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2-2014 / Diskuse a rozepře / Karel Hrubý

Everyday Life in ‘Socialism’

What Was Communist Dictatorship Like?

Karel Hrubý

Karel Hrubý (*1923), sociologist , k.hruby@sunrise.ch       Other contributions by the same author

This article focuses on the method and interpretation of several key concepts which Michal Pullmann and some other younger historians use in their study of history of communism. Their basic starting point is a conviction that existing interpretations of communist dictatorship are one-sided because they tend to posit a binary contrast between an all-powerful regime and a powerless society. At the same time, however, these younger historians explain the longevity of communist regimes by consent on the part of the population, which makes such a system a ‘participative’ dictatorship. Part of the responsibility is thus transferred to ‘society’ which is seen as undifferentiated, as a homogeneous whole. Their studies, however, focus only on that part of society which played an active part in the public discourse. Other parts of the society, those which were either excluded from the authoritative discourse or resigned from their participation, are represented neither in the discourse nor in the image of everyday life. In the author’s view, this method thus beings only partial knowledge of the final stage of ‘socialist regimes’ and any criticism arising from such a narrow base can produce only an unconvincing and disproportionate criticism of the totalitarian model.

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