The best known prose work by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature examines the moral and intellectual conflicts faced by men and. Some years ago I visited Krasnogruda, the restored manor house of Czeslaw Milosz, close by the Polish–Lithuanian frontier. I was the guest of. Last year’s Chinese translation of The Captive Mind, written in by Czesław Miłosz, was selected to be one of the ten best Chinese books.

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‘Ketman’ and doublethink: what it costs to comply with tyranny

When you receive the information, if you think any of it is wrong or out of date, you can ask us to change or delete it for you. He lives in Berkeley, California. Brought to you by curio. Edited by Sam Haselby. Just four years earlier, he had been on the run, in exile from the ruins of Warsaw, helping a peasant named Kijo dig out his potato crop.

Now he was in the United States, amid its postwar plenty. First, however, came the dissatisfaction. He found himself subject to tremendous ideological pressures, from the Left and the Right. Asked about Stalinist atrocities, he knew the truth of the accusation, but had to dodge.

Mostly he stayed silent. Inhe defected to France. If not for the last-minute intervention of a friend, he probably would have been detained in Warsaw and jailed.

A Biography by Andrzej Franaszek. Now he was free to talk. His first subject was his former silence. Inhe published The Captive Minda series of essays about the inner lives of intellectuals living under totalitarianism. In it, he took aim at the notion that tyranny crushes thought. Rather, he found that illiberal regimes could provoke mid citizens to engage in the most elaborate mental acrobatics. The subjects produced by totalitarianism were not mindless drones, but skillful dissemblers, as capable of self-justification and moral hair-splitting as the best-trained Jesuit.

It is as difficult to define precisely as it is essential to understanding the nature of life under authoritarianism.

In the early years of Islam, miloaz Muslims found themselves amid hostile unbelievers, they were allowed to conceal their true beliefs in order to preserve the faith.

After the re-conquest of Spain by Christian forces, some Muslim clerics encouraged their followers to practise taqiyya in order to survive and maintain their religion.

Throughout history, the Nicodemites, mknd Waldensians, the Socinians, the recusant Catholics and other Christian sects have adopted a similar approval of dissimulation. The Stalinist curtain had just fallen on the country mulosz the early s. The imposition of communism in Poland happened swiftly, violently, and in a way that was different from what people — especially Leftists — expected. They had to quickly adapt to a new language and new mores.


Suddenly, people were acting differently, speaking differently. Poets, professors and intellectuals — all those called upon not merely to obey the regime, but to proselytise on its behalf — changed the most. Ketman helps to explain this seeming contradiction. Persecution has long forced believers to conceal their beliefs.

The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz | : Books

It goes deeper than mere lying. Ketman reaches deeper into the soul than simple hypocrisy. Ketman deceives the deceiver, as much as the person being deceived.

It is a continuous performance, allowing those who engage in it to survive the sensation of living with a divided mind.

imlosz As a poet and a radio broadcaster, he knew that performance, however coerced, can be a source of identification: In origin, ketman is a mental defence. It is a way of living with contradiction. It allows those adept at it to create private sanctuaries of the mind, untouched by compromise, even as compromise floods the rest of their lives. To practise capptive is to become endlessly adaptable.

But all this ingenuity, the endless masquerade, serves more to comfort the liar than it does to deceive those in power. But the devil knows what they think and is satisfied. Support Aeon this December Every donation makes a difference.

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