitalist agent and saboteur. These were my first days in the Soviet Unionas not surprised or disappointed by this man's response. as face to face with that politicalthe Orwellian double-think,ad expected to encounter. Was it possible that this man, by all normal signs intelligent and rational, actually believed this mad medieval tale of Stalin seduced by the Mephistophelean wiles of an evil lego? ad no reason to think he didn't. ould not detect the slightest shiftiness in his eyes, the faintest movement of his facial muscles, by which one supposes people to betray insincerity. Andm now convinced he was lying.
During the succeeding months of my stay in the Soviet Union,ad had so much experience with people who were capable of thinking independently and criticallylmost began to cease to believe that there were any indoctrinated true believers in the Sovietontinued to be disturbed by the memory of that young man at Moscow University. poke to Russian friends about him, told themas convinced he actually believed in the Beria story and all of the other fantastic, distorted official accounts of history. But my friends were unmoved; their verdict was unanimous: If he was, he could net possibly have believed the nonsense he told me. Andm sure my Russian friends were right. This man had been lying to me, anderfect Job of it, because he did not trust me and was afraid to reveal his actual views.
If there is anything nightmarish and diabolical about the Soviet Union it is not that the government has succeeded in some Orwellian way In twisting peoples minds; it ls that the government has.succeeded in compelling people to pretend that their minds have been twisted into' official molds, and, moreover, to pretendastery thaterfect illusion of reality.
I am convinced that itussian-speaking foreigner at least several months to find the road to fruitful and frankin the Soviet Union. It takes at least that long to learn to distinguish between those people who for various reasons are going to give ycu carbon-copy statements of the current official line, from those who will speak truthfully. In one's ownan's quality is in mos't cases an open bock. We can detect almost instinctively by how our countrymen taJJ'. cr lock if they are stupid or insincere, that is, worth talking to. But on foreign soil it takes time to acquire the tact necessary toan's quality on the basisew meetings. Forforeigner in the Soviet Union the roadruitful exchange of ideas lies in the several months of education by which- he -learns-to-separate -the people who'"fromvenal ityT or stupidity cannot be counted on to depart one whit from official ideology, from those who can be talked to in oji honest, human way.
I have given all this attention to the question of whether or not the Soviet mindcaptive mind"hink it is of primary importance for me to try at the outset to establish certain general characteristics of Radio Liberty's listening audience before takingescription of that single segment of itSovietave been asked to write about. On the basis of my experiences in the Sovietould suggest that the first assumption Radio Liberty should make is that its audience does not have to be cleansed of pernicous indoctrination and won overew point of view. The people who listen to Radio Liberty should be, if nothing is done to alienateriendly audience. They share the varying degrees of dissatisfaction with their government that is characteristic of thinking Russians.
What are the grounds for this dissatisfaction? First of all, they are economic. Despite considerable, and in certain areas,improvements under Khrushchev in material conditions, lifeto be extremely poor by Western standards, and Russians know it and continually complain about it. Housing is appallingly crowded, consumer goods of all kinds are in short supply, and even entertainment facilities like movies, restaurants, cafes or informal local "hangouts" are scarce relative to the need for them. Young people, obviously, are especially sensitive to the lack of adequate entertainment And crowded housing is an irritant to them on several counts. First of all, it frustrates their desire for privacy, both before and after marriage. It is easy to understand that it is no pleasure under any conditions to have to live with one's family after you have reached the age when you want to live alone, just as it is easy to understand that living with in-laws after marriage presents unpleasant problems. But in the Soviet Union there sre certain disadvantages connected with crowded housing that are not so obvious to us from our own experiences and have more to do with political considerations than with personal ones. There are nosy, narrow-minded neighbors who regard themselves as the guardians of public morality in any country. In most places theyuisance which can more or less be avoided. But in the Soviet
.Union, where the rule is communal apartment living, with four to five familiesingle apartment, these neighborsositive menace living right under your very nose. It is not that thepolice has its spies planted in every house, as is sometimes imagined in the West. It is just that when people of mixed social backgrounds are thrown together there is bound to be friction, and bound to be one among them whoossip, or ambitious for official favor,eresy-hunting pstriot who would not hesitate to cause trouble for an unorthodox neighbor. oreigner, my experience of
-the constraints communal, apartment.livingieods_was
very vivid indeed. For one of the taboos of Soviet society iswith foreigners and by personally participating in the various
precautions my friends had to takeisited them atas better able to imagine the many other ways they had to restrain their behavior so as to avoid setting loose the wagging tongues of neighbors.
Another way in which the housing problem affects particularly the young it the cramp it puts upon their social life. The typical young urban Russian not only has no place where he can be alone; he also has no plac* where he can entertain his friends. As surban youthsot of their free time outside of their homes. But this is also not without its annoying problems. For where are they to go, and what are they to do for casualoutside their homes? ity like Leningrad, with ain the millions, there arefirst-class" restaurants where young people may congregate,ozen or two cafes, all of which, by the way, close no later than midnight on weekdays. on Saturdays. The reason, it was explained to me, why Soviet cities black out so uncommonly early is because the Soviet Unionorking nation, whose people have to get up early for their jobs. The cafes, but not the restaurants, display little signs on their walls ranging in expression from the mildly "We Don't Smoke Here" to the imperious "Smoking Strictly Forbidden." No one knows why the signs are there. Some ascetic types defend them by citing sanitary reasons: cigarette smoke is presumably harmful in some way to the digestive processes. But it would be difficult to explain why lt is any less harmfulestaurant thanafe. an't Imagine that Ilf and Petrov in their day failed to aim some of their choice satiric barbs st this particular evidence of bureaucratic literal-mindedness and idiocy, but the signs are still there and they continue to standymptom of the joyless, heavy, puritanicallyayof Soviet life, just as the early closing of restaurants and cafes does. There isingle coffee house in Leningrad where young people can get together and talk; there are no night clubs; thereingle ice-cream parlor for the whole length Nevsky it can always be identified by the long lines that form in front of its doors on summer evenings. Russians are perhaps the most devoted movie-goers in the world, but just because they are, the supply of movie houses lags way behind the demand for them; to see afilm, and often one that is net so worth-while, you have topecial advance trip to the box office to buy your ticket. When you consider all of these things together you get some insight into at least one of the reasons why urban Russian youtheeling of restlessnessense of being hemmed in.
These feelingseculiar focus in the typical attitudes of young Russians toward America. Whatever else it is they don't know about America, they have somehow learned that itand in which the young are especially favored. Itarvel to them thatof university age frequently have their own automobiles and they
muse _abpuj;_Jhe. mobility_aAd. sense, of..freedom .this_must. give_their
American coevals; they talk wistfully about "nochnyend young Russians, like many Russians who are not so young, look backto the NEP period when night life had all the qualities of raciness and variety they imagine it to have in America and know it
to be lacking in the Soviet Union. Jazz haseculiarly responsive chord in youth the world over,ardly think it would be possible to find young people anywhere else in the world asabout jazz as many of them are in Soviet Russia. new numbers who would have been willing to trade almost anything they owned for an American jazz record;emember particularly the pride and excitement withoung Moscow artist, who earned his living doing caricatures for Komsomol'skaya Pravda. displayed his jazz collection to me. It consisted ofay plates, each of which he had acquiredrice ofoubles from members of the black market ring, later exposed in the Soviet press, that had succeeded in divertingay materials from their medical uses and in transcribing American jazz records onto them.
The especial intensity of Russian jazz enthusiasts is, of course, partly the result of their being almost completely deprived of jazz in their society. But deprivation is not the only reason for their boundless enthusiasm. Jazz has for youngnique, symbolic significance entirely apart from anything that it, in itself, communicates to young people elsewhere in the world. Jazz, and the circumstances in which it ls listened to in America and Western Europejazz clubs,offee houses, informal concert hallsis associated for young Russians with more than their deprivationodern musical form; it is associated for them withhole modern life style that they long for.
To beo keep abreast of whatever is latest in the Westthisively concern for many Russians, but for typical educated youths ituling passion. The speculators on Moscow's Gorky Street, who will buy the shirtestern tourist's back, trade and flourish on this passion. Young Russians, in particular, are offended by their country's continued backwardness and they resent being cut off from new developments in the West. The positionesterner often finds himself inesult of his Russian friends eagerness to be up-to-date is both sad and embarrassing. as at .times the court of final appeal in matters of taste ranging from the cutriend's imported East German sport jacket to the prose styleriter's published short stories, notad anyto special competence in these questions, but merelyas an educated man, born in the West. The point is that the West, in the minds of most educated Russians, has acquired all the idealized attributesairyland. Russians have endowed it more richly than it deserves with those qualities of grace, style and elegance they miss in their own lives and they naturally deferesterner inreas-where-they-feel
The traditional Russian sense of inferiorityis the West has been perpetuated and intensified by the decades ofimposed upon Russians by the Soviet government. Before going
to the Sovietad always thought that the occasionalin the Soviet press against what is called "adulation for the West" (preklonenie pered zapadom) on the part of certainof the youth wereerbal cover for official anxiety about possible ideological influences from the West. But thething is that "adulation for the West" is real in the Soviet Union, bizarre in its forms, and largely unrelated toconsiderations. There are Russians who "collect"others who boast of theirew who use them as lures to attract female company, and many who pursue them with an ardor that canesterner's life in the Soviet Union aof social rounds. ave been bewildered by the antics of, well-educated acquaintances who selected occasions to speak English within earshot of other Russians so as to be taken for foreigners. Sometimes they carried the game even farther, simply introducing themselves as Englishmen or Americans. It was obvious that they felt that their stock had risen in the eyes of their countrymen. And indeed it had.
The Westotent charm over the imaginations of Russians. To be takenesterner, to have Western acquaintances, to wear'Western clothingall of these things resultubtle enhancement of one's person, an addition to one's social prestige, and even, sexual power. The craze for things Western that almost all Russians are seized with has to be understood in this way. Thewho will pester you for months to getair ofblue jeans, the young student who will throw caution to the winds and make repeated trips to your dormitory room to negotiateinnish raincoat, the numerous Russians who will pay double and triple the' price they pay for domestic clothing for the various articles of used Western clothing that find their way to Soviet second-hand stores: these people are not so much interested in improving their appearance as they are in possessing themselves of concrete suggestions ofwith that Western world which they know their friends find so inescapably attractive.
All of the powers of attraction that the Russian acquires by artifice belongesterner by simple right of birth. Toesterner, especially on American, in the Soviet Union is tonique sense of favor. No Western visitor to the Soviet Union can avoid noticing the extra attentions, large and small, he is accorded, or the stir of excitement he is capable cf arousing. But it wouldistake to try to explain this solely on the basis of the obvious fact that Westerners are rare in the Soviet Union and Russians are
eager .foreknowledge-of the-Westimporthe- impact
that the imagined "glamor" of the West has upon people who areby the extreme unglamorousness of their lives. An odd thing happened to me in the Soviet Uni'WK uddenly noticed myself turning the young ladies' heads. ad bnen lucky enough in America
to Interest at least one young lady, my wife, butad ever experienced before had given me reason to believeossessed any of the masculine giftsotential Don Juan. It disappointed me that Russian girls should be so vulnerable to the charms of the exotic as to bestow special attentionsan just because heoreigner. My Russians friends were not at all surprised by my predicament. One friend explained the warm interest of Russian females in foreigners by pointing out that they felt oppressed by the dullness and monotony of their life and so lookediaisonoreignerolorful and exciting adventure. Another friend protested against my disappointment with Russian girls: "Why shouldn't they find you interesting and attractive. Look at the way you are dressed and look at the way we are dressed." Sally Belfrage, who had lived in the Soviet Union long enough to see the world with Russian eyes, described her sensations upon havingoscow Intourist hotel and seeingroup of Western Europeans congregated in the lobby: the striking variety of their dress evoked for her the imageox of Christmas candies brightly spsrkling in their varicolored tin foil wrappings.
These are some of the things that are behind the allure of the West for Russians, and lt was because we had grown accustomed to exercising it that an American friendnce were astonished when upon being Introducedoung lady as Americans we received nothing more from heristant and correct, "how do you do." It was as if to be an American held no more distinction for her than to have blond hair or brown eyes. She showed none of the sudden animation, gave none of the hints of the eye by which Russians seem to announce upon being introduced to you as an American that you have stepped out of some splendid world to brighten their lives.
Everybody has heard about Great Russian nationalism. The patriotism of the average Russian is genuine, and the readiness and volubility with which even Russian intellectuals express patriotic feelings is rather shocking, almostt least this is the way it strikes an American intellectual who prides himself on his impartiality and-lack cf chauvinism and is characteristically squeamish about exposing whatever patriotic feelings he may have lest he be thought of as aggressive, or, God forbid, badly educated and Philistine. Russian.nationalismajor force, withmthat frequently reach into official Soviet international But although one can very easily get the impression from reading the Soviet press that Russian nationalism is not very different from what German nationalism was under Hitler, that lt is an expression of national self-confidence and superiority feelings, this wouldistaken- impression.strength of-the average Russianls-.feelings of patriotism is for the most part what the psychologistsreaction formation" to his feelings of national inferiority. His patriotism is the productsychological injury, the legacy of
the centuries during which Russiansr felt they were, held in contempt by Western Europeans for their cultural and economic Russians want to be considered the equals of other Western peoples and they are extremely sensitive to the slightest hint of disdain or condescension. m not sure that it will take them very far in dealing with the Soviet Union, still it would be well for our government leaders not to discount this element in Khrushchev's personality.
But,ad said, Russian patriotism is not news to anybody.ave never seen described is the reverse of Russianefinite anti-nationalism that is characteristicarge segment of the educated youth and is aseaction to Russia's continued backwardness as is its opposite. The resentment that many young people feel toward the dull, crude and gross qualities of the tone and texture of Soviet life often takes unfortunate expressions. oticed in the Soviet Union an antagonism on the part of young people toward the common, uneducated masses that surprised and chagrined me. In the cities the manners and looks of the large peasant populations that inhabit them continue te evoke from tbe lips of more urbane young Russians the epithets seryi and tyemnyi, epithets with which the narod was often characterized inh century. It happened on several occasions with different friends in the theatre that we would be strolling amidst the crowd in the foyer during the between-act intermissions, and my friend wouldncompassing the audienceisdainful gesture, "Posmotri,as publika':" My friends were offended by the poor dress of the audience, by thefaces of these army officers, government officials, factory workers and visiting provlneiils who are the new theatre-goers of the Soviet Union. The youngm now describing, the "Russians they, themselves, stylelame the shabby stylelessness of Soviet life, everything from the gauche styles of Soviet clothing to the stained, crumb-laden table clothes in Soviet restaurants, upon the low cultural level of the Russian people. They are actually inclined to blame their despotic governmentalon "the people." The Soviet government, they claim, is anexpression of the pclitical and cultural immaturity of the Russian people. Their rulers are for the most part half-educated former workers and peasants, and how could oti^ expect anything but simple-minded political intolerence from them. Tor these youngone of the great problems of Soviet society is that the simple people have indeed inherited the Soviet earth, and haveesult set the tone of Soviet cultural life. ften thought that people who argued this way hadurious twist to the problem of Mass Society that so mu"ch has been written about in the West. Thece.ishe-Soviet Union the*masses- dotheir:'astes upon the minority as they do in the West, commercially, through the operationarket* directly, through theof political power.
Obviously, theave been describinginority among Soviet youth tokenhole, though my experience tells me that they areinority among the educated youth. Their perverse attitude toward their countrymen is an outgrowth of acraving for elegance, refinement and style whichajor aspect of the mentality of Russian youth. Life in the Soviet Union is experienced by young people as being particularly uncongenial to them. There are certainly many more reasonsave described above for the young Russian's sense of the uncongeniality of his society. Some of them are purely politicalthe steady harangue of propaganda and indoctrination, the severe demands for Intellectual conformityand have nothing to do with discontent directed at the style of Soviet life. The result of the inability of young people to find satisfaction for the natural intellectual and aesthetic wants is frustration and boredom as welleliberate and unabashedof the more raw pleasures of lifesex and drink. It will someday comeurprise to Westerners who are accustomed tocf Soviet sexual mores as rigidly puritanical to learn that they are anything but that. They are, in fact, extremely lax by Western European standards. as told, "is one of the few sweets we have innd judging by the astonishingly high incidence of adultery and pre-marital sexual experience in Soviet cities, itweet that is freely indulged in. But apparently the pleasures of promiscuity soon pale for young people and theyonging-for more stable satisfactions. Marriage appeals to themeaven from their boredom and restlessness andupport against the frustrations of their society. Typically these early marriages turn out to be ill-conceived and end in divorce. Of the two dozen or so youngnew well enough to have been told about such personalarge'majority had been divorced at least once, and some two and three timet.
I often thought that if the Soviet government had not been so successful in focusing the attention of Its citizens on catching up with America there wouldot less economic discontent in the Soviet Union. Why should Russians insist on comparing themselves with Americans, as they invariably do, and not with other countries in Asia"or Africa that have suffered comparable historicrequently found myself trying to moderate the discontent of friends with their material life, and trying to counter their complaints about the economic-misdeeds- of-their leaders with^iMjection'of"historical' perspective in which their level of material life might appearetter light. Why should you be angry that you aren't housed as well or dressed as well assked? Look when you started on the road to industrialization and look when we did. Iturious role to find myself inssumed it as much to soften the
humiliation my friends felt as to salve my own conscience: it was embarrassing to be rich while they were so poor. ave up this line of argument after one young man replied to it by saying: "Why shouldn't we be as rich as you are, we put up the first sputnik, didn't we?" What this illustrates is that Russians don't have their eyes on America only because their propaganda has directed them there. Like us, they have the Big Nation complex, and they know that they are as rich ln material and human resources as America is. And yet my young friend wasn't entirely right. There Is still something to be said for historical perspective. But he put aptly intoidespread Russian attitude: that If their government wasn'tsc much of the country's resources in space and militarytheir standard of living wouldood deal higher than it is today.
A preoccupation with economic questions is characteristicfrom every walk of life. Your first acquaintance withusually beginstandardized routine of questions: youe asks, how much do youoes your wifeow many rooms do you have? For many people thisstrange ceremony of self-laceration; they get some kind offrom comparing their unhappy lot with yours, andtheir grounds for discontent with their rulers. these questions so as to mentally set their sights on whereto go, and where they think their government is actually Inas In Hollandeek visit withand ino get back toad to go to thein the Hague and apply to the first secretary there forvisa. During my previous thrw* months in Leningrad Imuch to do with government officials. new that they ransociety in which people, my own friends, were deprived ofand intellectual freedom,idn't expect this to beof interviews. Besides, the I'itTicipants In curalways beenloud of suspicion as far as Sovietwas concerned, and there washance that thehadas an undesirable character and thatbe denied my return visa. So, all inent to thethe Hague somewhat apprehensive, ready to meet theof the Sovist party bureaucrat, the Enemy anda reliable Instrument of Soviet tyranny if he wasto be allowed to work abroad. The First Secretary's name Het mar, on the surface polite, and equallyin English, Dutch and Russian. After we had seated ourselvesofficen
nd'about my visa. The party at the other end of the wire said that he wrvuld csli back in IS minutes, and so to pass the
time Mr. Ermiiov engaged meo, he
asked, how rajchin, did my wife work,ar, how manyave?
- IS -
No Russian is free of this universal concern with the material questions of life, and even this Russian official, separated as he is from his people by asulf as separated official Russia from the Russian people inh century, nevertheless shared some of their dreams and hopes. And yet despite this universal concern, the attitudes of young intellectuals toward Russia's economic problems are marked by profound differences from those of older intellectuals, people, say, in their late thirties and older. Typically, the visionuture in which Russia willodern industrialized society with abundance for all is able to evoke In olderind of political seriousness and responsibilityillingness to tolerate present deprivations for the sake of future goals that it cannot evoke among the intellectual youth. m speaking now about critically-minded anti-party intellectuals of the older generations: if despite their awareness of the essential evils of the present regime they are willing to subscribe to its programs and moderate their criticisms of it, it is because they have placed economicabove all else in their scale of social priorities. As far as they are concerned, intellectual and creative freedom as well aa the less crucial refinements and graces of life must wait and will, in any case, come of themselves once Russia hasigh level of material well being. Political maturity and responsibility, they feel, dictate taking first things first, and the first thing for Russia is to move forward economically. The young, on the other hand, are impatient: they wont freedom and the material benefits of an industrial society here and now. They are un con soled by the promises held out by the long view,
I think this characteristic difference between generations is explained by the older generations' livelier sense of recent history and of the sufferings of the Russian people which is its dominant feature. People who are old enough to have fought in the war and to have lived through the horrors of the Stalin era are understandably serious. All of them seem directed in their thoughts toward the future, as if compelledeed to see something better there so that all the misery that has been the Soviet experience will not have been utterly pointless. The young, however, are uncommittedision of the future. The fact that they liveorld bounded entirely by present wantspecial quality to their outlook on the present. No Russian believes that there is anything to be done to radically change things as they are at present. But If you are powerless to change an unattractive and oppressive society, and if at the same time you are unwilling to seek solace from contemplating its future, what
is there left for you but_lrony and nockeryJ__This seemshe
underlying psychological mechanism behind the outlook ofyoung Russian intellectuals. In any case, Irony and mockery are the modes of expression of the youth, and they are what separate them from their elders.
The irreverence with which students regard the holy of holies of the higher educational curriculumolitical indoctrination courses has often been reported in the West. These courses are still anfor ridicule and bitterness on the part of students, even if the bitterness is no longer as openly expressed as it was during the brief thaw before the Hungarian Revolution. The course in the History of the Communist Party, for example, was the one course that gave trouble to otherwise brightnew. Their hearts just weren't In it and they contented themselves withingle pre-examination session of rote memorization to it In order to squeak byassing grade. ad my most vivid demonstration of the irreverence of young intellectuals toward the official concerns of their societyiteraryttended. The party, which was being given toaoung writer had just signedublishing house for his first novel, took place several days afterncident. By therrived, everyone had drunk themselves "tos the Russian expression has it. The word quickly went aroundas an American,as soon surroundedroup of young people. One of the first things we talked about, of course, was. How did Soviet anti-aircraft guns manage to reach Powers if he was flying so high, one person wanted to know. Another one speculated on how Powers had succeeded inarachute jump fromeight. Then someone took this question up snd had the inspiration to suggest that If Powers really did bail out from the height he was alleged to have, he must be due some honors for having achieved the highestjump on record. The idea amused everybody and even excited some to setound of cheers for Powers, "the new world's title holder for the highest parachute jump on record." Itarm May night and the windows were thrown wide open onto the street. as sober enough to remind my companions that their high spirits might be taken amiss by some eavesdropper.
Obviously, this reaction toncident was not theone. But it was not that far away from the typical popular reaction to the offlcisl version of2 incident In that itin common with the popular reaction the ingrained skepticism
with which official claims are habitually treated by Russians. Ito remain withncidentoment, since theit servesood example of the popular receptionclaims in general. ncountered among the vastnew, none of the hysteria,f the righteouswhich the Soviet press at that time so assiduously tried toin the people. Except for the few party members ornew among the youth, whose reaction wasby them_to. _fit_the official line, all the youngnew__
'reacted"either with the kind of irreverent irony described above, or else with bewilderment. In the early days after Khrushchev announced thatad been brought down, many of them simply could not
believe that any such event had taken place. When it became clear that it had, and that, by. State Department's own admission, Khrushchev's description of it was substantially true, people still did not show signs of hostility toward the United States. They were ready to concede the existence of interests for the sake of which such things-had to be done by us; but nevertheless,urely personal point'of view of their own individual interests, not those of their government, they were grieved byncident. They knew it entailed an inevitable reversalrend they warmly Welcomedthe improved relations and increase of contacts with the West which had reached their height just prior toffair and which were seriously threatened by it. They could predict thatoulda tightening up of internal securityenewed anti-Western campaign, and consequently increased risks for them incontacts with foreigners and less opportunity to see Western films and read Western books. The fundamental hope of all thinking Russiansormalization of relations with the West. They want nothing more than to be members of the Western community of nations, to be in- unmediated contact with its cultural life, to be ableperhapsesult of the influence of the Western example, toulture, free and unvaried and unfettered by political dogma, and finally, to be able themselves to visit Europe and America some day and see with their own eyes what that tantalizing world from which they are cut off is like. All of these hopes were pushed several steps back from realization byncident, and although people did not respond to it with the anger of Soviet officialdom, they did resent it because it caused them personal disappointments.
I think that this profound desire for the normalization of relations with the West is bound to come into conflict with Western policies on other occasions during the coming years, and it would be useful for Radio Liberty to be aware of the existenceubtle conflict not between the West and the Soviet government, but between the West and Russians who have nothing in common with their rulers. Incidents like, undertaken by us In self-defense, are bound to be ill-received by Russians who desire good relations with the West. Obviously, we must defend ourselves and we cannot always calculate our actions by what effects they will have on our friends in Russia, but Radio Liberty should be able to describe these actionsoviet audience with this calculation in mind. uggest that it would be effective to describe such actions not only as acts of self-defense, but also with some expression of sympathy to your Soviet audience for the unpleasant effects they may have.
ffair-occasion- for-another'slgnlfleantexpressioh"o'f opinionussian friendhink should behere. Volodya is not young; heinguist, the sonighly-cultured family. And while in one respect,hallmake clear, he is not at all typical of Russian youth, on the
specificant Co illustratethe attitude of educated Russians toward Western sources of informationhe may be taken as representative. Any Westerner who has beenlose footing with Russians has observed intrange reaction growing out of their distrust of the official press, and haseculiar embarrassment of power from knowing how credulous and ready to believe your accounts of life in the West your Russian listeners normally are. Volodya served as my ultimate confirmation of this experience. His English is near perfect, andombination of lucky accidents he had been ableeriod of several years to keep up with such Americanas The New York Times. The Reporter, Commentary. etc. Head beenunning discussion during the course of the week or so thatffair developed. His first inclination was to suspend judgment and wait until the American side of the story had been told. It worried him that Khrushchev might be telling the truth, and that the American government might actually havepy plane deep into Soviet territory. If so, we could expect little sympathy from him. Why did we want to go ahead and trouble international waters that for the first time in many years seemed to be running calmly, offering the promiseormal flow of relations between Russia and the West. This was the point he had reached In his evaluation of the situation when he was stunned by the series of contradicting statements issued by. Stste Department, first denying and then admitting thatas on an espionage mission. It wasunday morning stroll,ecall, when Volodya asked merd about the Stateadmission. He had made up his mind about the significance ofor him, and his comment on the State Department contretemps was: "Now you've lost us! You're just as corrupt as we are!"
Nothing could have made it clearer that Volodya, along with many like him, looked to the West for the objectivity and honesty they knew they could not expect from their own press and radio. It is not only thst Russians doubt the fscts of their official sources of It is the official tone, bathetic, self-congratulatory, always high-pitched, that is the despair and often the amusement of any Russian with the rudiments of intelligence and good taste. One has to read the Soviet press not from afar, but in the Soviet Union, and tothe life lt describes and the way it describes it with the lived reality o'f Soviet citizens, to realize how impossible it is for them not to be contemptuous of it and the government which controls it.
Volodya had special reasons for wanting to be "lost." He belongs to one of the older generations ofescribed above, and shares with them their commitment to Russia's future. He
eteran- ofnd -an intense patriot,-bound to-his peo-
pla by bonds of common suffering. He would wish for nothing more than to be able to regard his countryation that could hold its head high among the nations of the world. But he knows that as long as it is representedyrannical government, as long as it stands for
reaction in the world at large and for injustice and oppression at home, Russia cannot claim the respect of other peoples. He iswith this knowledge; it violates his patriotic feelings, and he is prone to seize at any evidence indicating to him that Soviet Russia is no worse than other nations. That is why Volodya is so easily "lost." Younger intellectuals are not animated by his patriotism; they were not lost to us byncident, nor will it be so easy to lose them in the future. But if Volodya has notfrom his shock at the way the State Department handledffair, if he is still "lost" to us, it is important to remember that he need'not have been. Ifncident had been handled with an awareness of what effects American official dishonesty might have on our Russian friends, and not only our Russian friends, Volodya would never have been given the opportunity to seize the false comfort he did. hink therearticularly important lesson here for an organization like Radio Liberty whose business it is to inform Russians end explain events to them. Radio Liberty's audience need never be lost if itontinuous effort to avoid offending its special sensitivities, one of the deepest of which is its sensitivity, not only to outright propaganda, but to falsity of tone or manner of any kind.
SUGGESTIONS FOR RADIO LIBERTY
I have been asked to follow this description of Russian youth with recommendations as to what Radio Liberty should broadcast to its audience. ave already said that the first assumption Radio Liberty should make ls that itriendly audience that does not have to be counter-propagandized. se the word, propaganda, of course, in Its pejorative sense. m not opposed to propagating ideas, though even here the special sensitivities of the Russian audience must be taken into account, and the ideas must be propagatedigidly objective manner, without stunts or gimmicks aimed at increasing their Ideas and knowledge are what Russians want and need. Becauseack of knowledge Russians often dissipate their critical energies by attacking aspects of Soviet society that are not pertinent to its essential faults.
During my stay in the Sovietecame convinced of the value of Radio.. m not able to say that large numbers of people listen to their broadcastsnewew regulararge proportion of theinformation Russians do have of current international events cornea from foreign news broadcasts whose contents are transmitted from-mouth to mouth by means of what the Russians call their usazeta. The eagerness of Russians to listen to foreign broadcasts wasby the devoted audience that was attracted by the Grundigradio in my dormitory room.
From time topoke with friends about foreignand asked about their tastes and preferences. On the basis ofeard fromould recommend programs on various subjects of cultural and political interest, with the accent on attractiveness and gracefulness of exposition. ould select only the best, and makeractice of going to outside experts who could present ideasigh professional level and at the same time attractively.
Here are several suggestions for Individual programs andserieshink would find an appreciative audience.
I. PAGES FROM SOVIET HISTORY
One topic might concern an analysis of Soviet hink'of Alexander Erlich's book. The Industrialization Debate. rt'would-serVe as"idespread tendencyintellectuals to see Stalin's role ln Soviet history in alight on the basis of results achieved. Erlich could raise the question of whether the same results might not have been achieved by
less cruel methods. On this question Russians have neither thenor the books presenting non-official economic arguments to make accurate judgments.
Another topic for this series might center on Robert Daniels' description of the opposition to Stalin within the party duringss. Russians are ignorant of the particulars of themovements Daniels describes.
A third topic might be: Will freedom inevitably come with economic progress or are totalitarianism and advanced standards of living compatible? This is particularly important. Characteristically, Russian Intellectuals temper their opposition to the regime because they are convinced that it is digging its own grave with its. economic modernization programs. They may be wrong and should be given to think more about the problems involved.
II- FRESH VIEWS OF RUSSIAN HISTORY AW) CULTURE
I have already recommended Isaiah Berlin on Belinsky and Herzen and given my reasons for doing so. The emphasis here should be on Western scholarly approaches to Russian culture and history. Special programs might be devoted to literary, social end artistic figures about whom there is official silence in the Soviet Union. Berdyaev, Rozanov, Leontiev and Shestov might be given individual One shouldn't feel it necessary to defend these peoples' ideasussian intellectuals would find most of them not to their tastebut their idf t could be described and the right of these ideas toearing in their native land defended. There are also writers and artists from the Soviet period that young people would like to hear about. aw an article on Malevichack issue of Encounter. Mandel' stam's poetry plus Veidle's commentary in VozdusWe puti could be reproduced. Sud idet and the essay on Socialist Realism should be broadcast in full, if they haven't been already.
III. WESTERN LIFE AND CULTURE
This is of enormous interest to Russian youth. There should be round-table discussions on tendencies in modem art and literature-Interviews with authors and artists; descriptions of new books and painting exhibitions; discussions of aspects of American. higher education, student habits, American scholarships, vouthetc.
Let meave already made after listeningbroadcasts;'"ound to"increase the length of individual programs so that something substantial can be accomplished in each of them. Itity to tease yourlisteners with bits and snatches from here and there and this and that. They want moreleeting acquaintance with things they are ignorant of.and hunger to know about.Original document.