I am not saying that the book is not serious. It gives a valuable personal perspective of important historical facts. But it should not be used as a source of factual data.
I think you are confusing him with Putin, who actually said that. He said the cheka was mostly jewish. Which is correct.
It seems that sarcasm became prevalent in Soviet Russia because it's a way of expressing opposition without party members being able to use your words to denounce you.
Current historical analysis places the gulag system in a different light, with political opponents being a minor part of the population, sentences being much shorter (less than 5 years) and general conditions being better than described in the book. Solzhenitsyn talks about 50 million prisoners with a peak population of 14 million, while current figures are somewhere around 14-18 million prisoners in total, with 2 million peak population at it's height. Still really high, but really, compared to America in this day and age not that shocking.
Please don't use powerful words at the wrong place, you are depleting them of their meaning.
A genocide has an actual definition according to the international law, and the Gulag system does not tick any of the boxes.
The Gulag system was a very harsh penal colony system (although on a far larger scale that what was done before), in continuation of the ones already existing during the tsarist times – and with death rates comparable to what could be found i.e. in the Cayenne penal colony.
It was neither aimed at killing convicts (with mortality rates under 10%, it would have done an awful job at it), nor was it targeting a peculiar ethnic group.
This is incorrect - the purpose of a penal colony system is to host criminals, while most people who were imprisoned in Gulag were innocent. It looks like the real purpose of the system was to convert innocent Soviet citizens' bodies into energy needed for physical labor. People captured in the system got worked to the bone and were on starvation-level food rations. In the process of physical work, their bodies burned their tissues as fuel (in lieu of insufficient external calories being provided in food), which lead to death of malnutrition and starvation within a couple of years. Millions of people were used this way to complete great industrial projects at minimal costs. This is not a penal system, this is Auschwitz.
More than 10%, and much more in some places or during some periods.
Please read what you just wrote. The Gulags killed vast numbers of people in an incredibly inhumane fashion (no gas there!), in many cases based on their ethnic religion, and here you are defending it.
I mean no doubt he was a brutal dictator but in the grand scheme of things he was by far the lesser of two evils.
Edit: also I think your comparison of the American prison system and the gulag to be rather ridiculous. Afaik, american prisoners aren't worked to death in arctic conditions.
Edit: downvoted, but I think this is objectively true. The worst atrocities hadn't happen yet in the 1930's. Hindsight is 20 20. A lot of people drew on older ideals from the French revolution which we still celebrate today, not the least in the US. (Do you really think the blood of tyrants can be spillt without collateral damage?)
What is your professed naïveté supposed to accomplish, except to serve as propaganda for a universally abhorred fascist while simultaneously retaining your option to claim ignorance when challenged?
Franco also wasn't and isn't universally abhorred; many Spaniards still admire Franco for whatever reasons, and there are large monuments and contemporary political rallies by fairly ordinary people honoring his memory.
Anyway, it's fascinating history and current events; reading a book will serve you better than ... expressing sentiments.
It is as much not a fascist regime as Hitler's wasn't, in that you can argue academically that there are better terms to describe it than "fascist". Nonetheless, you can clearly identify a set of characteristics that Franco's Spain has in common with fascist ideology, therefore you can call it fascist (among other terms that some argue are more descriptive).
Franco also wasn't and isn't universally abhorred;
Over 50% of Russians say they miss the Soviet regime and would prefer it to the current autocracy. What are we to conclude from that, according to you?
reading a book will serve you better than ... expressing sentiments.
But isn't that what you just did?
Many Germans still admire Hitler, many Russians still admire Stalin, and many Chinese still admire Mao.
In Mongolia, Ghenghis Khan is admired as a great leader of their nation, and the negative things said of him are considered to be exaggerations or lies made up the people he fought with.
It seems no matter what a dictator does, or how many atrocities he commits, there'll always be people that admire and defend him.
Franco by any sane measure, was a much lesser goblin. As was his next door neighbor Salazar. For their times, and particularly considering their situations, they were fairly reasonable leaders. Which is probably why they were integrated into NATO.
They were integrated into NATO for the same reason that Fulgêncio Batista was propped up by the US, or the Iranian Shah, or the guy that overthrew Jacobo Arbenz. That reason is: the US benefited economically and militarily from that situation, and any other considerations (moral, ethical, the well-being of the people, whether it was democratic) simply did not enter the equation one way or the other. Who cares if Arbenz was democratically elected and his land reforms lifted millions out of poverty, the United Fruit Company was making less money for their owners after some inhumane exploitation was outlawed so in comes the US coup, etc etc.
You simply cannot argue morality or democracy when discussing this.
I didn't say anything about democracy, and confounding this word with the word "morality" is pretty ... questionable. That was one of the points that Solzhenitsyn made very well; go read his speech to Harvard.
The US picked Franco as an Ally, yes, because it served US interests. The US also allied with a lot of unsavory spanish speaking dictators in latin america; mostly for the same reason -they saw generalissimo types as a lesser evil to communist revolutionaries. All things considered, it was a reasonable thing to do. Communist body counts were considerably higher than all of these put together.
Or maybe it would be a flop and something closer to present euro-socialism which Spain ended up implementing anyway.
One should avoid being a brutal dictator since you never know at which rate you exchange real blood to imaginary one.
I recommend anyone to read good books about the Spanish Civil War (like for instance Hugh Thomas' very readable history) to understand the huge polarization of both extremes, the violence, and how those in the middle where totally swept aside. I doubt that the only possible outcome, given those conditions, could have been but one side exterminating the other, either the left or the right.
Our world is, fortunately, very different. Of late, given an increasing political polarization and rise of populism, comparisons have been made with the 1930s, but if you start investigating you will realize that current conditions are nowhere near as bad.
I don't know where you are from, and how familiar you are with European politics, but modern euro-socialism is much closer to pure capitalism than anything the stalinists would have created in Spain.
I strongly dislike Franco, and I am aware that thanking him for preventing a stalinist Spain may turn heads these days. But the fact is that this is exactly what the West thought at the time. Franco became a pariah right after World War II as the only remaining leader that had supported Hitler. However, as soon as the reality of the Cold War kicked it, all that was forgotten, and western leaders (and specially the USA) started toasting him, indeed, as the man who stopped communism in a country in a very strategic position.
His Homage to Catalonia is a superb account of his time in Spain (and just how chaotic things were politically):
Before and in the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, when the great Orwell fought, the left in Spain was extremely atomized: there were the anarchist (very active in the beginning), the socialists, the communists (actually a minority initially), and many splinter groups (like POUM). But, just like an equally varied right swiftly unified under Franco, so did the left, more slowly, under the "oficial" communist faction, which, although it decided to be mostly pragmatic until the war had been won, fought some of the other leftists as fiercely as it fought the right.
Wasn't that the Soviet influence though - they regarded anarchists/Trotskyists as a far bigger threat than Franco.
It is a great thing that he isn't being listened to - and yet, he is receiving more attention than he's worth.
One of the most well known Soviet dissident works, Moscow 2042 by Voinovich, has a key character who is a spot-on satirical depiction of Solzhenitsyn.
All humans are fallible. There have been some regrettable Nobel Peace Prizes out there, and Amnesty International had to call off some of their awards.
Why? Just because an author disappoints you, doesn't mean you need to try to undo your enjoyment of a book they wrote.
The fact is that his accounts are not factual, but designed to stoke emotions. That is the definition of propaganda, even though people may not like that word. Plus, his personal feelings about matters such as anti-semitism, Russian exceptionalism, and dictators such as Putin, have to be taken into account when reading his texts about such matters.
If you find the ideology abhorrent, why you focus on a particular ethnicity? It is almost as if you believe there is something special about Jews and Marxism than, say Russians and Marxism?
What cynical times we live in.
However it is unlikely that at least one person wouldn't correct the record after the fact, or make sure that the article would have an opposing view mentioned.
The first Politburo was:
Lenin (his mother's father was jewish. Judaism is transmitted maternally, so neither of Lenin's parents were jewish, and neither was he)
Stalin: Not jewish. Launched Anti-semitic campaign around '50
Lev Kamelev: Jewish father, orthodox mother -> not jewish (see above)
Nikolay Krestinsky Not jewish
So that's 1/5, or 20%, and you're an anti-semitic troll with no interest in the facts.
You are also ignoring the part where the only Jew in the Politbro was executed rather early, while a member with absolutely no connection to Judaism, namely Stalin, appears to have had a rather, let’s say, “outsized” influence on the later failings of the system you want to nstrumentalize in your anti-Semitic insinuations.
Not to mention that this summation of individual sins and good deeds in an effort to paint their associated groups is the very definition of prejudice. In fact, I now realize I should probably never have bought into that premise?
(also: If you start arguing Lenin's judaism based on his heredity, I will invariably have to violate Godwin's law)
Edit: “passed down” is most common, but “transmitted” isn’t totally unheard of. Transmission also touches many concepts other than diseases, such as messages, traditions, DNA, Torrents, or torque.
In this light, your interpretations seems somewhat bad-faithy and I retract that “sorry”.
Being the author of important pieces of literature unfortunately does not prevent one from holding wrong positions - a similar, well-known case is James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA, Nobel Prize in Medicine, and yet holding eugenetic views.
There is no evidence for the 'Jews killed Jesus' meme that has been doing the rounds for almost two millennia. Yet it persists like an extremely bad penny.
The 'usury' thing - Jewish bankers controlling everything is usually told by people who have no idea of how kings in Europe used to extort money from Jewish people, not allowing them to have land and basically making sure they did horrible jobs, like tax-collecting, which was not popular with peasant types in Middle Ages Europe. Then they would evict them taking their cash off them.
Another one that irks me is how people criticise Jewish people for being successful in various trades, for instance in the UK a huge amount of fashion retail is a Jewish thing. Other minorities get criticised for not being in business, e.g. in America the black people working for the white man and not setting up their own black business networks.
Despite all of the war-crime grade problems of what is going on in Israel and prevalent attitudes on all sides I really do like working with Jewish people, locally and from Israel. I have been astounded at the code written by some of the geniuses I have had to work with from Israel, yet at the same time felt happy with myself that I have not been indoctrinated in the way they have been when it comes to Palestine. Sometimes it is good to know that someone smarter than yourself does not know everything.
Trade and working together is the way to greater understanding. A lack of education about our collective history as well as our gone-wrong capitalism and the militarism that enforces our gone-wrong capitalism has to be seen as the true enemy. In a fair world of genuine free market internationalism we can move on from the lies and suspicions that have held mankind back.