Hunger Dreams in the USSR

A newly translated memoir of the gulag should (but probably won’t) remind those who still flirt with Communism what exactly they’re endorsing.

January 26, 2021 | Gary Saul Morson
About the author: Gary Saul Morson is the Lawrence B. Dumas professor of the arts and humanities at Northwestern University and the author of, among other books, Anna Karenina in Our Time (Yale).

Political prisoners eating lunch in a gulag coal mine. Wikipedia.

While I was reading Julius Margolin’s account of his five years in Soviet slave labor camps, I attended, remotely, a lecture by Angela Davis, who had been invited by a Northwestern student group that treated her as a secular saint. Davis, I knew, had twice been the vice-presidential candidate of the American Communist party, which was directly controlled by Moscow. In 1979, six years after the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, she accepted a Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet government. She also supported Erich Honecker’s East Germany and praised the Berlin Wall (in East German parlance, the Anti-Fascist Protective Wall). Despite everything we know about Soviet slave-labor camps causing the deaths of millions, as well as Soviet genocide of numerous ethnic groups, she has remained unrepentant and unreflective about her support for the USSR.

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