From Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago":
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking:  What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?  Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? . . . The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!


MikeD said...

Sounds to me like a solid argument for some kind of inalienable right to defend yourself against a tyrannical government. Now where would we ever find such a thing?

Grim said...

So that's the lesson. That's how it has to be done, here, by us or our children, when the time comes.

MikeD said...

Oh, and I had a conversation with my mother when my parents came to town this weekend on gun control. And sadly, my mother doesn't understand most of the arguments against gun control, she just wants guns out of the hands of criminals. Heck, I had to explain to her what "semi-automatic" meant. She thought it meant "machine gun".

But the relevant part of our conversation was about WHY we have the Second Amendment. And she agreed that the Founders put it there because they had just fought a war against a tyrannical government that tried to take their weapons.

"But Michael," (she calls me Michael), "surely you don't think that our government could get like that?"

This is the classic 'it could never happen here' argument. I said, "Having the guns in the hands of the People keeps the government from becoming tyrannical and infringing on our freedom."

She responded, "They'd never do that!"

"What, like try to take our guns?"


"You mean like by passing laws outlawing certain weapons?"


But while it seemed she had a light bulb moment on that, she still is not convinced. She's a lifelong Liberal (and my father is a Conservative... which most likely explains my Libertarian leanings), so it's a work in progress.

Eric Blair said...

Unfortunately, Solzhenitsyn's passage repeated as it usually is, basically is internet-tough-guy blather.

Because, living in the police state that we live in now, it's not going to be some 'security operative'. It's going to be a local police SWAT team.

A side purpose of those teams and their 'dynamic' entries and so forth are to intimidate and terrorize.

Now, the USA in the 21st century is not the Soviet Union of the 1930's. But human nature being what it is, nobody is going to resist in the way that Solzhenitsyn suggested. I think that's pretty much wishful thinking.

Lars Walker said...

I read that back around 1974, and it's stuck in my mind ever since.

Texan99 said...

There's wishful thinking, and then there's defeatist thinking. I opt for just thinking and doing. There aren't enough SWAT teams in the world to keep everyone down at once.

Grim said...

Also, there is no reason to wait for the SWAT team to show up. Once we get to the point that this kind of resistance is justified, there's a proactive approach.

Eric Blair said...

@T99: You assume that the SWAT teams would all have to show up at once. If there happens to be no media coverage, how would you know?

@Grim: Operative words--'at what point' and 'justified'. I'm thinking that the first will not be the same for all folks, and pretty much the second, too.

Now, most likely local US police forces won't turn out to be as blindly obedient as the Soviets' were. But you never know.

Texan99 said...

It's not good to wait until the SWAT teams are gearing up against political enemies. The time to organize effectively is long before that. But it's hard to overcome intertia, I know. "It is better for us to remain enthralled as bondmen to the Egyptians than to die in the desert."

Grim said...


You're right. That's a problem I've thought about a lot. It's a reason why we need things like blogs: to make a case for what the red lines have to be, so that everybody knows when they are crossed and why it triggered a response.

That won't solve the problem entirely, of course. But it is an important part of the process.

douglas said...

"There aren't enough SWAT teams in the world to keep everyone down at once."

Exactly. The sort of machine he refers to has a volume that requires a great many small and seemingly unimportant parts. You get at those, and it doesn't matter how good the best parts are, it fails.

I'd like to think Americans really are different, but you never know. Not with what were seeing lately, anyway.

Besides, if we do away with 'internet tough guy blather' how does an average Joe like me build up the idea and the countenance to be determined enough to act in the time of need? Posturing and practice are both part of training- consider it as the visualization technique athletes use. (Not that there isn't also real 'internet tough guy blather', but I think that's a less likely thing in a place like this hall than elsewhere.)