Man’s inhumanity to man is no new development. It is as old as the murder of Abel, an act no worse than the indignities to which some people in our world are being subjected today.

Two incidents highlight man’s dehumanization of man in our time. In the book My Testimony Anatoly Marchenko describes what goes on in Soviet prison camps today. His account of the indignities and brutalities visited on Soviet citizens brings tears to the eyes. He tells of some persons who had been so dehumanized that they pretended they were trying to escape so their guards would shoot them to death. Others actually mutilated themselves to express their revulsion of the system and of its criminal leaders (Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and others), a striking testimony to the tenacity of the human spirit even after a man has been starved, beaten, and grossly degraded.

The second incident concerns Anatoly Kuznetsov, a well-known Soviet author who defected to the West on July 30. Kuznetsov was not an escapee from a prison camp, and his body bore no marks of physical maltreatment. But his wounded spirit, no longer able to endure the total loss of freedom and personal integrity to think and to write, drove him to flee from a secret-police state within which there was no hope of deliverance. Each of these accounts makes it clear that the Soviet “paradise” is a prison camp, subhuman and malevolently brutal, where freedom is dead. One Soviet writer has said, “Fear is the only freedom left to us, the freedom to fear.”

What is true in the Soviet Union is true in other lands as well. The Chinese have known nothing but repression, brain-washing, and curtailment of even the most elementary freedoms. The people of Franco’s Spain have been in bondage to totalitarianism for decades. Albania languishes under the sting of the tyrant’s whip, its people deprived of the right to think, write, and speak as they wish. The most recent example of the death of freedom is Czechoslovakia, a country that was cruelly raped by the Soviets a little more than a year ago. Freedomless, the current reactionary regime has gone so far as to proclaim that the Soviet invasion was not only necessary but justifiable. As the New York Times says, the most tragic aspect of this demeaning and farcical admission is the implication “that black is white, war is peace, and evil is virtue.… Joseph Stalin never falsified history more outrageously.”

Totalitarianism, whether to the left or, as in the case of Hitler, to the right, always means the death of freedom. It always uses force and torture. It always dehumanizes men. Totalitarianism is antithetical to freedom, to love, and to brotherhood. Real freedom can never exist in Communist-controlled societies, for real freedom allows for dissent, and Communism cannot permit dissent.

The Western democracies have their own problems. Discrimination, racism, and human exploitation exist in varied forms. Barbaric torture of prisoners is practiced even in our own country. Life magazine is to be commended for its recent revelations of the situation at the Marines’ Camp Pendleton. Perhaps even more intolerable than the alleged cruelties of the guards is the unwillingness of the authorities to face the possibility that such practices may exist. But such evils occur because some people fail to put into practice the principles that underlie democracy, not because democracy’s principles in themselves support such evils. The democracy differs from the totalitarian state in one very significant regard: its people are free. Free to think, and to write and publish what they think. Free to expose wrongdoing in their country. Free to propagate their beliefs. Free to leave the country and go to live somewhere else.

Freedom means that men must tolerate views with which they disagree. Madalyn Murray O’Hair is free to utter her foul diatribes and mount her attacks against Christianity even as the Christian can speak on behalf of Jesus Christ. Freedom makes possible the existence of an American Nazi enclave and a U. S. Communist party. Much as we may dislike what these groups stand for, we accept their existence as a requirement of freedom.

Although democracy is not perfect, it stands far beyond any form of totalitarianism. Its principles are sound, while those of totalitarianism are not. Democracy finds the best support for its notion of freedom in the Christian faith. Christianity proclaims that man is made in the image of God and that only the free man can be held accountable for his actions. To the extent that his freedom is curtailed, the image of God is defaced in him.

Communism can never have a human face, for as soon as it becomes human it ceases to be Communist. The editor of the Indianapolis Star wrote:

Someone said people who want to change democracy for socialism are “blind,” and added, “Life in Russia is a nightmare which has to end sometime.”
Someone else said, “There will never be any progress or peace in this hemisphere as long as the Communist imperialism possesses a sanctuary in Cuba, thus being able to indirectly conspire against and attack all the nations in America.”
Do these statements sound as if they were uttered by ultra-right wing partisans with no experience of living in Red-controlled lands?
The first quote is from Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin’s daughter. The second is from Juanita Castro, Fidel’s sister.

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