The Words of the Shtromas Family
Dr. Aleksandras Shtromas.
Dr. Aleksandras Shtromas was born on 4 April 1931 in Kaunas, Lithuania. From 1941-43 he was an inmate in a Nazi concentration camp near Kaunas, and after having escaped from it he lived in hiding for one year (1943-44). Dr. Shtromas worked first as a defense lawyer in Lithuania, and later became a professor of law in Lithuania and Moscow in the years 1952-73. In September 1973, he emigrated from Moscow to the United Kingdom to join his sister's family.
Since 1977 he has been an Honorary Research Fellow and Honorary Visiting Lecturer in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, UK. Since 1982 he has also been a Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, USA. In 1983, Dr. Shtromas became a Reader in Politics at the Department of Pol tics and Contemporary History at the University of Salford, UK. He will be a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, USA until May 1984. Throughout the many books and articles Dr. Shtromas has authored, his insight into Communist strategy is profound, based on his personal experiences and studies.
Following are excerpts from a speech he gave on 21 December 1983 to PWPA professors at a banquet in Cheong-Ju during the VOC rally tour in South Korea.
Western misconceptions of the Soviet Union are many. The one which I consider to be most responsible for the naiveté, indeed innocence, with which the Soviet Union is treated by the West and from which, accordingly, the Soviets gain most of their strength, consists in the view that the USSR is not much more than a mere continuation of the pre-revolutionary (pre-1917) Russian Empire and that, therefore, the communist ideology upon which it claims to rest is, in fact, of no real political substance. To be sure, this ideology is used by the Russian Soviet state as an effective and succinct device for pursuing on a worldwide scale its national-imperial goals, but that is about all there is to it.
Nothing can be farther removed from the truth than that assertion that the Soviet Union is first and foremost an ideological state whose very substance is communism and whose rulers have at heart only one single interest, that of Communist domination not only over Russia and its vicinities but over the entire world.
Faced with such a political reality, the West should start without delay a thorough revision of its policies toward the Soviet Union and define in a more consistent fashion what they should be. The policy of seeking a lasting accommodation with the Soviets by making concessions to their demands is illusory. There will never be a real accommodation between the Soviet Union and the West, and Western concessions to the Soviets will only encourage them to pursue their global plans more actively and energetically than before.
The policy of accommodation by deterrence and containment can have only a temporary and relative effect. It is a good policy insofar as it makes Soviet moves less provocative and drastic, but as a policy aimed at stopping Soviet expansion altogether, it is doomed to failure. No open Western-type society could ever effectively contain a closed, ideology-based one for the simple reason that the latter can always penetrate and subvert the former from the inside without it being able to reciprocate in kind. It is like trying to contain a cancer cell from metastasizing, which up to now humanity has been unable to do. This means that the policy of deterrence and containment is not a self-sufficient policy. It is valid only insofar as it assumes a subordinate, military security- providing role within the wider framework of policies aimed at the total defeat of communism. To this policy whose strategic goal is the elimination of Communist powers from the face of the earth and the restoration to their proper national selves of all nations captured by communism, inclusive of Russia herself, there is realistically speaking only one alternative -- that of surrender to communism.
This alternative is advocated by those who have coined the catchphrase "better red than dead" or agree to subscribe to it. This alternative, however provocative and mindful of peace, is hardly valid. The problem with it is that unfortunately one cannot become red on a global scale and also remain alive. To be red, in the end, is as good as to be dead, and one should make no bones about it. This is so because the new Communist world will by no means become a mono-centric system.
Even now the Soviet Union is already unable to control all the Communist powers which were in the first place established and controlled by it. Moreover, after having split away from their founding "Soviet mother," these powers either became extremely hostile to the Soviet Union -- China and Albania are cases in point -- or, as in the case of Yugoslavia, became the targets of Soviet hostility. If not for the powerful presence and containing influence of the West, the Soviet Union would have certainly attacked Yugoslavia in 1948 and China in 1969 with bloody wars ensuing as the result of these attacks. We have already witnessed a Vietnamese Communist invasion and subsequent occupation of an equally Communist Kampuchea, as well as a Chinese Communist attack against an equally Communist Vietnam. Just imagine what the situation would be if the whole world became Communist and no restraining influence could be exercised on it from outside. The Orwellian scenario of 1984, according to which the three totalitarian Communist super-powers are in a constant state of war with one another, would have been beyond any doubt not mere fiction but historic reality.
It is unlikely that wars between Communist powers would be as sloppy as Orwell has envisaged them to be in his novel and that they would proceed along the lines of the present war between Iran and Iraq. It is much more likely that these wars would be fought on a full nuclear scale, thus exposing mankind to a much more real threat of extinction than now. That is why to be red is tantamount to being dead, not in any figurative sense, but literally. That is why there is no real choice between being red and dead, whatever some myopic pacifists think about it. Communist world domination spells not peace but war, and one should never allow oneself to forget that when discussing Western policies toward the Soviet Union.
This practically leaves the West with no realistic policy option other than fighting communism resolutely and to the very end -- that is, until its final defeat everywhere it is in power -- and with no other strategic goal than that of a world without communism. No more, but no less either. This policy is much more than the policy of defending freedom and our own way of life. It is even more than the policy of liberating all individuals and nations from Communist oppression. It is the only real policy assuring peace and physical survival of mankind and thus a policy to which any thoughtful pacifist should subscribe. Sooner or later the West as a whole, including its pacifists (but of course not it's Communists), will have to realize this fact and, however reluctantly, accept it. It had better happen sooner than later, since later can be too late.
This briefly answers the question, "Why fight communism?" and shows the vital significance for the future of the whole of mankind of the campaign for Victory Over Communism (VOC) launched by Reverend Moon here in Korea.
Another question, "How to fight communism?" could be quite easily answered if one would turn it around and ask, "How not to fight communism?" The answer would be clear-cut and simple -- one shall not fight communism by waging war or employing any other military or violent means. On the contrary, one has to deter communism from waging a war against the West. This could be achieved only by the West making itself unassailable to a Soviet attack. After having secured that, one can assuredly begin to fight communism by using exclusively non-violent, peaceful means.
In his speeches all over Korea, Reverend Moon has constantly emphasized that spiritual values and ideals greater and better than those expounded by communism are the weapon with which communism should be effectively fought and defeated. This, in my view, gives the right clue for answering the question
"I low to fight communism?" in positive terms. The victory over communism should and will be decisively won by the determined engagement of the West in the battle of ideas, not of arms. The greatest asset in that battle is that communism as an ideology is already entirely and irreversibly dead within the hearts and minds of the people ruled by the Communists.
My experience of life in the Soviet Union for about forty years, as well as my many years of thorough research of the Soviet political system, led me to the conclusion that Soviet society, not to mention societies of other Communist countries, is one of total dissent. In 1974 for the first time after more than a decade, I met a convinced Communist. This happened, however, after I came to Britain, and the convinced Communist I met was, of course, British, not Russian. In Russia I met only convinced anti- Communists or people who were not convinced about anything except their personal well-being, which insofar as official Communist values are concerned, is one of the obvious forms of dissent.
Communist societies are, however, not only those of total dissent; they are also societies of almost total obedience to the powers that be. This apparent paradox becomes not paradoxical at all if one remembers the indiscriminate terror the Communist authorities have for a great many years relentlessly waged against every nation they took over to rule.
Apart from its lasting intimidating effect, this terror was instrumental in shaping the new Communist order. Under this order, national societies became so effectively atomized that people in them were left with little choice but to bow to the government which took effective charge of all socially relevant activities of every single individual and group. In addition, the government, by fully controlling all material resources and their allocation, made people totally dependent on it for their sheer survival.
Even under these circumstances Communists did not bring their rule by terror to an end. To be sure, by the mid-I950s the Soviet authorities stopped using indiscriminate active mass terror, but they replaced it with the passive mass terror of total supervision, enabling them to repress, now in a truly selective but nevertheless determined and ruthless manner, every non-compliant individual or act. The terror changed its form and became more institutionalized and orderly, but it is still there. It is just its "spectacular" part which has gone, not the essence. No wonder that under such circumstances people are still forced to keep a low profile and avoid doing anything which the authorities would consider controversial, almost as much as during the time of "active terror."
This is how total dissent in the Soviet Union goes hand in hand with almost total outward obedience to the regime. That obedience is, however, a thin facade beneath which total dissent is simmering and getting ready to burst out into the open at the first convenient opportunity. In Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the whole world was witness to the abrupt end of that total obedience and the eruption of total dissent onto the surface of these societies. After the Soviet invasion of these two countries, the world also witnessed how fast total obedience was restored, with dissent again becoming almost invisible. It was fear and nothing else which made dissent disappear so quickly from the surface, but fear does not change people's hearts and minds, where dissent remains intact, grows ever stronger with every such experience, and awaits the next realistic opportunity to achieve victory before bursting out into the open again.
These two events provided the most convincing demonstration of how dissent and obedience in Communist countries are intertwined with one another and what in certain circumstances makes the one prevail over the other. In addition, the Poles who have provided such demonstrations on so many previous occasions -- in 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, not to speak of 1980 -- are now showing to the world something very different and new. Calmly but effectively they refuse to become obedient to the Communist authorities again as fully and unequivocally as they were before August 1980. This is how the deterioration of Communist authority proceeds before the eyes of the world, making the latter for some strange reason worried rather than joyful about it.
PWPA banquet in Cheong-Ju, Korea.
Total dissent in Communist countries is indeed a tremendous potential force. What it needs most to transform itself into an actual one is Western support and full non-hesitant solidarity. If this sup- port were forthcoming and as yet it never has been, since the West has always been more afraid of undermining the status quo than of the Communist threat), the collapse of Soviet rule from Berlin to Vladivostok would be a matter of not years but of weeks and months.
There are as yet no signs that the West is ready to review its political priorities and become bold enough to challenge and change the status quo, in spite of a realistic possibility of doing so. The West is still even willing to go out of its way to rescue faltering socialist economies of the Soviet bloc countries when- ever such a need arises. With the COMECON's overall debt to the West now reaching the one hundred billion dollar mark and projected to rise in 1984-85 by another 25-50 billion dollars (for these figures, see Walter Laquer, America, Europe and the Soviet Union, Transaction Books, New Brunswick and London, 1983, p. 122), there is no way one can pretend that these generous credits make any economic sense. With no political or even managerial strings attached, they are obviously irretrievable and spell a huge financial loss which, in the end, the Western taxpayer will have to bear. Nevertheless, the West insistently continues to pour huge sums of good money after bad, and the reason for its doing so can only be political. Indeed, by bailing out the almost bankrupt economies of the Soviet bloc, the West secures political stability in the countries of that bloc and thus tries to maintain intact the status quo in the world at large. The question is whether this goal is worth the effort and the expenditure. In my view it is not. It is indeed time for the West to abandon such policies altogether and, instead of siding with Communist governments, to come resolutely to the side of the dissident nations of Communist lands striving for political change.
There is not so much that the West has to do to achieve this change of attitude. In addition to bringing an end to economic aid to Communist countries, it has to start a policy of full support for and close cooperation with the peoples who are already engaged in an active struggle against communism. The forefront of this struggle is today in Afghanistan, which means that the West has to help the Afghanis to achieve political unity under a legitimate coalition government, and then to assist that friendly government in its legitimate struggle for the country's freedom from foreign occupation. To make this struggle fully successful, it would be of ultimate importance for that Afghani government to appeal to the Soviet soldiers and officers to join the Afghani liberation forces and fight communism together under the old slogan, "For your and our freedom." There is little doubt that this appeal would be effective enough to force the Soviets to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan fairly quickly.
The victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan could by no means remain an isolated event of mere national significance. If the Afghanis were to prove -- and that would be the first such proof since 1920- that the Soviets may be rolled back, other nations suffering under Soviet Communist oppression would regain their hope of freedom and try to follow the Afghani example. The West should be ready for such a development and without hesitation extend its active support to these nations' efforts to get themselves engaged in an active struggle against communism, too.
In the first place, however, it is necessary for the West, already in the initial stage, not to limit its active support to Afghanistan only. To make itself truly credible as an ally of the peoples of Communist ruled lands, the West would have to extend its help simultaneously and on a basically equal level with Afghanistan to Jonas Savimbi's UNITA forces in Angola, as well as to the less visible forces of armed resistance to communism in Mozambique and Ethiopia.
Secondly, the West would have to declare publicly its full solidarity with the Polish nation. It should be made clear in this declaration that in case of Soviet or any other Communist country's military invasion into Poland the West will act exactly in the same way as the one suggested above for Afghanistan. Moreover, such a Western commitment must be given not only and exclusively to Poland. It has to be extended also to nations in the rest of Eastern Europe and elsewhere, thus becoming equally applicable to all cases in which Soviet invasion, in reaction to a nation's attempt to regain its freedom from communism, could be expected.
One should not be scared of the Soviet reaction to such declarations and actions. The Soviet Union is not going to go to war with the West because of them. As was already pointed out, the Soviet rulers are not suicidal, and it is not in their interests or traditions to start a war in which the survival of their system could be put at risk. All the wars which the Soviet Union in its whole history since 1917 has started were "safe wars." They were always waged against smaller nations (such as Finland or Poland) and only in a situation where no major power was prepared to provide the nation under Soviet attack with any substantial backing. There was never a case of the Soviet Union on its own volition openly engaging in military conflict with any major power. Even Japan was attacked by the Soviets only at the very end of the war when no real resistance on the part of the Japanese was possible. There are no indications that the present Soviet rulers are likely to change this constant "hyena-like" pattern of their international behavior. On the contrary, the indications are that they will not.
No doubt, the Soviet reaction to such Western declarations and actions will be even more hysterical than usual. The Soviet abuses directed against the West, the amount and tone of their anti- Western propaganda, will certainly increase to an unprecedented level. But the limit of it all will be intimidation aimed at making the West retreat from its intransigent stance. On the other hand, the Soviets as "peacemakers" won't spare any effort to get the West to agree with them on a new arrangement which would basically mean the restoration of the previous situation. They would do no more. Therefore, there would be no real reason for the West to concede under Soviet pressure anything which would amount to reducing Western commitment to supporting the captive nations of Eastern Europe and elsewhere against Soviet aggression, potential or even actual. The West's main problem in this process is not to lose its nerve, not to "blink first," so to speak.
If the West were able to come to grips with this problem, the process of "rolling back" communism would be effectively started without the Soviet Union being able to do much to stop it. And even if the Soviets did do something, events would probably get out of their control quite quickly anyway, primarily because the Russians under such circumstances would themselves be likely to join the anti-Communist resistance forces. In that case there would be no need for any direct Western involvement in this "rolling back" process at all. The nations in Communist captivity would be perfectly able to take care of it themselves.
Korea, in this context, is in a very special position. It is very likely (as incidents such as the Rangoon massacre suggest) that the specific circumstances of Korea will turn her into the actual forefront of the real fight between the forces of communism and liberty sooner than anything of that kind develops in either Afghanistan or Poland. Reverend Moon was therefore absolutely right to come to his nation and to start the work aimed at its mobilization for the victory over communism now. This is a farsighted move for which we should all express our unqualified approval and support. Reverend Moon's present campaign should be especially appreciated for the fact that it is advocating not a mere defense from communism but a full and total victory over it. Indeed, as was already shown above, if one were successful in rolling back communism in one place, let us say in Korea, one could rest assured that communism would start rapidly disintegrating everywhere else. And if Korea, because of the adventurism of Communist rulers in the North, were destined to become such a place, it will be this glorious nation which will bring about the beginning of a new world -- a world without communism -- which has been so long awaited by all captive nations suffering under Communist oppression in Europe, Asia, Africa and America.
When Reverend Moon speaks of the necessity to oppose communism with values greater and ideals better than the Communist ones, he certainly does not have in mind the nations already ruled by the Communists. For these nations know only too well that every other ideal, every other system of values is better than what communism offers. They learned it the hard way, with their own skins. What they need is political sup- port enabling them to translate their mature anti-Communist convictions into practical deeds. Communism must be fought primarily by opposing to it better ideals and greater spiritual values not in the Communist but in the free world where its major strength is ideology and organization, not yet political oppression.
Communists in every country outside the Soviet realm are a natural constituency of the Soviet Union. Through them the Soviet Union learns about the world and optimizes its influence upon it. Trying to destroy the system under which they live, the Communists become, consciously or not, the instruments of Soviet policy of inner subversion of each country not yet under Communist control. Moreover, it is mainly by enabling the local Communists to get to power that the Soviet rulers conduct their policy of global Communist expansion. In this respect, foreign Communists are indispensable to their Soviet counterparts since, as was demonstrated above, without that expansion they would hardly be able to sustain themselves in power within the present realm of their rule.
It would not, however, be fair to say that the Soviet Union uses foreign Communists for its own purposes as some sort of agents or mere stooges. The Communists outside the Communist world sometimes need the Soviet Union even more than the Soviet Union needs them. For, in most cases, they are power- greedy political minorities which without Soviet assistance and support would never have been able to get even near to power, let alone to grab it exclusively for themselves and then use it without restraint for the implementation of their Communist ideological goals.
It is thus that an unholy alliance between the Soviet Union and the Communist parties outside the realm of its rule is formed to advance the expansion of Communist totalitarianism throughout the world, the goal which is equally in the interests of all parties involved in this alliance, not just the Soviet Union. This alliance is the main device which keeps communism afloat and allows it to succeed both in the Soviet domain and in the world at large. Therefore, by effectively fighting communism in the free world one reduces at the same time the Soviet Union's capacity to expand, and, by that, also to survive. That is why this fight is so crucially important. On the other hand, the intensification of the fight against communism in the free world should produce more public awareness of communism and the USSR, which could be helpful in the West's switching its policies from supporting the status quo to the support of change in the USSR and its dependencies.
One should, however, stress over and over again that one has to fight communism in the free world solely by ideological means. Political repressions tend to strengthen communism, making its cause morally more plausible. A party which in order to enhance its sectarian goals uses the posture of a champion of the poor could be made more influential and dangerous by conferring upon it an aura of martyrdom. Many anti-Communist dictators have had the opportunity to find it out but, alas, not as many drew from that experience the necessary conclusions.
As you may have noticed, I tried to outline here briefly a four-fold Western strategy for the victory over communism which is my answer to the question, "How to fight and defeat communism?" without ever resorting to war or any other violent methods. To summarize briefly, one could say that in order to fight and defeat communism it is necessary:
(1) To deter Communist powers from direct aggression against the non-Communist world, preferably by means of equitable multilateral disarmament, but if this proves to be impossible because of Communist opposition, by a determined engagement to win the Communist-imposed arms race.
(2) To help dissent in Communist countries to assert itself by means of effective use of Soviet- endorsed international instruments concerning the protection and enhancement of human rights and of the freedom of obtaining and exchanging information (broadcasting and sending literature to the Communist countries being in that context the most important activities), and also by effectively stopping Soviet- supported or simply Soviet- sponsored expansion of communism around the world.
(3) To stop helping, economically and otherwise, the rulers of the Soviet Union and its dependencies to maintain themselves in control over their countries and instead, to start supporting and encouraging the forces engaged, or about to be engaged, in fighting communism for the national and social liberation of their respective nations.
(4) To concentrate more actively on fighting communism ideologically in the non-Communist world, particularly by using to the fullest extent the potential of those few people who properly and adequately understand the real essence of communism and the Soviet Union.
As scholars we have a special responsibility for the latter part of this four-fold strategy and a major role to play in its application. It is up to us to enlighten public opinion. It is up to us to produce valuable and objective studies of the Communist and Soviet phenomena. It is up to us to suggest unbiased, rational and analysis-based strategies which should lead to the victory over communism. Let us always be conscious of this responsibility and act in concordance with it.
I regret that the PWPA has not been very active up to now in the above fields. Among PWPA's members, at least in Europe and the US, there are at present very few specialists in Soviet studies or Communist affairs. I hope that with Reverend Moon's new campaign for Victory Over Communism, PWPA priorities and composition will start gradually changing, so as to enable it to respond more adequately to the demands of this campaign. 1 also hope that specialists who are studying the Soviet Union and Communist affairs will get from Reverend Moon another venue where they could regularly meet, not only among themselves but also with political leaders, journalists, businessmen, leaders of refugees from Communist countries, etc. -- people from different walks of life -- to discuss problems of mutual interest as well as actions directed to the solution of these problems. With the establishment of this venue, we could contribute to the victory over communism a great deal more than now.
Let me finish by expressing a special wish. As we know, the Second International PWPA Congress will be held in Washington, D.C. in 1985. The third such Congress is being planned for 1987. Well, I would like to see that Congress held in Moscow -- in free Moscow, of course. It is to a large degree up to us to make this possible. Let us therefore not be discouraged and work for this goal together as hard as we can. And if we do, I am sure we will prevail. I will see you all, dear friends, in Moscow in 1987.