Skip to comments.Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Commencement Address
Posted on 02/08/2010 8:30:00 AM PST by CondoleezzaProtege
"Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within the Western countries, more powerful than the legislative power, the executive, and the judiciary."
"If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism."
(Excerpt) Read more at americanrhetoric.com ...
~ Courtesy of Wikipedia
This guy was way overrated. He was only a hero because he was anti-russia during the cold war
to knee-jerkers: I am not saying he was WRONG, I just did not like his writing that much Maybe it loses something in the translation, but I thought it was bland trivialities- like that example above
However, in early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were -- State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the 20th century's moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the 19th Century.
Go back and read First Circle.
Then come here and tell me that this man was over rated.
I have a first edition of one of his books...in English.
Read First Circle
Kind of like Ayn Eand. But I'd rate Solzhenitsyn higher than 100 Ayn Rands. I can't see any of Rand's fictional supermen lasting a week in the Gulag.
Huh? That in itself is an achievement, especially when he lived in Russia. Have you read One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich? I suggest you read it.
Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century . . .
Liking someone's writing is often not the point of the exercise. The writer provides an opportunity for the reader to reflect on the writers observations. Liking, enjoying, or agreeing is not the point.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
And, of course, there are these words of warning to us here in America today:
“...At what exact point, then, should one resist the
“How we burned in the prison camps later thinking: what
would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good bye to his family?
“Or if during periods of mass arrests people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang on the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand...the Organs (police) would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers...and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago
Solzhenitsyn was arguably one of the great minds of the 20th century. He spoke of truths that many did not wish to hear. He experienced - and survived with his humanity intact - precisely what we're headed for here if we don't take the drastic and unpleasant steps necessary to stop it.
Thank you for posting this. And here’s another quote:
“Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party
Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
Would you call this excerpt from Solzhenitsyn’s speech “bland trivialities.” I think not, in my opinion, he hit the nail on the head. It’s going to demand more courage from us conservatives than any of us realize to rescue this country from it’s current Orwellian nightmare.
Live not by lies...
Reading and understanding Solzhenitsyn is one of the keys to understaning the nature of the mosnters who would rule us now.
Maybe it loses something in the translation, but I thought it was bland trivialities- like that example above
Solzhenitsyn was speaking of man’s spirit and morality. Never took him for a lightweight. Some folks find this kind of talk unsettling. He was a thinking and moral man. God bless him.
quoting Alexander S - “If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die” —
To me this is certainly _not_ a bland triviality. There are people I know who are blatantly hedonistic and have declared that they are making pleasure their goal in life. Alexander’s point is that we were made for a higher spiritual goal, a serious and earnest ideal. He’s a philosophic writer. When we consider that we will die in about 100 years or less from the time of our birth, that should put a more serious perspective on things.