One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Puritanboard Clerk
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

This is a stark vision for Bernie’s America. True, Solzhenitsyn couldn’t have known that, but it fits nonetheless. This book doesn’t have the raw, electric force of Gulag Archipelago. To be fair, Gulag is a near-perfect read. Solzhenitsyn was a fair writer when he wrote Ivan. He was a perfect writer when he wrote Gulag. I would probably start here, but you can mostly understand Gulag without Ivan.

You can find freedom or prison in any circumstance. Alyosha the Baptist, because he has been raised with Christ, isn’t given over to despair like other prisoners. Elsewhere, while they are slaving (and remember, socialism is slave labor) in the snow, Shukhov actually enjoys his work. It is a routine. The routine is what gives you the ability to endure.

Nevertheless, the Gulag is dehumanizing. Men are reduced to caring more for an extra crumb of bread than they are for their fellow men. I think that is deliberate.

One of the ironies is that the economics of the Gulag is market-based. When prisoners barter for tobacco, they inevitably end up with a subjective, value-based exchange. In other words, socialism can't work without some form of a market.
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Puritan Board Freshman
Here is the audiobook version.

I listened to this audiobook as I canoed up and downriver checking on sick tribal people. I thought, "Glad I am in an easy place like here in the middle of the free jungle instead of cold Russian GULAG."

Some of the crimes in Stalin’s era that could land you in Siberia are:

*Wrapping a wine bottle with Stalin’s portrait.
*Make a joke about him
*Do something unfavourable in his sight (if you are his close friends or aids)
*Be a scapegoat for his alleged conspiracies (Stalin was a very paranoid figure)

In the USSR, if the secret polices (NKVD) arrests a person and finds a phone book, they would find and arrest those whose names are in that person’s directory.

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