Regeneration or Degeneration
A number of opinions exist among Soviet dissidents regarding religion in the USSR. Some say it is a regeneration, others call it a degeneration.The emigré Russian language press, maintaining a strictly conservative line, rarely reflects these differences.However, just as we form our opinions on events reported in the official Soviet press not from the information itself, but from its context [the way I learned in the 1960s about the books of Karen Horney, Simone de Beauvoir, Dorothea Soelle, and of other feminist works not published in the Soviet Union, from the critical rubric of the journal Inostrannaya Literatura (Foreign Literature)], so we are able to learn in the emigré press about the opposition to Orthodox religious doctrine only in echoes.For example, the objections of the writer A. Krasnov- Levitin to K. Liubarsky , editor of the bulletin Vesti Iz SSSR (News from the USSR), are interesting.In the 4 October, 1984 issue of the newspaper Russkaya Mysl' (Russian Thought) Krasnov-Levitin states:
It is obvious that he [we surmise Liubarsky only through this critic's reaction] did not have many acquaintances in Russia who were either in Russian Orthodox circles or who were even religious people.His acquaintances were Soviet scientific workers, so to speak, liberals.Therefore he was under the impression that in Russia there was no such thing as a religious revival going on.
Krasnov-Levitin elaborates: "Does Kronid Liubarsky remember that adults were being baptized in the Orthodox Church in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s?" This is not a very good argument since it is common knowledge that the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were the years of Stalinism, the darkest in the history of Soviet Russia.Should it then be called a revival? Or was it out of fear that people turned to the Church? Furthermore, it was all connected with the shrewd politics of Stalin himself, who gradually succeeded in rehabilitating both tsarist epaulets and the Russian Orthodox Church (as Alexander Solzhenitsyn notes in the early works written before his emigration during the "thaw"). It is clear that Stalin's policy was not designed to liberate the people.It was the same old carrot-and-stick tactic.