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The Gulag: Willful Blindness In Russia

04 November 2015 @ 14:29

The gift of repentance, which perhaps more than anything else distinguishes man from the animal world, is particularly difficult for modern man to recover. We have, every last one of us, grown ashamed of this feeling; and its effect on social life anywhere on earth is less and less easy to discern. The habit of repentance is lost to our whole callous and chaotic age.

We start from what seems to us beyond doubt: that true repentance and self-limitation will shortly reappear in the personal and the social sphere, that a hollow place in modern man is ready to receive them. Obviously then the time has come to consider this as a path for whole nations to follow.

Add to this the white-hot tension between nations and races and we can say without suspicion of over-statement that without repentance it is in any case doubtful if we can survive.

Repentance is the first bit of firm ground underfoot, the only one from which we can go forward not to fresh hatreds but to concord. Repentance is the only starting point for spiritual growth.

We cannot convert the kingdom of universal falsehood into a kingdom of universal truth by even the cleverest and most skillfully contrived economic and social reforms; those are the wrong building blocks. … Only through the repentance of a multitude of people can the air and the soil be cleansed so that a new, healthy national life can grow up.

Unless we recover the gift of repentance, our country will perish and will drag down the whole world with it.

-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, From Under The Rubble

We learn from reporter Shaun Walker, via The Guardian, that Russia – the government and many of it’s people – are engaged in willfully blinding themselves to the Truth about The Gulag Archipelago:

Ivan Panikarov has spent the past two decades living with the Gulag: his small two-room apartment in the town of Yagodnoye is filled with artefacts from the camps. Rusting tools, handcuffs and photographs of prisoners cover the walls of his living room, while stacks of boxes in the hallway contain transcripts of interrogations taken down in meticulous purple handwriting.

Yagodnoye feels like the end of the earth, and in many ways it is. In the heart of the Kolyma region, one of the coldest inhabited places on the planet, it is an eight-hour drive from the regional centre of Magadan, which itself is a seven-hour flight from Moscow.

There was almost nothing here before the 1930s, when geological surveys showed extraordinary deposits of gold and other metals in the area, and Joseph Stalin ordered it conquered, mainly using the labour of prisoners, sent there in their thousands [BOB: Hundreds of thousands, actually]. Kolyma was the harshest island of the Soviet Union’s Gulag archipelago, and the region became a byword for the horrors of the Gulag camp system. Even by conservative estimates, more than 100,000 people died while working, and 11,000 were shot in Kolyma alone. [BOB: That estimate is very conservative.]

In today’s Russia it is not fashionable to delve too deeply into Gulag history, and 60-year-old Panikarov’s collection is one of just two museums devoted entirely to the Gulag in the whole country. Indeed, even Panikarov himself has a somewhat surprising view of the Gulag system.

“We should not have one-sided evaluations. People fell in love in the camps, people got pregnant; it wasn’t all bad,” he says, attributing negative information about the camps to a western campaign against Russia. “It was fashionable to say bad things about the USSR. Now it is again fashionable to insult Russia. We have sanctions against us. The west looks for negative things.”

Panikarov’s views on the Gulag are part of a larger trend. With the Soviet victory in the second world war elevated to a national rallying point under Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the forced labour camps, through which millions of Soviet citizens passed, are seen by many as an unfortunate but necessary by-product. In many museums and in much public discourse, the Gulag is not ignored completely, but is “contextualised” in a way that plays down the horror and pairs it with the war, suggesting the two come as a package.

“It was a cruel system, but if you think about it, how else would you get this gold out of the land?” he asks, surveying the ruins of Elgen, a labour camp for women, where the barracks and barbed wire are still visible, but which bears no monument or plaque detailing its past. “If we hadn’t mined all the gold during the war years, maybe we would not have defeated the Nazis.”

As well as petty criminals, hundreds of thousands of people were sent to the Gulag for political offences, often minor or imagined. After the war, there were mass deportations from the newly conquered territory in the Baltics and western Ukraine.

Actually, Mr. Walker, many more than ‘hundreds of thousands’ were sent to the deadly islands of The Gulag. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reported in his magisterial work, The Gulag Archipelago:

…it was necessary to clothe and to shoe all that horde of ten to fifteen million prisoners.(4)

(4) According to the estimates of the encyclopedia Rossiya-SSSR. there were up to fifteen million prisoners at a time. This figure agrees with the estimate made by prisoners inside the U.S.S.R., as we ourselves have added it up…. [Volume II, Part III, Chapter 7: The Ways Of Life And Customs Of The Natives]

The source of the ten to fifteen million figure is a Soviet encyclopedia, so we should have no doubts that the actual figure was higher.

The middle-aged in Russia believe the lies as well, and are assuring that they are being passed on to the younger generations:

…In Magadan, Larisa, a 40-year-old history teacher who did not want to give her surname, says she believes the Gulag was a necessary side-effect of a difficult period of Soviet history. “Was there a military threat from Germany? There was. Were there spies in the country? There were. There was no time to decide who was guilty and who wasn’t. We should remember the innocent victims but I think it was all necessary.”

Larisa says she teaches her students one lesson about the Gulag, in which she typically divides the blackboard into two parts. On one side she puts the “military and industrial achievements” of the Stalin period, and on the other, the “unfortunate side-effects”, and lets the students decide for themselves whether the repression was justified.

Ah…Comrade Larisa, you might be interested to know that The Gulag was created at the birth of the Bolshevik Revolution by none other than that great man, V.I. Lenin, himself:

In August, 1918, several days before the attempt on his life by Fanya Kaplan, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote in a telegram to Yevgeniya Bosh and to the Penza Provincial Executive’ Committee (they were unable to cope with a peasant revolt): “Lock up all the doubtful ones [not “guilty,” mind you, but doubtful – A. S.] in a concentration camp outside the city.” (And in addition “carry out merciless mass terror” -this was before the decree.)

Only on September 5, 1918, ten days after this telegram, was the Decree on the Red Terror published, which was signed by Petrovsky, Kursky, and Bonch-Bruyevich. In addition to the instructions on mass executions, it stated in particular: “Secure the Soviet Republic against its class enemies by isolating them in concentration camps.”

So that is where this term – concentration camps-was discovered and immediately seized upon and confirmed – one of the principal terms of the twentieth century, and it was to have a big international future! And this is when it was born-in August and September, 1918. The word itself had already been used during World War I, but in relation to POW’s and undesirable foreigners. But here in 1918 it was for the first time applied to the citizens of one’s own country. The switch in meaning is easily comprehended: concentration camps for POW’s were not prisons but a necessary precautionary concentration of the POW’s. And so, too, for doubtful compatriots extrajudicial precautionary concentration was now proposed. For an energetic mind which could visualize barbed wire surrounding prisoners who had not been tried, the necessary term was right at hand – concentration camps. [The Gulag Archipelago, Volume II, Part III, Chapter 1: The Fingers Of Aurora]

The Denial of the Truth of what happened, combined with the Ignorance of the young, by the majority of Russians explains why Vladimir Putin was allowed to achieve Power And Control and why he has been able to maintain it, so far. Russia has never Repented it’s Leftist past.

But the Willful Blindness towards The Gulag is not confined to Mother Russia: the majority of people in The West are guilty, as well.

There, of course and as you might expect, has been a concerted effort on the part of the Left in The West (1) to ignore any discussion of the fact that The Gulag System was the logical result of Leftist Thinking in action, (2) to, when forced to discuss the matter, downplay the horrors that were committed in each and every one of the Camps, and (3) to go out of their way to not teach students about The Gulag. Add to this the large number of people in The West who just don’t want to be distracted from enjoying their luxuries and what you have is a situation where History stands-by ready to see that it repeats itself – this time on a much more widespread scale.

If this Ignorance is allowed to continue to triumph, then there will be new islands of The Archipelago that arise – this time in The West.

Over the coming days, I will be posting excerpts from Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s work in the hope of showing just how close we are to our own 05 September 1918.

  1. 04 November 2015 @ 19:12 19:12

    Reblogged this on That Mr. G Guy's Blog and commented:
    We may not have the islands, but we have plenty of abandoned military bases already surrounded by barbed wire.

  2. Shermlaw (RS) permalink
    04 November 2015 @ 21:36 21:36

    One shudders to think of the sort of apologia Ivan and Larisa would offer for the forced collectivization of the Kulaks and resulting man-made famine and starvation.

    • 04 November 2015 @ 23:57 23:57

      I find this kind of thinking vile. Of course, we’re seeing it here among our own the Apparatchiks, Fellow Travellers, and Dupes.

      • Shermlaw (RS) permalink
        05 November 2015 @ 10:16 10:16

        In one sense, we’re already there (09/05/18). While the “modern” Gulag is not a physical location, it exists in the form of the “outer darkness” to which those guilty of “wrongthink” are consigned without trial or process of any kind. It exists in the refusal to allow speakers whose words are deemed “uncomfortable” or “triggering” from appearing in college venues. It exists in the self-censorship which people engage in everyday for fear that their words will be taken by some heretofore unknown “Stasi” informant and used to destroy them. The Gulag of the 20th Century served its purpose to eliminate people who were deemed problematic or potentially so. More importantly, however, the mere existence of it, the idea of the Gulag, kept the rest of populace spiritually isolated such that they were unable to coalesce into any sort of viable opposition.

  3. Terry permalink
    07 November 2015 @ 16:06 16:06

    Fifty years ago a naturalized Volga River German who just happened to be my maternal grandmother told this 10 year old child that her entire family still living in Russia disappeared from the face of the earth, they were German farmers and teachers who vanished without a trace in 1932. Innocently I asked, “What happened to them?” My grandmother replied with tears, “Stalin killed them.” From then on I tried to learn the “why’s” and how could anyone do this to anyone else. Unfortunately all I can really say is that those rats committing crimes against humanity were simply evil. It is with some hindsight that I see that our own nation is now filled with like minded vicious vermin crawling out of the woodwork bent on killing anyone that does not fulfill their Utopian narrative.

    If you haven’t already done so, poke a stick in their eyes and go back to mass. I did and it is the best thing I’ve ever done, it might be hard to find an orthodox priest, but they are out there. What’s coming next year is bigger than all of us and we will need all the graces possible to rebuild western civilization…, if the dust and smoke ever settles.

    Terry Fuchs

    • 08 November 2015 @ 20:58 20:58

      I really fear for my country. Stalinism is not dead by any means.


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