(Please forgive us, reader. We have once more gone astray with this rightist opportunism — this concept of “guilt,” and of the guilty or innocent. It has, after all, been explained to us that the heart of the matter is not personal guilt, but social danger. One can imprison an innocent person if he is socially hostile. And one can release a guilty man if he is socially friendly. But lacking legal training, we can be forgiven, for the 1926 Code, according to which, my good fellow, we lived for twenty-five years and more, was itself criticized for an “impermissible bourgeois approach,” for an “insufficiently class-conscious approach,” and for some kind of “bourgeois weighing of punishments in relation to the gravity of what had been committed.”
As a sequel to our conversation, I am sending you an outline of a supplementary paragraph for the Criminal Code. . . . The basic concept, I hope, is clear, notwithstanding all the shortcomings of the rough draft: openly to set forth a statute which is both principled and politically truthful (and not just juridically narrow) to supply the motivation for the essence and the justification of terror, its necessity, its limits.
The court must not exclude terror. It would be self-deception or deceit to promise this, and in order to provide it with a foundation and to legalize it in a principled way, clearly and without hypocrisy and without embellishment, it is necessary to formulate it as broadly as possible, for only revolutionary righteousness and a revolutionary conscience will provide the conditions for applying it more or less broadly in practice.
With Communist greetings,
I will let Solzhenitsyn’s own words speak for me in this quote post:
We will not undertake to comment on this important document. What it calls for is silence and reflection.