How did the Gulag affect government-people relationships?

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The Gulag—which is a Russian acronym that stands for Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps—was a major part of the Soviet Union from around 1918 until the mid-1950s. 

The Gulag had a major impact on the relationship between the government and the people simply because of the sheer volume of people who were forced into one of the labor camps. Estimates show that between 40-50 million people were sentenced to long stretches of manual labor in the Gulag. It is believed that between 15 and 30 million people died while in the Gulag.

Soviet citizens feared their government and its leaders during this period of time because there often seemed to be little rhyme or reason why so many were sent to one of the Gulag labor camps—particularly during the reign of Josef Stalin. Stalin's paranoia and his desire to be the absolute power in the country led to many innocent people being sentenced and often killed in the Gulag.

Because the threat of the Gulag was such a pervasive part of life for citizens of the Soviet Union, citizen rebellion or other uprisings were often quelled before they ever began.

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How did the Gulags affect relationships between the government and the people?

The Gulags were the forced labor prison camps that existed in the Soviet Union. Criminals, political dissidents, clergy, and suspected enemies of the state were sent to these camps.  Because of the harsh nature of the camps, the Gulags had a very negative effect on the relationship between the people and the government.  The system created a sense of fear of the government, which it was intended to do.  As a citizen, you could be sent to the camps for arbitrary reasons and, for this reason, many came to fear the dictators of the Soviet Union.  The Gulags also created a culture of mistrust in the Soviet Union.  By using fear to consolidate power, a government is at constant risk of uprisings and insurrections.  This causes the government to act even more irrationally. This is a cycle that causes less freedom and prosperity for the people.  In general, the Gulags caused the Russians to abhor and distrust their government.

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