Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

By Josef Korbel | Go to book overview
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Chapter Eleven
The Sisyphean Years 1962-1968

Despite the terrifying manipulative power of a totalitarian system, some men caught up in these systems somehow, some way, cling with a kind of desperation to enough of their moral sensibilities as to know, suddenly, that if they would remain men they have now reached the very end of compromise and surrender, that they stand now on the brink of the abyss. Such a man may have given up all but the last of his ideas, his sense of society, his meaningful work, his vision of himself, driven as he has been by his animal instinct to stay alive within this system in which one's life is daily bought with the price of one's soul.

But a spark of his humanity is still alive, and because it is he realizes that he has reached the point of no return. No longer can he anesthetize the pain of his daily surrender by movies or music or liquor or the laughter of friends. Now he must face it--the awful reality of the truth. But he must face as well the prospect of penalty and loss if his own truth is to replace that of the state as the object of his principal concern.

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