Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2012

Kołakowski : In Stalin's Countries: Theses on Hope and Despair (1971)

Kołakowski : In Stalin's Countries: Theses on Hope and Despair (1971)


    thing as entirely innocent information, and items of true information about social life are immediately exploited by all the competing groups and cliques which aspire to higher positions, against those who at present occupy those posts.

    Thus, although the rule of self-deception and self-mystification seems at first sight an absurdity, it is in reality one of the self-defense mechanisms of the system.

Certainly, the ruling groups sometimes pay for the lies which they themselves produce, but on the whole this is a risk worth running: in the long run, it is society which pays the greater part of the cost.

    The fourth characteristic of socialism, in its present Soviet version, is the intellectual and moral degradation of the apparat which takes the most important decisions for the life of the country.

This degradation is itself a mode of functioning of the political regime, and not the result of the good-will or ill-will of the rulers.

This mechanism implies a strictly unilateral dependence within the hierarchy, arising from the principle of the monopoly of power.

As in all despotic systems, the characteristics which favor individual careers ( the traits of character which facilitate accession to the upper echelons of the hierarchy ) are servility, a lack of the spirit of initiative, obedience to one's superiors, readiness to inform on others, and indifference to public opinion and public interests.

On the other hand, other traits become dangerous: the spirit of initiative, concern for the interests of all, respect for the criteria of truth, efficacy and public service without regard to the interests of the apparat.

The mechanism of power thus engenders a natural counter-selection of the leading cadres, in all areas of the apparat and particularly of the party. The fourteen years of Gomulka's reign in Poland manifestly confirm this truth.

    " The Invasion of the Bugs "

These years were marked above all by the systematic elimination of competent men, endowed with the spirit of initiative, in favor of mediocre, cowardly and servile individuals.

The process begun in March 1968 [2] -- the massive promotion of ignorant persons, informers or downright scoundrels ( " the invasion of the bugs," as the people of Warsaw called it ) --

was merely the acceleration and intensification of phenomena already in existence for several years.

As with all rules, there are exceptions to this one, but they are extremely rare. One can sometimes observe processes in the opposite direction

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