V. P. Tugarinov, Socialist Society and the Person. 1960
Original Source: “Sotsialisticheskoe obshchestvo i lichnost,” Kommunist, No. 18 (1960), pp. 27-34.
Contemporary bourgeois culture, devoid of any significant social ideas, promotes the lowering of moral ideals, a passion for the external aspects of life, the “automobile civilization,” the cult of primitive entertainment, and the dissipation of life. A decadent ideology and psychology, degrading man, is being developed. The philosophy of existentialism, fashionable in the circles of the Western intelligentsia, advocates the idea of an eternal and insurmountable antagonism between the person and society, the rejection of personal obligations to society, man’s helplessness in the world surrounding him, and the senselessness of personal goals and of existence in general. With the “advance of technology”-which presumably replaces the person and renders him obsolete-man is declared superfluous. The ideas of man’s “loneliness” and “lost-ness” in a hostile world are being spread.
Under conditions of socialism and communism, the human personality develops on a qualitatively new basis-not on the basis of alienation of the person from society, which is the case in the antagonistic socioeconomic formations, but on the basis of the unity and the harmonious correspondence of personal and social interests. The economic, political, and spiritual development of all society is the fundamental and main condition of the prosperity, freedom, and spiritual development of each individual. Therefore, in socialist, but even more in communist, society, the antagonism between personal and social interests, between egotism and altruism, becomes devoid of its objective roots.
Man in a socialist society is neither an egotist, thinking exclusively of his own prosperity, nor an altruist, who takes care of others but not of himself. He should be imagined neither as a mercenary acquirer nor as a victim, though voluntary, on the altar of social interests. The man of the new society does not renounce his personal interests in favor of social interests, because this society will not demand from him constant self-sacrifice and self-denial-with the exception of some extraordinary cases, like war, or other moments that call for self-sacrifice…
The harmonious union, the drawing together of the interests of the person and society, is taking place in conformity with the law of social progress under socialism. The process of converging personal and social interests signifies that man’s life increasingly depends upon social interests, that man freely, voluntarily, and gladly gives himself to the service of social progress because he sees in this act not “sacrifice” but the fulfillment of his life.
At times, our opponents argue in the following way: socialist society furnishes social justice but not personal freedom, whereas in the “Western world” the person is free without social justice. In fact, however, the person is incomparably freer in a socialist society than in the so-called free world.
Marx and Engels have connected personal freedom with the liquidation of classes. More than a hundred years ago they knew what is unknown to our opponents today, namely, that freedom is inseparable from social justice, i.e., from the liquidation of classes. Freedom without social justice, without the liquidation of class exploitation, is inconceivable in a modern society. Freedom of the person and freedom of “all” are nothing but the liberation of workingmen from capitalist exploitation…
Freedom from misery in socialist society is both material and spiritual freedom. Spiritual freedom liberates man from oppressive fears and anxieties, from the opium of religion, and becomes the source of optimism, of inspiration, and of social activity-a source of all the features characteristic of the population of socialist countries … All the remaining forms of socialist spiritual freedom of the person are determined and secured by the fact that in socialist society the people themselves determine and control all forms of social life. Let us take, for example, freedom of speech. For the broad masses, freedom of speech manifests itself in the freedom of business-like, constructive criticism of the deficiencies in the performance of the state apparatus and economic organs. It is opposed to the “freedom,” so much appreciated by the bourgeois intelligentsia, to write and publish whatever one feels, including the release of gangster films, pornographic albums, and decadent readings. An American publicist, D. Marion, speaks quite pointedly about “freedom” of the press in the “free world”: “The paper on which the Constitution has been published should be reinforced with the paper on which money is printed; only then would your right of freedom of the press become a real freedom.” The same is true of other freedoms. Money, the secret of bourgeois freedom, is its starting point and its end.
Socialism destroys the power of money, of capital, and creates conditions for the true freedom of man. The following is significant for a correct understanding of the new forms of personal freedom. The scope of personal freedom under capitalism is determined by the degree to which men succeed in achieving relative independence from society. Under socialism and communism personal freedom depends upon man’s ability to see that his interests and the interests of society coincide-upon his ability to make social interests his own. To put it differently, personal freedom under socialism is materialized not on the basis of the separation and alienation of the person from society but on the basis of the unity, of the correspondence, of personal and social interests, on the basis of a complete blending of person and society in the process of approaching communism.
Both freedom in general (that is, freedom on the philosophical-historical level, as activity based on the recognition of necessity) and freedom on the personal level (that is, freedom as an ability to act in conformity with one’s will) can be attained only under the conditions of socialist and communist society. Personal freedom is unattainable for the workers in a society with antagonistic classes because the conditions of an exploitative system are contradictory to their interests and needs. Under socialism, on the other hand, as a result of the objective correspondence of personal and social interests, a level of man’s development is being attained in which man ceases to perceive the social requirements imposed upon his behavior (i.e., norms of social discipline and morality) as external coercion but sees them as an expression of his own motives and desires. As man accepts these norms as internal regulators of his conduct, he ceases to feel state and moral “coercion” and fulfills these norms in conformity with his own convictions and desires and in conformity with the social will.
Thus, in comparison with the bourgeois personality, a complete transformation of man’s character takes place under socialism.
Source: Michael Jaworskyj, ed., Soviet Political Thought; an anthology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), pp. 526-528.