Communism in Czechoslovakia, 1948-1960

By Edward Taborsky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
ERECTING AN IRON CURTAIN AGAINST WESTERN INFLUENCES

THE FATE of communism hinges in the last resort on whether a new species of "communistic man" can be produced who would believe that communism can give more happiness, more of the good things of life, than Western democracy has to offer. Unless the communist rulers win this crucial battle for men's minds, unless they succeed in supplementing their expropriation of the means of production by a collectivization of men's souls, they are headed irrevocably for an eventual defeat, no matter how many records they may yet break in their output of coal, steel, or other production exploits. Because of their awareness of the vital role that the conquest of the mind plays in the "construction of socialism" and in the attainment of the ultimate Leninist goals, not to speak of their own self-preservation, the communist leaders have imposed rigid thought control and have launched a colossal campaign of indoctrination in each country they control.

Czechoslovakia has been no exception. "We shall change human nature in accordance with our needs," announced the foremost communist intellectual, Zdeněk Nejedlý. "We shall not be satisfied with the innate gifts of man." And indeed, as soon as they had broken the resistance of ailing President Beneš in February 1948, the communist rulers of Czechoslovakia embarked upon a gigantic program of collective brainwashing designed to develop a new conformistic progeny of Czechs and Slovaks who would turn away from their country's Western European traditions and trade the heritage of their fathers and forefathers for the gospel of Leninist-Stalinist totalitarianism.


SETTING THE STAGE

The KSČ leaders could get their indoctrination machine rolling at full speed with a minimum of delay because they had been warming it up ever since the German invasion of Russia in 1941 when

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