Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Archipelago Gulag


Why was -and still is- this book by Solzhenitsyn so important and such a mandatory read? For many reasons, but foremost among them: so that we know, remember and honor those who were killed, tortured, enslaved, imprisoned in Communist Russia concentration camps, known as the Gulag. The Gulag is the equivalent of the Nazi concentration camp, only larger. Its lowest number of prisoners held at any given time was between 15 and 20 million: that's more people than many European countries have in total.

It was a significant book in its time, because it brought to light what till then -the 1970s- were still largely unknown, the conditions of the multitude of people who were being innocently detained, interrogated, tortured and sent to any of the complicated system of prisons and camps throughout the USSR. This is the book that revealed, finally to the popular mind, all the horror and detail of that system of terror. But its success was met with its vividness, it agile writing, its colloquial and friendly style; all in all the subject succeded to make it to the mass audiences thanks to the genius of this writer, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

But the book is not a biography; the author is just one more victim of this terrible predatory system that did away with the lives of millions of its nationals. Solzhenitsyn tells the myriad of stories that encompass the Gulag archipelago, working like an assembly line, from the moment of the detention, the interrogations, the tortures, the being carried from one prison to the next. All the facets and possibilities that can affect you while under the Gulag regime are covered. The interest never diminishes, though it can exhaust you. The nearness and affection -should I say humanness- that the author succeeds in delivering is ever, and thankfully, present thoughout the book. For this we have to thank him because the 'inhumanity' of the story would be intoletable to withstand otherwise.

Solzhenitsyn achieves all his objectives: not only he makes this story into the wide public, the popular masses worldwide, and not only to the academic historian or investigator; but he succeeds in recovering for himself and his fellow victims the humanity, honor, pride and dignity that had been robbed them. Solzhenitsyn does not look for pity. He reclaims the role of heroes for all those victims of the Gulag system -the Communist system, those who made it out, the few, and those who died ignored, the most. This is what makes the voice of Solzhenitsyn stand so much above any other. It is not a book that tells the reader to "read, know the facts, feel the anger, the bitterness". No. It's more a book that says to you: "Here I am, one of the few who made it back from the Gulag. I'll tell you how it was, how it was out there and how THEY DID AWAY WITH OUR LIVES AND BODIES BUT NOT OUR SOULS."

Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, despite all the misery and trauma that may overpower you, is a victory statement, of humanity and liberty against oppression and enslavement by the State. Millions of lives were spent for nothing. Communism has been wasted, but freedom lives untamed in the hearts of new generations of Russians.

"Es cierto que el Romano es libre de hacer todo lo que quiera. Pero también lo es que tiene que soportar las consecuencias de sus actos. No importa que se haya equivocado, que le hayan engañado o incluso forzado: un hombre no se deja forzar: etiamsi coactus, attamen voluit. Es libre; pero si distraído, imprudente o atontado, prometió pagar una determinada cantidad y no puede pagarla, se convierte en esclavo de su acreedor."

Rudolph von Ihering

“Slavery, protection, and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them.”

Frédéric Bastiat

On the true nature of the Castro Revolution in Cuba: "The revolution was a cover for committing atrocities without the slightest vestige of guilt ... we were young and irresponsible. We were pirates. We formed our own caste ... we belonged to and believed in nothing -no religion, no flag, no morality or principle. It's fortunate we didn't win, because if we had, we would have drowned the continent in barbarism."

Jorge Masetti -In the Pirate's Den

La anarquía, es decir, la ausencia de fuerza estatal, no es una forma de Estado, y cualquiera que acabe con ella por el medio que sea, el usurpador nacional o el conquistador extranjero, rinde un servicio a la sociedad. Es un salvador, un bienhechor, porque la forma más insoportable de Estado es la ausencia de Estado.

Rudolph von Ihering

"El envidioso está afligido no solo por sus males propios, sino por los bienes de los demás."  -Hipias

[la norma de conducta de los progres] "No hacer nada que alguien pueda envidiarme." -Hipasos




Seguimos a la espera de la reedición de este importante libro del gran escritor español José Pla

Historia de la Segunda República.


También a la espera de este importante libro del genial Rafael Abella.

Finales de enero, 1939, Barcelona cambia de piel


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