in governing ourselves, rather than opposingrn”them.” Of course, Hfe was notrnthe paradise described by communistrnpropaganda. But maybe the above helpsrnexplain why people newly liberated fromrntotalitarian systems are not likely to acceptrndemocratic principles like “the rightrnto have multiple choices” and so on.rnAlso, we shouldn’t think of pilfering asrnthe main reason for scarcity in the formerrnU.S.S.R. As many researchers showrn(especiallv Hungarian economist JanosrnKornai), deficit is an intrinsic aspect ofrnsocialism, one that necessarily leads tornthe exhaustion of all its resources. Butrnthe Soviet people didn’t realize this fact.rnThev were told that individual personsrnwere responsible for deficits and shortcomingsrnin our economy. Nevertheless,rnsome people played with the idea that arnmore general reason for scarcity mightrnexist. Those who did this seriously andrnin written form, called dissidents, were ofrnspecial interest to the KGB, who tried tornseparate them from other honest citizens.rnThose who questioned scarcity inrnhumorous ways were considered fairlyrninnocent, and they actually were.rnThe function of humor was mainly tornlet off steam (like carnivals did in thernMiddle Ages). It would be misleading tornthink that people “cynically” laughed atrnthe whole socialist system’s inability tornbuild a sound economy, taking this systemrnas something created by “them” andrntherefore looking at the system “fromrnthe outside.” No, people were laughingrnat themselves, both “us” and “them,”rnboth government and the people. Peoplernwould have looked suspiciously atrnanvone who laughed at their countrvrnfrom the “outside” like a foreigner, likernan alien who didn’t want to live withrnthem and share their problems. Moreover,rnpeople would have felt a kind of religiousrnfear and disgrace if somebodyrntold them seriously why and how socialismrnnecessarily leads to scarcity. Andrnpeople would probably have beaten uprnanyone who attempted to say somethingrnlike “Stalin’s regime was just the same asrnHitler’s—both were totalitarian ones.”rnYes, people told anecdotes aboutrnBrezhnev’s ignorance of a word in hisrnown speech at the Party Forum, butrnwhen they read in a newspaper aboutrnfigure skaters who didn’t want to returnrnhome from a contest abroad, everyonernfelt disgraced and astonished. Whenrnchessmaster Viktor Korchnoi chose tornstay abroad after his championship contestrnwith Anatoly Karpov, he was treatedrnas a betrayer in the Soviet press. Karpovrngot the Order of Lenin for his two successivernvictories over the “enemy,” andrnthis government attitude in some wayrnreflected what simple people thoughtrnwas good and fair. Children wonderedrnwhat a nightmare it would be if theyrnwere born in another country. It was sornnatural to live in the best country in thernworld! “We” in the mouth of a Sovietrnmeant something more than just a pronoun.rnIt meant a kind of mutual involvementrnin something that was sometimesrnsilly, sometimes great, sometimesrnstrange, but always something you couldrnnot and did not want to eliminate.rn—Ilya LipkovichrnAlmaty, KazakhstanrnThere was a Soviet-era joke about threernmen who all worked at the same factoryrnand were arrested by the KGB on thernsame day. The first man had arrivedrnearly for work: he was arrested for espionage.rnThe second was arrested for sabotage:rnhe was late that day. The thirdrnman was on time for his job, but he toornwas arrested; the charge was anti-Sovietrnpropaganda: he was wearing a Swissrnwatch. Though Professor Lincoln pointsrnout that the prerevolutionary czaristrnregime had embarked on a course of reform,rnand that the Soviet regime installedrna massive party apparatus and discouragedrnor persecuted the best andrnbrightest Soviet citizens, I detect thernseed of what one may call the Pipesrn(Harvard’s Professor Richard Pipes) argumentrnin Professor Lincoln’s article:rnthat is, that the Bolshevik regime wasrnmerely the czarist regime writ large. Thernpoint of the joke is that something farrnmore sinister was at work during the Sovietrnera than Russian paranoia onrnsteroids. The communist regime is arnpart of Russian history, but it was not arnproduct of Russian culture.rnIn contrast to the Pipes argument, onernmay consider the Solzhenitsyn line: thernSoviet regime represented a sharp breakrnwith the Russian past, not a continuationrnof it in party-dictatorship form. Sovietrnrepression was so monstrous by comparisonrnwith that of the czars that the evidencernsuggests a regime that was notrnonly different in the quality and quantityrnof its crimes, but different in kind.rnThe horrors of the Soviet era are onlyrnnow beginning to be fully revealed. Massrngraves are constantly being uncovered,rnand the scale of the communist experimentrnfar surpassed Hitler’s efforts to revamprnEurope. More than 20 million.rnThis is the low end of estimates thatrnrange upward to more than 60 million.rnIn his 1990 book Lethal Politics, R.J.rnRummel of the United States Institute ofrnPeace surveys the Soviet record of massrnmurder and gives a figure of 61,911,000rnvictims of “Utopia in power.” He quotesrnLenin on the Bolshevik policy of terror.rn”When we are reproached with cruelty,”rnsays the father of the Soviet Union,rn”we wonder how people can forget thernmost elementary Marxism.” The Sovietrnregime, like every other spawn of the godrnof progress, was a materialist one, thernproduct of a secular ideology whose authorrnwas a lonely German Jew working inrnthe belly of Victorian London. Ofrncourse, czarist-era attitudes and practicesrnpersisted in one form or anotherrnduring the Soviet era, since no peoplerncan completely shed the skin of their oldrnselves, but when anyone discusses thernshambles that is postcommunist Russia,rnparticularly the moral vacuum that therncommunists left behind, surely we mustrntake into consideration the warping ofrnthe human soul that took place under arnregime which murdered its own peoplernwith such zeal and which declared Godrndead and Man’s Ideology ascendant. Nornwonder the Russians appear so helpless,rnso incompetent, and so incapable of takingrncharge of their own lives. The Sovietrnregime’s terrorism and brain-numbingrnpropaganda not only persecuted the bestrnand the brightest, but through a sort ofrnnatural (for totalitarian regimes) selection,rnthey came close to producing thernNew Soviet Man automaton Lenin andrnStalin dreamed of. This is one “burden”rnthat Mr. Lincoln did not emphasize inrnhis article. If we accept the Pipes argumentrnwithout reservation, then how isrnone to explain the Cultural Revolutionrnin China, the “Bamboo Gulag” of Vietnam,rnor the killing fields of Cambodia?rnProfessor Lincoln appears to acceptrnuncritically the notion that a systemrnbased on the “lawful use of power” necessarilyrnmeans liberal democracy andrnthat Russian, as opposed to Soviet, historyrnonly brings “burdens,” that is, roadblocksrnto freedom. Russian critics ofrn”progress” and Western materialism, takingrninto account the rich heritage ofrnWestern thought and hoping to avoidrnthe tyranny that has so afflicted theirrnnation, have hit upon something that isrnalmost forgotten in Europe and America:rnthe rule of law means nothing withoutrnOCTOBER 1994/5rnrnrn