Libor Brom is an associate professor at the University of Denver. He teaches Russian, German, Czech, and comparative literature, and directs the interdepartmental Russian Area Studies Program. Dr. Brom is a native of Czechoslovakia, where he received degrees in economics and law, started a career in business, and was an executive with several state-run Czech industries before emigrating to the United States in 1958.
In this country, Dr. Brom was drawn into high school language teaching after a chance encounter with some American teenagers left him shocked at their indifference toward world culture and the East-West struggle. During the 1960s he earned his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Colorado and joined the University of Denver faculty in 1967.
This paper is adapted from presentations given by Libor Brom at the Center for Constructive Alternatives in Michigan in February 1982 and at the Shavano Institute in Colorado during May 1982.
Some time after Stalin's death, the "Inconspicuous Man" came to my apartment in Prague and offered me the position of commercial attache at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
I was astonished. Our family had experienced the sufferings that accompany Communism. Our property had been confiscated, our human and civil rights had been abolished and we had all been jailed at one time or another. And now this man was offering me a new life as he said:
"You have suffered a great deal under Stalin's rule, but now Stalin is dead and your education, life experience, and family name will be recognized. Your studies in the field of economics, business, law, and Serbo-Croatian can be useful in Yugoslavia and you have relatives there, do you not? We will give you all the necessary training and opportunities to succeed.
Wouldn't you prefer to live up to your potentials as a decent human being?"
Of course I did. I was thirty years old and had grown tired of the poverty, misery, and despair in the socialist trap. From Yugoslavia I could easily escape to the West, I thought."
During the meetings that followed we discussed the preliminaries of my upcoming training. I realized then that the career he was offering me would entail subversion and spying in Yugoslavia. I thought I would take the offer and after arriving in Belgrade, I would defect immediately thereafter. However, I requested one formality, that a contract be written enumerating my duties. The "Inconspicuous Man" agreed. The document, carefully worded in Marxist-Leninist double talk, was a pledge of my allegiance to the struggle for "peace" and "justice" in the world. My Christian thinking prompted me to request that one clause be included in the document—never to be ordered to kill another human being.
This was the last time I saw the "Inconspicuous Man." The Communist foreign service had no use for me."
As I worked on this lecture, the words of three individuals went through my mind. First were those of the Marxist-Leninist ideologist at Prague's Charles University who said to me some thirty years ago: "In the capitalist world, the so-called free people fear the eruption of World War III. They believe it will be an atomic war. They do not know that the Third World War has been in process in every continent, every country, in every street of every town and village. And who do you think is winning this war? Who is adopting whose image? Are we, Communists, adopting the Western multi-party political system, or are the so-called free people around the world adopting the one-party political system? Are we, Communists, embracing the free-enterprise economic system, or are the so-called free people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere adopting the state-run economic system? Are we, Communists, acquiring faith in God and belief in an eternal life, or are the so-called free people becoming more cynical about the human soul? Tell me, who is adopting whose image? Who is winning the Third World War?"
The second and perhaps more surprising words were those of a top short-story writer in the USSR, a Marxist-Leninist, who was touring the United States recently and addressed the classes of Russian literature at our university. At a private gathering afterward, our Russian Club members were captivated by his life experience and literary work which spanned forty years. It covered the despotic Stalin era, the more liberal Khrushchev period, and the present repressive Brezhnev regime. The evening had almost come to an end and only several in our group remained, when the soft-spoken Soviet man said:
"We have spoken only about literature. May I ask you a personal question in another field?"
"Of course," we responded.
"Americans, when will you begin to defend yourselves? We have taken Eastern Europe, the masses of Asia, and are in Africa. Will you defend yourselves when we land in New York?"
Our Communist guest waited for an answer from his shocked audience. We had no answer. Do you have one?
The third individual, a prominent American TV personality and political commentator, had addressed an executive club audience. He had concentrated on pointing out the reasons for the impending doom converging on the United States. He believed, he said, that America had reached her acme and now was sliding slowly toward oblivion. The audience seemed to understand his thesis, and in the question-answer period that followed they remained silent. Their acceptance of America's forthcoming doom seemed widespread.
This banquet speaker and TV personality, therefore, was not controversial. People do not usually object to Oswald Spengler's ideas in The Decline of the West, to the premise that historical cycles like "bondage—spiritual faith—courage—liberty—abundance—selfishness—complacency—apathy—dependency—bondage " repeat themselves. Therefore, when I recounted the Soviet writer's question to the banquet speaker and asked for his answer, he surprised everyone by his sudden anger and reply:
"I do not believe the man ever asked this question," he said.
Is the angry cry "I do not believe it" also your answer to the Marxist-Leninist scheme to conquer the world?
The fact is that we live in a time of fateful challenges. As a people and a nation we are under test. This challenge is, of course, Marxism-Leninism. There is no mystery in its strategies and tactics. It has always been concrete and spelled out in black and white. It has also been openly and actively tested in the economic, political, and ideological struggle for control around the globe.
Lenin, the founder of the first Communist state, put it simply: "First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia. We will encircle the last bastion of capitalism, the United States of America. We will not need to fight. It will fall as a ripe fruit into our hands." And, "We must practice coexistence with other nations, until we are strong enough to take over by means of world revolution…We are not pacifists. Conflict is inevitable. Great political questions can be solved only through violence…It is inconceivable that Communism and capitalism can exist side by side. Inevitably one must perish."
Rykov, Lenin's successor in the Council of Soviet Commissars, corroborated: "It is our duty to inculcate in the minds of nations the theories of international friendship, pacifism, and disarmament, encouraging their resistance to military appropriations and training, without ever relaxing our own efforts in building our military equipment."
Manuilsky, a prominent Soviet professor at the School of Political Warfare, said: "The bourgeoisie will have to be put to sleep. We shall begin by launching the most spectacular peace movement on record. There will be electrifying overtures and unheard-of concessions. The capitalist countries, stupid and decadent, will rejoice to cooperate in their own destruction. They will leap at another chance to be friends."
And Khrushchev, a more contemporary Soviet prime minister, said: "We cannot expect Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find out they have Communism."
Today, Marxism-Leninism represents a most complex and powerful doctrine developed by Communist theoreticians and practitioners in every corner of the world. Its universal library offers dynamic political weapons and comprehensive theories, diversified approaches and seductive slogans. On one side of the globe, there is the Yugoslav moderate theory of reformed Communism and participative economy which lures masses into socialism. On the other side of the earth there are Chinese slogans which are more productive in inflaming a Communist revolution.
Marxism-Leninism is particularly effective on the semantic level where it exhibits a devastating duality. It lulls its adversaries to sleep, while at the same time it mobilizes its followers to revolutionary action. The Communist International's Seventh Congress concluded that open use of revolutionary terminology does not promote the Marxist-Leninist drive for world domination. Therefore, "revolution" has been changed into "liberation," "world conquest by the proletariat" has been changed into "peace and socialism," "armed seizure of power and liquidation of the bourgeoisie" has been rephrased to read "peaceful and gradual transition to socialism."
Even the word "Communism," which every revolutionary is so proud of, has been changed into "progressive," "anti-Fascist" or "liberal." Further, to confuse their adversaries, the Marxist-Leninists have devised a new language which uses old words in the basic vocabulary. When they say "imperialism arouses the wrath of the people and digs its own grave," they mean "through our manipulation of the local Communist parties, and with a vast auxiliary corps of dupes and sympathizers, we so arrange matters that the free enterprise system and democracy are destroyed from within. All we need to do is push it into the grave."
Thus, the free, complacent, conscience-stricken, guilt-ridden, sex-sodden, drug-driven, decadent, and often antagonistic societies have been manipulated by goal-oriented, dedicated, and shrewd Marxist-Leninist dialectics into a notorious period of so-called peaceful coexistence and plain overt hostilities. "Detente" has become not the hope of free people everywhere, but rather their doom. "Detente does not necessarily spell out the end of the struggle between the two social systems," says Pravda. "The struggle will continue between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie."
In other words, the so-called detente is nothing more than a form of Marxist-Leninist art skillfully geared toward pacifying the American public by encouraging them to act ridiculously nice while the Communists kick the daylights out of them. The result is that the free world continues to shrink. Democracies cannot handle periods of low-tension confrontation. They have an almost universal desire to believe that peace is the natural condition of man, that armies are temporary nuisances, that conflicts of interest can be dissolved simply by a policy of good will. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth; but for some reason free people prefer to believe it.
Three distinctive periods have marked my life. The first period encompassed my youth before German socialism, or Nazism. The second period covered my young adult life before Soviet socialism, or Communism. The third period of my life began in America.
During the first period of my life gigantic demonstrations were prevalent in Europe. Mobs shouted "Peace! Peace! Peace!" The Nazis themselves called for "peace" as they took Europe piece by piece. Democracies began to give in little by little until ultimately they gave up completely. They participated in the Munich peace conference that was to conclude "peace in our time." Munich did relieve, temporarily, many weary minds, and although a people (my people, the Czechs) had been sacrificed, many felt that they had finally arrived at some sort of peace. Churchill protested: "If you do not fight for what is right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you do not fight when the victory will be easy and not too costly, the moment may come when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and with only a precarious chance of survival…You may even have to fight when there is no hope of victory, for it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
This call for a fight brought cries of "plutocrat," "warmonger," "imperialist," "mass murderer," and "enemy of the people" from many Europeans. Two years later when the German socialists and the Soviet socialists had invaded the independent Republic of Poland and the Western powers had found it necessary to defend themselves, Churchill was called to lead the flight for ultimate survival."
During the second part of my life, before Communism, Europe experienced mass movements and demonstrations once more, all in the name of peace and justice. Czechoslovakia, my country, believed in her historical mission. Her people proudly proclaimed themselves to be the bridge linking the Western democracies with Eastern totalitarianism, capitalism with Communism. Czechoslovaks did their best to prove their good intentions to the Marxist-Leninists. But in their approach to the Marxist-Leninist aggressor, the Czechoslovaks made a crucial mistake. They forgave and forgot what the Marxist-Leninists had done to millions of their own people in the Soviet Union and to the other peoples of the world. We must be reminded that to forgive is divine, but to forget is idiotic.
The steps leading to the downfall of a once prosperous Czechoslovakia have been identified by scholars as the blueprint for a Marxist-Leninist takeover through peaceful means. The same steps have been at work in all parts of the free world. The symptoms of this vanishing democracy are:
Many countries in our present world find themselves in the wrecking process that Czechoslovakia went through before February 1948. They are headed down the bankrupt road of a one-party political system, to bureaucratic socialism, materialist humanism, and collective cynicism.
Since my arrival in the free world, the third period of my life, I have witnessed the same demonstrations for peace and the same impotence—free people challenged by the expanding Marxist-Leninist ideology of arbitrary invasions, expropriations, and deportations. I have witnessed the same fragmentation of originally proud nations into selfish minorities, of helpless minorities into antagonistic classes, of decimated classes into manipulated masses, and of terrorized masses into obedient robots toiling under the yoke of the same totalitarian despots. The largest emigration in history goes on. People continue to flee the existing tyranny, poverty, despair, and fraud in a frantic attempt to save their lives and their human dignity.
The fatal intellectual environment is also present. The theological alienation of man from God is compounded by the ethical alienation of man from man, by the psychological alienation of man from himself and by the ecological alienation of man from nature. Its features are unchanged:
As a result of this intellectual environment, individuals are tormented by a confusion of twisted tensions and find themselves overcome by the meaninglessness of life.
We ask ourselves who has caused the protracted holocaust in the world. Could it be that for evil to win only one thing is necessary—good people who do nothing? Or that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, at the time of moral crisis, retain their neutrality?
True, there are people in our world who have lost their moral perspective. Human knowledge has become vast and unmanageable. Astronomy has revealed a world beyond the imagination of man, physics a universe in the atom, biology a microcosm in every cell, physiology mysteries in every organ, and psychology dark secrets in every dream. Theology has crumbled, technology has exploded, economics has shattered, and politics has inflamed the world. The scientific specialist knows more and more about less and less, the philosophic generalist knows less and less about more and more, and both have put their blinders on to shut out any moral decision. The door is opened wide for a lasting holocaust.
Knowledge has to be man's prime instrument for action and survival.
Introductions that enumerate the institutions of learning where I have earned my degrees amuse me. They miss the most important school and the most influential teachers I have ever had—my home and my parents. They were simple, hardworking people who had little time and very few luxuries to give. They did give me, however, their personal example and a firm springboard from which to jump into the world of confusion, terror, and war which followed. They professed one simple basic belief: Something is either good or bad, it is either decent or indecent, it serves either God or the devil, and most important they believed that it was my duty to find out what is right and what is wrong. This was what their education was all about.
Yes, education is a stratified totality. First, education is facts. Second, it is concepts based upon these facts. Third, it is a decision based upon facts and concepts—a personal decision as to what is right or wrong. Without this moral decision education is worthless.
When we fail to make decisions, someone else will make them for us. In times of intimidation, revolution, and war this "someone" is more apt to be the mobs in the streets who care little for facts or concepts. The result is tyranny.
If freedom and democracy are to survive, it will take a miracle—a miracle that only dedication and commitment can bring about. After the technological and intellectual revolutions, a moral revolution is necessary.
When trapped in a world of indolence, incompetence and impotence, when challenged by ambivalence, arrogance and aggression, when you feel insignificant, you can and must do your duty!
You know the needs of your family, your neighbor, your town, your state and your community. You have here a duty to perform.
It is not important that others are bad, lazy, and dishonest. It is important that you are good, diligent, and honest. It is not important that others lie, scheme, and destroy. It is important that you are hard at work to maintain our democracy, justice, and peace.
There is no time to waste. The revolutionary forces shaking the earth have converged upon us, presenting us with difficult choices—with a need for action, for ideas, for concerted and sustained commitment as a nation and as individuals.
We must meet the challenge with the conviction of our beliefs. We must remember that as Americans—by birth or by choice— we are heirs to a permanent, continuing, liberating revolution. Our great ancestors left us an unparalleled moral and political weapon that we must share with the suffering peoples of the world.
In April 1945, the Second World War was coming to an end. In Central Europe great numbers of people were still dying. In our village fifty hostages had been taken by Nazi soldiers. I was among them. Orders had been given for ten of us to be executed each time one of their retreating soldiers was killed by our guerrillas. Being first in the alphabet, I found myself in a courtyard facing two soldiers armed with machine guns, not knowing if I had one minute, ten seconds, five seconds to live.
Almost unknowingly, I began to pray, a prayer of thanksgiving to God, that if I had not lived for a noble cause He was now giving me the opportunity at least to die for a noble cause—to die in resistance to the tyranny and misery represented in those two Nazi soldiers. Happiness momentarily filled my being—finally my life made some sense.
Without any advance warning, the guards were ordered to take me back to jail. Eventually we were released. From that moment on I have believed in miracles.
Only those who are willing to die for a noble cause are fit to live.
I believe there is a great difference between Americans and the people of other countries. Whenever I travel I recognize this difference. These people have a dream, a sense that there exists a powerful force capable of leading the world to justice and peace. They are aware that there is a unique society in the world where God has put together all nationalities, races, and interests of the globe for one purpose—to show the rest of the world how to live. The dream around the world, in spite of all contrary propaganda, is America.
I ask you, where is your America?
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