JULY 1, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—To anyone who has been watching the Russian scene and making an effort to understand the Russian people whom he has had an opportunity to meet, one thing must be apparent. You never hear a representative sent by the Soviet government to this country acknowledge that anything short of perfection exists in his country. You feel, frequently, an implied criticism of conditions in your own country. You yourself are aware, of course, of shortcomings in educational or health facilities, of discriminations for various reasons, of troubles between employers and employees. But you acknowledge these things and hope conditions will improve, whereas the citizen of the USSR counters with tales of perfection only.
Being human, one supposes that there must be some shortcomings in every system. But in the USSR, the first intimation of these shortcomings has to come through official announcements—such as broke upon the world last week when we heard, first, that an industrial purge was in process on a very wide scale because of graft in certain state industries; and second, that as punishment for collaboration with the enemy during the war, numbers of the inhabitants of the Crimean and Chechen-Ingush Soviet Republics were being resettled in other parts of the Soviet Union and had been deprived of their autonomy last November.
These announcements indicate that the Soviet Socialist Republics do not differ much from the rest of the world. They have internal troubles just as the British Empire and the United States have. I do not think this is in any way surprising, because in every country we are dealing with individuals who are bound to vary according to their own characters. They cannot all have the same high standards, nor the same understanding of the objectives for which our various nations strive.
During the war, press censorship was invoked and travel and change of citizenship naturally had to be curtailed in every country. But now, when the war is over, we find that in the USSR censorship still exists, that it is extremely difficult for the press of other countries to have free access to information—to see whatever they wish to see and to talk with people freely.
We hear that Russians who have married people of other nationalities have to wait for long periods before their exit visas are granted. Are these restrictions made to prevent the knowledge in the rest of the world that citizens of the USSR have ordinary human failings, whereas the shortcomings of the rest of us are blazoned across the world? Information seeps out only when official sanction is given for the publication of certain facts at home. Only then is publication also given to the foreign press.
All of us throughout the world are dealing with imperfect human beings. Our problem is not to attain perfection, but to feel that we are moving forward. We know that we will occasionally slide back. Yet if, in looking back over a ten-year period, we can actually see a trend which, on the whole, means that a greater number of people in our country have wider opportunity for better living conditions, then we can feel satisfied.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1946, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)