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New Left Review I/86, July-August 1974


Ernest Mandel

Solzhenitsyn, Stalinism and the October Revolution

The Gulag Archipelago testifies to a threefold tragedy. First, the tragedy of the Stalinist purges that struck at millions of Soviet citizens, among them the majority of the old cadres of the Bolshevik party, who were innocent of the crimes they were charged with. Second, the tragedy of a present-day generation of rebel intellectuals in the Soviet Union whose experience of Stalinism has led them to reject Leninism and Marxism and who are thus incapable of understanding the causes of Stalinist repression, the present reality of the Soviet Union, or the solutions required by the crisis of Soviet society. Third, the personal tragedy of a writer of exceptional talent who, because of his inability to understand the origins and character of the evil he is confronted with, has come to reactionary conclusions that to some extent even adopt the theories with which Stalin and his executioners justified their crimes in the past—the same theories that are used to justify the repression that is once again striking political oppositionists in the ussr.

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