Kourdakov’s Choices

Ron Paul Curriculum, English 1, Lesson 30

Writing assignment: 500 words on this topic: “Describe the choices that led him to the failed assignment.” Possible topics: Army vs. Navy, Lenin prayer vs. the slave labor city, joining a crime syndicate vs. staying clean, telling the truth about suicide vs. telling a lie.

In his autobiography, Sergei Kourdakov described many different choices that he had to make, each with very large consequences. Among his decisions were opting out of crime and smuggling, remaining loyal to Communism even after learning some of it’s evil nature, and lying about suicides in the naval academy. These choices ultimately lead to him be asked by the KGB to lead a special-operations force to take on very “special jobs,” to arrest Christians and steal their Bibles. The first assignment of which he wound up failing.

One of Kourdakov’s early decisions was between getting involved in an underground crime syndicate, and keeping out. He opted to stay clean, allowing himself to focus more on learning Communism, and later joining the Navy. Had he decided to join the gang, a variety of bad things could have happened to him. He could have been successful for a time, but the laws of probability would be against him. Eventually, he would have been imprisoned and/or sent to the firing squad like many of his friends. Alternatively, he could have gotten killed by a rival gang, as was made clear when he was shot exiting a criminal meeting on the one time he visited. He only survived because of the wad of papers in his shirt pocket.

Next, while recovering from the bullet wound, Kourdakov was faced with another decision. He had been told that Norilsk, a city in northern Russia, was a “great technological achievement for the party.” While recovering, Kourdakov met a former major in the police force from that same city. The officer told him no, there was no technological achievement associated with Norilsk… the city had been built by slaves. Kourdakov, stunned, tried to dismiss this and wanted to forget about what he had heard. He continued being a strong communist, and thus was a prime candidate for leading the special-operations squad. Had he abandoned, or tried to avoid Communism, he would not have achieved as high of a status.

Finally, in the naval academy, Kourdakov found himself in a relatively high position very quickly. This was a result of being dedicated to Communism. He was put in charge of all of the other students, even the ones much more experienced than he. He gave out speeches on Communism, and received praise from high party members. The other cadets, however, were desperately trying to get out. Some even committed suicide. When this happened, Kourdakov was ordered to spread the word that they were drunk and hadn’t known what they were doing. Kourdakov knew this wasn’t true, but he told it anyway. Had he done otherwise, he would have risked demotion, expulsion, or even death, presumably by firing squad. He wouldn’t have been picked to lead the special-operations group, and in the case of expulsion/death, he certainly wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the coast of Canada to defect in Chapter 1.

Kourdakov’s autobiography makes clear the magnitude of impact that individual choices can have. Had he done something different, his life could have quickly become much shorter, and he wouldn’t have been singled out by the KGB. As it stands, he eventually found his way to an opportunity for escape – and took it, despite deciding from early on to get to the top of Communism… Ironic how the choices to follow it eventually allowed him to escape from it.

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