Observations from the Gulag Archipelago Relevant to Today – Part 1 – Show Trials

Solzhenitsyn’s epic history of the Soviet Union’s war against its own people is a crippling experience for the reader.  The first ninety pages are a seemingly endless list of purges that went on from 1917 to well into the 1950’s.  The scope, the strategies and the tactics that were used to terrorize, imprison, torture and mostly murder these poor human beings is almost beyond comprehension.  In Solzhenitsyn’s own words “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible what was the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.’”

To try and understand how a government of men would choose to decimate and more than decimate its own people is very difficult.  But it is telling that in every society where radical socialism has taken hold it follows the same pattern and causes monstrous suffering.  Because this same ideology is now loose in our own society, I thought it would be useful to select specific details from the Gulag Archipelago and elaborate on how they relate to our time and place.

I’ll start off the series with the concept of show trials.  Among the many purges there was a period when a decision was made to go after engineers.  They were selected because previously they had been given a certain immunity due to their usefulness.  Because of the backwardness of pre-revolutionary Russia and because of the agricultural disruptions that occurred due to the collectivization of the farmlands, having men who could manufacture and repair and improve modern equipment like tractors and automobiles was quite important.  Sending them to the gulag was quite counterproductive.  But at a certain point logic ceased to be strong enough to prevent the next victim group from being fed into the maw of the meat grinder.

And it was quite easy to incriminate engineers.  By definition they were intellectuals, a classic category of counter-revolutionaries.  Also, most of them had studied at the universities during the czarist period so there were all kinds of associations and attachments to people and organizations that had already been condemned and consumed in the earlier purges.

But the technique that the authorities wanted to most use was to find someone innocent of any real crimes and tell him that if he would denounce himself and all his fellows of some absurdly improbable crime in a public exhibition then he would get a lighter sentence.  And so, we got the show trial.

At the trial the accused had to go through the full histrionics of denouncing himself and confess to all his crimes and accuse all of his co-conspirators.  In the best case all of the other equally innocent men would also confess to their inhuman crimes against the collective.  And finally, they would finish off by demanding their own deaths as the only fitting punishment for their atrocious crimes.  And ironically, despite the assurances that they had received of a lighter sentence, often death was awarded to them.  But either way this theater of the perverse was conducted and make-believe crimes were punished and more fodder was fed into the killing machine.

Amusingly, these trials came to an end when during the show trial against the ceramic industry the defendants as a body decided at the last minute to deny all charges.  And since the prosecution had no actual evidence to produce against them at this very public trial, they were exonerated.  It just goes to show sometimes courage is rewarded.

Currently, examples of show trials in our country are only the thinnest of ghosts of what the Stalinist regime could perpetrate.  A recent example is New York Times science writer Donald McNeil Jr.  He was denounced for the use of the black ethnic slur that shall not be repeated unless you are black.  He was on a trip with students in Peru, for some reason, and one of his students finked out another of the students for having used the black ethnic slur that shall not be repeated unless you are black (tbestsnbruyab).  When McNeil said tbestsnbruyab in the context of condemning the use of tbestsnbruyab he was reported by those present of using tbestsnbruyab.  He was condemned by his colleagues and the incident was forgotten.  But two years later the retroactive punishment for this offense became capitol and his colleagues demanded his firing.  And being the good progressive that he is, he made a statement applauding his professional lynching.  Now admittedly this is poor stuff compared to shipping him off to a labor camp or putting a bullet in his brain.  But it’s a rousing start when it occurs in the so-called land of free speech.

I expect there will be other examples of looney lefties denouncing themselves.  And I think we’ll also see that after the fact they’ll be heard caterwauling at the gates of the Emerald City claiming that they weren’t given a chance afterward to be re-educated and rehabilitated.  But it’s a funny thing.  Once you’ve been cast out into that void it’s really hard to get the “good” people to take your calls.  Contamination from bad thinking is much scarier than COVID.  They’re going to have to get back to you sometime in the future.  And that future sure isn’t tomorrow and chances are it’s never.

So, as you can see, we are only at the very beginning of the great revolution that the Russians perfected.  But I will continue this series and I’m sure we’ll use our Yankee ingenuity to innovate and who knows even show the masters a thing or two.  So, stay tuned comrades.

Back in the USSA, Not Quite

The downside of reading the Gulag Archipelago is that you become dismissive of the power of the FBI.  I mean compared to the KGB and its precursor the NKVD our secret police are pretty lame.  Of course, everything is relative.  Compared to the unimaginable freedom that we used to enjoy here, the present police state is very repressive and upsetting.  A generation ago we would have laughed at the idea of the government spying on all of the phone conversations of the American people.  And the idea that political opponents would now be the targets for re-education camps would have been the subject of science fiction dystopias that sane people would have found too far-fetched to be interesting.

But getting back to the USSR, the Soviets didn’t do anything half way.  They were so zealous and thorough that they would arrest random people just because their quotas hadn’t yet been met.  I was reading a story about a landlady who went to the police station to ask about what to do with a nursing infant whose mother was one of her tenants.  The mother had been arrested by the NKVD and now the child needed milk.  She wanted to know where she should bring the child.  They brought the landlady to a waiting room and after a delay of a few hours they decided to arrest her just because she was already there and the quota needed filling.  She disappeared into the gulag and was never seen again.  Now there’s an action that would bring tears of joy to Jim Comey’s eyes.

I guess my point is that as maddening as it is to see the freest country ever imagined devolving into a police state the reality is that we have a lot of latitude to communicate our ideas and information with each other.  After all I can call Joe Biden, Dementia Joe and Kamala Harris, Willie Brown’s Ho.  And so far, I haven’t been dragged away to Siberia (or even Minnesota) or been shut down by the thought police.  Sure, they’ve shut us out of Twitter and Facebook but honestly those things were overrun with Leftists anyway and from what people on them have told me they weren’t fun anymore anyway.  Larry Correia is one of my favorite fantasy authors partly because he is not a Leftist.  On his blog, Monster Hunter Nation, he wrote a recent post that chronicled his decision to abandon Facebook.  Apparently, they didn’t shut down his very popular page but instead blocked him from writing to it.

I have a Gab page, but honestly, I’ve never really gotten any traffic from it.  The short-short form of writing doesn’t really seem to suit me.  Maybe it’s a skill I need to learn.  But I like writing on my blog and if I can get some visibility from folks like Whatfinger, Disturbed Deputy and MaddMedic then I’m happy to communicate that way.  Lately I’ve been getting some organic search traffic but it’s still quite limited and is restricted to very specific posts that have little to do with the majority of my content.

What I’m getting at is that although I’d love to suddenly go viral and have millions of readers, I’m not sure that was ever a realistic thing.  Are there really that many people interested in the things I am?  Maybe I’ll never know.  But if the people who like my stuff tells some of their friends that’s probably the best way for my site to grow and right now, I don’t think the FBI or even Google is interested in my nefarious writings.  If I do get hurled off my platform, I guess I’ll change my tune but I think what I’d do is what Gab did.  I’d make my site completely bullet proof.  I believe I’ve found a hosting plan that avoids all the vulnerable infrastructure and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Circling back to the beginning.  We have lost a lot of freedom but compared to real totalitarian hell like the Soviet Union or that madman in North Korea we have enough wiggle room to say what we want, to whom we want.  And right now, that’s good enough.

So spread the good word, send all your conservative friends to Orion’s Cold Fire and spit in the eye of Google and the FBI.  Free America still exists here and I’m not feeling pessimistic today.