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opposition is nevertheless quite legal in the realm of ideas and convictions. In fact many cases involve no opposition whatever but simply a desire to have information and an impartial discussion of public questions.
It is intolerable to keep writers in prison for their work. One cannot understand or justify such foolish and extremely harmful steps as the expulsion from the Union of Writers of the greatest and most popular Soviet writer, a man deeply patriotic and humane in his every activity; or the crushing of the editorial staff of Novy Mlir, around which had united the most progressive forces of the MarxistLeninist socialist orientation.
One has to come back again to ideological problems. Democratization, with its competitiveness and fullness of information, must bring back to our ideological life (social sciences, art, propaganda) its dynamic and creative nature; it must liquidate the bureaucratic, ritualistic, dogmatic, officious, hypocritical, untalented style which currently is such a prominent feature.
Democratization would eliminate the gap between the Party-state apparatus and the intelligentsia. Mutual lack of understanding would give way to close cooperation. Democratization would summon a tide of enthusiasm comparable to that of the 1920's. The best intellectual forces of the country would be mobilized for the solution of social and economic problems.
Democratization is not an easy process. Its normal course will be threatened on the one hand, by individualist and antisocialist forces, and on the other hand by those who advocate "strong power", fascist-style demagogues who may try to use for their own purposes the country's economic difficulties, the lack of mutual trust and understanding of the intelligentsia and the Party-government apparatus, and the existence in certain sections of society of a petty-bourgeois and nationalist mood.
But we must realize that for our country there is no other way out and that this difficult problem has to be solved. Democratization at the initiative and under the control of the highest authorities can allow this process to proceed according to plan, insuring that all the links of the Party-state apparatus change to the new style of work which will involve more publicity, openness, and broader discussion of all problems than the old style.
There is no doubt that the majority of the apparatus officials trained in a modern highly developed country can adapt themselves to the new style and will soon sense all its advantages. Weeding out the small number of incompetents will only benefit the apparatus.
We propose the following program of measures which may be taken within the next four or five years.
1. A statement from the highest Party and government authorities on the necessity of further deniocratization and on its rate and methods. Publication in the press of a number of articles discussing the problems of democratization.
2. Restricted distribution (through Party and Soviet organs, enterprises, and administrations) of information on the state of the country and of theoretical work on public issues which should not be made a subject of a wide discussion. Later access to this type of material should be gradually broadened and restrictions finally abolished altogether.
3. An end to the jamming of foreign broadcasts. Free sale of foreign books and periodicals. Entry of our country into the international copyright system. Gradual (3-4 years) expansion of international tourism in both directions. Un. restricted international correspondence and other measures for the expansion of international contacts having in mind first priority for COMECON countries.
4. Establishment of an institute for the study of public opinion with initially restricted but eventually complete publication of material showing the attitude of the population to the most important problems of internal and external policy, and other sociological material as well.
5. Amnesty for political prisoners. A decree on compulsory publication of complete stenographic records of political trials. Public control over the places of imprisonment and psychiatric asylums.
6. Other measures to facilitate the operation of courts and procurators' offices and to insure their independence from the executive power, local influences, prejudice and connections.
7. Elimination of the nationality designation in passports. A single system of passports for urban and rural areas. Gradual elimination of passport registration together with equalization of territorial dissimilarity of economic and cultural development.
8. Thorough-going organization of industrial associations (firms) with a high degree of independence in the problems of industrial planning and production processes, in sales and supplies, finances, and personnel. Expansion of the rights of minor production units. Scientific determination, after thorough research, of the forms and extent of state regulation.
9. Refornis in the field of education. Greater allocation for primary and high schools, improvement of the material situation of teachers, with greater independence and the right to experiment.
10. A law on the press and information, facilitating the establishment of new press organs by public organizations and groups of citizens.
11. Improved training of leading cadres versed in the art of management. A probationary system for managers. Improvement of the knowledgeability of leading cadres at all levels and their rights to independence, to experimentation and to the defense of their opinions and the testing of them in practice.
12. Gradual introduction of the nomination of several candidates for a single post in elections to Party and Soviet organs at all levels, including direct elections.
13. Extension of the rights of Soviet organs. Extension of the rights and responsibilities of the USSR Supreme Soviet (Parliament).
14. Restoration of the rights of all nationalities forcibly resettled under Stalin. Restoration of the national autonomy of the resettled nations. Gradual resettlement in former homelands (where it has not yet taken place).
Of course this plan must be regarded as approximate. It is also clear that it must be complemented by a plan for economic and social measures worked out by specialists. We emphasize that democratization in itself does not solve economic problems, it merely creates the prerequisites for solutions. But without the prerequisites there cannot be solutions. Sometimes we hear our foreign friends comparing the Soviet Union to a powerful lorry whose driver is accelerating as much as possible with one foot, and at the same time applying the brake. The time has come to use the brake more sensibly.
The plan we propose shows, in our view, that it is quite possible to outline a program of democratization which is acceptable to the Party and the state and satisfies, as a first approximation, the urgent demands of the country's development. Naturally, wide discussion and deep scientific, sociological, ecobomic, general political, pedagogic and other research as well as practical experience will provide substantial corrections and additions. But it is important, as the mathematicians say, to prove the "theorem of the existence of a solution".
We must also consider the international consequences of democratization if it is adopted by our country. Nothing can so well serve our international authority and the strengthening of progressive communist forces in the entire world as further democratization, accompanied by an intensification of the techLological and economic progress of the world's first socialist country.
Doubtless, possibilities will increase for peaceful coexistence and international co-operation, the forces of peace and social progress will be strengthened, the attractiveness of communist ideology will grow, and our international position will become more secure. Especially vital is that our moral and material position as regards China will be strengthened and (indirectly, by example and technical aid) there will be more opportunities to influence the situation in that country in the interests of the people of both countries.
A number of correct and necessary foreign policy actions by our government are not properly understood because the information provided to citizens on these questions is incomplete. In the past there have been cases of obviously inaccurate and tendentious information, which has increased the lack of confidence.
One of the examples of this is the question of economic aid to underdeveloped countries. Fifty years ago the workers of Europe, ravaged by war, helped those who were dying of hunger in the Volga area. Soviet people are not more callous or egotistical. But they must be sure that our resources are being spent on real aid and the solution of serious problems, and not on the construction of grandiose stadiums and the purchase of American cars for local officials. The situation in the modern world and the opportunities and tasks facing our country require wide participation in economic aid to the underdeveloped countries in (o-operation with other countries. But for a correct understanding of this issue on the part of the public, it is not enough to give verbal assurances. Proof must be given and the situation must be shown, and this demands fuller information and democratization.
Soviet foreign policy, in its basic features, is a policy of peace and co-operation. But the public's lack of information causes disquiet. In the past there occurred certain negative manifestations in Soviet foreign policy characterized by excessive messianic ambition which force one to the conclusion that not only the imperialists bear responsibility for international tension.
All negative manifestations of our foreign policy are closely connected to the problem of democratization and this connection is two-sided. Great disquiet is caused by the absence of democratic discussion of such questions as supply of arms to a number of countries including, for instance, Nigeria, where a bloody civil war has been in progress whose causes and course are quite unfamiliar to the Soviet public. We are convinced that the resolution of the United Nations Security Council on the problems of the Arab-Israeli conflict is just and reasonable although also not concrete enough in a number of important points. However, disquiet is caused by the question: Does our position not go substantially further than this document? Is it not too one-sided? Is our position regarding the status of West Berlin realistic? Is it always realistic for us to strive to extend our influence in places far from our borders at a time of difficulties in Sino-Soviet relations and in technical-economic development. Of course in certain cases such a "dynamic policy” is essential, but it must be harmonized not only with general principles but also with the country's real capabilities.
We are convinced that the only realistic policy in an age of thermonuclear weapons is a course aimed at continued deepening of international co-operation, at determined attempts to find a line of possible convergence in the scientific, technological, economic, cultural and ideological spheres, and at renunciation of weapons of mass destruction as a matter of principle. We take this opportunity to express our opinion about the usefulness of unilateral and joint declarations by nuclear powers concerning renunciation in principle of the first use of weapons of mass destruction.
Democratization will facilitate a better public understanding of foreign policy and remove from it all its negative features. This in its turn will lead to the disappearance of one of the main cards held by the opponents of democratization. Another of their cards—the well-known mutual incomprehension existing between Government and Party circles and the intelligentsia-will disappear at the very first stages of democratization.
What awaits our country if a course towards democratization is not set ? Falling behind the capitalist countries in the second industrial revolution and gradual transformation into a second-rate provincial power (history knows similar examples); increased economic difficulties; deterioration of relations between the Party-Government apparatus and the intelligentsia; danger of breakdowns on all sides : aggravation of nationality problems. For in the national republies the movement for democratization, arising from below, will inevitably take on a nationalist character.
These prospects become particularly menacing if one takes into consideration the presence of a danger from Chinese totalitarian nationalism (which on the historical level we regard as temporary but very serious in recent years). We can face this danger only if we increase or at least maintain the technological and economic gap between our country and China, while increasing the numbers of our friends in the world at large and offering the Chinese people the alternative of co-operation and aid. This becomes obvious if one takes into consideration the numerical superiority of the potential adversary and his militant nationalism, as well as the great extent of our eastern frontiers and the thin population of the eastern regions. Thus economic standstill and a slowed rate of development in combination with an insufficiently realistic and sometimes too ambitious foreign policy on all continents may lead our country to catastrophic consequences.
Deeply esteemed comrades:
There is no way out of the difficulties facing the country except a course towards democratization carried out by the Party in accordance with a carefully worked out program. A move to the right, that is the victory of the tendency towards harsh administrative measures or "tightening the screws”, not only will Dot solve any problems, but on the contrary will aggravate those problems to extremes and lead the country into a tragic blind alley. The tactic of passively waiting to see what turns up will lead in the final analysis to the same result.
At present we have a chance to take the right road and carry out the necessary reforms. In a few years, perhaps, it will be too late. This problem must be realized throughout the entire country.
It is the duty of everyone who sees the source of the difficulties :and the means of overcoming them to point this out to his fellow citizens. Understanding the Deed for and feasibility of a gradual democratization is the first step on the road to its realization.
A. D. Sakharov