National Geographic : 1962 Mar
Journey to Outer Mongolia of mail; it is so heavy-handed that some peo ple complain. Authors are organized into a union, most of them giving only part time to writing. The writers' union decides what fields should be explored, what books prepared, and edits the finished product. Then it goes to the censor. If he rejects it, the union once more goes over it. Ts. Damdinsuren, Mongolia's most eminent living writer (page 304), whose novel Woman Rejected is now being produced as a movie in Ulan Bator, insisted that the union has the final say, even against the censor. K nArWPnMF RY nrAN CnN > nNr How doctrinaire the party members are is difficult to determine, unless one is in resi dence for months on end. Some I met blazed with indignation once a Marxist principle was challenged. Most are less committed. No group placed a Marxist roadblock across our conversation, as is done in Russia, though we often stirred the coals of contro versy. My statement, made again and again, that Karl Marx could not possibly have writ ten Das Kapital if he had lived in the United States in the mid-20th century, was met with interest, not antagonism. The capitalism about which Marx wrote, I told them, was as long buried as their ancient capital, Karakorum. Freedom of Spirit Urged in Speech Once, at a dinner tendered by the Mongo lian Bar Association, I was asked to state my views of Mongolia's progress. I answered that progress could not be determined merely by the amount of food production, factories, hospitals, and doctors - important as they were. Progress, I said, could be judged only by taking into account the spiritual values. "I would judge a society by a poet's stand ard," I said. "Is the mind free? Is it allowed to explore all horizons? Or does some official say, 'This you shall not believe, that you shall not publish'?" No torrent of denunciation descended on me, as it has on similar occasions in Russia. These people still appear to have open minds. Yet the Mongolians are so far removed from Western culture, so distant from the influences of Judeo-Christian civilization, so unaware of the West's great books and hu mane letters, that if they long remain in an isolated pocket between the Soviet Union and China, they may evolve into ideological puppets. If that should happen, it would be a trag edy, not only for a warm and stouthearted people but for the free world. Justice Douglas Expounds Freedom to a Socialist Student Audience Invited by the University of Mongolia at Ulan Bator, the author stands at the lectern and explains the ideals of the West. Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin appear in one frame as if the four were contemporaries. Marshal Choibalsan, Prime Minister of the Mongolian People's Republic from 1939 to 1952, is portrayed above the door. Mrs. Douglas stands among the officials at left.