In his mid-70s analysis of Soviet socio-political conditions, dissident Marxist historian Roy Medvedev quoted an essay called “Think” by another Soviet dissident, Boris Shragin (Lev Ventsov) saying that the basic conflict in Soviet society was not one of:
political doctrines, ideology, parties and classes, but something quite different, much more deep-rooted, more deep-rooted than anything else–it is a conflict between truth and lying as a matter of expedience; between honesty and self-seeking of the worst kind; between a sense of justice, warm human sympathy, and cruelty rabid in its cowardly vindictiveness; between a sense of law and the total lack of it; and finally between an awareness of personal dignity and a feeling of one’s own insignificance raised to a principle of life. This historical clash of values takes place inside every individual, and everybody who has the capacity to do so is faced by the need to make his own choice. The scales of history are tipped by all those individual choices. [Roy Medvedev, On Socialist Democracy, 74.]
If anyone has a source for Shragin’s original essay, in Russian or English, please let me know. I trust the relevance of his remarks today is obvious.