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Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55

15 January 1945

Doubtless Stalin was very clever to give all his attention, first and above all, to the Red army; events have justified him flagrantly; and it matters little now that he did this by relaxing in other regards. For was it not love of the land and of individual property, often a religious feeling also, that, much more than clinging to Marxist theories, made the Russian forces so valiant and victorious? Stalin grasped this and showed that he had grasped it when he opened the churches again.

. . . But I think that the justice of some of my accusations will be readily recognized; in particular the one about the oppression of thought. What I said of this remains true, and that oppression is beginning to be exercised, in imitation of the USSR, in France. Any thought that does not conform becomes suspect and is at once denounced. Terror reigns, or at least tries to reign. All truth has become expedient; that is to say that the expedient falsehood is at a premium and wins out wherever it can. Solely 'right-thinking' people will have a right to express their thought. As for the others, let them keep silent, or else . . . Doubtless one can overcome

Nazism only through an anti-Nazi totalitarianism; but tomorrow it will be essential to struggle against this new conformism.

From The Journals of Andre Gide, Vol IV: 1939-49. London, Secker & Warburg 1951

Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until 5 September.

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