Source: The Well-Educated Mind (2 edn 2016), p. 165 Middle.

I modified the book's format, as the author quoted scantly and the omitted sentences were short enough to be restored.

  Solzhenitsyn's autobiography is the story not just of himself, but of all these prisoners, told in clear detail to make the abstract idea of imprisonment concrete, so that the rest of the world will finally take notice. But Solzhenitsyn the man changes throughout the story as well. He learns that he too is evil: "In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor.... And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good." In his imprisonment, Solzhenitsyn learns that revolution is the wrong solution to oppression. "Even in the best of hearts," he concludes,

there remains...an unuprooted small corner of evil.
  Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions in the word: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). [It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.]
  And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them [(and also fail, out of haste, to discriminate the carriers of good as well). And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself, magnified still more.   The Nuremburg Trials have to be regarded as one of the special achievements of the twentieth century: they killed the very idea of evil, though they killed very few of the people who had been infected by it. (Of course, Stalin deserves no credit here. He would have preferred to explain less and shoot more.) And if by the twenty-first century humanity has not yet blown itself up and has not suffocated itself—perhaps it is this direction that will triumph?]


The quote from Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago in original Russian reads as follows:

С тех пор я понял ложь всех революций истории: они уничтожают только современных им носителей зла (а не разбирая впопыхах — и носителей добра), само же зло, еще увеличенным, берут себе в наследство.

In my rough paraphrase, he's saying that any revolution will remove the symptoms, but not the cause of the illness - the illness being evil, and the symptoms being its contemporary carriers (i.e. the people being overthrown). Why contemporary? Because once the revolution (read: the new powers that be) are done with the previous evil, they'll fill that niche themselves. See, e.g. Animal Farm, for an example of this.

Solzhenitsyn is disillusioned by the revolution that happened in Russia and let to the Soviets' rise to power, probably because of their treatment of people who did not agree with their vision of the country's future and were vocal about it, like Solzhenitsyn himself (though one didn't even need to be vocal to be sent far far away).

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