The Anatomy of a Lie
Similar material appears in Human Rights: Continuing the Discussion
In early 1970, I received a phone call from Yakov B. Zeldovich.1 He told me that Samuel Lazarevich Zivs,2 a professor of law, very much wished to meet with me; he said that Zivs, a member of the Institute for Government and Law, was a good person and had done him, Zeldovich, some great favors. I agreed to the meeting and Zivs came to see me shortly thereafter.
He began by saying that he had great respect for me and for the views expressed in my book Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom. Zivs also spoke briefly about the work done by his institute, stressing the research it was conducting to support the abolition of the death penalty (later I realized that he was aware of my views on this subject).
Then Zivs came to the business at hand. Elections to the Academy of Sciences would soon be held. It was very important that Viktor Chkhikvadze, the director of the Institute of Government and Law, be elected to the academy. Chkhikvadze was a major legal scholar, a man of very democratic and progressive ideas; jurists and philosophers knew him well and held him in esteem. There was no question that he would be nominated by his department,3 especially since his candidacy was supported by the scientific section of the Party’s Central Committee; complications were possible, however, at the general election. Physicists and mathematicians were, after all, not well-informed people and could easily be swayed by insinuations.
Zivs requested that I support his boss Chkhikvadze’s candidacy. I did not promise anything, saying that I was not able to take a position on a matter of which I knew absolutely nothing. During our conversation, I found myself looking at Zivs’s new and very nice suit, which was clearly not Soviet-made, and I wondered where he had gotten his hands on it.
Chkhikvadze was not successful in the 1970 election. Before the next vote I again was requested by Zivs to support Chkhikvadze, who once more failed to be elected. But soon facts emerged that rendered this problem somewhat obsolete—Chkhikvadze had been removed from his post as director owing to some sort of machinations connected with real estate and (I think) expelled from the Party; in any case he was deprived of the Central Committee’s support, and the institute ceased to nominate him as a candidate.
As for Zivs, I was to encounter his name in a new capacity—as the author of articles and books attacking the “anti-Soviets,” a category that included me. In 1982 Zivs published a book which was a rehash of his previous publications. Entitled The Anatomy of a Lie, the book indeed demonstrates the anatomy of the lie that is used in official propaganda. Itself a particularly good example of that lie, the book is worth examining in some detail.
The author’s principal goal is to smear Amnesty International in order to diminish the moral impact of that portion of Amnesty’s publications which concern the…
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Copyright © 1983 by Anderi Sakharov