What a script! What a collection of actors and
actresses—Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif, Julie Christie,
Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Courtenay and Rod Steiger.
Brilliant cinematography, sets, costumes and sound
track. Five Oscars and numerous other awards.
Pasternak, Russia`s greatest
living poet, became a symbol of artistic courage in
conflict with the Communist Party`s control over art and
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union defined art,
literature and truth as that which served the interest
of the Party, as interpreted by the Party. Rather than
cooperate with the
subjugation of the artist, Pasternak went silent.
His protest inspired others, and the dissident movement
Banned in the Soviet Union, Doctor Zhivago was first
published in Italy in 1957. An English translation
followed in 1958. The first Russian-language edition was
published in the United States in 1959 after Pasternak
was awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in literature.
Pasternak accepted the prize but was immediately forced
to retract his acceptance by Soviet authorities, who
threatened him with persecution of his intimate friend
Pasternak died in 1960, the year before I went to the
Soviet Union as a member of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Student
Exchange Program. I took a copy or two of Doctor
Zhivago with me. By then, there was a
cottage industry run by dissidents, who copied
prohibited books by hand or mimeograph machine. As this
was only the second year of the exchange program,
Americans were a novelty, and dissidents found ways to
break through the controlled environments in which
Soviet authorities attempted to keep us.
quickly learned that the view held by progressive
American liberals that the Soviet government had the
support of the Soviet people was incorrect—and doubly so
with regard to the intellectual class.
experienced the same estrangement among the peoples of
the non-Russian republics and the Eastern European
satellites. When we left the Soviet Union in August of
1961, the Berlin Wall was under construction. We
encountered many Poles and East Germans who were
convinced that the wall meant war, which would liberate
them from the Soviet yoke.
But back to Doctor Zhivago. Seeing the film again
after 37 years, I was struck by how much more powerful
its impact is today. In 1965, the Soviet Union stood
astride the world as a colossus that challenged the
United States and put unrelenting pressure on the free
world. Although the existence of the Soviet Union in no
way justified the barbarity that had destroyed art, life
and Russian culture, at least a superpower stood on the
ruins and the graves.
Now, more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet
Union from its own irrationality and injustice, it hits
with full force that the genocide of an entire class of
people, the destruction of a culture, and the
suppression of the best human instincts, was all for
Generations of Westerners are likely to grow up
uninstructed by this greatest of tragedies. How does one
get one`s mind around the politically-correct murder by
communists of tens of millions of people for the crime
of being members of the wrong class?
To comprehend such vast evil requires study and the aid
of great artists and writers. But where will Pasternak
be encountered except for an occasional course in
Russian literature? At 3 hours and 17 minutes, the
film is long to appear very often on television.
Today in our finest universities,
feminist professor prattle on about “gender
genocide.” By genocide, they mean such things as women
living comfortable lives as mothers and homemakers or
female executives earning only 95 percent of male
The professors are ignorant of real genocides, such as
the tens of thousands of elegant and artistic young
women who died in the
Akmola camp for the Wives of Traitors of the Motherland
in the frozen Siberian steppes. Bewildered and with no
idea of the fate of their husbands and children, they
found themselves without warm clothes in a
“White Tomb” with no prospect of living.
There is no museum to remind us of the holocaust of
class genocide – or to inform us of the danger of class
warfare, still a
staple of the Democratic Party, the
British Labour Party and
European Social Democrats.
Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent
epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.