Samizdat update, October 1972 (27.13)

<<No 27 : 15 October 1972>>

[1] I. Alexandrov [?pseudonym] “Brief Notes on the Present-Day Crisis”

An essay containing an appraisal of the present state of affairs in the country and some forecasts for the future. The author feels that phenomena of crisis in the Soviet Union are starting to assume a universal character, encompassing all spheres of public life: economics, politics, both domestic and foreign, relations between national groups, culture, and so forth.

Such is the overall tendency, and, in the author’s opinion, it will grow steadily stronger during the 1970s and lead to the differentiation of social and political forces. The split will extend also to the leadership, thinks Alexandrov, and will clearly reveal different trends and groupings: “Stalinists”, “Maoists”, “Westerners”, “true Party-members” and “Internationalists”. The situation will become extremely complicated. “In these conditions,” writes the author, “the times will demand a particularly precise theoretical and practical response to the situation, and history will not forgive the Russian intelligentsia if it shows itself, on this occasion too, incapable of becoming master of the situation, the leader of all that is wholesome in the boiling cauldron of Russia.”


[2] F. Karelin – “Concerning Father Sergy Zheludkov’s Letter to A. Solzhenitsyn”

The objections raised by the priest Zheludkov to Solzhenitsyn’s letter to Patriarch Pimen have already been reported by the Chronicle (see CCE 25.5). F. Karelin stresses that these objections bear witness to a “lack of faith in the spiritual might of the Church”. While Solzhenitsyn proceeded from the conviction that the human spirit is more powerful than external circumstances, the priest Zheludkov deems the social environment more powerful than the spirit.

Such a philosophy is more akin to materialism than to Christianity. “The second untruth” displayed in Zheludkov’s letter is the “psychology of the disfranchised citizen, which has eaten its way into the consciousness of almost the entire body of Russian clergy”. “When you use the words ‘it is not allowed’ you have in mind not laws but something else” writes Karelin. […] “Do you not think that this something else has less to do with the domain of Law than it has with the domain of pathological psychology, … of our own inept attitude to the laws of our country, our legal lethargy, and more than anything else . . . our fear which we have still not conquered? …”

Father Sergy Zheludkov, 1909-1984

[3] M. Meyerson-Aksyonov – “The People of God and the Pastors” [note 2]

In connexion with the discussion centred around A. Solzhenitsyn’s Lenten Letter to the Patriarch, the author attempts to ‘‘take a look at the contemporary ailments of Russian Orthodoxy in a historical perspective”. He demonstrates that the Church is not in principle one and the same thing as its hierarchy, which, in the case of the early Christians, was a single whole made up of all believers, who all participated equally in its religious activity. Hierarchical isolation has made Orthodoxy defenceless in the face of tyrannical interference by the State, since bureaucrats can give orders to hierarchs and, through them, to ail believers.

On the other hand, detached from “the world” and “worldly things”, the historical Church has become ossified in its ritual forms, and ceased to trouble about the introduction of spiritual principles into daily life. It has carried out its own “secularization”, waiting upon the State, “giving its blessing” to any of the State’s political actions or claims. As a way out of the church crisis that has arisen, the author sees the mitigation of the historical contrast between the “people of God” and the “pastors”: the laity, first and foremost the Christian intelligentsia, must be mobilized towards the creation of a truly Ecumenical Church. In turn, that will rid itself of its narrow-minded nationalism, its forced sanctification of the political actions of the government, and its degrading dependence on the State.


[4] A. Sugrobov [?pseudonym] “Unconverted Property?’

The author polemicizes with N. Semyonov, author of an article published in Literary Gazette on 20 September 1972, “Isn’t it Better to be in Debt to Oneself?”, in which the author argues in favour of the ransom required of professionally qualified persons leaving the country. In the view of A. Sugrobov this is merely a particular instance of “State serfdom”, the roots of which lie far back in Russian history.


[5] S. Telegin – “Trade in a Valuable Commodity” [note 3]

A pamphlet devoted to the newly introduced ransom tax on emigration from the USSR. “Freedom is a prime necessity throughout the whole world … It is disgusting to sell freedom for money. [This] tax on education is a tax on freedom. It is an insult to human dignity.”


[6] Author unknown — “S. Trapeznikov, A Summary: Selected Pronouncements, Aphorisms, Conjectures”

An assortment of quotations from the book Sharp Turns in History by S. F. Trapeznikov, head of the Central Committee’s Department of Science [and Educational Establishments]. Sometimes the author comments on his quotations. We publish several quotations taken at random:

“Who is called upon to develop and who really does develop the communist ideology in present-day conditions? Undoubtedly the leading organ of the Party, the Central Committee, its Politburo … In truth, this Leninist mechanism has no equal anywhere or in any respect” (p. 92).

“This is what happened! The spectre of scientific communism widened and deepened” (p. 37).

“And when the bourgeoisie saw that from this spectre of communism there had unfurled on a broad front the Marxist workers’ movement, it threw its forces against the very core of the movement” (p. 44).

“The liberal intelligentsia rushed to join the ranks of the Party, diluting them with its petit-bourgeois ideology and anarchistic jargon. All this went against the well-tried laws of dialectics” (p. 87).



[1] Karelin’s reply to Father Sergy Zheludkov appeared in Russian (Vestnik RSKhD No.103) and in various European languages: in English in the weekly The Tablet (11 & 18 November 1972); in French in Cahiers du Samizdat (No. 3, 1972); and in Italian in Russia Cristiana (Milan, No. 125).

Solzhenitsyn’s own reply to Zheludkov appeared in different issues of the same periodicals (with the exception of The Tablet). A further response to Solzhenitsyn’s original letter from ‘‘Father G.R.” was published in Vestnik RSKhD (Nos. 104-105).

[2] Meyerson’s text was published in Vestnik RSKhD (Nos. 104-105). He signed a 1968 document (see P. Litvinov, The Trial of the Four) and in January 1973 emigrated from the USSR. For two illustrations of Meyerson’s thesis, see Vestnik 104-105, on Archbishop Pavel’s forced retirement and the persecution of the church in Kolyvan (see CCE 10.15, item 15).

[3] “S. Telegin” is evidently a pseudonym. See mention of the author’s 1970 essay, “How is one to Lead One’s Life?’’, in CCE 12.10 (item 7), published in full in Vestnik RSKhD (No. 103).