The Struggle for the Third World: Soviet Debates and American Options

By Jerry F. Hough | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Understanding the Soviet Debates

MANY in the West assume that Soviet media operate under very strict censorship and that no significant criticism of the Soviet system, of Soviet policy, and especially of Soviet foreign policy can appear. They would react with skepticism to any assertion that Soviet journals and books contain either advocacy of major changes in what have long been considered fundamentals in the Soviet ideology or that they include debates on such matters as policy in the Middle East and Latin America.

There is some truth in this view. Certainly the Soviet media do operate under strict censorship. Only institutions of the government and the Communist party or organizations strictly subordinated to them, such as the trade unions and the Academy of Sciences, are permitted to publish anything, and that includes mimeographed leaflets and pamphlets. Editors are appointed by higher authorities, and significant ones must have their appointments confirmed by the Central Committee apparatus or even the Politburo (it is said that such posts are in the Central Committee's nomenklatura, the list of posts requiring confirmation before personnel action can be taken). At least in social studies and political journals, editors must be members of the Communist party and hence subject to party discipline. The editorial boards of journals covering the outside world normally also include one or two fairly high officials in the international department of the Central Committee. In addition, a scholarly book published by the Academy of Sciences must be approved by the scholarly council of the institute sponsoring it and must also have a "responsible" editor, a scholar who is generally sympathetic with the author's point of view but who vouches for the book's general soundness.

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