(5212) Sakharov, Andreï (1921-1989). “Razmyshleniia o Progresse, Mirnom Sosuschestvovanii i Intellektual’noï Svobode” (“Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Co-Existence and Intellectual Liberty”)
Deistvitel’nyï Chlen AN SSSR A.D.Sakharov
(Active member of the USSR Academy of Sciences)
Roneotyped brochure. 38 numbered pages. 21cm. Text dated June 1968. This samizdat, produced in the USSR, is today in three American libraries.
Known for being one of the designers of the USSR’s first hydrogen bomb as well as being an ardent social activist, dissident, human rights activist, Nobel Peace Price laureate as well as having an asteroid named after him. Vl Ginzburg, who knew him forty-four years, referred to the “Sakharov phenomenon”; Medvedev wrote a detailed description of the exchange of ideas between Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn. When “Reflections…” first appeared it quickly brought Sakharov a very particular sort of fame not restricted by the borders of the USSR. Sakharov was viewed as being fearless for his open condemnation of Stalinism and his endless campaigning against the death penalty and various Soviet military incursions led to him being exiled from Moscow. The exile was lifted and he spent the last three years of his death in Moscow.
From the preface written by Sakharov for this text.
In 1967 I wrote an article on the future role of science in society and on the future of science itself. The same year, with the journalist Henri, we wrote an article on the role of the intelligentsia and the danger of nuclear war for the journal “Literaturnaia Gazeta”. The Central Committee of the Communist Party did not authorise publication. Inexplicably Sakharov appeared in the “Politicheskii Dnevnik” – the mysterious publication we suspect to be a type of samizdat for the high-ranking civil servants. Otherwise these two largely unknown articles became, one year later, the basis for a work which played a central role in my social activities. In the beginning of 1968 I started to work on the book “Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Co-Existence and Intellectual Liberty”. I wanted to tackle questions on war and peace, dictatorship, the taboo of the Stalinist Terror and freedom of thought, demographic problems and pollution of the environment, of the role that science could play and technical progress. This work was greatly influenced by the general mood of the time – “the Prague Spring”. The principal ideas in “Reflections…” are neither new nor original but still move me. I formulated the thesis on the reconciliation of the socialist and capitalist systems accompanied by democratisation, demilitarisation and progress in the social, scientific and technical fields as the only alternative to the destruction of humanity. As of May-June 1968 “Reflections” was widely distributed in the USSR. It was my first work to become property of “samizdat”. In about July-August of the same year the first mentions of my work began appearing in the West and then “Reflections…” was often published in large print runs abroad and received great attention in the media of several countries. This text played an important role not only by its content but also because it was on of the earliest socio-political texts to have broken into the West. In addition the author belonged to a mysterious and formidable profession being a nuclear physicist.