Arien Mack, Editor
Václav Benda, Milan Šimecka, Ivan M. Jirous, Jirí Dienstbier, Václav Havel, Ladislav Hejdánek, and Jan Šimsa
Parallel Polis, or An Independent Society in Central and Eastern Europe: An Inquiry, with Introduction by H. Gordon Skilling
Independent activities of many kinds which occur in Central and Eastern Europe, commonly but inappropriately termed "dissent," challenge the efforts of the communist regimes to establish and maintain total control of their societies and to eliminate any free or autonomous tendencies. They keep alive the possibility of a freer life even within the framework of what is almost always called, in this region, totalitarianism, offer a model of an eventual open society, and lay the ground for it.
Sociological and public-opinion research have reflected the changing times in Czechoslovakia and the political pressures on scholarship at different periods. There was a substantial tradition of free sociological study before 1914, as exemplified by Tomas G. Masaryk, and between the wars by I. A. Blaha and J. L. Fischer.
The most interesting—as well as the most influential and important—articles on Soviet society now being written in the Soviet Union appear in the pages of officially published journals and newspapers, not in samizdat.
The CPSU Central Committee January 1987 plenum once again showed convincingly that the party is doing truly titanic work to eliminate the various "obstructions" which have accumulated in the path of our society's development. The habit of half-truths, which in a certain sense are worse than lies, is being persistently overcome.
These essays are translated from So sehe uk die Sache: Protowlle aus der DDR, published in 1984 by Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Koln, FRG. This book was originally scheduled for publication in East Germany, but publication plans were canceled following the storm of interest caused by the prepublication of two chapters in Sinn u. Form, a literary journal published in East Germany. Interest in the article, in fact, was so great that the issue sold out all over Gennan-speaking Europe. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, a German publisher, already had contracted to publish the book in West Germany and did so. These translated selections are published. With their permission.