The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 Themes

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Arbitrariness

The Gulag Archipelago shows, at every turn, the arbitrariness of Soviet life. The opening soliloquy about methods of arrest warns that it can happen anywhere, anytime, and anyone may be the agent; by the time one sees the State Security identification card, it is too late. Nearly everyone who is arrested asks, "Why me?" "What have I done?" There is no answer because in most cases, they have done nothing illegal. Arrests are made constantly to justify the existence of the State Security system. Thus. while laws require inventorying possessions and sealing the premises, individual investigators do as they please.

The root of this arbitrariness run as deep as the history of the Soviet State, to the formation of the Cheka, the "Sentinel of the Revolution," which conducts the first "hygienic purge" of the bourgeoisie, clergy, intelligentsia, and political opponents. It and special tribunals are allowed to exercise...

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This section contains 930 words
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Buy The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 Study Guide
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