Isaac Deutscher 1965
Sourc e: A chapter in David Horowitz (ed), Containment and Revolution: Western Policy Towards Social Revolution: 1917 to Vietnam (Anthony Blond, London, 1967). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.
This is the text of the speech given by Isaac Deutscher at the Berkeley Teach-In on Vietnam, 21-22 May 1965. It has been specially revised by Mr Deutscher for inclusion in this volume.
Many of the contributors to this volume belong to the same political generation as those who have organised the ‘teach-ins’ and similar protests in America, while among the others, Isaac Deutscher and William Appleman Williams have been this generation’s teachers. In printing Deutscher’s speech to the Berkeley Teach-In, we wish not only to preserve this brilliant critique of the orthodox version of the Cold War, but to emphasise the profound connection between the criticism of ideas and the criticism of practice.
Immediately after the Second World War when the Western powers embarked upon the reversal of alliances, upon the great conflict with their former Soviet ally, people usually spoke about the two colossi, the American and the Russian, that faced each other in hostility across a power vacuum. It was assumed that one of the colossi, the Russian, threatened the American, the western. What people did not realise then, what the governments did not tell them, was that of these two colossi, one – the American – emerged from the Second World War in full-blooded vigour and strength, immensely wealthy, with hardly any losses suffered in the war compared with the other allies, with barely a scratch on its skin; whereas the other colossus, the Russian, lay almost prostrate, bleeding profusely from all its wounds. And it was that almost prostrate, bled-white colossus who was assumed to create a major military threat to Europe – to threaten an invasion of Europe. That colossus, Russia, lost in the last war over 20 million people in dead alone. When, after the war, the first population census was carried out in the Soviet Union, it turned out that in the age groups that were older than 18 years at the end of the war, that is, in the whole adult population of the Soviet Union, there were only 31 million men compared with 53 million women. For many, many years only old men, cripples, children and women tilled the fields in the Russian countryside. Old women had to clear, with bare hands, the immense masses of rubble from their destroyed cities and towns. And this nation which had lost 20 million men in dead alone – and only think how many of the 31 million men that were left alive were the cripples and invalids and the wounded of the world war and how many were the old-aged – this nation with so tremendous, so huge a deficit in its population, this nation, of which a whole generation was lost, this nation was supposed to threaten Europe with an invasion! And until quite recently the threat of that invasion was still assumed to be real. NATO was formed in order to counter that threat! Yet any specialist in population statistics could have counted the number of years that it would take Russia to fill these gaps in her manpower.
Moreover, from the end of the war until the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, the Russians had demobilised their armies so rapidly that they reduced them from 11.5 million men at the end of the war to less than three million. Only after the formation of NATO did they start remobilising, but they had such difficulties with their manpower that in the course of another three or four years they called to arms not more than another two million men. Of course Russia could not – even if we were to argue on the most cynical grounds, even if we assumed that she had the most wicked rulers – Russia could not threaten anyone in that situation. And it is not only I who say so. The former American ambassador to Moscow, Mr George F Kennan, whom we knew in those years as the advocate of the containment policy, who was the chief policy planner of the State Department, declared recently in a lecture at Geneva University in Switzerland (I am quoting from the London Times of 12 May 1965), that ‘after the Second World War, American policy makers could see Communism only in terms of a military threat. In creating NATO... they had drawn a line arbitrarily across Europe against an attack no one was planning.’ Mr Kennan, who in those years preached a containment policy, declares now (better late than never!) that the containment policy had nothing to contain. He says that the NATO powers had drawn a line arbitrarily across Europe ‘against an attack no one was planning’. Then he goes on to put it even more emphatically: ‘After the war the Soviet Union did not want or need to overrun other countries.’ And the Times correspondent adds: ‘In his first lecture here in Geneva a week ago, Mr Kennan said that erroneous Western concepts had given rise to many of the postwar difficulties and permitted Communist domination to extend farther west than might otherwise have been the case.’ That is, he says, Russia was provoked into self-defensive expansion by the policies of the NATO powers. That is not what I say, but the former American ambassador in Moscow. ‘The Atlantic Pact,’ he says, ‘was unfortunate because it was quite unnecessary.’ Yet this Atlantic Pact, according to a man whom we considered as one of its architects, this ‘unnecessary’ Atlantic Pact, continues to dominate and determine Western policy till this day.
Now this assumption of a military threat from a major communist power reappears in absolutely every crisis, up to and including the crisis in Vietnam. We have seen how, after 15 years, the myth of that threat is exploded by one of the myth-makers; need it take another 15 years before one of the present myth-makers, before one of those who now speak of the threat from a major communist power, will explode the myth? Need it take another 15 years?
There was yet another set of illusions and myths characteristic of the psychology and mentality of our ruling classes: the myth of American nuclear superiority, the myth of an absolute unchallengeable American superiority. If, on the one hand, Russia’s actual, immediate ability to strike at the West was, to put it very euphemistically, greatly overstated, Russia’s potential strength, her capacity for industrial development, was greatly and ridiculously underrated. Those who are old enough will remember what the experts told us in those years: Russia, they said, will never have an atomic bomb because she doesn’t have the uranium ore. Then it was that Russia didn’t have the engineering resources to produce nuclear energy. Then Russia didn’t have the know-how. And then, when Russia did explode the bomb, we were told that she couldn’t produce nuclear weapons in sufficient numbers to change the military situation. Then we were told that the Russians would never have the means of delivering those warheads. And then we were told that Russia couldn’t produce the H-bomb. Illusion after illusion. A chain of illusions, one exploded after another. And yet, until the Russian Sputnik soared into outer space, the assumption of America’s unchallengeable technological superiority in every field, in every military field, was taken for granted – in America, and also in Britain and in the whole of Western Europe.
What accounts for this curious arrogance and wishful thinking? I believe that our rulers sincerely – sincerely – thought that the Russians would never challenge the West in the field of nuclear energy. Brought up in the capitalist system, they were convinced that a social order in which so-called private initiative, the ‘private initiative’ of the big trusts and cartels, the ‘private initiative’ of the financial oligarchies doesn’t operate, they assumed that such a system couldn’t really work and couldn’t produce nuclear energy. This was the arrogance of an old ruling class, convinced that its ‘way of life’ and its way of operating a national economy was the only rational and reasonable one, and that a new social order was an aberration. Since the beginning of history, declining social classes and ruling groups have assumed that any new social system opposed to theirs couldn’t possibly work. This is the secret of the illusions and the myths in which our ruling classes believe. And when some of these illusions were exploded, when the illusion about America’s unchallengeable superiority was exploded, the reaction to it was equally irrational: Panic! Waves of panic spread over the whole West. And now, when it turns out that even backward China, the China that the West had kicked around and trampled upon for a century, that even backward China is developing its nuclear industry, we hear those panicky and insane voices that tell us that perhaps if a few bombs are dropped on China’s nuclear installations, the growth of that giant will be properly interrupted at the right time. Quite apart from the wickedness, the profound inhumanity and immorality of such talk – which one would still like to hope does not affect or reflect official American policy, but I am not sure that it doesn’t – quite apart from that, what a nonsensical illusion it is, that by dropping a few bombs you can really stop the growth, the industrial growth and modernisation, of the greatest nation in the world. Once again, arrogance – incredible, fathomless arrogance – and wishful thinking combine to produce something that future historians will cite as examples of the degeneration of the human mind.
The next set of Cold War assumptions consists in the identification of communism and subversion. One wonders if the Atlantic alliance and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars all over the West are really necessary to stop subversion. And can it stop subversion? But we may be told, did not Russia at one time, and does not China now, really aim at subverting Western civilisation? It is one of the most unintelligent assumptions made in the West that Stalin or his successors were or are committed to the idea of international revolution. Those who have given themselves some trouble to study Soviet history know that what Stalin and even his successors represented was a profound conservatism, the conservatism of a new privileged post-revolutionary bureaucracy which was, and to a large extent still is, interested primarily in preserving the status quo both within the Soviet Union and without. At Yalta and Teheran during the last war Stalin divided the world with Churchill and Roosevelt into zones of influence. In October 1944 that grotesque gentlemen’s agreement was concluded between Stalin and Churchill in which these noble men divided Europe in such a way that Western Europe should go to capitalism, to the Western powers, and in Eastern Europe, as Churchill himself put it, Russia should exercise a 90 per cent predominance. In Greece, Britain was to exercise a 90 per cent predominance; and in Yugoslavia the influence should be divided on a precise basis of 50 – 50.
This ungentlemanly gentlemen’s agreement provides the key to the history of the Cold War. What has really happened is this: our ruling classes were, during the last war, in a paradoxical and self-contradictory situation; in their own interest they had to ally themselves with communism (or with Stalinism, which to them was communism); they had to ally themselves with Stalin against Nazism. The necessities of this alliance, and its strategic pressures, induced them to yield Eastern Europe to victorious Stalin as his zone of influence. To speak from a Marxist viewpoint there was something very paradoxical in the attitude of the British and the American possessing classes. They yielded Eastern Europe, a large and important part of the continent, to their class enemy. After the war, they had second thoughts; after the war, they wanted to get it back. That was the idea of containment. They wanted to contain Stalin on the old frontiers of the Soviet Union. And they dreamt of the great ‘roll-back’. It was, so to speak, the guilty bourgeois conscience of our ruling classes that dictated to them the attempt to regain from the Russians the zone of influence they had yielded to them. Hence NATO; hence the reversal of alliances. However, Stalin insisted on the letter of the bargain – of the Yalta and Teheran bargain. Stalin said, ‘You yielded Eastern Europe to me; I am not going to give it back to you.’ Stalin, who in his dealings with his own people was absolutely unscrupulous and ruthless, who was most ruthless and most cruel in dealing with communists, the same Stalin was in a bizarre Byzantine way scrupulous, legalistically scrupulous, in his bargains with his bourgeois allies. He claimed the advantage they had yielded to him: he gripped Eastern Europe. He stuck to the letter of his wartime agreements with Churchill and Roosevelt; but he also respected his obligations. He yielded Western Europe to them; he had ‘resigned’ from Western Europe. He had committed himself to respect the predominance of the bourgeois order in postwar Western Europe and he carried out his obligations. Long before the Truman Doctrine was proclaimed, Stalin had very effectively saved Western Europe for capitalism; he had saved Western Europe from communism.
This is no paradox. If you study the postwar history of Europe, you will see that in the postwar conservative, clericalist governments of France and Italy, the communists sat as junior partners. They disarmed their own communist resistance. They urged the workers to behave moderately, not to demand high wages, to help capitalism in its reconstruction. There would have been no restoration of capitalism in Western Europe without Stalin. And we were told that communism, that Russia, was planning subversion. If the Russian government, if Stalin’s government, was plotting anything, it was plotting the restoration of capitalism in Western Europe. In Greece, where according to the gentlemen’s agreement Britain was given a 90 per cent predominance, when the Greek communists struggled and were being crushed by British tanks, Stalin did not utter even a murmur of protest. The Soviet press didn’t write a word about it for weeks at the time of the civil war in Greece. And this we were then told was communist aggression. And Yugoslavia! In Yugoslavia, we now know that the communists carried out a revolution under Tito’s leadership, despite Stalin’s obstruction. Stalin did all that he could to prevent them. We know that in China too Mao Tse-tung ordered the last military offensives that were to end in the triumph of Chinese communism against Stalin’s advice, against Stalin’s obstruction. To the end, Stalin urged Mao Tse-tung to yield to Chiang Kai-shek and to allow his partisans (who had fought for over 20 years in the hills and from the caves) to be incorporated in Chiang Kai-shek’s armies. Happily, Mao Tse-tung was no Togliatti and no Thorez and went on fighting for the triumph of the Chinese Revolution. I'm saying this not as an adherent or admirer of Mao’s various other policies.
Now it is true that Stalin carried out the Stalinisation of all the countries of Eastern Europe. But up to the moment of the formation of NATO he was still very cautious. He didn’t want to antagonise bourgeois opinion in the West; and anti-communist parties still sat in the coalition governments of Eastern Europe, just as the communists sat in the governments of France and Italy. Only after the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine, when the communists were ejected from the governments of France and Italy – and it was common knowledge in Paris and Rome what role the pressure of the American embassies there played in that ejection – it was only when the communists were ejected from the Western European governments that the anti-communists were ejected from the Eastern European governments, and that the single-party system was established with the help of the totalitarian terror of Stalin’s police all over Eastern Europe. It was allegedly in the name of freedom, for the sake of the freedom of Eastern Europe that NATO was formed, and the Truman Doctrine was proclaimed. Yet the effect of NATO and of the Truman Doctrine was precisely to hasten the process of the Stalinisation of Eastern Europe.
But was all the talk about Moscow-inspired subversion so hollow? Behind all that talk there was one real emotion which was and is gripping our ruling classes and our governments to this day: whether subversion threatened or not, our ruling classes were and are really frightened of revolution. They are especially frightened of any revolution behind which there is no Russian and no Chinese hand. The more a revolution is spontaneous, the more a revolution develops by its own momentum, the more are our ruling classes frightened of it. They have assumed the roles of the gendarmes of counter-revolution, and this is the root of all the trouble. They are the belated twentieth-century Metternichs. Metternich sought, after the defeat of Napoleon, to preserve feudalism in Europe and suppressed all revolution, until he was overthrown in 1848. Our present-day Metternichs say, of course, that they are struggling against subversion by offering economic aid to poverty-stricken peoples – they talk of the generosity of Marshall Aid, and so on. We have recently heard how the Vietnamese have been offered economic aid, but if they don’t behave well, if they don’t respond immediately to our offer, then of course the bombing of North Vietnam must be resumed. Either you take my economic aid or I bomb you. This is as in the famous German lines: ‘Und willst du nicht mein Bruder sein, da schlag ich dir den Schädel ein.’ Which in a free amateurish English translation means: ‘And if you don’t want to be my brother and pal, then I am going to smash your wicked skull.’
Of course, in order to preserve peace in the world you have to be tough: you mustn’t appease the Russians, you mustn’t appease communism. There is much talk in America just now about the ‘hawks’ and the ‘doves’, and our policy-makers assume, of course, that the hawks and doves are bred only here in the West. The Russians, apparently, don’t have those breeds of birds. Certainly, if we in the West send out our ferocious hawks in sufficiently great numbers the Russians will, of course, send out their doves to meet them. And the Chinese will presumably do the same.
This illusion, too, has been repeatedly defeated and exploded. In truth, throughout the Cold War the West hasn’t been able to record any significant and lasting success anywhere. Wherever it has managed to stem revolution it has done so only with Russian cooperation. Where they lacked that cooperation, our ‘hawks’ haven’t brought anything of which they could boast, which they could show as their gain. I shall not here go back deeper into the history of the Cold War. I shall only say that in the major crises of recent years – in Berlin, in Cuba, and even earlier in the Korean War – all that the West’s so-called tough policy has ever achieved in all these cases were stalemates, humiliating stalemates – stalemates for which there was no need in the first instance. There was no need to provoke struggles and fights which had to end in stalemates.
Let me now turn to yet another set of Cold War assumptions: our policy-makers once assumed that the entire so-called Soviet bloc was a single monolith. They assumed, of course, what most Sovietologists told them. Their Sovietologists told them that Russia was making no industrial progress, that all allegations of progress were Red propaganda. Their Sovietologists told them that Russia was just one huge depressed area, a single concentration camp. There was, indeed, no lack of concentration camps in the Soviet Union under Stalin; but the actual reality was far more contradictory and complex, for progress and oppression, progress and retrogression went hand in hand. However, the Sovietologists were talking all the time of the one terrible monolith. When, in 1953, a few – very, very few – of us forecast the breaking up of Stalinism and the dissolution of that ‘monolithicism’, our policy-makers would not believe it and dismissed it as wishful thinking. I'm speaking here from my own experience, for in 1953 I myself made this forecast in a book, Russia After Stalin, and I got many such official reactions.
There was one man, however, among Western statesmen who saw the de-Stalinisation coming, who saw a change in the climate of Soviet opinion, and advocated a new approach to Russia. And that was Churchill, the prompter of the Cold War, the man who had, in his 1946 Fulton speech, called upon the West to rally against Russia. But in 1953 it was he who spoke about the change in the situation and appealed to his NATO colleagues for a new, more conciliatory approach to Russia. He was disavowed by the White House and ridiculed by his own Foreign Office, although he was then the British Prime Minister. It couldn’t be that Russia should change; in Russia nothing was changing. Then, again, when the monolith was breaking up to such an extent that the Russo – Chinese conflict was developing, and when some of us were writing about that conflict before it came into the open, our great experts and policy-makers dismissed this, too, as wishful thinking.
I myself wrote in 1958 and 1959 articles on this subject in a well-known American periodical and a spokesman for the State Department declared that what Deutscher wrote about a conflict between Russia and China was just a Soviet canard, a canard put out by Soviet propaganda in order to disarm Western vigilance. In truth, Soviet propaganda was saying nothing about the conflict; it was, on the contrary, making a profound secret of it and denying it flatly. But the State Department knew that what I was writing about the Soviet – Chinese controversy was meant to soften up the West vis-ā-vis Khrushchev and to advertise Khrushchev as the conciliatory communist with whom the West could talk. And that was, of course, Soviet propaganda.
When the whole reality of the Russo – Chinese conflict became apparent, how did our policy-makers react to it? Again they swung to the other extreme and began to place great hopes on Russia. We were then told that Russia, becoming more and more bourgeois, was developing in ‘our direction'; China became the villain of the piece. And the whole wisdom of Western policy consisted now in driving a wedge between Russia and China. The war in Vietnam was the wedge to be driven between Russia and China. But how recklessly that wedge is being driven, how crudely, and in how unintelligent a manner. The driving of the wedge between Russia and China, which was to separate Russia and China, seems rather to be bringing them closer together; temporarily at least the Vietnamese war has effected a certain limited rapprochement between Moscow and Peking. The ideological differences are there, but many Russians and Chinese feel that they ought to present a common front over Vietnam. American policy-makers apparently didn’t give any thought to the fact that only a few weeks after the 1964 American attacks in the Bay of Tonkin, Khrushchev fell. He fell, among other things, precisely because he advocated with excessive zeal a rapprochement with America and advertised hopefully, to the entire communist world, the latent ‘sanity’ of the official American policy. And, of course, the American attack on Vietnam was a refutation of Khrushchev’s conciliatory policies.
We have seen how the impotence of the anti-communist containment policy has been revealed again and again. That policy has proved impotent because no weapons, no armed intervention and no napalm bombing can stop a revolution which develops by its own momentum, a revolution rooted in the faith, the sufferings and the experience of an entire people or of its working masses. General de Gaulle, who is certainly not the hero of my novel, has learned the lesson in Algeria. He was confronted there with the revolution of a small, primitive, unarmed or badly-armed nation. And half a million (half a million!) French soldiers were fighting against the Algerian insurgents for years; and they had behind them the French section of the Algerian population. Yet they were impotent! Impotent against the revolution of a small and weak nation determined to fight for its existence.
‘Ah!’ say the defenders of armed intervention, ‘But how do you know that such a native revolution is developing in Vietnam by its own force and momentum? Is it not all directed from the North?’ There is, I suggest, one infallible test of whether an armed struggle is really the outcome of a genuine, broadly-based revolution or not. To get at this test, I suggest that you note the contrast between the wars in Vietnam and Korea. In Southern Korea there was really no genuine revolution when the Northerners invaded it. And so the American troops and the others who participated in the hostilities under the banner of the United Nations had an easy job. They took the whole of Southern Korea in a matter of days almost. Why is it that in Southern Vietnam the troops of intervention are isolated on little bases, surrounded on all sides by the Viet Cong? Those familiar with the characteristics of civil wars in peasant countries know that in such a country no army can hold the ground and win unless it has the support of the peasantry on the spot. Those who are confined to small bases are so confined because the whole surrounding territory is for them ‘enemy’ territory, because the population of the surrounding areas is against them. Such was the pattern of the Russian civil war and of the Chinese. The Whites, the counter-revolutionary forces, were defeated because every village was for them enemy territory and in every village the ground was burning under their feet. This is what is happening also in South Vietnam, what is happening there to the Americans and the highly unreliable forces of the South Vietnamese government. They are surrounded, hermetically surrounded, by a hostile element; and the hostile element is the peasantry that cooperates with the Viet Cong. Very few newspapers in the West have publicised the fact that the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam has carried out a land reform there and has distributed the estates of the landlords among the peasants. In other words, the peasants have a vested interest in the victory of the Viet Cong. They know that if behind American tanks and official South Vietnamese troops the landlords come back, the land will be taken away from the peasants who would also become victims of class revenge.
All these latest developments in the Cold War are having their effect; and Western Europe is weary of the illusions and misconceptions of the Cold War. It is also very weary of the recklessness of American policy. Too grave risks are involved. It isn’t a matter of chance that General de Gaulle pursues the ‘anti-American’ policy, that he plays the anti-American card. He woos the French people, and knows that his anti-American gestures have their appeal and evoke popular support. This gives you a measure of what is the reaction in the world to the present crisis. There is really a bitter irony in this fact, because two decades ago, after the Second World War, and even later, Western Europe – bourgeois Europe – prayed for the American presence in Europe; people like de Gaulle were afraid of nothing more than of America’s relapse into isolationism: American isolationism was considered the evil thing, and it was American internationalism that aroused great hopes. But what the world got, what Western Europe got, was not American internationalism, but a malignant parody of it. We have seen American policy-makers carrying out one half of Theodore Roosevelt’s advice: ‘Carry a big stick'; but not the other, the more clever half: ‘and speak softly.’ They carry around their big stick, and talk very loudly. Are we to admire this as the image of American internationalism?
The effect of this American policy on Eastern Europe is very grave indeed. I have no illusions about the feelings of the Eastern European peoples towards the Russians. I'm myself Polish by origin and I know how deeply Russia has wounded the national feelings and sentiments of the Eastern Europeans, and how this revenges itself on the relations between the peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia. But Eastern Europe sees also West Germany where the dominant social groups are still (or rather, are again) the Krupps and the other big magnates of the Ruhr industry, who once backed Hitler; they are now the main support, the mainstay of NATO in Europe. Can you visualise with what horror Poles, Czechs and Russians – those peoples who lost in the war 20 million and six or seven million more dead, those peoples who knew the inferno of Nazism as no one else in the world has known it – can you imagine with what feelings they watch America basing its whole policy, the policy that is supposed to defend our freedom, on that most cruel, most reactionary, and potentially always mad German imperialist class?
I would like to sum up very briefly the conclusion of my argument. In Vietnam it is not only American policy but the whole Western Cold War strategy that has reached an impasse. For nearly two decades Western policy has moved in a maze of misconceptions and miscalculations, and amid the wreckage of its own illusions, in order to run now into a blind wall. It is time to draw a balance of this long and terrible venture, to count the political and moral costs of the Cold War, and to assess soberly the risks. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I am setting my hopes very high for the immediate future. I do not see the approach of the great cease-fire that would end the Cold War. To some extent this Cold War may have been unavoidable. The antagonisms and the tensions between the powers cannot be conjured out of existence. The conflict between capitalism and socialism – all too often misrepresented as a conflict between democracy and communism – is not nearing a solution. The hostility between colonialism or neo-colonialism and the peoples of Asia and Africa and Latin America will not soon blow over. But if the stark realities of these multiple conflicts must remain with us, it may yet be possible for all the forces involved to behave more rationally, to shake off the hysteria and insanity of the Cold War, to dispel the fog of myths and false scares, and to reduce the suicidal intensity of the conflict.
I still believe that class struggle is the motive force of history, but in this last period, class struggle has all too often sunk into a bloody morass of power politics. On both sides of the great divide, a few ruthless and half-witted oligarchies – capitalist oligarchies here, bureaucratic oligarchies there – hold all the power and make all the decisions, obfuscate the minds and throttle the wills of nations. They even reserve for themselves the roles of our spiritual protagonists and expound for us the great conflicting ideas of our time. The social struggles of our time have degenerated into the unscrupulous contests of the oligarchies. Official Washington speaks for the world’s freedom, while official Moscow speaks for the world’s socialism. All too long the peoples have failed to contradict these false friends, either of freedom or of socialism. On both sides of the great divide the peoples have been silent too long and have thus willy-nilly identified themselves with the policies of their governments. The world has thus come very close, dangerously close, to a division between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary nations. This to my mind has been the most alarming result of the Cold War. Fortunately, things have begun to change. The Russian people have been shaking off the old conformism and have been regaining a critical attitude towards their rulers. Things are also changing in the United States. They are changing because the world, after all, is something like a system of interconnected vessels where the level of freedom and critical thinking tends to even out. I am sure that without the Russian de-Stalinisation there would not have been the amount of freedom and critical thinking that there is in America today. And I am also sure that continued exercise of freedom and continued voicing of criticism and continued critical political action in America will encourage the further progress of freedom in the communist part of the world. Freedom in the Soviet Union was suppressed and stifled mostly during the rise of Nazism. That was the time of the great purges. It was stifled again and trampled over again throughout the Cold War or most of the Cold War. The more Americans exercise their freedom in opposing their own rulers, the more will the Russians too feel encouraged to speak up critically against the mistakes and blunders of their government.
We are nevertheless not able to get away from the severe conflicts of our age; and we need not get away from them. But we may perhaps for the time being lift those conflicts above the bloody morass into which they have been forced. The division may perhaps once again run within nations rather than between nations. And once the divisions begin to run within nations, progress begins anew, progress towards the only solution of our problems (not of all our problems, but of the critical political and social ones), progress towards a socialist world, towards one socialist world. We can and we must give back to class struggle its old dignity. We may and we must restore meaning to the great ideas, the conflicting or partly conflicting ideas, by which mankind is still living; the ideas of liberalism, democracy and communism – yes, the idea of communism.