Perhaps the most enduring of communism’s many ignominious contributions to Western intellectual life is the collective letter of denunciation.
In 1958, after the writer Boris Pasternak won the Nobel Prize in literature, the presidium of the Union of Soviet Writers voted unanimously to expel him in a move that was reported on the front page of The New York Times. According to this governmentally controlled body, the author of Dr. Zhivago had committed “treason with regard to the Soviet people, the cause of socialism, peace, and progress paid for by a Nobel Prize in order to intensify the Cold War.” Articles in Literaturnaya Gazeta, an official organ of the union, denounced the Jewish author as a “Judas” and likened him to a “snake” that had emerged from the “poetical dungwaters of lyrical manure.”
In 1969, the union expelled another author whose work challenged the Soviet regime, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, for “antisocial behavior.” The following year, Solzhenitsyn, like Pasternak before him, won the Nobel. In an angry statement, also reported on the front page of the Times, the union decried how “works by this writer that were illegally taken abroad and published there have long been used by Western reactionary circles for anti-Soviet aims.”
In 1973, an open letter signed by 40 members of the Soviet Academy of Sciences denounced the physicist Andrei Sakharov
for his criticisms of Kremlin human rights abuses, which, they alleged,
had found favor with “the most reactionary imperialist circles” abroad.
Sakharov, too, won the Nobel Prize (for peace) two years later, only
for 72 members of the academy—a full third of its membership—to sign a
florid statement declaring that the award was “of an unworthy and
provocatory nature and is blasphemy against the noble ideals cherished
by us all of humanism, peace, justice, and friendship between peoples of
all countries.”.........To Read More....