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Morality and Survival under Stalinism - Speech or Presentation Example


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Morality and Survival under Stalinism

Glover calls this morally repugnant choice “corrosive” (Glover 313). It forced the populace to participate in a socially acceptable “norm” that reinforced the government’s version of the truth. Glover quotes Solzhenitsyn, who pointed out that normally inane words and gestures were carefully scrutinized for underlying meaning and, as such, had to be carefully managed and “edited” so as not to appear contradictory or challenging. “Every wag of the tongue can be overheard by someone, every facial expression observed by someone. Therefore every word, if it does not have to be a direct lie is nonetheless obliged not to contradict the Name 2 general, common lie” (Glover 274). There is an element of absurdly black humor in this, an emperor-has-no-clothes complicity in furthering a “truth” everyone knows to be false. To call into question the official version of events and affairs is to admit to the lie and to one’s role in its maintenance. Under such circumstances, morality itself, then, morphs into a utilitarian arm of the state. It no longer exists apart as a modifier of human thought and behavior. Stalinism can be said to have adapted morality as a self-aggrandizing tool. It no longer “belonged” to the people any more than freedom of choice and of speech can be said to have “belonged” to the people. Perhaps the most morally damaging aspect of Stalinism was the deleterious effect it surely had on the way in which people passed along the concept of morality. As with other concepts, morality is

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taught and learned according to a subjective understanding of its meaning and its place in daily life. Under Stalin, not only were adults forced to compromise their ethical integrity in order to survive, they were forced to teach their children that lying, bearing false witness and other morally objectionable behaviors were acceptable. “Some chose to make it easier for their children by keeping up the lie in front of them all the time. The alternative was to tell them the truth, which was dangerous…” (Glover 274). Maintaining the lie sent a mixed message: morality is an imperative, yet it is selective. Thus, the legacy of Stalinism is that not only can morality be made to serve the interests of the state and of a political ideology; it can be transformed as one might continually reshape a lump of clay to make it take on different forms and deliver different visual messages. It is an Name 3 interesting part of the human psyche that people will revere truth and ethical behavior, yet become angry, even dangerous when the “truth” departs from the “official,” when it reveals that conditions run counter to the morality of personal conscience. The Stalinist regime quite successfully wedded Communist doctrine to the concept of morality. Russia had survived a literal death struggle with the universally reviled dogma of Nazi Germany. Having survived a great war of liberation lent the Soviet government under Stalin a degree of moral ascendancy. Stalin used this moral and political capital cynically and calculatingly to create a system designed to strengthen the state’s hold on power. In a very real sense, the creation known as


Name 1 Name Class Instructor Date A Devil’s Bargain: Morality and Survival Under Stalinism The overriding moral dilemma for those who lived under Stalin’s rule was whether or not to betray one’s personal value system. To do so was to compromise one’s individuality and moral integrity; remaining true to one’s humanity was dangerous and held profound consequences for everyone involved…
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Morality and Survival under Stalinism essay example
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