All Commentary
Tuesday, January 1, 1963

The Paradox of the Means

The author, a resident of West Berlin who is acquainted with both the East and West Sectors, requests anonymity.

Recently an incident occurred in the East Sector of Berlin which claimed public attention, an in­cident involving freedom of the press—or lack thereof. Two indi­viduals working for the news­paper, Neue Zeit, were arrested by the Staatssicherheitdienst, a service which protects the security and interests of the state. The reason for the arrest was a print­ing mistake, a reversal of initials. Unfortunately, in this case the re­versal resulted in a rather uncom­fortable change of meaning, for Ulbricht, who is first secretary of the Central Committee (ZK), was referred to as the first secre­tary of the KZ (concentration camp). A slight typographical error—resulting in the arrest of the typesetter and the proof­reader.

We may wince at this instance of communist power and its ruth­less control over the citizens, but we are in danger of heading toward this same state of affairs ourselves if we continue to believe that it is possible to sacrifice the means for the end.

Many well-intentioned citizens of the United States today, in an effort to combat communist infil­tration, are so bent upon purging our country of this alien ideology that they are willing to stoop to any means of stamping out its in­fluence, believing that any action aimed at destroying communism can be justified on the grounds that we are saving America from an inner destruction by subversive forces. Their attention is focused on the end they wish to achieve rather than on the means of achieving it. Unfortunately, how­ever, by adopting a means in di­rect violation to the concept in­herent in the end, that end, rather than moving closer, recedes farther into the background and is apt to become completely lost to sight.

The problem of protecting our freedom is indeed a difficult one. Communism has an inevitable ap­peal and a faithful following, even among intellectuals who are edu­cated sufficiently to be well aware of hidden ramifications involved in achieving their utopian end, ramifications which are not within the mental reach of all adherents to communism. Communists and their ideas will continue to crop up here and there: in student or­ganizations, in newspapers, in art, in the teaching of some college professors. If we want to com­pletely eradicate this subversive element in our society so that it does not contaminate the public mind, then force must be adopted, the very tool the communist him­self uses to suppress opposition to his doctrine.

The only agency whose power is extensive enough to do a thorough and effective job of eras­ing all traces of communism from within our borders is the govern­ment. A less complete method would not be successful. It is tempting, then, to turn to gov­ernment force in hopes of cleans­ing our society and preserving our freedom. However, those who support this idea fail to see that the logical conclusion is not the preservation but rather the de­struction of our freedom, for in sacrificing our freedom we destroy it. The danger lies in the fact that, in giving power to the govern­ment, we are placing ourselves in the same helpless position of the citizens in East Berlin. When we give government the power to con­trol and censor with what and whom the public may and may not come into contact, no matter what reason lies behind this action, our freedom has already disappeared, for the government then controls what enters the minds of the people.

If we wish to be brainwashed, to be filled with carefully con­trolled propaganda, then we should employ the use of government force to wipe the communist doc­trine from our country. This is Russia‘s method, and it is the only one that can make sure that every­one believes the “right” thing; it is the only way to completely eradicate the communist doctrine from America. But when we have adopted this solution, we will have no reason to condemn the com­munist, for our situation will be in direct parallel, and we shall dis­cover a paradoxical outcome: rather than securing our freedom, we shall have given it up; and at that point the Iron Curtain will no longer have any meaning.