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Nobel Prize Winner Svetlana Alexievich Praised Cheka Founder Felix Dzerzhinsky
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alexievich-likes-iron-felix One of the consequences of selecting a literary nobody for the world’s most prestigious intellectual prize is that people will begin digging into their biographies. And find some very, very interesting things.

This is what has been happening in regards to 2015 Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, whose main distinguishing feature seems to be neither eminence nor literary quality but dogged opposition to everything and everyone that the Western elites dislike – first and foremost, the genetically aggressive and barbarous Russian people and their current President, Putin.

Russia blogger Igor Petrov recently discovered some of her writings for a Soviet literary journal from 1977. Intended to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the Polish founder of the Soviet secret police, it is entitled “The Sword and Flame of the Revolution” – and is every bit the breathless panegyric you might expect from something like that.

I have collected Petrov’s scans of her article into a PDF which you can download here (in Russian, of course).

Here are some choice quotes:

I always catch myself thinking that I want to quote Dzerzhinsky himself. His diaries. His letters. And I don’t do this out of any desire to easen my journalistic tasks, but out of adoration for his personality, for the words that he spoke, and the thoughts he must have felt. I know that Dzerzhinsky loved children very much… Thousands of street orphans owe him their new lives…

I wonder if the words she quoted from Dzerzhinsky ever included the following: “We represent in ourselves organized terror – this must be said very clearly,” or this: “[The Red Terror involves] the terrorization, arrests and extermination of enemies of the revolution on the basis of their class affiliation or of their pre-revolutionary roles.”

The whole thing goes on and on in a similar vein, recounting anecdotes about Dzerzhinsky modest and selfless character. He refused the gift of a new suiter because so many other people were living in poverty. He ordered the Turkmen comrades to reverse their decision to name a railway after him. He worked and lived in his office, only venturing to sleep once every few days. On and on it goes. In short, it is a good illustration of why most Soviet literary journals went unread, and for that matter why most Russians were unaware of the existence of “stars” like Alexievich before a few guys in Sweden decided to boost her prominence.

alexievich-adores-iron-felix Still, the ending, in which she remarks on her impressions of a museum dedicated to Dzerzhinsky, takes the cake for shamelessness:

When my son grows up, we will certainly both come to this place to bow before the immortal spirit of him, who carried the name Felix Dzerzhinsky – the “sword and flame” of the proletarian revolution.

This is cringeworthy stuff even by Brezhnevite Soviet standards. This is far too ardent – in order words, she is trying way too hard – for this to be explainable as merely a way of paying the bills.

Instead, the image that emerges instead is of Svetlana Alexievich as a standard pen for hire spouting the politically correct drivel of the day. This changed decade to decade. In the 1970s, that involved writing paeans to the blood-drenched spiritual ancestor of the KGB. In the late 1980s – humanistic criticism of Chernobyl and Afghanistan. In the 1990s – the denigration of the regime she had once eulogized. Come the mid-2000s, the Obkom – the one based in Washington D.C., this time round – emphasized a new set of guideposts for its admirers in the Russosphere, centered around demonization of Putin and the delegitimization of Russian statehood and the opinions of ordinary Russians in general. Fervent support for the Maidan and the so-called Revolution of Dignity is merely the latest expression of this.

In short, she is the mirror opposite of someone like Solzhenitsyn, who whether you agree with him or not, stayed constant to his ideals throughout his life, even as the West went from praising to vilifying him as soon as he was perceived to have outlived his usefulness.

And, lest it be forgotten, anybody who didn’t take the new party line fast enough is – according to Alexievich herself – to be firmly punished and removed. All in the best traditions of her enduring idol, Iron Felix himself.

Of course Russian TV corrupts you. What the Russian media says today – they simply have to be prosecuted for it. For what they say about Europe, about Donbass, about Ukrainians… But this isn’t all. The problem is that people actually want to hear this. We can talk today about a collective Putin, because there is a Putin sitting in all Russians. The Red Empire has vanished, but its people have remained.

What can we take away from this? To be sure, one presumes that the Nobel Prize Committee never got the chance to be acquainted with Alexievich’s pre-perestroika writings.

But insofar as uncritical loyalty and dedication towards the latest politically correct dogma of the day is now standard practice in the West as it was in the Soviet Union – and in this respect, Sweden Yes! is a leader, not a follower – the Nobel Prize Committee’s decision in light of these revelations can be considered even more “correct” than was the case beforehand.

 
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  1. Sean says:

    Instead, the image that emerges instead is of Svetlana Alexievich as a standard pen for hire spouting the politically correct drivel of the day.

    What passes for success is success.

    What can we take away from this? To be sure, one presumes that the Nobel Prize Committee never got the chance to be acquainted with Alexievich’s pre-perestroika writings

    Hmm, Konrad Lorenz got Nobel despite some outre public writing.

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  2. szopen says:

    Wisława Szymborska, Polish noblist from 1996, also wrote a lot of peans for Stalin, Lenin and Bierut. I guess Nobel comitee checks the biografies of writers from our part of Europe and one criterion of giving Nobel is whether they were idiots when young.

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    • Replies: @SWSpires
    Szymborska actually wrote some good poems. She probably deserved the prize for strictly literary reasons. I think she didn't get much involved in politics after that youthful episode anyway.

    Her case, and that of Alexievich, raise a couple of questions. It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn't automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.

    On this: "I know that Dzerzhinsky loved children very much" - this was an odd Soviet trope. I remember seeing, in a bookstore in Kiev in the 1980s, a children's book entitled "Stories about Dzerzhinsky," and a sort of Young Pioneeers group called "Young Dzerzhinskyites" (Molodye Dzerzhintsy). There were also those numerous paintings of Lenin and Stalin with children.
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  3. SWSpires says:
    @szopen
    Wisława Szymborska, Polish noblist from 1996, also wrote a lot of peans for Stalin, Lenin and Bierut. I guess Nobel comitee checks the biografies of writers from our part of Europe and one criterion of giving Nobel is whether they were idiots when young.

    Szymborska actually wrote some good poems. She probably deserved the prize for strictly literary reasons. I think she didn’t get much involved in politics after that youthful episode anyway.

    Her case, and that of Alexievich, raise a couple of questions. It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn’t automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.

    On this: “I know that Dzerzhinsky loved children very much” – this was an odd Soviet trope. I remember seeing, in a bookstore in Kiev in the 1980s, a children’s book entitled “Stories about Dzerzhinsky,” and a sort of Young Pioneeers group called “Young Dzerzhinskyites” (Molodye Dzerzhintsy). There were also those numerous paintings of Lenin and Stalin with children.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen

    It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn’t automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.
     
    Excellent point. It's like you can never change your mind without being accused of nefarious motives. What if you just made a mistake; it took you a while to work through the facts. They suckered me. I am not a careful reader and I thought they said democracy of the proletariat; big mistake on my part.

    mercenary or conformist
     
    We all have these tendencies for self-interest that clouds our thinking. I can't see how we can throw stones.
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  4. Wait, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole? That can’t be, I thought only Jews were Communist Intelligence leaders, not good Holy Hussars who considered joining the Catholic Priesthood before becoming Marxists! Zionist lies, he must have been a Yid!

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Snark: check

    Lame sarcasm: check

    Arguing off-topic: check

    Strawman attempt to derail the original-- and unconnected-- argument: check

    Unwarranted and risible sense of being the smartest guy in the room: check

    Half-wit judaist identified. Troll attempt 0.5/10

    Try harder next time, Yitzhak
    , @reiner Tor
    Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole who could speak and even write and read in Yiddish, because he spent a large chunk of his youth in Vilnius, where he learnt Yiddish and joined the cause of the revolution.
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  5. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Lion of Zion
    Wait, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole? That can't be, I thought only Jews were Communist Intelligence leaders, not good Holy Hussars who considered joining the Catholic Priesthood before becoming Marxists! Zionist lies, he must have been a Yid!

    Snark: check

    Lame sarcasm: check

    Arguing off-topic: check

    Strawman attempt to derail the original– and unconnected– argument: check

    Unwarranted and risible sense of being the smartest guy in the room: check

    Half-wit judaist identified. Troll attempt 0.5/10

    Try harder next time, Yitzhak

    Read More
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  6. Awww, butthurt Judeophobe.

    Hey, is ZBig a Zionist Jew, too?

    Remember, the world was full of candy and unicorns, peace and prosperity before Zionism. It was only after Theodor Hertzl that there were wars, want, famine, etc. on the Planet. Before around 1860, the world was placid and perfect!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Haxo Angmark
    LionOfZion has earned his $1.75 per comment Hasbara fee, and twice over. As to Dzerzhinsky, Lenin picked him to head the Cheka because he was a Russian-hating Pole, and the Judeo-Reds had millions of Russians they intended to kill. Most of his operatives ( including the entire death squad that murdered the Czar and his family) were, however, communist Jews. And, yes, Brzezinski is also a Russia-hating Pole. The globalist neo-conz he is now allied with are, however, mostly zionist Jews
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  7. iffen says:
    @SWSpires
    Szymborska actually wrote some good poems. She probably deserved the prize for strictly literary reasons. I think she didn't get much involved in politics after that youthful episode anyway.

    Her case, and that of Alexievich, raise a couple of questions. It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn't automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.

    On this: "I know that Dzerzhinsky loved children very much" - this was an odd Soviet trope. I remember seeing, in a bookstore in Kiev in the 1980s, a children's book entitled "Stories about Dzerzhinsky," and a sort of Young Pioneeers group called "Young Dzerzhinskyites" (Molodye Dzerzhintsy). There were also those numerous paintings of Lenin and Stalin with children.

    It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn’t automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.

    Excellent point. It’s like you can never change your mind without being accused of nefarious motives. What if you just made a mistake; it took you a while to work through the facts. They suckered me. I am not a careful reader and I thought they said democracy of the proletariat; big mistake on my part.

    mercenary or conformist

    We all have these tendencies for self-interest that clouds our thinking. I can’t see how we can throw stones.

    Read More
    • Replies: @SWSpires
    One thing that's been largely forgotten is that there was some legitimate Communist enthusiasm in Eastern Europe after WW2. The writings of not only Szymborska, but of other writers who later turned against the Communists (such as Kundera and Konwicki), testify to that, not to mention the election results in Czechoslovakia in 1946.

    Trying to figure out what exactly was going in the heads of people long ago - what rationalizations and compromises they had to make, to what extent they were sincere - is a difficult task.
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  8. Polymath says:

    “I know that Dzerzhinsky loved children very much… Thousands of street orphans owe him their new lives…”

    Because he killed their parents?

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  9. @Lion of Zion
    Wait, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole? That can't be, I thought only Jews were Communist Intelligence leaders, not good Holy Hussars who considered joining the Catholic Priesthood before becoming Marxists! Zionist lies, he must have been a Yid!

    Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole who could speak and even write and read in Yiddish, because he spent a large chunk of his youth in Vilnius, where he learnt Yiddish and joined the cause of the revolution.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lion o' Zion
    Pretty interesting stuff, thanks for that info!

    I heard that several anarchists learned Yiddish to access the debates in that language, Rudolph Rocker is one I think.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  10. SWSpires says:
    @iffen

    It is quite possible they were sincere in their Communist enthusiasm when young, and changed their minds later. One shouldn’t automatically assume mercenary or conformist motives, although they probably played a part.
     
    Excellent point. It's like you can never change your mind without being accused of nefarious motives. What if you just made a mistake; it took you a while to work through the facts. They suckered me. I am not a careful reader and I thought they said democracy of the proletariat; big mistake on my part.

    mercenary or conformist
     
    We all have these tendencies for self-interest that clouds our thinking. I can't see how we can throw stones.

    One thing that’s been largely forgotten is that there was some legitimate Communist enthusiasm in Eastern Europe after WW2. The writings of not only Szymborska, but of other writers who later turned against the Communists (such as Kundera and Konwicki), testify to that, not to mention the election results in Czechoslovakia in 1946.

    Trying to figure out what exactly was going in the heads of people long ago – what rationalizations and compromises they had to make, to what extent they were sincere – is a difficult task.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  11. @reiner Tor
    Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole who could speak and even write and read in Yiddish, because he spent a large chunk of his youth in Vilnius, where he learnt Yiddish and joined the cause of the revolution.

    Pretty interesting stuff, thanks for that info!

    I heard that several anarchists learned Yiddish to access the debates in that language, Rudolph Rocker is one I think.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  12. @Lion of Zion
    Awww, butthurt Judeophobe.

    Hey, is ZBig a Zionist Jew, too?

    Remember, the world was full of candy and unicorns, peace and prosperity before Zionism. It was only after Theodor Hertzl that there were wars, want, famine, etc. on the Planet. Before around 1860, the world was placid and perfect!

    LionOfZion has earned his $1.75 per comment Hasbara fee, and twice over. As to Dzerzhinsky, Lenin picked him to head the Cheka because he was a Russian-hating Pole, and the Judeo-Reds had millions of Russians they intended to kill. Most of his operatives ( including the entire death squad that murdered the Czar and his family) were, however, communist Jews. And, yes, Brzezinski is also a Russia-hating Pole. The globalist neo-conz he is now allied with are, however, mostly zionist Jews

    Read More
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  13. Alexeyevich is really terrible, and was clearly picked for political reasons.

    There were very good reasons for communist enthusiasm in eastern Europe after WWII. Communist economies were really doing well during the early stage of heavy industrialization/modernization. It’s the later transition towards a consumer society that they had problems with (though none I think that seriously undermine communism as an idea).

    I love Alexeyevich’s stupefaction that people in Belarus actually care more about varieties of vodka and sausages than they do about civil rights (reminds me of Bat’ka’s slogan, “Sausages are better than freedom”). It’s the perfect example of how WEIRD (in the Henrich/Haidt sense of the term) degenerate intellectuals are unable to comprehend the thought processes of normal people.

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  14. […] from Chernobyl (by a former admirer of Felix Dzerzhinsky) is said to be utter garbage. Probably so are all the other books in that Guardian […]

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