Leszek Kołakowski : In Stalin's Countries: Theses on Hope and Despair (1971) [page 7]
under strict police surveillance, become transformed into centers of opposition. Hence the tendency to impose state control on ["etatiser"] all forms of social life;
hence the constant pressure aimed at destroying all spontaneous social links and replacing them by restrictive pseudo-associations, the purpose of which is merely negative and destructive, and which represent only the interests of the ruling class.
In fact, if the system needs enemies, it has a mortal fear of organized opposition. It wants to have only the enemies which it has itself designated as such, and which it will fight in conditions of its own choice. The natural need of despotism is to terrify individuals while depriving them of the means of organized resistance.
The penal legislation serves this need perfectly: it is, in fact, formulated in terms sufficiently confused and ambiguous that the greatest possible number of citizens may feel themselves guilty,
and that the scale of actual penalties is not limited by strict juridical formulas, but can be the object of manipulation and arbitrary decisions on the part of the police and the Party.
The ruling apparat does not dispose of a margin for maneuvering in the concession of rights to its citizens. Even supposing that it had the desire to do so, it could not expand these rights without risking suicide.
Experience teaches us, in fact, that concessions to democratic claims result in an increase of pressure. One observes the "snowball" phenomenon, threatening the whole political order.
Social coercion is so great, the feeling of oppression and exploitation so powerful, that the least failure in the system of instituionalized violence,
the slightest reforms promising to make it more flexible, immediately set in motion enormous reserves of latent hostility and discontent, and can end in an explosion, impossible to control.
It is not at all surprising, then, that after a number of experiences, even the philanthropy of the rulers, supposing that it does exist, remains totally powerless to alleviate the economic and political servitude of the laboring masses.
Such are the principal reasons advanced in favor of the thesis -- which incidentally is in conformity with the spirit of Marxist tradition --
that the specifically socialist form of servitude cannot be partially suppressed or reduced through progressive reforms, but must be wiped out once and for all.
Now, my opinion is that this thesis is not correct, and that to defend it amounts to [adopting] an ideology of defeatism rather than a revolutionary appeal.
I base my conviction on four general principles: first, we are never in a position to