– The Gulag Archipelago, Vol 1, Part 1, Chapter 4 – The Bluecaps, p146/47
“What prompted them all to slip into harness and pursue so zealously not truth but totals of the processed and condemned? Because it was most comfortable for them not to be different from the others. And because these totals meant an easy life, supplementary pay, awards and decorations, promotions in rank, and the expansion and prosperity of the Organs themselves. If they ran up high totals, they could loaf when they felt like it, or do poor work or go out and enjoy themselves at night. And that is just what they did. Low totals led to their being kicked out, to the loss of their feedbag. For Stalin could never be convinced that in any district, or city, or military unit, he might suddenly cease to have enemies.
That was why they felt no mercy, but, instead, an explosion of resentment and rage toward those maliciously stubborn prisoners who opposed being fitted into the totals, who would not capitulate to sleeplessness or the punishment cell or hunger. By refusing to confess they menaced the interrogator’s personal standing. It was as though they wanted to bring him down. In such circumstances, all measures were justified! If it’s to be war, then war it will be! We’ll ram the tube down your throat – swallow that saltwater!
Excluded by the nature of their work and by deliberate choice from the higher sphere of human existence, the servitors of the Blue Institution lived in their lower sphere with all the greater intensity and avidity. And there they were possessed and directed by the two strongest instincts of the lower sphere, other than hunger and sex: greed for power and greed for gain. (Particularly for power. In recent decades it has turned out to be more important than money.)
Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others! But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal. For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison. For them, there is no antidote.
Remember what Tolstoi said about power? Ivan Ilyich had accepted an official position which gave him authority to destroy any person he wanted to! All without exception were in his hands, and anyone, even the most important, could be brought before him as an accused. (And that is just where our blueboys are! There is nothing to add to the description.) The consciousness of this power (and “the possibilities of using it mercifully”- so Tolstoi qualifies the situation, but this does not in any way apply to our boys) constituted for Ivan Ilyich the chief interest and attraction of the service.
But attraction is not the right word-it is intoxication! After all, it is intoxicating.”
6 thoughts on “Solzhenitsyn: The Bluecaps – #1”
Probably true after a certain degree of money is attained.
That degree varies from person to person but ultimately the marginal value of extra wealth diminishes and power becomes the major driving force.
Ever the pursuit of wealth and power is addictive. Just looking at the scoreboard of wealth isn’t enough, as the intoxication of the chase is important too.
So with power. Having it and wielding it are central to the motivation of some people, and so is the scheming and machinations required to attain power.
We see another example of abuse of power in the “Four Corners” hit job on Fox and Trump.
Because they hold the reins of power in media broadcasting in Australia, they can run with crazy conspiracy theories to destroy the opposition. But rest assured the very process of making the 2-part series stirred the juices of all the left loving journalists involved.
not just money
not just power
it’s also relevance
many of these people live mundane lives without any of the above
and they reckon their time has come
after all, with high IQ and eidetic memory, they were born to rule
just ask them.
what do you do with a degree in Physics and a Master’s … ?
what do you do with a degree in Perfoming Arts and a Master’s of Feminist Epistemology … ?
what do you do with a degree in Medicine (not a doctor) and a Master’s of Epidemiology … ?
what do you do with a degree in Arts and a Juris Doctor … ?
Why, terrify the kiddies obviously
for their own good
A great piece Mater. I’ve been thinking a lot about Solzhenitsyn lately particularly in terms of how we are to comprehend what’s going on around us and how we can exist in this progressive new world.
” Ivan Ilyich had accepted an official position which gave him authority to destroy any person he wanted to! All without exception were in his hands, and anyone, even the most important, could be brought before him as an accused.”
The Ivan of today isn’t one person….he’s a toxic melange of MSM, politicians, public servants and leftist progressives who roam social media sewers. These Ivans are intoxicated by their power to destroy lives, to humiliate, to ridicule, to censor and to silence. These Ivans don’t have the power yet to send us to “re-education camps” but I strongly believe that if they could…they would. As Solzhenitsyn knew these Ivans have no conscious because they are imbued with a simplistic Nietzschian worldview that tells them that there aren’t any rules for humanity, there are no absolute values, there are no certainties to rely on, there…instead they will formulate and decide what is right and wrong and what is permissible. So we now have a Victorian government that prevents children from playing in playgrounds yet permits people to visit prostitutes (I refuse to call them “sex workers” because that demeans sex and it demeans work). It’s Kafkaesque.
I am Ivan Ilyich. It’s an unofficial position so not quite the same. I have a list. I need more paper as it’s an increasingly long list.
I wrote above…”It’s Kafkaesque”….actually it’s Ivanesque.