Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 16. September 8th 1971
Play on Commune banned
Play on Commune banned.
There is a certain method in the way which plays are censored in Czechoslovakia. In the current phase, all allusions to fascism are verboten. The "normalized" head of one of the nation's theatres explained recently, not without a certain ingenuousness; "Contemporary Western plays? Out of the question. Either they are pessimistic or else they are antifascist. So they are not for us. Those people take things too seriously..."
The television is currently breaking all records for silliness. A play dealing with the Paris Commune was banned at the last moment before it was due to go on the air, and replaced with an arrangement of poems which was afterwards severely criticised A few minutes before another programme, a well-known actor was expelled from the show. He made the mistake of turning up wearing a roll-neck pullover which was reminiscent of the style of dress of a very popular television commentator in 1968 and who is currently serving a three-year prison term. And last January, at the time the Brussels Congress of Jews was discussing the lot of Soviet Jews, a programme was abruptly cancelled at the last minute, when it was discovered that the four actors who were to take part in it were all of Jewish origin.
Radio listeners have recognized the present director of political programmes - noted for his attacks on Zionism - as the onetime editor of the fascist broadsheet The Aryan Combat published in 1938 and 1939 A number of variety programmes, dating back to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia have been dug out of the archives to fill in radio time, since they can hardly be politically damaging.
Nonetheless creative people are still working and writing Those in the know say that never in the course of the past twenty-five years has there been such a glut of excellent manuscripts as today, although their authors have no hope of having them published now.
Nearing the end of this letter, or rather, this cry, I wonder whether anyone is still really interested in all this. Can people be aware that this "Biafra of the spirit" to which Aragon has referred is a condition typical of all fields of endeavour, and that a culture which all of Europe admired during the past ten years has been assassinated, without anyone lifting a finger to defend it? The Right may have a point when it says; "They wanted their socialism, now they can see what it's like.." Yes, we did want socialism and we still want socialism, not this fascism imposed through a foreign occupation.
So much for the Right. But what of the Left? Does the international unity of the Left stop at the Elbe, merely because Czechoslovakia's problems are not the same as those with which the Left in the West is concerned? Let us hope that it is not so, for it would be too stupid, and even too dangerous, if it were.