Monday, May 3, 2021

The Communist True Believers

The intellectuals of the left, between the 1920s and 1990s (from the Russian Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union), trenchantly rejected the idea that the masses could reject communism. H. G. Wells and Sidney and Beatrice Webb were convinced that communism was synonymous with progress, and if the nations were given a free choice, their masses would opt for the communist model. 

In 1968, when there was a rebellion against the communist government in Czechoslovakia (the Prague Spring), Jean-Paul Sartre argued that the Czechs were not rebelling against communism but against the communist system with which they cannot identify since this system was not “home grown.” He explained that the Soviet Union made a mistake when it compelled the “Czechs of the 1950s” to accept a communist system that was fit for the “Russian peasants of the 1920s,” and that the rebellion would not have happened if Czechoslovakia had been allowed to develop its own form of communism.

Eric Hobsbawm refused to believe that the Czechs could be against communism. He firmly defended the cruelty with which the Soviet Union was suppressing the Czech rebellion as “a necessity of time.” Saving the communist government was for him the absolute priority.

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