Writing a review of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book Apricot Jam for the TLS, G.S. Smith summarizes Solzhenitsyn’s view of revolutionary Russia:
In October 1917, Russia was hijacked by a fanatical alien sect whose wanton nihilism masqueraded as cleansing atheism and liberating populism, and who venerated ends with no scruple about means. The result was the perverse squandering of the material and spiritual capital that centuries of self-sacrificing peasant labour had accumulated; suffering and loss of life on an unprecedented scale; and catastrophic moral, ethical and physical degeneration, visited most cruelly on the rural, ethnically Russian population. Victory in a world war was more of a disaster for the ordinary people than a triumph. The original zealots – those who survived the Party’s self-purgings – had, by the post-Stalin 1950s, given way to mediocre power-motivated cynics. Decent people had connived with tyranny in the naive hope of an ultimately beneficial outcome, or had been compelled to connive, and either way had been corrupted.
A ‘fanatical alien sect’ is perhaps the best way to look at Nazism and Communism.
Failed apocalyptic sects who achieved temporary spectacular success and will be remembered like Thomas Muntzer’s followers as a disappeared, violent creed.