Wednesday 21 September 2016

Perished Comically - The Gulag Archipelago II

This is from The Gulag Archipelago II, starting on page 324 and while it is long it is quite easy to read and quite interesting. I particularly like how "impenetrable" the Marxist Professor is and the exchange regarding why Mothers have to work and the consequences.

"My friend Panin are lying on the middle shelf of a Stolypin compartment and have set ourselves up comfortably, tucking our salt herrings into our pockets so we don't need water and can go to sleep. But at some station or other they shove into our compartment...a Marxist scholar! We can even tell this from the goatee and spectacles. He doesn't hide the fact: he is a former professor of the Communist Academy. We hang head down in the square cutout - and from his first words he is: impenetrable. But we have been serving time for a long while and have a long time left to serve, and we value a merry joke. We must climb down to have a bit of fun! There is ample space in the compartment, and so we exchange places with someone and crowd in:
"You're not too crowded?"
"No, it's all right."
"Have you been in the jug a long time?"
"Long enough."
 "Are you past the halfway mark?"
"Look over there: how poverty stricken our villages are - straw thatch, crooked huts."
"An inheritance from the Tsarist regime."
"Well, but we've already had thirty Soviet years."
"That's an insignificant period historically."
"It's terrible that the collective farmers are starving."
"But have you looked in all of their ovens?"
"Just ask any collective farmer in our compartment."
"Everyone in jail is embittered and prejudiced."
"But I've seen collective farms myself."
"That means they were uncharacteristic."
(The goatee has never been in any of them - that way it was simpler)
"Just ask the old folks, under the Tsar they were well feed, well clothed and they used to have so many holidays."
"I'm not even going to ask. It's a subjective trait of human memory to praise everything about the past. The cow that died is the one that gave twice the milk. (Sometimes he even quoted proverbs!) And our people don't like holidays. They like to work."
"But why is there a shortage of bread in many cities?"
"Right before the war for example."
"Not true! Before the war, in fact, everything had been worked out."
"Listen, at that time in all the cities on the Volga there were queues of thousands of people..."
"Some local failure in supply. But more likely your memory is failing you."
"But there's a shortage now!"
"Old wives tales. We have from seven to eight billion poods of grain."
"And the grain itself is rotten."
"Not at all. We have been successful in developing news varieties of grain."
"But in many shops the shelves are empty."
"Inefficient distribution in local areas."
"Yes, and the prices are high. The workers have to do without many things."
"Our prices are more scientifically based then anywhere else."
"That means wages are low."
"And the wages, too, scientifically based."
"That means they're based in such a way that the worker works for the state for free the greater part of his time."
"You don't know anything about economics. What is your profession?"
"And I am an economist. Don't argue. Surplus value is even impossible here."
"But why is it that the father of a family used to be able to feed his family by his own labor, but now two or three in the family have to work?"
"Because there was unemployment previously, and the wife couldn't get work. And the family went hungry. Furthermore the wife's working is important for her equality."
"What the devil do you mean by equality? And who does all the household work?"
"The husband has to work."
"And how about you - did you help your wife?"
"I am not married."
"So each of them had to work during the day, and now both of them have to work in the evenings too. And the women have no time for the main thing - for bringing up the children."
"She has quite enough. They are mainly brought up by the kindergarten, school and Komsomol."
"Well, and how are they bringing them up? They grow up to be hooligans and petty thieves and the wild and loose."
"Not at all. Our youth have lofty principles."
"That's what the papers say. But our papers tell lies."
"They are much more honest than the bourgeois newspapers! You ought to read the bourgeois newspapers."
"Just give me the chance!"
"That's not necessary at all."
"And our newspapers still tell lies."
"They are openly bound to the proletariat."
"That's the kind of bringing up that makes the crime rate grow."
"On the contrary, it's falling, give me the statistics."
(This in a country where even the number of sheep tails is classified as a secret!)
"And another reason our crime rate is rising is that our laws themselves give rise to crime. They are ferocious and ridiculous."
"On the contrary, they are fine laws. The finest in the history of humanity."
"Especially Article 58."
"Without it our young state would not have been able to hold out."
"It's no longer so very young."
"Historically speaking it is very young."
"But look around at the number of people imprisoned."
"They got what they deserved."
"And what about you?"
"I was jailed by mistake. They will sort things out and release me."
(They all leave themselves this loophole.)
"By mistake? Then what kind of laws do we have?"
"The laws are excellent, it is the deviations from them that are unfortunate."
"Everywhere their is graft, bribes, corruption."
"We have to intensify our Communist upbringing."
And so forth. He is imperturbable. He speaks in a language which requires no effort of mind. And arguing with him is like walking through a desert.
It's about people like this that they say: "He made the rounds of all the smithies and came home unshod."
And when they write his obituaries: "perished tragically during the period of the cults," this should be corrected to read "perished comically."

As I read this I keep thinking about when I have spoken to Liberals, the same pat answers, the same common phrases over and over again. The same blind obedience to equality, without any thought of the cost. "He speaks in a language which requires no effort of mind." exactly!

See Also:
The Gulag Archipelago II - A Book Review
Anarcho-Tyranny in the Soviet Union

Upon Hope - A Traditional Conservative Future
Another Article You Might Like?
Liberalism and the Mutually Exclusive Argument


  1. That's really interesting. Could the following part not equally apply to modern Australian society?

    "What the devil do you mean by equality? And who does all the household work?"
    "The husband has to work."
    "And how about you - did you help your wife?"
    "I am not married."
    "So each of them had to work during the day, and now both of them have to work in the evenings too."

    The liberal West just took a bit longer getting to where the communist East was many decades ago.

    1. Mr. Richardson

      When you hear the line from George Orwell's Animal Farm:

      "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others"

      Do you think of Communism or Liberalism?