October 27, 2006

An important literary-historiographical event: the first publication in English of parts of Solzhenitsyn's "Two Hundred Years Together"

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute just sent me a copy of their handsome new book, The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947-2005, which was edited by Edward E. Ericson Jr. and Daniel J. Mahoney, with the active cooperation of Solzhenitsyn and his family.

It's a greatest hits collection, but the big news is that over a quarter of its 635 pages is never-before-translated writings, most notably the 20-page excerpt from Two Hundred Years Together, 1795-1995, Solzhenitsyn's two-volume history of the world-changing interactions of Russians and Jews. The first volume, released in Russia in 2001, was published in a French translation in France in February 2002, and the second volume a year later. Yet these two books by the world's most famous living author just can't seem to get published in an English translation here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I wonder why? And why has almost nobody publicly discussed why these books haven't been published in English?

Here are some brief excerpts from the excerpts of Two Hundred Years Together:

Through a half-century of work on the history of the Russian Revolution, I repeatedly came face to face with the question of Russian-Jewish interrelations. Time and again it would enter as a sharp wedge into events, into people's psychology, and arouse blistering passions.

I never lost hope that there would come, before me, a writer who might illumine for us all this searing wedge, generously and equitably.

I wonder if Solzhenitsyn has since read UC Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine's subsequent 2004 book The Jewish Century? (Does Solzhenitsyn speak English? He gave his famous Harvard address of 1978 in Russian.)

More often, alas, we meet one-sided rebukes, either pertaining to Russians' culpability toward Jews, and even the primordial depravity of of the Russian people (there is quite a profusion of such views) -- or, from those Russians who did write about this mutual dilemma, mostly agitated tendentious accounts that refuse to see any merit on the other side...

I would be glad not to test my strength in such a thorny thicket, but I believe that this history, and attempts to study it, must not remain "forbidden." ...

Yet what leads me through this narrative of the two-hundred-year-long cohabitation of the Russian and Jewish peoples is the quest for all points of common understanding and all possible paths into the future, cleansed from the acrimony of the past.

The Jewish people -- like all other people and like all persons -- is both an active subject of history and its anguished object. Furthermore, Jews often carried out, perhaps unconsciously, major tasks allotted them by History.

There cannot be a question upon earth that is unsuited for contemplative discourse among people. To converse broadly and openly is more honest -- and in our case it is also indispensable. Alas, mutual grievances have accumulated in both our people's memories, but if we repress the past, how can we heal them? Until the collective psyche of a people finds its clear outlet in the written word, it can rumble indistinctly or, worse, menacingly...

For many years I postponed this work and would still now be pleased to avert the burden of writing it. But my years are nearing their end, and I feel I must take up this task.

I have never conceded to anyone the right to conceal that which was. Equally, I cannot call for an understanding based on an unjust portrayal of the past. Instead, I call both sides -- the Russian and the Jewish -- to patient mutual comprehension, to the avowal of their own share of the blame...

I conceived of my ultimate aim as discerning, to the best of my ability, mutually agreeable and fruitful pathways for the future development of Russian-Jewish relations.

-- 1995


Despite the growing significance of the Jewish presence in the US, at the beginning of the twentieth century Jews in Russia constituted roughly one half of the world's Jewish population -- a crucial circumstance for subsequent Jewish history...

This spiritual awakening among Russian Jews [in the late 1800s] gave rise to very divergent tendencies that had little in common with one another. Some of them would later play a role in determining the fate of the entire world in the twentieth century.

The Russian Jews of the period envisioned at least six different kinds of futures, many of which were mutually exclusive:

-- retaining their religious identity by self-isolation, as had been the case for centuries (but this option was rapidly losing appeal);

-- assimilation;

-- struggling for cultural and national autonomy of the Jews in Russia, with the goal of an active but separate existence in the country;

-- emigration;

-- enlisting in the Zionist movement;

-- joining the revolutionary cause. ...


The topic is only too familiar: Jews amid the Bolsheviks. It has been written about innumerable times. Those who wish to prove that the Revolution was un-Russian and "of alien stock" point to Jewish names and pseudonyms in an effort to clear Russians of blame for the revolution of 1917. Jewish authors, on the other hand, ... are unanimously of the opinion that these were not Jews in spirit. They were renegades...

Yes, these people were renegades. But neither were the leading Russian Bolsheviks Russian in spirit. ...

Let us pose the question differently: How many random renegades does it take to create a tendency that is no longer accidental? What proportion of one's people needs to be involved? About Russian renegades we know that there was a depressingly, unforgivably large number among the Bolsheviks. But what about Jews? How actively did Jewish renegades take part in setting up the Bolshevik regime? ...

And so, can nations disavow their renegades? Would such a disavowal have meaning? Should a people remember its renegades or not; should it preserve a memory of the fiends and demons that it engendered? The answer to that last question should surely not be in doubt: We must remember. Every people must remember them as its own; there is simply no other way.

There is probably no more striking example of a renegade than Lenin, but it is impossible not to acknowledge him as Russian. ... But it was we Russians who brought into being the social environment in which Lenin grew and filled with hate. ...

And what about Jewish renegades? As we have seen, there was no specifically Jewish gravitation toward the Bolsheviks over the course of 1917. But energetic Jewish activism did manifest itself in the revolutionary maneuvers of the period. ... And at the April conference in 1917 (where Lenin's explosive "April Theses" were announced), among the nine members of the newly chosen central committee we see Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and Yakov Sverdlov. At the summer VI Congress of the newly named Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks, eleven members were elected to the central committee, including Zinoviev, Sverdlov, Sokolnikov, Trotsky, and Uritsky. Next came the so-called "historic meeting" of October 10, 1917, on Karpovka Street, in Himmer and Flakserman's flat, where the decision to undertake the coup was taken. Among the twelve participants were Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Sverdlov, Uritsky, and Sokolnikov. At the same occasion the first "Politburo" (an appellation with a brilliant future) was organized, and of the seven members we see the same Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Sokolnikov. ...

Of course all this relates to the upper echelons of Bolshevism and is in no sense indicative of any mass Jewish movement. Moreover, the Jews in the Politburo did not act in any coordinated manner.

... Lenin did not anticipate the degree to which educated and semi-educated Jews (who were scattered throughout Russia because of the war [as migrants away from the fighting with Germany and Austria in the Pale of Settlement]) would come to the rescue of his government in critical months and years, beginning with the episode when they replaced the Russian civil servants who were on a mass strike against the Bolsheviks. ...

Try putting yourself in the shoes of the small body of Bolsheviks who had seized power and were barely holding on to it. Whom could they trust? To whom should they turn for help? Semyon (Shimon) Dimanshtein, a Bolshevik from way back, and since January 1918 head of the Jewish Commissariat ..., gives this account of the remarks Lenin had made to him:

"Of great benefit to the revolution was the fact that due to the war, a significant portion of the Jewish middle intelligentsia happened to be in Russian cities. They foiled the widespread sabotage which we encountered immediately after the October Revolution and which was extremely dangerous for us. Jews, though far from all of them, sabotaged this sabotage, thereby rescuing the Revolution in a difficult moment."

... As we see, the Bolsheviks invited Jews starting with the very first days after assuming power, offering both leadership positions and administrative work with Soviet governmental structures. The result? Many, very many, responded positively, doing so without delay. What the Bolshevik regime needed above all were functionaries who would be absolutely loyal, and it found many such individuals among young secularized Jews along with their Slavic and international confreres. These people were not at all necessarily "renegades," since some were not members of the party, had no particular revolutionary sympathies, and seemed apolitical prior to this point. ... The fact remains, though, that it was a mass phenomenon.

"Thousands of Jews thronged to the bolsheviks, seeing in them the most determined champions of the revolution, and the most reliable internationalists ... Jews abounded at the lower levels of the party machinery. A Jew, as an individual who was clearly not a member of the nobility, of the clergy, or of the old civil service, automatically became part of a promising subset in the new clan." [M. Kheifets, Tel Aviv, 1980]

... Latvians, Hungarians, and Chinese were utilized in similar ways -- no sentimental hang-ups could be expected from them.

The attitude of the Jewish population at large toward the Bolsheviks was guarded, if not hostile. But having finally attained full freedom thanks to the revolution, and together with it, as we have seen, a true flowering of Jewish activity in the social, political, and cultural realms, all superbly organized, Jews did not stand in the way of the rapid advancement of other Jews who were Bolsheviks and who then exercised their newly acquired power to cruel excess.

Starting with the late 1940s, when the Communist regime had a serious falling out with the world's Jews, the vigorous Jewish participation in the Communist revolution began to be soft-pedaled or entirely concealed by Communists and Jews alike. It was an annoying and troubling reminder, and attempts to recall this phenomenon or to refer to it were classified as egregious anti-Semitism by the Jewish side...

Indeed, there are many explanations as to why Jews joined the Bolsheviks (and the Civil War produced yet more weighty reasons [e.g., the mass pogroms detailed in Volume II, Chapter 16]. Nevertheless, if Russian Jews' memory of this period continues seeking primarily to justify this involvement, then the level of Jewish self-awareness will be lowered, even lost.

Using this line of reasoning, Germans could just as easily find excuses for the Hitler period: "Those were not real Germans, but scum"; "they never asked us." Yet every people must answer morally for all of its past -- including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again?

It is in that spirit, specifically, that it would behoove the Jewish people to answer, both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them. Not to answer before other peoples, but to oneself, to one's consciousness, and before God. Just as we Russians must answer -- for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors. ...

To answer, just as we would answer for members of our family.

For if we release ourselves from any responsibility for the actions of our national kin, the very concept of a people loses any real meaning.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Well, how is it that the Jewish role in keeping Americans disarmed in the streets of Chicago and NYC, of ensuring that the only legitimate gun is a REGISTERED gun on TV crime programs, of making sure it's always two-against-one in any public debate on gun control is NEVER spoken about? Jewish support of gun control means I will NEVER support Jews for public office.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts.

First, the practical effect of Jewish intelligence is that when they set their minds to do something, they can often accomplish it. Historically, this has resulted in both good things and bad things - great blessings upon mankind, along with, as it were, curses - with their contribution to the advancement of Communism definitely on the bad side of the ledger.

And it all tends to be magnified - the good and the bad - because whether the Jews get it right or wrong, into whatever area they trod - politics, science, the humanities - they tend to leave a very large footprint, because of the remarkable intelligence and energy that are their native gifts.

Second, there is an atmosphere in this culture in which Jewish writers and public intellectuals can freely criticize the sins of Christians in particular, holding up centuries-old atrocities as if they occurred yesterday, while at the same time any attempt at a tu quoque rejoinder - such as Solzhenitsyn proferred in the excerpted text - is immediately batted down as anti-Semitism, regardless of the pertinence or historical accuracy of the rejoinder. For example, yes, the Spanish threw the Jews out of Spain (not nice, but not exactly genocide, btw) - but why? Well, for much the same reason the Jews dispossessed and booted out the Palestinians from their land and homes in Israel. I.e., a deliberate political strategy driven by fear and a desire for control of the homeland through elimination of the alien who could disrupt or subvert that control.

But such observations, coming from the gentile side, are deemed out of bounds, in a word, anti-Semitic. This culturally imposed taboo is so obvious and widespread, and is undergirded by such hypocrisy on the Jewish side in their readiness to the condemn the sins of others, often in exhaustive and eloquent detail, while at the same time denying the existence of their own comparable sins, that it inevitably tends to create anti-Jewish resentment, i.e., the very thing the taboo was meant to suppress, it encourages and propagates.

Anonymous said...

Was the Bolshevik coup, Communist regime, NKVD, KGB, Ukraine collectivization of private farm land heavily Jewish?

Are there Chinese people in China? Blacks in Africa or on the South Side of Chicago?

Yes, of course.

Jewish people suffered terrible persecution in World War II as a reaction to the very real Jewish leadership, participation in the Communist terrors.

But, we are now beyond this terrible period.Those people who demand that the Jewish people now be held up as devils for the real crimes of Jewish Bolsheviks/Communists 80 years ago are copying the endless Holocaust education/propaganda to demonize all Germans for sins, real and wildly exaggerated or invented during the horrible World War II.

Jews are not a race of demons, anti Christs, atheist, Communist mass murderers. Neither are Jews God's Chosen People, completely innocent of ever doing anything bad or evil, persecuted for no reason by all Gentile nations.

Jews are like all people only more so.

Get to know some regular jewish people in your area, work with them, don't fear them, hate them, but also don't let them get away with doing bad things you wouldn't let non Jewish people get away with.

Get to know some Jewish people and work to improve the situation.

God bless us all.

1/4 Russian, family was brutally abused under Communism.

Anonymous said...

I would like to direct the attention of the first commenter, Anonymous, to the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. It was they who discovered and publicized the fact that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was based, at least partially, on the Nazi gun control laws of 1935.

Anonymous said...

Have the Jews, collectively, ever accepted blame for anything? Of course not! And they never will. Despite his eloquence and diplomacy, Solzhenitsyn exhibits an all-too-typical goyisch credulity to think they're going to start now. It's a fair summation of them to say that "being a Jew means never having to say you're sorry."

Anonymous said...

Goyish Kop said,
"whether the Jews get it right or wrong, into whatever area they trod - politics, science, the humanities - they tend to leave a very large footprint, because of the remarkable intelligence and energy that are their native gifts."

The two principle features of Jews that I see are
1- Group Cohesion
2- Single-mindedness of purpose

The two kind of merge together into a unique blend of self-absorption. Inflexible, unapologetic, and agressive, self-absorption.

I'm not impressed with those qualities at all; and have never felt myself bad for feeling that way about the matter. I resent their intimidation and kind of look at them the way I look at any bully, with complete contempt.

Anyway, I think they leave a "footprint" as Goyish Kop mentioned, less because of any unique intellectual ability and more as an inevitable result of the aforementioned Group Cohesion.

In fact, name one important Jewish Intellectual and I could name a non-Jewish Intellectual whose work is far more impressive.

You say Karl Marx?
I say Hegel (and Marx' work is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Hegel, who turned out to be far more advanced and WAY too subtle) and even Emerson (they both started out at the same time. Marx wrote for the Collective, as it were, and Emerson wrote for the Individual).

You say Freud, and I say Nietzsche (who Freud called the greatest Psychologist who ever lived). Actually I would add William James.
A man far more gifted, and intellectually honest, than Freud, who very well may go down in History as Sigmund Fraud.

You say Elie Weisel and I say Alexander Solzhenitsyn (is there even a comparison?)

Actually, you could say Marx, Freud, Chomsky, S.J. Gould and Zinn, and I would say that there you have five of the most over-rated Intellectuals of the past 2,000 years.

For me, the number one character defect, above all others, is the inability to admit when you're wrong. It naturally coincides with an obnoxious need to always be right. And, in terms of the collective, Jews have been historically consistent. But the problem today is that since Jews in power have formed a coalition among Non-Whites to gang up on Non-Jewish Whites, virtually all of them have been instantly placed above criticism as soon as they are brought into the fold.

It is an historically unprecedented situation with potentially terrible consequences laying in wait for everyone concerned.

And all because a people are possessed by an incredible inability to admit they are wrong - ever.

No idea is worth killing someone over. But some are worth fighting against. If that ends up being the case can you really afford to allow yourself to be intimidated by name-calling?

Anonymous said...

"Jews are like all people only more so."


Ummmm. Ok. If you say so.

(though i'm not so sure WHAT you're saying)

Anonymous said...

Pace that crazy old man whom no one liked, there are no bad eggs among Jews; the minute one is detected, he isn't a Jew and he never was.

Moreover, Jewish hegemony is identical to the project of civilization. Therefore, any discussion of "bad" traits of the Jewish people along the lines of German soul-searching (or American white soul-searching, etc.) is barbaric and intolerable and must be put down from the cradle onward by mandatory educational programs and, if the asshat is recalcitrant, prison.

This is the path of sanity and will lead to a wonderful future for the Jewish people. Anyone who says otherwise - like these self-hating finks - can go to the wall.

Anonymous said...

This book has been translated into French, Italian, and, so far German but not English. Isn't that interesting? The French and German editions are available at Amazon France and Germany...better get one before it's too late!

¡Benjaminista! said...

As a Jew, I officially apologize for my people's preponderant role in Bolshevism. Better?

In all seriousness, the analogy between German Nazism and Jewish Bolshevism is misleading. The Nazis killed in the name of Germany; the Jewish bolsheviks killed in the name of an ideology that repudiated Judaism.

Trotsky used to say his ethnicity was Social Democrat. I'm inclined to respect his view on the matter.

Anonymous said...

“Trotsky used to say his ethnicity was Social Democrat. I'm inclined to respect his view on the matter.”

You are naive to take people’s expressed motives at face value. We lie to ourselves.

“The Nazis killed in the name of Germany; the Jewish bolsheviks killed in the name of an ideology that repudiated Judaism.”

Judaism is both a religion and an ethnicity. By embracing the internationalist and atheist ideology of Bolshevism, the Jewish Bolsheviks attracted their archenemies: the aristocracy, the church and the nationalist intellectuals.

“As a Jew, I officially apologize for my people's preponderant role in Bolshevism.”

I accept your apology if is sincere.