Arkhipelag GULAG - Self-defense, Soviet style.

This is a discussion on Arkhipelag GULAG - Self-defense, Soviet style. within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I've been working my way through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The GULAG Archipelago and am currently 3/4 way through Volume 2. A couple of days ago I ...

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Thread: Arkhipelag GULAG - Self-defense, Soviet style.

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    Member Array nortelrye's Avatar
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    Arkhipelag GULAG - Self-defense, Soviet style.

    I've been working my way through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The GULAG Archipelago and am currently 3/4 way through Volume 2. A couple of days ago I read through a passage (Volume 2, Chapter 16, pg 431) regarding Soviet Citizens being sent to prison camps for defending themselves against violence. I wanted to share it because while I don't buy the occasional accusations that the USA is headed in the direction of Communism, the description was disturbingly similar to how some States in the USA view self-defense. All transcription errors are mine:

    "In the Criminal Code of 1926 there was a most stupid Article 139 - "on the limits of necessary self-defense" —according to which you had the right to unsheath your knife only after the criminal's knife was hovering over you. And you could stab him only after he had stabbed you. And otherwise you would be the one put on trial. (And there was no article in our legislation saying that the greater criminal was the one who attacked someone weaker than himself.) This fear of exceeding the measure of necessary self-defense lead to total spinelessness as a national characteristic. A hoodlum once began to beat up the Red Army man Aleksandr Zakharov outside a club. Zakharov took out a folding penknife and killed the hoodlum. And for this he got....ten years for plan murder! [emphasis mine] "And what was I supposed to do?" he asked, astonished. Prosecutor Artsishevsky replied: "You should have fled!" So tell me, who creates hoodlums?"
    Last edited by nortelrye; April 28th, 2014 at 11:51 PM. Reason: DC doesn't seem to like Cyrillic
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    Senior Member Array CWOUSCG's Avatar
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    Wow. Spot on target with what is happening.

    I never did read the Gulag but I need to, thanks for the reminder. I did read A Day in the Life of Ivan Whatshisnameovich. Very good book.
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    Member Array nortelrye's Avatar
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    Ivan Denisovich is my go-to book when work starts to burn me out, it's a strong reminder of just how good I've got it. All 3 volumes of Arkhipelag make for a long read and it's easy to become numb over the accounts of horror after horror, but I think it's incredibly important to be aware of what happened for reasons best summed up in Hebrew regarding a different set of atrocities: לעולם לא שוב. Those two periods of history are part of why I believe so strongly that an armed populace makes the difference between citizens and subjects — or victims.
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    Senior Member Array CWOUSCG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nortelrye View Post
    Ivan Denisovich is my go-to book when work starts to burn me out, it's a strong reminder of just how good I've got it. All 3 volumes of Arkhipelag make for a long read and it's easy to become numb over the accounts of horror after horror, but I think it's incredibly important to be aware of what happened for reasons best summed up in Hebrew regarding a different set of atrocities: לעולם לא שוב. Those two periods of history are part of why I believe so strongly that an armed populace makes the difference between citizens and subjects — or victims.
    OK, now you're just showing off!

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    Member Array nortelrye's Avatar
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    What can I say? I read a lot. Bookshelves make good backstops.
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    When I was in high school I came across a shelf of books by Solzhenitsyn in the school library... "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" (with the most chilling last line of any book I've ever read), "Cancer Ward", "August 1914"... it was several weeks before I did any more homework. I was just riveted.

    I'm afraid I didn't make it through "Gulag". At some point a mere catalog of atrocities (what a banal way to put it) becomes as boring as any other phone book.

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    Senior Member Array Mardet65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nortelrye View Post
    I've been working my way through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The GULAG Archipelago and am currently 3/4 way through Volume 2. A couple of days ago I read through a passage (Volume 2, Chapter 16, pg 431) regarding Soviet Citizens being sent to prison camps for defending themselves against violence. I wanted to share it because while I don't buy the occasional accusations that the USA is headed in the direction of Communism, the description was disturbingly similar to how some States in the USA view self-defense. All transcription errors are mine:

    "In the Criminal Code of 1926 there was a most stupid Article 139 - "on the limits of necessary self-defense" —according to which you had the right to unsheath your knife only after the criminal's knife was hovering over you. And you could stab him only after he had stabbed you. And otherwise you would be the one put on trial. (And there was no article in our legislation saying that the greater criminal was the one who attacked someone weaker than himself.) This fear of exceeding the measure of necessary self-defense lead to total spinelessness as a national characteristic. A hoodlum once began to beat up the Red Army man Aleksandr Zakharov outside a club. Zakharov took out a folding penknife and killed the hoodlum. And for this he got....ten years for plan murder! [emphasis mine] "And what was I supposed to do?" he asked, astonished. Prosecutor Artsishevsky replied: "You should have fled!" So tell me, who creates hoodlums?"

    Unfortunately, as you continue to read you're going to find a lot more comparisons of what went on in Russia then, to what is happening in America today.
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    Our problems stem from the idea that people think that Government can and do solve the problems we face as humans and living. It is but an illusion at best, but they keep hoping that it someday will come true. No matter what "ism" comes to power, the bottom line is that self-defense and other things are up to the individual.

    When too much trust is planted in a government, that will equate control of that individual or the whole people at some point by that government. The governing get to feeling they are right no matter what, they have all the answers and God help you if you rebel against it. The power they get is intoxicating and they don't want to lose it or give it up. That my friends is the very problem. Wanting and keeping power and control.
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    To control of the herd, the alphas must be removed to give the brutish bullies free reign.
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    TRX
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    The Tsars set up the gulags and used them for slave labor. The Imperial justice system was arbitrary and capricious, and its primary purposes were to instill fear and to keep the gulags full. The Russian people hated the courts and the gulags, and it was the elimination of the gulag system that was a key part of every Russian dissident political movement, including those of the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.

    Lenin's group eventually wound up with the brass ring, and found that it was just too convenient to vanish the opposition into the gulags. Also, depending on whose figures you like, anywhere between 15% and 30% of the Soviet economy was based out of the gulags. In fact, the gulags were such an integral part of the Soviet system that they were the backbones of the Soviet atomic bomb program and their early space program. The Soviets made a few half-hearted attempts to get rid of the system, but their economy was never strong enough to support itself without slave labor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWOUSCG View Post
    I never did read the Gulag but I need to, thanks for the reminder. I did read A Day in the Life of Ivan Whatshisnameovich. Very good book.

    One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Good stuff.

    The Gulag sounds like a good one, as well.



    Reminds me of the quote from the 2007 film The Bucket List (paraphrasing):

    Carter: The Sultan hired 20,000 volunteers to build the Taj Mahal.

    Edward: So that's 'love', hm? Don't know if I buy the whole '20,000 volunteers' thing, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePfeiffer View Post
    When I was in high school I came across a shelf of books by Solzhenitsyn in the school library... "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" (with the most chilling last line of any book I've ever read), "Cancer Ward", "August 1914"... it was several weeks before I did any more homework. I was just riveted.

    I'm afraid I didn't make it through "Gulag". At some point a mere catalog of atrocities (what a banal way to put it) becomes as boring as any other phone book.
    It sucked me in too. We were 'forced' to read it for school, and it was one of the favorite books we were forced to read.
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