Last modified on 17 September 2019, at 18:19

Progressivism in the Soviet Union

Progressivism in the Soviet Union refers to Marxist ideology as accurately described by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


While the idea of Progressivism was never fully embraced in the United States, the idea of subordinating the rights of the individual to a bureaucratic class who supposedly have the interests of the collective whole at heart was found a home in the Soviet Union. Tearing down the institutions of capitalism and religion to make "progress" for humanity became a core tent.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the Progressive Doctrine

30 years into the leftist multicultural experiment called the Soviet Union, Alexander Solzhenitsyn did an extensive study of the Progressive Doctrine in Volume II of The Gulag Archipelago. Solzhenitsyn wrote,
In this study. if nothing prevents us. we intend to, make an important scientific discovery. In the development of our hypothesis we would in no way wish to come into conflict with the Progressive Teaching. The author of these lines, attracted by the enigma of the native tribe populating the Archipelago, undertook a lengthy scientific expedition there and collected abundant material. And as a result it is very easy to prove that the zeks [prisoners of the gulag ][1] of the Archipelago constitute a class of society. For, after all, this multitudinous group (of many. millions) has a single (common to them all) relationship to production (namely: subordinate, attached, and without any right to direct that production). It also has a single common relationship to the distribution of the products of labor (namely: no relationship at all, living only that insignificant share of the products required for the meager support of their own existence). And, in addition, all their labor is no small thing, but one of the principal constituents of the whole state economy.[2]
Solzhenitsyn explains the role of thieves and criminals in a socialist society. As oppressed victims of the propertied oppressor class, thieves were "socially friendly" or "class allies" of progressives in the class war between "the haves and have nots".
The fathers of the Archipelago, having, in accordance with the Progressive Doctrine, multiplied these socially friendly elements beyond all rhyme and reason...How many citizens who were robbed knew that the police, didn't even bother to look for the criminals, didn't even set a case in motion, so as not to spoil their record of completed cases - why should they sweat to catch a thief if he would be given only six months, and then be given three months off for good behavior? And anyway, it wasn't certain that the bandits would even be tried when caught. After all, prosecutors "lowered the crime rate" - something demanded of them at every conference - by the curious method of simply quashing cases, especially if they foresaw that there would be many defendants. Finally, sentences were bound to be reduced, and of course for habitual criminals especially. Watch out there now .. witness in the courtroom! They will all be back soon, and it'll be a knife in the back of anyone who gave testimony! Therefore, if you see someone crawling through a window, or slitting a pocket, or your neighbor's suitcase being ripped open - shut your eyes! Walk by! You didn't see anything! That's how the thieves have trained us - the thieves and our laws! The·thieves flourished because they were encouraged.[3]

Elsewhere Solzhenitsyn documents how forced labor, a cruelty of Czarist times that led to the Russian Revolution, was adapted to Progressive Doctrine.[4]

Solzhenitsyn goes into some detail how progressives deal with political opposition and dissenters in socialist re-education camps (gulags):

It has been known for centuries that Hunger . . . rules the world! (And all your Progressive Doctrine is, incidentally, built on Hunger, on the thesis that hungry people will inevitably revolt against the well-fed.) Hunger rules every hungry human being, unless he has himself consciously decided to die. Hunger, which forces an honest person to reach out and steal ("When the belly rumbles, conscience flees"). Hunger, which compels the most unselfish person to look with envy into someone else's bowl, and to try painfuIly to estimate what weight of ration his neighbor is receiving. Hunger, which darkens the brain and refuses to allow it to be distracted by anything else at all, or to think about anything else at all, or to speak about anything else at all except food, food, and food. Hunger, from which it is impossible to escape even in dreams - dreams are about food, and insomnia is over food. And soon - just insomnia. Hunger, after which one cannot even eat up; the man has by then turned into a one-way pipe and everything emerges from him in exactly the same state in which it was swallowed.[5]


  1. zek is a Russian slang term similar to "con" in English to refer to convicts, however many zeks were opponents of Socialism, not criminals.
  2. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1973). The Gulag Archipelago (1st ed.) Harper & Row, page 502.
  3. Gulag, Vpl. II, Page 422, 425 et seqq.
  4. Gulag, Vol. II, page 76.
  5. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1973). The Gulag Archipelago (1st ed.) Harper & Row, page 209.