Courtesy Reuters

The Meanings of Coexistence

In the deeply divided world of today, one main obstacle to achieving a genuine state of peaceful coexistence is the gap in the meanings attached to these two words in different societies and political systems. The gap is, of course, just one additional example of the estrangement of vocabularies that besets every effort at direct and sincere exchanges of ideas across or through the ideological and psychological barriers. Words like "democracy," "freedom," "progress" are, as we know only too well, employed in very different and even opposite senses in the two worlds.

Another obstacle lies in the confrontation of absolutes, the insistence on the total good of one ideal and the total evil of the way of life that it seeks to displace and destroy. This sense of serving as a mere instrument of History justifies, in the minds of its champions and supporters, a vast arrogance of self-righteousness. To them, the adversary is not only doomed but is morally wrong in his every act and thought.

Finally, the ideological armor that encases the Communist leaders is wrought of that contradiction in terms, "scientific revelation." Its theoretical bases, which were laid down over one hundred years ago at the beginning of the industrial era, must be proven to be uniquely correct and infallible today; and therefore those who dare re-examine or question any part of its fundamentalist dogmas must be silenced or destroyed.

The most recent and most authoritative statement of Communist dogma is, of course, the new Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, unanimously adopted by the Twenty-second Party Congress on October 31, 1961. Despite its repetitious length and its many internal contradictions, it was carefully designed to serve as the main guide to Soviet thought, policy and action over "the next historic epoch." In the ten weeks between the publication of the draft program and the convening of the Congress, it was "discussed" in tens of thousands of meetings; since the Congress, it has been distributed in millions

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