Nightcap

  1. Who lost Czechoslovakia? Benn Steil, History Today
  2. How the Black Death changed Europe’s cities Jedwab, Johnson, and Koyama, Voxeu
  3. Victorian England and the Japanese Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books
  4. Solzhenitsyn and the human spirit Daniel Mahoney, Modern Age

“People perish for cold metal”

The interrogators did not write up charge sheets because no one needed their papers. And whether or not a [prison] sentence would be pasted on was of very little interest. Only one thing was important: Give up your gold, viper! The state needs gold and you don’t.

This is all from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. There’s more:

If you in fact had no gold, then your situation was hopeless. You would be beaten, burned, tortured, and steamed to the point of death or until they finally came to believe you. But if you had gold, you could determine the extent of your torture, the limits of your endurance, and your own fate.

It’s a good book, so far, but trying to compare the Soviet Union after World War I and a brief civil war to the present-day United States is a bridge too far. The only Americans today who might share the Gulag experience are the black ones, and even then their situation is less of a gulag archipelago and more of a traditional oppressed ethnic minority.

Nightcap

  1. From under the rubble (Solzhenitsyn) David Tubbs, Claremont Review of Books
  2. ‘I had to guard an empty room’ David Graeber, Guardian
  3. Regional bipolarity, the new global model Ralph Peters, Strategika
  4. The origins of the Second Cold War Branko Milanovic, globalinequality

Nightcap

  1. Reflections on totalitarianism’s greatest critic Daniel Mahoney, City Journal
  2. Ralph Nader’s weird novel predicted the future Jeff Greenfield, Politico
  3. Hack gaps and noble lies John Holbo, Crooked Timber
  4. Social noble lies Bill Rein, NOL