Beyond Socialist Realism
The Velvet Prison appears at a particularly opportune moment. The author, a prominent Hungarian opposition intellectual, argues that in Communist countries the relaxation of state control over cultural affairs has not—indeed, cannot—enhance the freedom of the artist. Paradoxically, he contends, the “soft” censorship favored by the authorities in Hungary and other “liberal” Communist nations has been much more effective than the Stalinist tactics of bygone years in ensuring the obedience of the intellectual class. The modern totalitarian system, he says, has proved flexible enough to accommodate change and at the same time sufficiently strong to make certain that the pace and direction of change fulfill the needs of the party-state.
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