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posted ago by GoldenPlains ago by GoldenPlains +41 / -0

Welcome back to Book Club!

This is the next discussion thread for The Gulag Archipelago. Next weeks will cover chapters 6-8.

Previous Discussions:


Chapters 1-2


If you don't have a hard copy of the book here is an archive link provided by u/8bitArchitect on my last post: https://archive.org/details/TheGulagArchipelago-Threevolumes

Comments (11)
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CatoTheElder 9 points ago +10 / -1

While I read the first two chapters in their entirety, I only read chapter 3 and skimmed chapters 4 and 5.

The non physical methods used by the interrogators are pretty much standard police procedure today, the lying, the taking quotes out of context, the twisting of words, the false promises, all of it is used by prosecutors across the US. From page 103 Solzhenitsyn starts a list of the different ways interrogators can psychologically abuse prisoners.

  1. Night

  2. Persuasion

  3. Abusive language

  4. Psychological Contrast

  5. Preliminary humiliation

  6. Confusion

  7. Intimidation

  8. Outright lies

  9. Threatening family

  10. Loud Noises

  11. Tickling

  12. A cigarette

  13. Light effects

14-19. Stress Positions

  1. Dehydration

  2. Sleep Deprivation

22-25. More stress Positions

  1. Starvation

27+ Beatings and more Stress Postiions.

And of course this all begins during the arrest. Of this list the only ones that are not employed by the US government today, are numbers 11, 12, 20, and 26. (at least as far as I know). Ordinary police use stress potions as immediate physical compliance, eg. take downs. The remainder, are present in virtually every arrest. Remember the arrest of Roger Stone? It used numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and probably more. And that was just the arrest.

As ever, never talk to the police.

On page 145 we again see that communist are far, far worse than Nazis:

The Gestapo accused him of Communist activities among Russian workers in Germany, and the MGB charged him with having ties to the international bourgeoisie. Divnich's verdict was unfavorable to the MGB. He was tortured by both, but the Gestapo was nonetheless trying to get at the truth. and when the accusation did not hold up. Divnich was released. The MGB wasn't interested in the truth and had no intention of letting anyone out of its grip once he was arrested.

The Nazis actually released him when they determined that he wasn't a commie. The commies of course don't care, they are on the "right side of history." Similarly, but not from this book, Witold Pilecki said to his wife during his trial in Poland after the war, paraphrased: Auschwitz was nothing compared to the Gulag. (This has been scrubbed from the internet.) Both of these taken together along with what we learned last week regarding "boxes of soap" really show that the Soviets, like all leftist, project. Every one of their accusations against Germany were actions they were undertaking.

On page 175 we can see the propaganda work even on someone who has suffed from the system. Solzhenitsyn says:

In that same period, by 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi criminals had been convicted in West Germany. And still we choke with anger here. We do not hesitate to devote to the subject page after newspaper page and hour after hour of radio time. We even stay after work to attend protest meetings and vote: "Too few! Eighty-six thousand are too few. And twenty years is too little! It must go on and on."

Yet Solzhenitsyn does not consider the possibility that the other allied powers also used torture to get the convictions they wanted. Pretty much every Nazi officer that confessed was tortured. For instance: https://archive.md/CkEbO#selection-1229.0-1229.323

Of the 21 accused, 14 were hanged after a war-crimes trial in Hamburg. Many confessed only after being interrogated by Scotland and his men. In court, they protested that they had been starved, whipped and systematically beaten. Some said they had been menaced with red-hot pokers and ‘threatened with electrical devices’.

Such nobility, when you can't tell the difference between Comintern and NATO. But as always, it is only a warcrime if you lose.

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Fursona7 5 points ago +5 / -0

But the most awful thing they can do with you is this: undress you from the. waist down, place you on your back on the floor, pull your legs apart, seat assistants on them (from the glorious corps of sergeants!) who also hold down your arms; and then the interrogator (and women interrogators have not shrunk from this) stands between your legs and with the toe of his boot (or of her shoe) gradually, steadily, and with ever greater pressure crushes against the floor those organs which once made you a man. He looks into your eyes and repeats and repeats his questions or the betrayal he is urging on you. If he does not press down too quickly or just a shade too powerfully, you still have fifteen seconds left in which to scream that you will confess to everything, that you are ready to see arrested all twenty of those people he's been demanding of you, or that you will slander in the newspapers everything you hold holy ....

And may you be judged by God, but not by people ....

pg. 127-128

Cock and ball torture from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…

Or, for example, that colonel, Konkordiya losse's friend, who had roared with laughter in the Vladimir Detention Prison at the memory of locking up a group of old Jews in an ice-filled root cellar, had been afraid of one thing only during all his debaucheries: that his wife might find out about them. She believed in him, regarded him as noble, and this faith of hers was precious to him. But do we dare accept that feeling as a bridgehead to virtue in his heart?

pg. 172

I was wondering if you’d bring this up in relation to the doctor’s plot. I couldn’t help to wonder if his wife’s view of him wouldn’t be the only thing he’d need to worry about.

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GoldenPlains [S] 2 points ago +2 / -0

Hey u/DomitiusOfMassilia can I get a sticky please? Thanks.

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DomitiusOfMassilia 3 points ago +3 / -0

Got it, sorry

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CatoTheElder 1 point ago +2 / -1

I think this book club thing is dead...

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GoldenPlains [S] 4 points ago +4 / -0

well part of the problem has been that the book club didn't receive a sticky until 4-5 days after I posted it the past couple of weeks.

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Fursona7 4 points ago +4 / -0

Those who refuse to participate until after the thread is stickied are guilty of Anti-Soviet Agitation and deserve execution for their actions directed toward the overthrow of the book club of the worker’s and peasants’ soviets!

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Fursona7 3 points ago +3 / -0

Someone did predict that this book would be the end of the book club.

Democracy strikes again!

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evilmathmagician 2 points ago +2 / -0

To prevent this in the future, there should probably be an adjustment to the voting. Instead of using upvotes, use posted votes. Then, all accounts that voted are expected to participate in the weekly discussion - but only if something they voted for won. Any who fail to participate after voting should probably be barred from future book club votes.

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Fursona7 5 points ago +5 / -0

I don’t think anything would have prevented this. Of the two people who participated in the thread one admitted to only reading one chapter and skimming the other two.

Not only is Gulag Archipelago long but it’s also dense. It’s not impenetrable in the way I’d guess Nietzsche would be but it’s rich with information to a point it’s hard to know where to start with a post. Starship Troopers was still a fictional story and full of filler that no one would talk about. Reading through this it seems you could have discussion for days on multiple paragraphs if you had enough history and feedback for it.

On top of that the book is depressing and is coming in at a depressing time given everything happening. It wouldn’t surprise me if most people called it quits at chapter 3. Not everyone can have a proper maladjusted sense of humor to draw interest at the suffering of others. Someone remarked before that they stopped reading after chapter 1 or 2 due to the depressing material and after finishing chapter 7 I’m sure things are just going to keep going down hill.

Since this is the second book there are still some kinks to work out in how much should be read in a week so that people can keep up and digest it. Some books may also need to be skipped and read as individual work at least until a core group of readers can be established.

One change that I’d make for future books, if it could be done, would be if the person that recommended the book would take lead on the discussion, have a digital download of the text ready before hand though something like Project Gutenberg or z library, that they had already read the book prior to recommending it, and would be able to write up three or so comments for each week. I don’t know if that would help but it should kick start the discussion at least.

It’ll be a learning experience for the first half-dozen books at my guess.

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evilmathmagician 4 points ago +4 / -0

Well said. This was basically my second line of thought, but I hadn't shaped it into proper words yet. The content of this book seems useful, but perhaps it was simply too dense to use for a book club. I would be reluctant to suggest rules for content of books, or even rules for density.

One change that I’d make for future books, if it could be done, would be if the person that recommended the book would take lead on the discussion,

I support this measure. It could take care of some things. No offense to the OP who started things, but I think a sort of rotating leadership makes more sense for a book club. Assuming any other participant is actually interested in the responsibility.