Nightcap

  1. Soviet champagne, for the working man Jessica Gingrich, Atlas Obscura
  2. Radio and modern state power in Angola Jesse Bucher, Africa is a Country
  3. East and West Germany in 2019 Sumi Somaskanda, New Statesman
  4. The deeply dedicated American state Michael McFaul, New York Review of Books

Nightcap

  1. French financial experts are anything but Diego Zuluaga, Alt-M
  2. The beauty of Soviet anti-religious art Roland Brown, Spectator
  3. Obama, Erdoğan, and the Syrian rebels Seymour Hersh, LRB
  4. Europe, Turkey, and the Kurdish rebels Bill Wirtz, TAC

Nightcap

  1. When the Soviet Union freed the Arctic from capitalist slavery Bathsheba Demuth, New Yorker
  2. The East India Company and corporate excess Maya Jasanoff, Guardian
  3. The relentless rise of the East India Company Jason Burke, Guardian
  4. The legacy of communism in the Russian Empire’s “-stans” Samuel Goff, Calvert Journal

Nightcap

  1. Comedy and humor in the Soviet Union Indra Ekmanis, PRI’s The World
  2. What happened to the children of dictators? Grant Starrett
  3. The most blasphemous idea in contemporary discourse? Ingrid Robeyns, Crooked Timber
  4. Are voting ages still democratic? Bill Rein, NOL

Nightcap

  1. How the Scottish left their mark on China Jessica Hanser, Aeon
  2. Polish military officers in the Katyn Forest Priscilla Jensen, Law & Liberty
  3. In defense of the missionary (style) Marilyn Simon, Quillette
  4. The growing of moss on a dead log Addison Del Mastro, American Conservative

Snatching you up (mendicants and Gulags)

I’ll get to Feyerabend, but first Solzhenitsyn:

However, the root destruction  of religion in the country, which throughout the twenties and thirties was one of the most important goals of the GPU-NKVD, could be realized only by mass arrests of Orthodox believers. Monks and nuns, whose black habits had been a distinctive feature of Old Russian life, were intensively rounded up on every hand, placed under arrest, and sent into exile. They arrested and sentenced active laymen. The circles kept getting bigger, as they raked in ordinary believers as well, old people, and particularly women, who were the most stubborn believers of all and who, for many long years to come, would be called “nuns” in transit prisons and in camps (37).

It’s true that Christians were viciously persecuted by socialists in the USSR, and what makes matters worse is that few historians, and fewer journalists, point this out. Bishops and patriarchs living in mansions were the official targets of socialist purges, mind you, but mendicants, village priests, and old church ladies were the ones who actually got dragged away and put to work for The Cause. Why? Because they actually believed. They already had a moral compass, so there was no need for a strong state. In socialist countries, alternatives ruin plans. So in socialist countries, alternatives get snuffed out.

As I read through the Gulag Archipelago I can’t help but think of the Russia I hear about on NPR and read about online. Russia is the left’s new boogieman, for obvious reasons. But I wonder, with Solzhenitsyn in mind, just how close the Orthodox Church actually is to Putin and his henchmen. I’m sure the top brass are close to Putin, but what about the village priests and the others? Did socialism wipe out the old, more mystical Christianity that was prevalent in the Russian countryside before the Revolution? Are there any mendicants left in post-socialist Russia? All those decades of violent repression, starvation, ethnic cleansing, and forced labor, and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church hums along as if nothing ever happened. The actual believers, on the other hand, are gone, along with the unique culture they spread throughout the Russian Empire and, via the mediums of literature and art, the world.

Nightcap

  1. How inequality makes us poorer Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  2. The ancient Persians had epics, too Soni Wadhwa, Asian Review of Books
  3. Showdown in Berkeley Rick Brownell, Medium
  4. Three suicides and a funeral (the Soviets) Jarrod Hayes, Duck of Minerva