Slippery Slope of Dictatorship

The slippery slope from a just and peaceful society to a repressive dictatorship or an aggressive expansionist state, a garrison state, or even an imperial presidency begins with subtle and innocent-sounding steps. Just imagine, for example, the state security potential of  a small and “useless” pastoral community! It all begins with thinking not in terms of self-sufficiency or happiness or justice but of expansionist and coercive opportunity.

Однако, никакое народное развитие еще никогда не шло, не ид?т и будет ли когда-либо идти? — без сопутствования мыслью военной и мыслью тюремной.

Мысль военная. Нельзя же каким-то безрассудным монахам просто жить на просто острове. Остров — на границе Великой Империи и, стало быть, надо воевать ему со шведами, с датчанами, с англичанами, и, стало быть, надо строить крепость со стенами восьмиметровой толщины и воздвигнуть восемь башен, и бойницы проделать узкие, а с колокольни соборной обеспечить наблюдательный обзор.3

Мысль тюремная. Как же это славно — на отдельном острове да стоят добрые каменные стены! Есть куда посадить важных преступников и охрану с кого спросить есть. Душу спасать мы им не мешаем, а узников нам постереги. [Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Vol. 2, Ch. 2, on]


However, no development ever took place in the past, -nor takes place in the present — and it isn’t clear that it will ever take place in the future — without being accompanied by military thought and prison thought.

Military thought: It was impermissible for some sort of feckless monks just to live on just an island. The island was on the borders of the Great Empire, and, consequently, it was required to fight with the Swedes, the Danes, the English, and, consequently, it was required to build a fortress with walls eight yards thick and to raise up eight towers on the walls, and to make narrow embrasures in them, and to provide for a vigilant watch from the cathedral bell tower.

Prison thought: How glorious — good stone walls standing on a separate island! What a good place to confine important criminals — and with someone already there to provide guard. We won’t interfere with their saving their souls: just guard our prisoners! []


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