Friday, March 19, 2021

Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together, Part 6 | Counter-Currents - by Spencer J. Quinn

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here

Much of the tremendous value of Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together rests in how it was written completely without rancor. Only a highly cynical or unreasonable person could call it anti-Semitic — that is, a work that professes animosity or anger towards Jews as a people. Solzhenitsyn does not do this. In fact, he approaches the subject matter with great sensitivity and, despite his critical nature, seems to hope that no one take it personally. Yes, the author introduces the personal touch in many places. After all, he did live through some of the history he describes and personally met or corresponded with people who had witnessed things he hadn’t. And yes, the mordant barbs are there, as are the sarcastic asides. But this is no different than in his memoirs.

Solzhenitsyn simply wishes to tell the truth about Jews as a racially distinct people living in his beloved homeland. That most of what he writes is negative is partially a function of a number of Jewish authors making even more inflammatory statements about Russians. Chapter twenty-five focuses on just that, and the vitriol spilling from Jewish pens is simply venomous. Here is an example from one Arkady Belinkov, who attempts to paint Russians with a particularly broad brush:

“a pathetic society of slaves, descendants of slaves and ancestors of slaves,” “the cattle trembling from fear and anger,” “rectum-pipers, shuddering at the thought of possible consequences,” “the Russian intelligentsia always been willing to help stifle freedom.”

Solzhenitsyn reveals that for every act of anti-Jewish discrimination or prejudice we hear about in our mainstream literature, there were official efforts of conciliation and cooperation as well. And for every Jew killed in a bloody pogrom, more Russians, Ukrainians, and others suffered and died as a result of Jewish oppression, malfeasance, or vindictiveness when taking into consideration the early Soviet period. This is the great unheard truth that Solzhenitsyn reveals in Two Hundred Years Together. And his great unheard demand? That Jews own up to their prodigious sins, just as they continually demand that Russians (and whites in general) own up to theirs.

One unintentionally hilarious state of affairs keeps repeating itself, however. It’s like a running joke, and represents the only time when Solzhenitsyn may indeed go a little too far in his characterization of Jews. Throughout the nineteenth century, Russian leaders had tried to assimilate Jews. Vexed by their clannishness and aloofness, as well as by their stubborn predisposition for usury, liquor-selling, and other forms of opportunistic merchandizing, Tsar after Tsar had encouraged their Jewish population to act like Russians and farm. Tremendous energy over many years was expended dragging reluctant Jews towards agriculture, but all for naught. Jews made terrible farmers. And no amount of social engineering was going to change that. Further, many Jews exercised whatever chicanery they could to get out of farming and to return to business as usual in cities or in their shtetls. They just didn’t like manual labor. In fact, Jews would often get angry with those outlier Jews who managed to succeed in farming because that only encouraged the Russians with this wretched business. I can imagine Solzhenitsyn chuckling to himself when he wrote how Jews preferred trades that were “minimal on physical labor” and had a “national aversion to being outdoors.” This is as close to Jew-shaming as Solzhenitsyn gets in Two Hundred Years Together. And because it’s funny, it should be easy to forgive. Furthermore, it’s hard to say who gets more egg on their face in the end: the silly Jews who can’t seem to learn how to use a plow or the silly Russians who can’t see the futility in trying to turn nimble-minded Semites into Central Asian peasants. It is a true comedy of errors.

Beyond its comprehensive and dispassionate assessment of the Jewish Question in Russia, Two Hundred Years Together eloquently prescribes ethnocentrism as, if not a cure, then at least a palliative to the evils caused by close Jew-gentile contact. Quite often Solzhenitsyn underscores the Jew’s prime loyalty to his own people, just as he himself displays loyalty to his people, the Russians. He doesn’t blame the Jews for this, and takes pains to name Jews who saw themselves as equally Russian and Jewish (or even Russian first, Jewish second!). But the fact remains that these were (and still are) a small minority among Jews.

This is a demonstrable fact. Even Jews notice it. Solzhenitsyn uses some of the more honest ones as sources for Two Hundred Years Together, such as Josef Biekerman, mentioned earlierThis makes this work impossible to dismiss. What follows are a few more examples of Solzhenitsyn’s Jewish sources. In chapter twenty-one, “During the Soviet-German War,” he writes:

. . . a Jew living in a particular country belongs not only to that country, and his loyalties become inevitably split in two. The Jews have “always harbored nationalist attitudes, but the object of their nationalism was Jewry, not the country in which they lived”. Their interest in this country is partial.

The quoted text above comes from Jewish author Solomon Lurie.

In chapter twenty-seven, “About the Assimilation,” he quotes Jewish philosopher Martin Buber:

So far, our existence had served only to shake the thrones of idols, but not to erect the throne of God. This is exactly why our existence among other nations is so mysterious. We purport to teach others about the absolute, but in reality we just say “no” to other nations, or, perhaps, we are actually nothing more than just the embodiment of such negation. This is why we have turned into the nightmare of the nations.

In the same chapter, he quotes author Arthur Koestler challenging Jews to either emigrate to Israel or renounce their Jewish identity:

. . . all previous attempts of assimilation were based on the wrong assumption that the Jews could be adequate sons of the host nation, while at the same time preserving their religion and remaining the Chosen People.

He then quotes an Israeli author A. B. Yoshua:

The Galut [diaspora] Jew is an immoral creature. He uses all the benefits of his host country but at the same time he does not fully identify with it. These people demand the status which no other nation in the world has — to be allowed to have two homelands: the one, where they currently live, and another one, where “their heart lives.” And after that they still wonder why they are hated!

Language cannot get any plainer than that, can it?

Yet, Solzhenitsyn points out that these Jews receive nothing but ridicule or contempt from their fellow Jews. This is a constant refrain throughout Two Hundred Years Together. We know about the abuse that Biekerman had to face. In chapter twenty-four, “Breaking Away from Bolshevism,” Solzhenitsyn details the life of Mikhail Kheifetz, a Jew who suffered through the camps as had Solzhenitsyn and then endeavored to apologize on behalf of his people for all the evil they had committed in the Soviet Union. “He was bitterly ridiculed,” Solzhenitsyn writes.

Felix Svetov was another. This was a Jew who converted to Christianity and called for Jewish repentance in an autobiographical novel entitled Open the Doors for Me. He was branded a self-hating anti-Semite by other Jews. Of course, these same Jews, oblivious to the double standard, would turn around and welcome this kind of repentance from non-Jews. But if a Jew does it, it’s anti-Semitism.

In the later chapters, Solzhenitsyn revisits many of his major themes, and pontificates on the Jewish question in more general terms (“Can we say that the Jews always struggled for freedom?”). While certainly interesting and thought-provoking, this is where one of the author’s messages begins to fray. This message is one of meaning or divine purpose. God put Jews and Russians together for a reason — perhaps to test or temper both parties, but who can truly understand God? Perhaps through honesty and reconciliation, we will all become better people? On the last pages of Two Hundred Years Together, he writes:

The purpose of this book, reflected even in its title, is this: we should understand each other, we should recognize each other’s standpoint and feelings. With this book, I want to extend a handshake of understanding — for all our future. 

But we must do so mutually!

A fine sentiment — but is it based in reality? Not to play Bert to Solzhenitsyn’s Ernie, but if the Jews truly wished to recognize the “standpoint and feelings” of white gentiles, wouldn’t they have done so by now? Two hundred years is a long time to leave the light on. And it hasn’t gotten any better since Two Hundred Years Together was published. The Jewish response to the book was largely negative, and Solzhenitsyn’s posthumous reputation as an anti-Semite in some circles is now beginning to rival his reputation as a dissident author. For example, Jewish writer Cathy Young in her 2004 Reason article not only dismissed the work as anti-Semitic, but questioned whether or not Solzhenitsyn himself was an anti-Semite, something he always vigorously denied. She repeated this sentiment sixteen years later in her Quillette article “Solzhenitsyn: the Fall of a Prophet.” To be fair, longtime Solzhenitsyn antagonist Richard Pipes had a more measured but still critical response. Much of these responses (and others, including this one by Yochanan Petrovsky-Stern) challenge Solzhenitsyn’s scholarship in one way or another. This mostly entails not just pouncing on factual errors, but impugning Solzhenitsyn’s exoneration of the Tsarist treatment of Jews prior to the Revolutions of 1917, downplaying the significance of the Jewish role in the October Revolution and early Soviet government, and questioning his selection of sources (Jewish or not) that largely bolster his worldview at the expense of others. From this, they predictably conclude that the great man has slipped from scholarly objectivity to personal anti-Jewish bias. 

You can buy Spencer Quinn’s novel White Like You here.

The work is close to a thousand pages long, and Solzhenitsyn was writing in his late seventies. It would be shocking if there were no errors in it at all. What is distressing, however, is that these Jewish critics said little about the vast suffering of Russians during the Soviet period or cared to refute Solzhenitsyn’s linking of high-level Jews such as Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Lazar Kaganovich, Genrikh Yagoda, Lev Inzhir, Naftaly Frenkel, and others to this suffering in their responses. They would rather defend the honor of Jews against a man who has a lot of nice things to say about them despite all his criticism. Finally, these critics don’t seem to appreciate that Two Hundred Years Together offers the Russian response to shelves upon shelves of anti-Russian literature spilled from the pens of Jews. Russians are entitled to their perspectives — as are white people in general — and they have the right to express them, even if they violate norms established and policed by Jews. There is nothing in the above criticisms of Two Hundred Years Together that seems to respect this perspective, even for a man with the impeccable integrity of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Does any of this offer hope that Solzhenitsyn’s “handshake of understanding” will somehow not be rebuffed by the Jewish people? Is there anything in Two Hundred Years Together that justifies this kind of hope? Here is Solzhenitsyn, quite literally offering eternal friendship to the Jews on behalf of the Russian people, and here is Cathy Young, in effect, telling him to pound sand. We all know that righteous Jews like Josef Biekerman would never do that — and bless his eternal soul for that — but few people beyond Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn even care about what Josef Biekerman thought. The Jews certainly don’t, at least not in a positive way, and they’ve had almost a century now to change their minds about people like him.

So while we wait, we’re left suspending our disbelief regarding the Jewish Question, and it’s getting heavier every year. As whites slowly lose hold of their majorities within their homelands, Solzhenitsyn’s calls for hope and reconciliation are becoming more and more shrill. As a devout Christian, hoping against the odds may have retained some meaning for him. But for those of us living in a post-Christian age (or for those Christians dismayed by how the Church has embraced the degeneracy of cultural Marxism) the question emerges: How much longer can we afford to hope?

Furthermore, in the absence of hope, what is there?

If there is anything else in Two Hundred Years Together besides the misdeeds of Jews, it’s ethnocentrism. It’s real, it’s natural, it’s inevitable, and it pulses through almost every page, not only in the brazenly clannish behavior of the Jews, but also in Solzhenitsyn’s narration. Being an ethnonationalist himself, he has a nose for the racial aspects of the history he’s compiling. Many of the details he unearths are unusual and in the vast majority of cases strengthens his thesis of the racial or ethnic underpinnings of Jewish and Russian strife. He also speaks directly to the reader on behalf of ethnocentrism, especially towards the end.

In chapter fourteen, “During 1917,” he writes:

. . . in July the All-Russian Conference on the Jewish Congress preparation took place in Petrograd. Because of social enthusiasm, [Maxim] Vinaver was able to declare there that the idea of united Jewish nation, dispersed among different countries, is ripe, and that from now on the Russian Jews may not be indifferent to the situation of Jews in other countries, such as Romania or Poland. The Congress date was set for December. 

What an upsurge of Jewish national energy it was!

This national energy played out a few years later during the Soviet-Polish War when many Polish Jews welcomed the Red Army and were accused of harboring pro-Soviet or anti-Polish attitudes. Some were charged with spying for the Soviets. But national energy isn’t the purview of Jews alone. Ukrainians also had a nationalist agenda, which was undervalued by Jews and Russians alike. It should then come as no surprise that some of the bloodiest fighting during the Civil War, and certainly the bloodiest pogroms, occurred in Ukraine.

In the same chapter, Solzhenitsyn notes how a lack of ethnocentrism makes a people weak. He writes how a foolish “loss of sense of national self-preservation” on the part of the Russian leaders of the Provisional Government doomed them. They spent millions of rubles promoting the interests of ethnic minorities in Russia, but ignored the needs of Russians. Solzhenitsyn states how P. N. Milyukov, a Russian minister of the Provisional Government, never expressed pro-Russian sentiments while in power. Alexander Kerensky also repudiated his Russian identity and expressed great bias against Russian conservatives.

In chapter eighteen, “In the 1920s,” Solzhenitsyn discusses the nationalist reactions to Jewish hegemony. In 1926, Y. V. Klyutchnikov, a publicist and former Cadet, gave a speech in which he explains anti-Jewish hooliganism as an expression of the “hurt national feelings of Russians” and pointed to the imbalance created by the disproportionate presence of Jews in cities and in government:

We have a housing crisis in Moscow — masses of people are crowding into areas not fit for habitation and at the same time people see others pouring in from other parts of the country taking up housing. These arrivals are Jews. A national dissatisfaction is rising and a defensiveness and fear of other nationalities. We must not close our eyes to that. A Russian speaking to a Russian will say things that he will not say to a Jew. Many are saying that there are too many Jews in Moscow. This must be dealt with, but don’t call it anti-Semitism.

In chapter nineteen, “In the 1930s,” he writes how Jews fretted about the rebirth of Russian patriotism (discredited as “Great Russian chauvinism”), even on the eve of World War II. Solzhenitsyn finds an Israeli magazine from 1988 which, in an example of classic Jewish solipsism, condemns the resurgence of Russian patriotism in the late 1930s despite how Russian patriotism had saved Soviet Jewry from the Germans. Solzhenitsyn then quite reasonably asks his Jewish readers if any Russian patriotism can be permitted at all. Chapter twenty, “In the Camps of Gulag,” begins with zek Solzhenitsyn being disabused of his humanist pretentions while interned as a guest of the state. Prisoners self-segregated by nationality (as they do in all prisons), and some nationalities were treated better than others. Being a Russian, Solzhenitsyn, of course, fell into the latter group. 

As Two Hundred Years Together winds down, we find Solzhenitsyn concluding that the loss of nationalism would be “an impoverishment of humanity, the entropy of the spirit.” In chapter twenty-six, “The Beginning of Exodus,” he states that Jewish Israeli nationalism is natural, necessary, and should be encouraged. By quoting an Israeli author in chapter twenty-one, “During the Soviet-German War,” he also gives air to the suppressed opinion that it was the lack of Jewish nationalism that led to the Jewish Holocaust. In the end, he prescribes nationalism as the cure for the “curse of exile.” Having been an exile himself for nearly two decades, Solzhenitsyn has a clear understanding of what it’s like to be apart from one’s home.

The difficulty, of course, is that most of the Jewish diaspora prefers to be rootless. They prefer exile and alienation in gentile lands to returning to a somewhat harsher life in Israel. This makes life easier for them, yes. But as Jewish political influence outside of Israel increases, white gentiles suffer more, and the more this extranational Jewish presence resembles conquest. If modern white dissidents can take anything from Two Hundred Years Together, it’s that white identity is the only antidote to Jewish conquest. In the final chapters, Solzhenitsyn outlines how the resurgence of even a relatively mild Russian identity in the Soviet Union was enough to send large amounts of Jews packing to Israel and the West. In many cases, a mere lack of professional advancement did the trick. 

If it could be done there, it can be done anywhere. 

Two Hundred Years Together is an invaluable source for all Right-wing dissidents. It provides ammunition to prevent Jewish conquest, which is the animating force behind the totalitarian Left. Two Hundred Years Together is history that must be internalized and weaponized. Afterwards, once the Jewish Left has been thwarted, with the majority of Jews either assimilating into the gentile population once and for all or returning to Israel, only then can we seek the honesty and reconciliation that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so fervently asked for. 

Only then can we reflect on how it all had meaning.

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