Nikita Khrushchev

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Sage and Scourge of Communism

“Write what you know,” goes the dictum. Thus from Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn we have among many other works the following:

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich—forced labor camps
  • First Circle (i.e., of Hell)forced labor camps for scientists
  • Cancer Ward—malady as social metaphor
  • August 1914—blunders in warfare
  • Gulag Archipelago—the definitive guide to Soviet forced labor camps.

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With such a pronounced critical voice, we can surmise that Solzhenitsyn’s writing was unlikely to win him lasting friends in the Soviet government. Before his first major work, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), could be published, none other than Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev needed to give his permission. The timing was right; Khrushchev was still intent on denouncing the excesses of Stalinism, and Solzhenitsyn’s writing gained his favor in that political climate. But the thaw didn’t last.

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When Khrushchev was deposed in 1964, Solzhenitsyn experienced a similar downturn in his fate. By 1970 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he didn’t dare leave the country and so had to wait until he was sent into exile in the West in 1974 before he could actually collect the prize.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Sage and Scourge of Communism

The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

Of those Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports that are not strictly technical in nature, it would be fair to say that imperialism is at least an implicit theme throughout.

This month's highlights include scientists seeking to ease tensions between nuclear states, a Swedish view of the Cold War, a caustic Soviet evaluation of Harvard's Russian Research Center, and three reports describing the challenges facing African nations breaking free from colonial relationships. 

The Pugwash Meetings of Scientists—A Soviet View

Vestnik Akademii Nauk, SSSR (Herald of the Academy of Sciences, USSR) Vol. XXXI No. 11, 1961

The Cold War enjoys a September sojourn in Stowe, Vermont, in this report. Nikita Khrushchev sends greetings from home in the form of a two-page letter justifying the resumption of nuclear tests. The title characterizes Pugwash as “meetings,” but today we recognize Pugwash as a movement kicked-off by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, still vital after 60 years. (10 pages) 

The Cold War

Ny Militar Tidshrift (New Military Journal) Vol. 34 No. 6, 1961 

The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

Marxism ex Machina: Pulling Back the Curtain on Soviet Economics

Nikita Khrushchev with the Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander in a rowing boat, 1964 by Arne Schweitz/ScanpixIt’s notable during the run-up to America’s presidential primaries that the candidates include uber-capitalist Donald Trump and the self-described socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Their competing ideologies underscore the great extent to which America’s political economy appeals both to naked self-interest and to popular concerns for social goods—but still goes by the name “capitalism.” Conversely, behind the utopian rhetoric of communism, the Soviet Union regularly appealed to the workers’ acquisitive desires. And when the Communist Party’s vaunted planning didn’t pan-out in the marketplace—out it went!

In this month's highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, we expose some of the arcane machinery underlying the seemingly monolithic communism of the Soviet Union, beginning with the machine shop itself.

How the Bonus System is Conducted in the Machine Building Industry
Politicheskoye Samoobrazovaniye (Political Self-Education) No. 6, Moscow - 01 June 1963

Marxism ex Machina: Pulling Back the Curtain on Soviet Economics

“One Lousy Sheep”: The 1958 Soviet Denunciation of Nobel Prize Winner Boris Pasternak

In an article in the June 30, 2014, edition of the Washington Post, columnist and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt discusses the harsh denunciation of Boris Pasternak in a 1958 speech. The criticism of Pasternak as a pig occurred toward the end of a long and turgid oration on the subject of the Komsomol’s glorious history and mission by its director, Vladimir Semichastny, who later came to head the KGB. 

The attack on Pasternak, who a week earlier had been named the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel Doctor Zhivago, was, as Hiatt notes, partially dictated by Nikita Khrushchev himself.  That Oct. 29, 1958, speech was broadcast on the Soviet Home Service, translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), and published the following day in the FBIS Daily Report. An excerpt from the 18-page FBIS translation appears below:

However, as the Russian saying goes: “Even in a good flock there may be one lousy sheep” (parshyvaya outsa). We have such a lousy sheep in our socialist society in the person of Pasternak, who has written his slanderous, so-called novel.  He has gladdened our enemies so much that they have bestowed on him—disregarding of course the artistic merits of his trashy book—a Nobel Prize. We have masters of writing, whose works are uncontestable in their artistic merit, but their authors have not been awarded a Noble (sic) Prize. However, for slander, for libelling the Soviet system, socialism, and Marxism, Pasternak has been awarded the Nobel Prize.

“One Lousy Sheep”: The 1958 Soviet Denunciation of Nobel Prize Winner Boris Pasternak

A Future That Never Arrived

Buried among the verbiage of a lengthy speech by Nikita Khrushchev from 1960 is a Communist Party plan that I’d never heard before – that the Soviet Union would abolish taxes on workers and employees by 1965, and also shorten their workday! It turns out this was a major Soviet domestic policy in 1960, worthy of headlines in the Trenton Evening Times, as can be seen from this page view.

From America's Historical Newspapers

A Future That Never Arrived

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