rhetoric from the new pohtical ehtes,rncommunist culture continues to hold arnfirm grip oxer a large number of officialsrnand ()rdinar people. Sure, the old communistrniconography, such as the hammerrnand sickle, accompanied by therneer-prcscnt red star, have been replacedrnb new nationalist symbols, but thernsubstance of the old communist culturernin da-to-day life remains shockingly thernsame.rnWhat strikes a Western visitor duringrnhis sojourn in Eastern Europe is that citizensrncontinue to behave and respond tornthe new noncommunist social environmentrnin the same old “communistic”rnwaw Words like “democracy,” “tolerance,”rn”pluralism,” “parliamentarianism”rnare endlessly regurgitated on allrnwav’clcngths, but in most eases thesernwords amount to empty rhetoric whichrnin no \”d reflects substantive change inrnpopular and political behavior. A goodrnobsercr quickly notices that citizensrnin postcommunist Dresden, Zagreb,rnBucharest, Prague, or Moscow displayrnthe same old behavioral traits that theyrninherited from their respective communistrnssstems. hi short, despite the politicalrncollapse of communism, citizens inrnpostcommunist Eastern Europe andrnRussia cling to old defensive mechanismsrnthat now prevent them from coping withrnthe challenge of democracy.rnIt cannot be denied that mass terror,rnwhich not long ago took its tremendousrntoll in communist states, led to the destructionrnof individuals who would nowrnbe indispensable for leadership and thernupholding of new noncommunist socialrnand ethical alues. The decades-longrnterror, accompanied by the social andrncultural leveling of the masses, resultedrnin the physical removal of a number ofrngifted individuals, and in the subsequentrnimposition of the culture of mendacityrnand social mediocrity. Alexander Zino’rnie-, a respected Russian author whornstill li’es in German exile, accurately predictedrnthat communism, as a system ofrnperfect democratic pathology, will livernon, Gorbachex’, Yeltsin and companyrnnotwithstanding.rnWestern observers committed a gravernmistake b- attributing communist terrorrnonly to a small bunch of apparatchiks,rnwho entered Western textbooks by thernname of “red nomenklatura.” In reality,rnhowever, mass terror was a way of lifernwhich enlisted broad popular supportrnand in which almost every citizen livingrnin a communist countrv indulged—ofrncourse, within his sphere of social influencernand his position in the social hierarchv.rnThus, absenteeism and shoddyrnwork was considered moralK’ acceptablernby simple factory workers, and embezzlementrnon a large scale was viewed as perfectlyrnlegal by high-ranking communistrnhacks. Paradoxically, the communistrnelites had to allow noncommunist employeesrnand workers to pilfer in order tornlegitimize their own grand-scale theft.rn”From each according to his ability, torneach according to his needs,” wrote KarlrnMarx. Contrary to some assumptions,rncommunism in Eastern Europe and Russiarnwas not an illicit departure from thernMarxist credo, but its full implementation.rnAs communist systems consolidatedrnduring the Cold War, the masses in EasternrnEurope and Russia learned little byrnlittle how to cultivate their lowest instinctsrnof survivability. “Nobody can payrnme as little as little I can work” becamernthe unwritten slogan of millions of ordinar-rncitizens from the Baltics to thernBalkans, leading, predictably, 50 yearsrnlater, to the political entropy of the systemrnand its subsequent legal demise. Yetrnthis slogan and its biological carrier homornsovieticiis still live on with surprisingrntenacity.rnUndoubtedly, despite demonstrablerneconomic and political inefficiency andrndaily drudgery, former communist countries,rnunlike the unpredictable marketorientedrnWest, offered psychologicalrnsecurity and economic predictability torntheir citizens—albeit securitv and predictabilityrnof a very Spartan and frugalrnkind. But who cares about the philosophicalrnmeaning of liberty, as long asrnsocial survivability can be guaranteed inrna mass society of scarce means? It must,rntherefore, not come as a surprise that citizensrnin today’s postcommunist EasternrnEurope and Russia find it difficult torncope with the Western capitalist ethos ofrnresponsibility, commitment, and cutthroatrnwork. There is a widespread beliefrnamong many Eastern Europeans todayrnthat democracy means only lots ofrnleisure, lots of money, and little work.rnMany foreign observers who visit EasternrnEurope complain about the impossibilityrnof communicating with local citizens.rnThis communication breakdown isrnprimarily due to the fact that EasternrnEuropeans assign different meanings tornsocial concepts. Undoubtedly, millionsrnof them are well aware of the Gulag legacyrnand the mandatory “wooden language”rnthat they were forced to use. Yet,rnit must not be forgotten that masses inrnEastern Europe today are oblivious tornthis legac, preferring instead to thinkrnabout the rise of their living standard,rnwhich is, alas, nowhere in sight. Hencernthis unusual nostalgia about the recentrncommunist past, which recently manifestedrnitself in the recent political successrnof neocommunists in Lithuania, Poland,rnand Hungary.rnAs a perfect form of totalitarianrndemocracy, communist terror essentiallyrnoperated according to the unwritten lawsrnof dispersed egalitarian guilt in which allrncitizens actively participated. Thus it isrnimpossible toda}’ to tr- former communistrnbosses without also bringing to trialrntheir hidden helpers. As Mikhail Hellerrnand Robert Conquest noted, communistrnterror essentially borrowed from the littlerntyrant who lies in every human being,rnthereby setting one person against thernother, creating a quasi state of nature, inrnwhich low-key total war of all against allrnconstantly and brutally raged. Underrncommunism the majority oppressed thernminority, and not the other way around;rneverybody tried to outfox and outsmartrneverybody else, or prove that he can betterrnpilfer or cut corners than his comraderncoworker in arms. Clearly, Stalin, Tito,rnCeausescu, Kadar, and other communistrntyrants would never have been able torncarry out large-scale massacres andrndecades-long repression without thernhidden help of millions of unknownrnlittle “Stalins.” Was this not the perfectrnoutcome of democracy, brought to itsrnegalitarian pinnacle?rnAbsolute serx’ilitv toward communistrnsuperiors was another unwritten rule forrneverybody, so that everyone, accordingrnto his hierarchical spot, could exercise hisrnown “bossism” toward his inferiors. Everyrncitizen, within his sphere of life andrnsocial influence, played a little Jckyll andrnHyde; everybody spied on each other; everybodyrnplayed a game of make-believe;rnand everybody took advantage of eachrnother’s personal weaknesses. Upon joiningrna “workers’ collective,” each personrnbecame a transparent being, with no privacy,rnand was closely scrutinized by hisrncoworkers, yet at the same time he enjoyedrntotal communal protection in casernof professional mistakes, absenteeism, orrnshoddy work. This is something unimaginablernin the capitalist West.rnThe tragic side of postcommunistrnEastern Europe is that many of its citizensrnare unable to shed the inheritedrnJULY 1995/43rnrnrn