Weaponizing History: Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together Part 1Spencer J. Quinn
Two Hundred Years Together
Moscow: Vagrius, 2005
No sane person wants to lie. Aside from whatever harm lying might cause, lying also chips away at a person’s dignity. Knowing that your words will quickly mold to a model other than Truth somehow cheapens you — as if any model will do. Expediency, authority, greed . . . it’s hard to think of circumstances under which lying about non-private matters doesn’t cheapen a person. Put person X under these conditions, and he’ll say whatever you want him to say. How’s that for a human being? Nothing exalts more than knowing that your words will serve Truth and only Truth.
Dissidents often struggle with this when discussing the Jewish Question. We want to tell the truth. On the other hand, our message would be much more powerful if only we could omit this inconvenient fact or embellish that disappointing one. As dissidents, we wish to put forth a realistic depiction of Jews, without spite or bias, to uncover their net negative impact on our politics, and, to a lesser extent, our culture. This is the first step to freeing ourselves from the Jewish yoke, so to speak. And if we are telling the truth, then we can afford to show more than one side of the story and still be persuasive.
This seems to encapsulate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s approach to the Jewish Question as it relates to Russia in his classic text Two Hundred Years Together. In this volume (which is still not properly translated into English), Solzhenitsyn reviews the history of Russian Jewry and places much of the blame for the October Revolution, the atrocities of the early Soviet period, and subversive Left-wing behavior in general squarely on the shoulders of Jews. He also, perhaps most importantly for him, exonerates much of Tsarist Russia from the charge of anti-Semitism which never seems to stop oozing from Jewish pens. That a writer of Solzhenitsyn’s towering stature took on a project which directly refutes the myth of perpetual Jewish victimhood and reverses the blame typically reserved for white gentiles should be nothing less than a triumph for the Right. Relatively minor figures who write and speak on the Jewish Question — as brilliant as they often are — can be deplatformed, smeared, and ultimately ignored. Solzhenitsyn, on the other hand, was for several years in the 1970s the most famous dissident in the world. Since his death in 2008, his reputation as an author, historian, Christian, and patriot remains impeccable. He cannot be so easily ignored.
Dissidents on the Right should therefore piggyback on Solzhenitsyn’s fame and use his name as often as possible when combating the Left on the battlefield of ideas — especially when it comes to the Jewish Question. And this is where Two Hundred Years Together comes in.
But what if this would be a misuse of Two Hundred Years Together? Despite what many of his more hysterical critics say, Solzhenitsyn was no anti-Semite. There are many passages in this work that show justice, even tenderness, towards Jews. He does have great respect for them. He just wishes to set the record straight — a record that the Jews themselves have warped with their abuses of history.
But what if sticking scrupulously to the Truth as Solzhenitsyn does won’t be enough? What if the Jews themselves rarely do this and will not hesitate to publish material of questionable scholarship but unquestionable defamation against whites simply because it is in their ethnic interests to do so? In fact, it is a common trope among Jewish writers such as Bernard Lewis (Semites and Anti-Semites), Robert Wistrich (Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred), and Daniel Goldhagen (The Devil that Never Dies), and many others to speak about anti-Semitism not as a rational response to Jewish hegemony but as if it’s an a priori evil in the black hearts of white gentiles.
Despite being profoundly dishonest, this approach works. It holds sway among the Jews themselves and since World War II has helped to browbeat the West into submission to Jewish ethnic interests.
In an example of how Solzhenitsyn does not take this approach in Two Hundred Years Together, he frequently cites Jewish author Josef Biekerman who comes across as Solzhenitsyn’s Semitic doppelganger. He is ethnocentric yet willing to speak out about the abuses of power in which his own people indulge (which Solzhenitsyn does to great extent in his Red Wheel opus). As co-founder of the Patriotic Alliance of Russian Jews in the 1920s, Biekerman vowed to combat Bolshevism not merely because he feared it would increase anti-Semitism but also because he empathetically felt that it would be bad for Russia and Russians. His colleague Isaak Levin openly called for an examination of the Jewish role in the October Revolution. Jewish writer Danil Pasmanik, who authored a book about the Jews and the Russian Revolution, professed heartfelt concern for the “unending sorrow of the Russian citizen,” and stated that Jews “cannot flourish while the country disintegrates around us.” The book these men published, Russia and the Jews, challenges Jews, especially radical, secular, Left-wing Jews, to reject the evil in their hearts.
“It is time we understood that crying and wailing . . . is mostly [evidence] of emotional infirmity, or a lack of culture of the soul . . . You are not alone in this world, and your sorrow cannot fill the entire universe . . . When you put on a display, only your own grief, only your own pain, it shows . . . disrespect to others’ grief, to others’ sufferings.”
These were truly righteous Jews, and Solzhenitsyn admires them not only for their honesty and compassion, but also because of their lack of self-hate (a theme he discusses at length in his essay “Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations” in his From Under the Rubble collection). Unfortunately, Biekerman, Levin, Pasmanik, and others like them were voices in the wilderness when it came to mainstream Jewish opinion. They seemed to accomplish little other than to inflame resentment among other Jews. They were accused of “attack[ing] their own compatriots,” and were smeared as “anti-Semites” and “enemies of the Jewish people,” and so on. Solzhenitsyn recognizes the tragedy in this, but also seems too enamored with the possibility of rapprochement between Russians and Jews to become as aggressive towards Jews qua Jews as the Jews themselves were to Biekerman, Levin, and Pasmanik.
I must admit, this is tempting, given how the majority of Jews don’t behave like the enemy of whites and have contributed greatly to Western culture through their talent, energy, and capital. It is very easy to admire them when imagining men like Josef Biekerman being the rule rather than the exception. Many convincing arguments can be spun from this false supposition.
In Two Hundred Years Together, Solzhenitsyn is essentially more concerned about telling the truth than winning the argument.
Over a decade after his death, however, white dissidents in the West are beginning to realize that they can no longer afford to be correct if being correct is not enough to win the argument — that is, to persuade a critical mass of whites of the necessity of counter-Semitism. We are swiftly losing our majorities in our homelands to hostile invaders who wish ultimately to subjugate us — and, sadly, many wealthy and influential Jews remain on the vanguard of this invasion. Even more sadly, the majority of diaspora Jews, if their voting patterns tell us anything, actually support this invasion. Perhaps if Russia in the 1990s had been more like Western Europe of the 2020s, Solzhenitsyn would have written Two Hundred Years Together with a little more urgency.
This is not to be critical of Solzhenitsyn. The value and importance of Two Hundred Years Together cannot be overstated. Along with The Gulag Archipelago, it is perhaps his most important non-fiction work. Rather, I suggest that the Dissident Right use Two Hundred Years Together as a weapon against Jews — even if Solzhenitsyn himself would have disapproved of this tactic. Can we afford not to? Perhaps if Jews like Josef Biekerman were the rule and not the exception we could. But sadly this is counter-factual. Therefore it makes sense to use the Jews’ insidious methods against them and focus on only those elements of Truth which suit our argument. This is a cultural war, after all, and since when is it considered honorable to tell the truth to your enemy during war?
What follows is a simple accounting of the most noteworthy Jewish misdeeds found in Two Hundred Years Together. Not included will be the more common historical tropes involving Jews, for example as usurers, pimps, alcohol merchants, and unscrupulous exploiters of the poor. Also not included will be the many entertaining pages Solzhenitsyn dedicates to nineteenth-century Jews as tax cheats, draft dodgers, grievance mongers, and shockingly incompetent agriculturalists (the latter being part of the Russian government’s futile efforts to assimilate its Jewish population). Finally, we won’t include all the instances in which the Tsar or the Russian government either gave in to the demands of revolutionaries or acted on behalf of the Jews. Instead, we will focus mostly on the acts of terror and atrocity attributed to Jews during the Soviet and pre-Soviet periods, which were of most immediate interest to Solzhenitsyn. These periods should be of most immediate interest to modern dissidents as well, given how the leftward lurch of Russian society in 1900s, 1910s, and 1920s is finding an eerie analog in the West a century later.
Perhaps when confronted with the twin myths of Jewish innocence and victimhood, this information could help convince the uninitiated of the lies and hatred which bolster both. And for the initiated, the knowledgeable, the dissident, perhaps the most trenchant passages in Two Hundred Years Together will arm him or her with the information which could help spark the counter-Semitic revolution that is so desperately needed in the West today.
* * *
Chapter Six: In the Russian Revolutionary Movement
Despite being poorly represented among Left-wing radicals prior to the 1870s, Jews quickly grew in prominence among them during the 1870s. Students such as V. Yokhelson, A. Zundelevich, Mark Natanson, Leon Deutsch, and others became energetic organizers of the revolutionary movement. Solzhenitsyn notes how almost none of these Jews supported revolution due to poverty — they, in large part, came from wealthy families. He also notes how, unlike Christian revolutionaries, few Jewish ones suffered a break from their families because of their activities. On the whole, Jewish parents — regardless of their occupations — tolerated their children’s subversive activities. These revolutionaries quickly turned from their religious, patriarchal, and traditionalist roots after the slightest contact with Russian culture. Egalitarian nihilism made it too tempting for them. In many ways, Solzhenitsyn blames assimilation with Russians for bringing out the worst in Jews. And while demonstrating that these early Jewish revolutionaries had tremendous drive and talent, he also describes how mentally unbalanced many of them were.
After the 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander II and the widespread pogroms which followed, however, a critical mass of Jews then rose to pursue one goal: “the destruction of the current political regime.” Jews rapidly established international networks dedicated to Marxist and socialist revolution, and these networks had a profoundly negative impact upon Russia. In fact, during the 1880s and 1890s, Russian revolutionaries began to rely more and more on Jews as “detonator[s] of revolution.” The revolutionary movement became disproportionately Jewish. Marxist historian M. N. Pokrovsky estimated that by the late nineteenth century, Jews (who made up less than five percent of the population of Russia) made up between a quarter and a third of all the revolutionary parties. In 1903, Russian statesman Sergei Witte told Zionist Theodore Herzl that Jews constituted no less than half of all revolutionaries. In 1905, General N. Sukhotin, the commander of Russian forces in Siberia, calculated that of all the political prisoners exiled to Siberia, thirty-seven percent were Jews. Solzhenitsyn also cites various Jewish sources that attest to the heavy Jewish involvement in the revolutionary movement during the pre-Soviet period.
Chapter Nine: During the Revolution of 1905
In this chapter, Solzhenitsyn demonstrates how ravenous Russia’s Jewish population had become for armed conflict with the Tsarist regime by the turn of the twentieth century. The belligerence on display is shocking not only for its own sake, but also because the Jews barely discuss it themselves. Because of this, this crucial episode has been left out of history almost entirely.
Solzhenitsyn dedicates several pages to the deadly 1903 pogrom in Gomel, Belarus. While the official investigation by the Russian authorities claimed that Jews and Russians alike shared blame for the violence, Solzhenitsyn, using contemporaneous police reports, shows that armed and organized gangs of Jews had instigated the pogrom against Russians. These groups had been formed by the Bund, which previously that year had organized a festival celebrating the anniversary of Tsar Alexander II’s assassination. During an argument between a Jew and a Russian peasant in an outdoor market, the Jew spat in the face of the Russian. A brawl ensued, during which the surrounding Jews blew whistles, a clear sign for attack. Soon enough, the place was swarming with armed Jews, who beat the outnumbered Russians mercilessly, men, women, children, and elderly alike. Solzhenitsyn describes how a Jew snuck up behind a Russian and stabbed him in the neck, killing him. In another instance, a Russian girl was dragged down the street by her hair. And when the police arrived, the Jews fired live rounds and hurled stones at them. This went on for a day, and all the casualties were Russian. What’s worse for the Jewish victimhood narrative, when the troops arrived, their main purpose was to protect the wealthy Jewish part of town from Russian reprisals — and to show their appreciation, the Jews fired shots and threw stones at them too.
Of course, the reason why the Jews were so irate at that point in time was because of the anti-Jewish pogrom in Kishinev in modern-day Moldova, a few months prior. But modern dissidents should not concern themselves with this. Why? Because Jews rarely consider the reasons behind any anti-Jewish actions taken by gentiles, pogroms or otherwise. For them, such behavior simply springs from irrational gentile minds. This is how Jews weaponize history. Well, thanks to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, two can play at that game.
Several times in Chapter Nine, Solzhenitsyn relays how Jews instigated conflict by firing their revolvers at police as well as by committing acts of terror and attacking innocent Russian peasants and workers. He names Nissel Farber — who threw a bomb at a police station, killing two and wounding three — and Aron Eline — who threw a bomb at police, wounding seven. He describes several other similar attacks by Jewish terrorists. This kind of provocation immediately invalidates any claim to Jewish innocence and Jewish victimhood.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the new breed of Jewish radical became much more influential and radical than before. Solzhenitsyn labels Grigory Gershuni and Mikhail Gotz as terrorists and describes how they and others took charge of many of the revolutionary parties throughout Russia, especially the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR). Gershuni oversaw the assassination of two governors and Minister of the Interior Dmitry Sipyagin as well as one failed assassination attempt. While these revolutionaries often relied on Russian assassins, one of their primary bomb makers was Jewish. Solzhenitsyn seizes upon the irony of the Jew Pinhas Rutenberg, who trained Jewish terrorists in Russia and oversaw the execution of the double agent priest Georgy Gapon, and then moved to Palestine, became an engineer, and brought electricity to the region. “There, he shows that he is capable of building,” Solzhenitsyn writes, “but in his early years, in Russia, he certainly does not work as an engineer. He destroys!” Jews also made up the great bulk of theorists who would tirelessly propound anarchism, socialism, and other disruptive ideologies. These ideologies often took on religious proportions. And although the most active of these Jewish terrorists were young, Solzhenitsyn points out how the older generations of Jews continued to tolerate or support them.
Prior to the failed revolution of 1905, the Bund had actually declared war on Russia in one of its proclamations:
The revolution has begun. It burned in the capital, its flames covering the whole country. . . . To arms! Storm the armories and seize all the weapons. . . . Let all the streets become battlefields!
The press and the local orators echoed this sentiment. Solzhenitsyn relays an incident involving a Russian soldier who returned home to Moscow after being held in captivity in Japan:
At the mere sight of this officer in battle dress, the welcome which he received from the Muscovite crowd was expressed in these terms: “Spook! Suck up! The Tsar’s lackey!” During a large meeting in the Theater Plaza, “the orator called for struggle and destruction”; another speaker began his speech by shouting” “Down with the autocracy!” “His accent betrayed his Jewish origins, but the Russian public listened to him, and no one found anything to reply to him.” Nods of agreement met the insults uttered against the Tsar and his family; Cossacks, policemen, and soldiers, all without exception — no mercy! And all the Muscovite newspapers called for armed struggle.
One final anecdote in this damning chapter. Solzhenitsyn tells of an Alexander Schlichter, a Jewish revolutionary, who instigated a railway strike that paralyzed rail traffic to several cities, including Moscow. This Schlichter had also made threats to Kyiv workers to go on strike, raised money from students to purchase arms, and established “flying detachments” whose purpose was to disrupt the city of Kyiv to “prepare the armed resistance to the forces of order.”
This Alexander Schlichter ultimately became a Bolshevik and was, years later, the Agriculture Commissioner in Ukraine during the time of the Holodomor, in which over fifteen million people perished.
Solzhenitsyn states it succinctly: “The revolutionary effervescence that had seized Russia was undoubtedly stirred up by that which reigned among the Jews.”
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