Barnes' own words tell the more complete story.
"The most salient feature of the Gulag was an apparent paradox: forced labor, high death rates and an oppressive atmosphere of violence, cold and constant hunger coexisted with camp newspapers and cultural activities, a constant propaganda barrage of correction and reeducation and the steady release of a significant portion of the prisoner population.
"The Bolsheviks could not escape their fundamental belief in the malleability of the human soul and they believed that labor was the key to reforging criminals. The very harshness of the Gulag was seen as necessary to break down a prisoner's resistance in order to rebuild him or her into a proper Soviet citizen. If a prisoner refused correction, the brutality of the Gulag would lead to inevitable death, for the Bolsheviks were no humanitarians. If mistakes were to be made, they believed it was better to kill too many than too few."
Steven Barnes has made a major contribution to the historical record. By careful research and analysis, he has supplied us with new knowledge and the recognition that events are not simplistic recordings to be explained by unqualified statements. He has shown that the Soviet labor camps had a deep meaning, one requiring in-depth thought and analysis. Hopefully other intrepid and skillful researchers will reveal details in other historical events that have been hidden by media control, demagoguery, propaganda and unwillingness to combat accepted 'knowledge.