7 Fletcher F. 365 (1983)
A Policy Perspective on Dissent and Repression in the Soviet Union

handle is hein.journals/forwa7 and id is 371 raw text is: A Policy Perspective on Dissent and
Repression in the Soviet Union
In this commentary, Allen Lynch examines the process of dissent and
repression in the Soviet Union from the point of view of American foreign
policy. He argues that American human rights policy is doomed to failure
as long as it continues to emphasize support for the politically insignificant
Soviet dissident intelligentsia. In order to achieve true progress in alleviating
Soviet repression, the author argues, the United States must work through
organizations considered legitimate by the Soviet government. He concludes
that the best way to do this is through a policy of ddtente.
Many Americans view Soviet dissidents as outspoken representatives of
a disenchanted Soviet populace. According to this theory, the dissident
intelligentsia speaks the mind of - and is secretly admired by - the
majority of the Soviet citizens. American policy-makers tend to share this
perception and have, therefore, based U.S. human rights policy on public
support for these intellectuals.
Yet the Alexander Solzhenitsyns and Andrei Sakharovs are but a tiny
minority. The nature and extent of Soviet dissent must be viewed in the
perspective of those citizens who are not dissidents; George Feifer speaks
of the 99.9 percent who abstain from dissent.' In fact, he must be speaking
of the 99.9 percent of the Soviet intelligentsia who abstain from dissent
since the 0. 1 percent of Soviet citizenry remaining would yield a figure
of 260,000 dissidents, a number which is universally conceded by Western
specialists to be far too high. It is in this context that demonstrations
and dissent in the Soviet Union must be viewed. The much-publicized
August 1968 demonstration in Red Square, for example, coming after
the crushing of the Prague Spring, involved a total of only seven people.
The numerical isolation of the dissident intelligentsia is reinforced by
that intelligentsia's deep sense of despair over the possibilities for the kind
of social and political change which most dissidents feel is consonant with
a society responsive to the most rudimentary criteria for the observance
of human rights. It is significant that the principal source of the pessimism
Allen Lynch is a candidate for a Ph.D at Columbia University's Department of Political Science.
He received a Certificate from the Russian Institute at Columbia University in 1979.
1. George Feifer, No Protest: The Case of the Passive Minority, in Dissent in the USSR, ed.,
Rudolf Tokes (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), p. 420.

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