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Solzhenitsyn's essay, 'The Smatterers' in From under the rubble (co-edited, we remember, with Shafarevich) could be described as a response to Pomeranz, an assault on Pomeranz's hopes for salvation through the intelligentsia, arguing as it does that there is no such thing in the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn nonetheless recognises a great deal of truth in what Pomeranz is saying:

'But the picture Pomerants paints of the people is, alas, to a large extent true. Just as we are probably mortally offending him now by alleging that there is no longer an intelligentsia in our country, and that it has all disintegrated into a collection of smatterers, so he too mortally wounds us by his assertion that neither is there a people any longer:

'"The people no longer exists. There is the mass, with a dim recollection that it was once the people and the bearer of God within itself, but now it is utterly empty ... The people in the sense of a Chosen People, a source of spiritual values, is nonexistent. There are the neurasthenic intellectuals - and the masses ... What do the collective farm workers sing? Some remnants of their peasant heritage" and whatever is drilled into them "at school, in the army and on the radio ... Where is it, this ‘people’? The real native people, dancing its folk dances, narrating its folktales, weaving its folk-patterned lace? In our country all that remains are the vestiges of a people, like the vestiges of snow in spring ... The people as a great historical force, a backbone of culture, a source of inspiration for Pushkin and Goethe, no longer exists ... What is usually called the people in our country is not the people at all but a petit bourgeoisie." 

[The reader will notice the resemblance to the passages from Pomeranz I've just quoted, which I think have been extracted from a much longer Russian text. Interesting that the English interpreter didn't use the highly charged phrase - used by Pomeranz with no hint of scepticism - 'bearer of God' - PB]

'Gloom and doom. And not far from the truth either.

'Indeed, how could the people have survived? It has been subjected to two processes both tending toward the same end and each lending impetus to the other. One is the universal process (which, if it had been postponed any longer in Russia, we might have escaped altogether) of what is fashionably known as massovization (an abominable word, but then the process is no better), a product of the new Western technology, the sickening growth of cities, and the general standardisation of methods of information and education. The second is our own special Soviet process, designed to rub off the age-old face of Russia and rub on another, synthetic one, and this has had a still more decisive and irreversible effect.

'How could the people possibly have survived? Icons, obedience to elders, bread-baking and spinning wheels were all forcibly thrown out of the peasants’ cottages. Then millions of cottages - as well-designed and comfortable as one could wish - were completely ravaged, pulled down or put into the wrong hands and five million hardworking, healthy families, together with infants still at the breast, were dispatched to their death on long winter journeys or on their arrival in the tundra. (And our intelligentsia did not waver or cry out, and its progressive part even assisted in driving them out. That was when the intelligentsia ceased to be, in 1930; and is that the moment for which the people must beg its forgiveness?) The destruction of the remaining cottages and homesteads was less trouble after that. They took away the land which had made the peasant a peasant, depersonalized it even more than serfdom had, deprived the peasant of all incentive to work and live, packed some off to the Magnitogorsks, while the rest - a whole generation of doomed women - were forced to feed the colossus of the state before the war, for the entire duration of the war and after the war. 

'All the outward, international successes of our country and the flourishing growth of the thousands of scientific research institutes that now exist have been achieved by devastating the Russian village and the traditional Russian way of life. In its place they have festooned the cottages and the ugly multistory boxes in the suburbs of our cities with loudspeakers, and even worse, have fixed them on all the telegraph poles in city centres (even today they will be blaring over the entire face of Russia from six in the morning until midnight, the supreme mark of culture, and if you go and shut them off it’s an anti-Soviet act). 

'And those loudspeakers have done their job well: they have driven everything individual and every bit of folklore out of people’s heads and drilled in stock substitutes, they have trampled and defiled the Russian language and dinned vacuous, untalented songs (composed by the intelligentsia) into our ears. They have knocked down the last village churches, flattened and desecrated graveyards, flogged the horse to death with Komsomol zeal, and their tractors and five-ton lorries have polluted and churned up the centuries-old roads whose gentle tracery adorns our countryside. Where is there left, and who is there left to dance and weave lace? Furthermore, they have visited the village youth with specially juicy tidbits in the form of quantities of drab, idiotic films (the intellectual: "We have to release them - they are mass-circulation films") - and the same rubbish is crammed into school textbooks and slightly more adult books (and you know who writes them, don’t you?), to prevent new growth from springing up where the old timber was felled. Like tanks they have ridden roughshod over the entire historical memory of the people (they gave us back Alexander Nevsky without his cross, but anything more recent— no), so how could the people possibly have saved itself?


'But then the intelligentsia doesn’t exist either, does it? Are the smatterers dead wood for development?

'Have all the classes been replaced by inferior substitutes? And if so how can we develop?