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Carol Leborg

The 3rd Petro Grigorenko Readings, October 16, 2003, Columbia University Harriman Institute, New York, USA

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in December 1948 and contains, by my count, some 22 rights. These include the right to life, liberty and security of the person, the right to marry, to freedom of thought, to social security, to work, to rest and leisure, and to education
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not a development of something new, in terms of rights. It was simply an official codifying of what most people, and governments, had come to agree should be considered rights.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United States of America, on the other hand, was totally new. It signified a change from the view that men belonged to the class, to the government, the king or society, and that men were a sacrificial means to the end of others. It codified the view that a man belongs to himself, by right. Thus the inalienable right to life. It recognized that man has a particular nature, that in order to survive he must think, and that freedom to think is the natural state of man. Furthermore, it pronounced that a right is the property of the individual. To quote novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, "The United States held that man's life is his by right" (which means by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of government is the protection of individual rights.
The greatness of the American Constitution is that the government, in being charged with the protection of rights, could not itself use force against men in society. This view of individual man and government's purpose led to the most prosperous era in mankind's existence.
In the span of only some 160 years, the years between the American Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the view of rights changed. It changed from individual rights to action and became rights to the result of action. It changed from the right to earn one's living to the right to a job. The difference - a man who wants to earn his living cannot demand a job be provided for him. A man who has the right to a job is entitled to one. If one cannot be found in the private sector, the government must create one for him. And, if he can?t find one anywhere, then he is owed (unemployment) insurance to make up for everyone's inability to give him a job.
Why did the right to freedom of action switch to the right to the result of action?
It is natural for human beings to want to help each other. After all, life includes illness, accident and poverty. What can one human being actually do for another in such cases? He can give from what he has earned, but he must earn it first. Whatever he earns is his, so he gives what is his. First, though, he must set aside enough for himself, for his own consumption, and to ensure he can continue to earn. He must - because if can't continue he can't succeed nor can he help others. After his own needs are me, if he chooses, he can give help to another.
What if, though, he decides to make helping others his primary purpose; no one man can ever earn enough to help every person in need. What is he to do? Get others to join him in his philanthropic endeavours, of course. But there aren't enough others to do all that needs to be done. Why should everyone else take part? There's only one way to do this by government force.
It is when the humanitarian creed to help others becomes the primary purpose of society when the switch from the American Bill of Rights to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurs.
In To Build A Castle, Vladimir Bukovsky wrote, "It is all so easy, so simple, and so tempting, to confiscate and divide! To make everybody equal, and with one fell swoop to resolve all problems, It is so alluring to escape from poverty and crime, grief and suffering, once and for all."
The Bill of Rights enshrined the right to individual life, liberty and the liberty to earn property, to produce as a rational human being. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined the right to the result of production as a primary. The switch was from the right of a man to support his life with his own work into the right of a man to the work of others; from the right to earn, use and dispose of his own property, into the right to the property that others earn.
Once that switch is made, whether because of humanitarian reasons or simply because some men want power over other men, once that switch is made, then suffering will ensue. The switch results in individual man being subordinated to collective men, with his first duty to others, not to himself. It is a switch from individual freedom to collective slavery. It results in the acceptance of some of the worst atrocities done by men to other men, in order to save man. It results in the millions of deaths, unimaginable suffering, and the wars of the 20th century.

Marxist Undergrounds in a Communist Country and Current Challenges

The 3rd Petro Grigorenko Readings, October 16, 2003, Columbia University Harriman Institute, New York, USA

By Andrew Grigorenko.

The topic I chose for my presentation might raise some eyebrows. Indeed, why should there be a Marxist underground in a country where Marxism was the official ideology, or rather, the only ideology allowed to exist?

The generation to which I belong came of age in a remarkable time. The Second World War had a devastating impact on the social and demographic landscape of post war soviet society. The war left in its wake poverty, a high crime rate and a misbalance in the male/female ratio. Although this misbalance affected the entire population, it was of course most drastic among those of childbearing age. Included in this category was the generation of my oldest brother. i.e. the generation of the last three wartime drafts. For this reason, most of my generation was left without parental care, abandoned to education in the streets and uninterrupted official propaganda. Any access to the treasures of the majority of brilliant thinkers was strictly restricted. One could not go to a library and ask for, say, Nietzsche's "Also spracht Zaratustra" or Tolstoy's "My Creed". To access these kinds of books, one would need to have a special permit cleared by the all-powerful KGB. An ordinary person would simply have had to be satisfied with the official Marxist book critics. Even the catalog of restricted books was not accessible without a special permit

It is no wonder, then, that many of my soviet contemporaries tried to find the answers in the writing of Marx, Engels and Lenin. I had the additional stimulus to search for my answers in Marxism due to the history of my family. My maternal grandfather was a member of the Communist party since 1904. His two older children joined the party before
the Bolsheviks even came to power. My father's oldest brother fought in the civil war on the red side. My paternal grandfather was enthusiast of collectivization. My own parents were organizers of the Youth Communist League and members of Communist Party. However, from my earliest childhood, I was shielded from information about the rest of the family history; about the devastating impact on my family of purges and the genocidal manmade famine in Ukraine. Slowly, the truth started to filter into my consciousness.

Khrustshev's thaw brought to life discussion clubs, a black-market for philosophical, historical and political books, and gave birth to a political underground, all unknown in Stalin's time. As I mentioned before, primary political thought, due to lack of real alternatives, was primarily Marxist.

In late fifties I joined a discussion club by the name of "Torch", which was rather reluctantly sponsored by local cell of Youth Communist League. Our discussions were heated ones. By the end of its existence, we were debating whether "the cult of personality" (the euphemism used by propaganda for Stalin's dictatorship) was an immanent stage in the development of socialist society or simply an aberration. This proved to be the last straw - the club was quickly dismantled. Since I was one of the youngest participants in the club, I had not yet developed many ties with other members, and after the club's closure, I continued discussing such issues with a few of my personal friends of the same age.

About a year later, September 7, 1961, my father delivered his now famous speech at the Moscow Party Conference, calling to establish certain democratic guaranties against possible reoccurrences of "the cult of personality" in the future. The party bosses were furious. My father was demoted, his PhD degree scrapped, he was fired from his professor's position at the military academy, and his pay was suspended. A few months later, he received a commission in the Far East.

My life changed overnight. I became a full-time factory worker while I continued my education at night school.
I still, however, managed to find time for our political discussions.

By the early sixties, the economic situation in former USSR started deteriorate, negatively affecting the general population. The government met workers' strikes and disturbances with prison terms and bullets.
Especially notorious were the massacres in Novo-Cherkask, Temir-Tau and Tbilisi. A spontaneous strike also occurred at the factory where I worked. All these events, along with the Marxist literature we were studying, brought my friends and me to the conclusion that a revolution was brewing; we no longer had the luxury to sit in our ivory tower - we had to do something.
Our decision to act coincided with the discovery that my older brother George, a young army officer, along with the group of other officers, had also come to a similar conclusion. George told me that his group belonged to the underground organization called "The League of the Revival of Leninism". But he failed to mention that our father headed this organization. Two of my friends and I decided to join the League while a few others decided not to join. During the winter of 1962 and the first half of 1963, we continued studying Marxism-Leninism and preparing leaflets. The later was not easy do to within the tight government control of paper supplies and copying equipment. The only available technique was a typewriter. Nevertheless, by October of 1963 we had sizable supply of leaflets. When they finally came out, the leaflets appeared in several cities of the Soviet Union. The KGB acted promptly. Arrests started on February first of 1964 and by mid March, all of us were arrested. Ironically,
our case did not finish with long prison terms for League members. Politburo of KPSU decided that the trial of a popular general could be counterproductive. It was at this time that the technique of proclaiming political opponents insane was put into motion. My late father was proclaimed insane, stripped of his military rank, and imprisoned in a special psychiatric prison.
The rest of us were released from detention and excluded from army, colleges and schools and were blacklisted.

It was a very taxing time for all of us. A lot of wills and illusions were shattered, never to recover again.

This time was not easy for me either. After being thrown out of engineering school, I could not secure a steady job and was forced to perform low-paid odd jobs to support my handicapped brother Oleg and my mother. We also needed money to travel to Saint-Petersburg, where my father was incarcerated. But on the other hand, it was a time during
which I had the opportunity to analyze our mistakes and meet new friends who later became known as dissidents. But that is already another story.

I tell you about my Marxist underground experience not for the sake of my memoirs but to put before you a question: "Would Andrew Grigorenko of 1963 be able to understand the Andrew Grigorenko of 2003?" I personally doubt it. I would go even further: Andrew Grigorenko of 1963 would not understand Andrew Grigorenko of 1965.

A few months ago, I stumbled onto a review of my father's book written by a young Trotskyite. The young man proclaimed, without hesitation, that my father was never a real Communist. He could not grasp the fact that it is possible to be a true believer of a theory, while at the same time not be so blind as to later ignore the realization that your belief was a tragic mistake. It is extremely difficult to step outside of a scheme in which you grew up or choose to accept, especially when that scheme promises a bright future.

Totalitarianism easily changes clothes. One day it's talking about corporate society, as with Italian fascism. The next, we hear about National Socialism. On yet another day, we are told about International Socialism. The later still rules in Continental China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba etc. One more totalitarianism looming on the horizon promised nothing less than heaven on earth, but already managed to create a living hell for the people of Afghanistan and Iran. Theocratic totalitarianism seems to me especially dangerous. As we all well know, the theocratic past of Christendom, even without modern means of mind manipulations was the darkest period of European history. The theocracy of the modern age had already shown the world its deadly face. I hardly need to predict what else totalitarianism has in store.

But there is a note of optimism. In any society, however oppressive, there are always a few crazy people who desire freedom and will be ready to sacrifice their lives for it. And usually they need help from those who enjoy their freedom without even realizing how lucky they are. By extending a helping hand, one should be able to
communicate with their less fortunate brethren.

I have stressed before that who I was forty years ago would hardly understand myself today. The young Trotskyite critic I mentioned before was unable to understand the value of universal liberties. He could simply ignore the fact that his idol Trotsky was author to the theories of permanent revolution and the extermination of "kulaks" as a class. The latter was implemented in real life not by him but by Stalin, who sent 17 million Byelorussian, Russian and Ukrainian farmers to their death. But Trotsky, as Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army introduced decimation as a summary punishment in the army, drowned in blood the uprising in city of Kronshtadt as well as peasant uprising in central Russia.

I too was as blind as this man forty years ago. At the time, I completely dismissed that my idol Lenin was the author and architect of concentration camps, or that this educated man, a man with a law degree, could proclaim that those who did not agree with his party would be sent to prisons and concentration camps. But it was this same man who later would, without hesitation, order summary executions and hostage- taking.

The common attribute of totalitarian ideologies is a presentation of one simple idea, such as belonging to a common nation, race, working class, or religious group. When this idea is formulated, so that it becomes appealing to a significant part of the population, then propaganda and terror will bring about a modern version of slavery.

The challenge of our time is to confront the rise of new totalitarianism and discourage the restoration of old ones. Unfortunately, we see dangerous tendencies in many former communist countries, and we see the activation of neo-fascist and neo-Nazis movements in different parts of the world. Do we have adequate answers for these challenges?

I have to admit that my view is a pessimistic one. We declare a war on terrorism but hardly define what we mean. Our President listed Fascism, Nazism and... totalitarianism in place of Communism as modern evils. Is this a tactic to attract China in our antiterrorist coalition? China is a country where freedom is brutally suppressed, the China that annexed Tibet and conducts an ongoing policy of cultural genocide. Why have we decided to proclaim Chechen rebels, suffering from a brutal genocidal war, part of international terrorism? Is it again a tactic to attract yet another partner in the coalition? This time it is Russia, who is not only conducting its brutal war in Chechnya, but is also preparing the anschluss of Belarus, threatens Georgia with invasion, twists the arms of former satellites and monopolizes all significant sources of mass media within
government hands? We are even ready to invite Iran into our coalition, with its complete disregard for elementary human rights. We embrace Saudi Arabia, and other countries like it, which, in reality, cultivate a hatred for our true
allies and us. Blaming Islamic extremism for terrorism, we make no attempt to establish a real dialog with Islam, completely forgetting about the golden age of Islam, when art and science were blooming in Central Asia and Mauritania. We have forgotten that during the time of the Dark Ages in Europe, the Islamic world produced such great poets as Omar Hayam and Alisher Navoyi, medical and
anatomy genius Avitsena ibn Sena, and mathematician and astronomer Ulugbek.

Just a decade ago Dr. Francis Fukuyama announced The End of History. But history has almost immediately returned with a vengeance.
The struggle between freedom and slavery, good and evil continues. And I would like to hope that freedom would

Thank you for your attention.