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Pravda Publishes Poem Condemning Bureaucratic Thinking

September 10, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ One of the Soviet Union’s leading official poets criticized bureaucratic thinking and indirectly attacked Josef Stalin in a poem published by the Communist Party newspaper Pravda.

The poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko provided a literary outline of Kremlin thinking under Communist Party leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who has called on artists and writers to join his drive for modernization and discipline. Pravda published it Monday.

Gorbachev has promised to revitalize the centralized economy by rooting out incompetent officials.

Yevtushenko, criticized by the Communist Party as one of the Soviet Union’s self-styled ″angry young men″ of the 1960s, is now an officially approved artist. The poem took up one of his favorite themes - mindless bureaucrats afraid of taking initiative.

It revolved around a word invented for the occasion and based on an expression often employed by bureaucrats: ″What if it doesn’t work out right?″

Yevtushenko said petty officials are ″what-if-it- doesn’t-work-out-right-ists ″ and their attitude is ″what-if-it- doesn’t-work-out-right-ism.″

He described the philosophy that he says hampers the development of the Soviet Union:

″Quacks gripped the surgeon’s knife

When he cut on a heart

To save a man’s life ...

Because it might not work out right.

And they mumbled about airplanes

And electric light ...

Because it might not work out right.″

Yevtushenko said, ″The years were sucked out of us″ while experts proved the truth of new ideas.

He leveled indirect criticism at Josef Stalin by mocking some of his policies. Referring to agriculture, Yevtushenko wrote:

″And so the soil became a widow

Deprived of the planter’s care

And buckwheat was pining

And clover sadly lying.

Lysenkoism cut down the ears of rye.″

The last line refers to Trofim Lysenko, a geneticist favored by Stalin who set back Soviet agriculture by forbidding research into cross-pollination and other modern techniques.

Another section of the poem referred to the Soviet Union’s slow acceptance of computer sciences in the 1950s and 1960s. Yevtushenko wrote:

″A ‘what-if-it-doesn’t-work-out-right-ist’

Wearing a tight jacket

And protecting his countrymen

From an alleged foreign menace,

Saw in all cybernetics

Obscurity and mysticism

And stole computers from our children.″

A central focus of Gorbachev’s modernization drive is an effort to educate young people in computer sciences and to computerize Soviet industry, where the abacus is more prevalant than the personal computer.

Stalin also was attacked in a reference to a long-suppressed satire by early 20th-century author Mikhail Bulgakov.

″Because it might not work out right

″We read ‘Master and Margarita’ 20 years late.″

Although he dealt with a delicate point, censorship, Yevtushenko used an issue settled long ago and didn’t mention current Soviet authors banned by authorities.

Yevtushenko has long been the subject of debate in the Soviet Union and abroad.

In the 1960s, as a leading anti-establishment artist, he came under frequent attack in the Soviet press. But Yevtushenko, a committed socialist, was not a dissident and never sought to emigrate. Over the years, his fortunes improved until he was accepted into the Soviet literary establishment.

Concurrently, his popularity in the West declined and he frequently denied charges that he ″sold out″ to authorities. Yevtushenko made a tour of the United States last spring.

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