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THE MOTHERLAND AND COMMUNIST MORALITY.
In order to fully understand the phenomenon of people returning to Soviet bloc countries, it is necessary to expose the basic philosophy that underlies the attitude of Soviet bloc authorities towards émigrés and defectors, as propagated extensively by the media of those countries and hammered into the minds of Soviet bloc citizens.
TASS, the official Soviet news agency, once said that for a Soviet citizen to emigrate to the US was to 'betray the Motherland'. In other terms no attitude to her other than one of blind faith is admissible. Moreover, the Motherland being the Soviet state and the Soviet state representing the Motherland, the representative state organs consider themselves as the sole and exclusive holder of the power to decide who will leave the country. This exclusive decision-making prerogative includes the right to force its own citizens into external exile if so desired (e.g. Solzhenytsin), but also the impossibility for Soviet citizens to decide of their own volition to leave the country and to return to it (93).
As far as leaving the country is concerned, the Soviet citizen has to apply for emigration (94), which is very restricted, or he can opt for defection by escaping across the border or staying behind and refusing to return home. Whatever choice he will make he definitely will be considered on the wrong side of the fence by most Soviet bloc authorities (94). The Soviet state, and most of its satellites, have used a wide variety of methods and themes emphasizing the concept of the "All-Mighty Motherland." The latter is ami-present and pervasive in Soviet bloc societies and cleverly exploited to stress that the Motherland knows what is good for its
citizens which implies at the same time that the citizens are not allowed to to know and decide what is good for themselves. Consequently, to decide for an individual Soviet bloc citizen, of his own free will, to emigrate, or even worse - to defect, is considered in most Soviet bloc countries as an attempt to defame and blacken the sacro-saint Motherland and its representative, the state. Invariably it is shown, especially through the media of those countries, that Soviet bloc citizens acting in such ways end up in misery and tragedy, fate that is represented as as an inescapable punishment. The Soviet media have played and still continue to fulfill a distinct and important role in propagating this basic attitude in the collective mind of the Soviet people. Several satellite countries have followed suit.
So, it is evident that a large variety of arguments are used by the Soviet bloc media in o. 'er to convince that emigrating, and worse, defecting will inflict tremendous damage to the individual both abroad or after having returned to the Motherland. Those acts are considered proof of either moral decay or immaturity but above all, lack of patriotism. Following cases highlight quite well the official position.
An article very indicative of this philosophy was published in KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA of January 25, 1984 (95) under the title "On The Foreign Shore. The Spiritual Collapse Suffered By The Man Who Deserted The Motherland." First the article underlines the fact that "a man is like a tree in one respect. Cut a tree's roots off and it will wither. Uproot a man from his native land and the same fate awaits him." Once this basic principle established, the article narrates the story of 'Slavik':
'We were sailing slowly, and the man walking along the pier was keeping up with us. He appeared to be 35-40 years old, and he may have looked older because of his unshaven chin and his torn and worn clothes. Not taking his eyes off us, he was walking quickly along the coast, as if
trying to catch up with the departing ship. [...] A few years ago,
Another article, illustrative of the official position on the issue
of breaking with the Motherland, appeared in PRAVDA of August 10, 1985 under the form of a book review titled "Ruined Lives" (96). Object of the review was a "White book containing new facts, evidence and documents about a great number of human tragedies." The reader is presented with a succession "of life stories of people who cursed the day and the hour they found themselves in a foreign land." It tells stories "about people enticed abroad, separated from their Motherland and their home, and whose human rights and dignity were trampled." The review continues:
"at lines, some more bitter than others, should be selected from, for example, the letters contained in the White Book? The following perhaps? 'I cannot tolerate the system in this country; if I manage to return home I will kiss the ground in the Motherland.' Or this? 'All our people who came from the USSR weep, live like paupers, and cannot go home. Some are ashamed, others have fallen into debt, others are in the psychiatric hospital, and some have had their children taken into the army. This is Israel,"
The article further describes the miserable life in America with "homeless people on the street, unemployment, uncertainty about the future, and universal crime. [...]" The fate of former Soviet citizens in Italy is not better according to the same Pravda article: they "are leading a miserable existence in the small town of Ostia near Rome. [...] The stories of the inhabitants of this latter-day ghetto call to mind figures from Gorkiy's play 'The Lower Depths'. [...] The future is barren."
The same typical attitude was reflected in an article published in August 1986 by RUDE PRAVO, the official organ of the Czechoslovak communist party, under the title "Crimes and False Dreams." It illustrates this point with several
cases of emigrants "who expected to get rich easily in the West but later turned to crime when confronted with the harsh reality of life under capicites
talism." The article several cases of Czechoslovak émigrés who received publicity in the West recently
the story of a Czechoslovak refugee who
help up a bank in Austria; the fate of a Czechoslovak scientist in Great Britain who, unable to find a job, committed suicide; and the story of Czechoslovak girls who advertise in West Berlin, soliciting male customers. (97)" The article is sophisticated enough to recognize that there are émi÷ grés who 'made' it in the West, but they are people with dubious or no morals at all. Starting with Martina Navratilova, the journalist, Stanislav Oborsky, writes that "although no one in our country can deny that she really is a star on the tennis scene", Navratilova cannot deny that "she received her first racket in our country and that she had gone through the world-famous Czechoslovak tennis school." Already here transpires the argument that if Navratilova became a great star, it is thanks to socialist Czechoslovakia. Another point is driven home, when it states that Navratilova was warmly that
applauded for her performance but there were people in the crowd who, in a provocative manner, cheered not the sportswoman Navratilova but the émigré Navratilova. "Could it be", wonders the article, "that standing there, at tennis court they too dreamt about the great possibilities and big money in the capitalist world?" Concluding the article chastizes right out two Czech hockey players, Frantisek Musil and Michael Pivonka, for their defection: like anyone
"There is no point talking about their morals, because they
do not possess any morals." (98)
TASS related another 'horror' story centering around the dramatic events that occurred when Boris Amarantov returned to his homeland. Having had a devastating experience in "Free America" that left his health and mind irre
parably damaged, he was allowed to return home where he was affectionately taken care of by his brother and sister who hoped to save his sick soul. But to no avail, because soon after his return he threw his elder sister out of the window and committed suicide (99).
The need for fidelity to the Motherland ( Fatherland or Homeland ) as opposed to the lack of patriotism and even right out betrayal by émigrés and defectors was further developed in the Slovak publication SMENA (August 1986) in an article titled "Sports Discourse. (100)" The points stressed were again revealing of the basic official way of thinking towards émigrés and defectors. After stating that sportsmen and women cannot leave the country without the authorization of the team or the Czech Psysical Culture Union and that most of them do it for the money, the article clearly indicates that "an honorable person does never leave his homeland; does not betray his fatherland in which he has opportunities enough to make himself comprehensively useful." Striking a patriotic note, the author of the article points out that 40 years ago so many Czechoslovak citizens made the ultimate sacrifice of dying for the fatherland so that "everyone in the CSSR would have such opportunities."
Staying home serving the country was also repeated by General Jaruzelski who said that "wandering through foreign countries is not the fate of Poles; their fate is the honest patriotic service to the nation, here in their own Fatherland (101)."
The Motherland is omni-potent not only as far as the living are concerned, but it is also accentuated that the deceased persons owe a debt to the Motherland or only can rest in peace in the native soil. Of course, whatever was done in the past to the individual by the Motherland is of no importance and