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Soviet rules

You must make compromises, concessions, and sacrifices for the sake of the main cause. (Thus the Church holds that it must make concessions for the sake of self-preservation, yet there is no end to these concessions, so that priests are now nominated by the KGB, and Soviet power is celebrated from the pulpit. Thus the writer, eager to publish the work his readers are waiting for, agrees to cross out a line here, add a paragraph there, change the ending, remove one of the characters, revise the title, and hey, presto, the whole point of the work has gone. Nevertheless, boasts the writer, on page so-and-so there is an innuendo and the villain says almost everything—though it’s true that he’s later reformed and says quite the opposite.)

We must live for Russia; the Communists will one day disappear by themselves. (This argument is a favorite with scientists and the military.)

We must live for posterity, create the eternal values of science and culture; a trivial preoccupation with protests merely distracts us from the main thing.

Never ever protest openly; that is a provocation which merely enrages the authorities and brings suffering on the innocent.

Open protests play into the hands of the hardliners in the Politburo and prevent the doves from carrying out a liberalization.

Open protests hinder liberalization, which can only succeed by means of power politics and secret diplomacy.

To protest about details is merely to expose oneself. The thing to do is to lie low. Then, when the decisive moment comes, okay. But in the meantime, we’ll disguise ourselves.

Yes, but not now, this is the worst possible time: my wife’s pregnant, my children are ill, I have to defend my thesis first, my son’s about to go to the university . . . (and so on till the end of a lifetime).

The worse things get, the better. We must deliberately take all the system’s idiocies to their logical and ridiculous conclusion, until the people’s patience runs out and they understand what is happening.

Russia is a land of slaves. The Russians have never had democracy and never will. They don’t have the aptitude for it, it’s no use trying. There’s no other way for our people.

The people are silent. What gives a handful of malcontents the right to speak out—whom do they represent, whose opinion are they expressing?

I have even heard the following argument:

Your protests are misleading world public opinion; people in the West will think that we are allowed to speak openly here and change things. Therefore you are helping Soviet propaganda.

You have to get on quietly with your career, get to the top, and try to change things from there; you won’t achieve anything from the bottom.

You have to gain

You protest; I’ll stay out of it. Someone has to survive to bear witness. (I heard this in the labor camp just before a hunger strike.)

If only there were a new theory to replace Marxism and carry people away; you can’t build anything on sheer negation. — from “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” (1979)

Communism has been visited upon Russia in retribution for her sins; to resist God’s retribution is equally sinful.



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