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SOLZHENITSYN'S ADDRESS TO HARVARD: A World Split Apart (must-read ringing defense of conservatism)
UCLA ^ | Circa 1978

Posted on 10/26/2002 9:03:38 AM PDT by Liz

A World Split Apart
Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University
June 8, 1978
By Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn

I am sincerely happy to be here with you on the occasion of the 327th commencement of this old and illustrious university. My congratulations and best wishes to all of today's graduates.

Harvard's motto is "VERITAS." Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it. This is the source of much discord. Also, truth seldom is sweet; it is almost invariably bitter. A measure of truth is included in my speech today, but I offer it as a friend, not as an adversary.

Three years ago in the United States I said certain things that were rejected and appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I said ...

The split in today's world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of destroying each other. However, the understanding of the split too often is limited to this political conception: the illusion according to which danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is both more profound and more alienating, that the rifts are more numerous than one can see at first glance. These deep manifold splits bear the danger of equally manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a kingdom - in this case, our Earth - divided against itself cannot stand.

Contemporary Worlds

There is the concept of the Third World: thus, we already have three worlds. Undoubtedly, however, the number is even greater; we are just too far away to see. Every ancient and deeply rooted self-contained culture, especially if it is spread over a wide part of the earth's surface, constitutes a self-contained world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking. As a minimum, we must include in this China, India, the Muslim world, and Africa, if indeed we accept the approximation of viewing the latter two as uniform.

For one thousand years Russia belonged to such a category, although Western thinking systematically committed the mistake of denying its special character and therefore never understood it, just as today the West does not understand Russia in Communist captivity. And while it may be that in past years Japan has increasingly become, in effect, a Far West, drawing ever closer to Western ways (I am no judge here), Israel, I think, should not be reckoned as part of the West, if only because of the decisive circumstance that its state system is fundamentally linked to its religion.

How short a time ago, relatively, the small world of modern Europe was easily seizing colonies all over the globe, not only without anticipating any real resistance, but usually with contempt for any possible values in the conquered people's approach to life. It all seemed an overwhelming success, with no geographic limits. Western society expanded in a triumph of human independence and power. And all of a sudden the twentieth century brought the clear realization of this society's fragility.

We now see that the conquests proved to be short lived and precarious (and this, in turn, points to defects in the Western view of the world which led to these conquests). Relations with the former colonial world now have switched to the opposite extreme and the Western world often exhibits an excess of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns, will be sufficient for the West to clear this account.

Convergence

But the persisting blindness of superiority continues to hold the belief that all the vast regions of our planet should develop and mature to the level of contemporary Western systems, the best in theory and the most attractive in practice; that all those other worlds are but temporarily prevented (by wicked leaders or by severe crises or by their own barbarity and incomprehension) from pursuing Western pluralistic democracy and adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in that direction. But in fact such a conception is a fruit of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, a result of mistakenly measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet's development bears little resemblance to all this.

The anguish of a divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between the leading Western countries and the Soviet Union. It is a soothing theory which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not evolving toward each other and that neither one can be transformed into the other without violence. Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side's defects, too. and this can hardly suit anyone.

If I were today addressing an audience in my country, in my examination of the overall pattern of the world's rifts I would have concentrated on the calamities of the East. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the contemporary West, such as I see them.

A Decline In Courage

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhood, is ironically emphasized by occasional outbursts and inflexibility on the part of those same functionaries when dealing with weak governments and with countries that lack support, or with doomed currents which clearly cannot offer resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?

Well-Being

When the modern Western states were being formed, it was proclaimed as a principle that governments are meant to serve man and that man lives in order to be free and pursue happiness. (See, for example, the American Declaration of Independence.) Now at last during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state.

Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and in such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the debased sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. (In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to this end imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to carefully conceal such feelings. This active and tense competition comes to dominate all human thought and does not in the least open a way to free spiritual development.)

>B>The individual's independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of the people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, preparing them for and summoning them toward physical bloom, happiness, and leisure, the possession of material goods, money, and leisure, toward an almost unlimited freedom in the choice of pleasures. So who should now renounce all this, why and for the sake of what should one risk one's precious life in defense of the common good and particularly in the nebulous case when the security of one's nation must be defended in an as yet distant land?

Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to take off its pernicious mask.

Legalistic Life

Western society has chosen for itself the organization best suited to its purposes and one I might call legalistic. The limits of human rights and rightness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting, and manipulating law (though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert). Every conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the ultimate solution.

If one is risen from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be right, and urge self-restraint or a renunciation of these rights, call for sacrifice and selfless risk: this would simply sound absurd. Voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of: everybody strives toward further expansion to the extreme limit of the legal frames. (An oil company is legally blameless when it buys up an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to purchase it.)

I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher fails to take full advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes man's noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to bear up to the trials of this threatening century with nothing but the supports of a legalistic structure.

The Direction Of Freedom

Today's Western society has revealed the inequality between the freedom for good deeds and the freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; thousands of hasty (and irresponsible) critics cling to him at all times; he is constantly rebuffed by parliament and the press. He has to prove that his every step is well founded and absolutely flawless. Indeed, an outstanding, truly great person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind does not get any chance to assert himself; dozens of traps will be set for him from the beginning. Thus mediocrity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints.

It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and it has in fact been drastically weakened in all Western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

On the other hand, destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society has turned out to have scarce defense against the abyss of human decadence, for example against the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. This is all considered to be part of freedom and to be counterbalanced, in theory, by the young people's right not to look and not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say about the dark realms of overt criminality? Legal limits (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also some misuse of such freedom. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency - all with the support of thousands of defenders in the society. When a government earnestly undertakes to root out terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorist's civil rights. There is quite a number of such cases.

This tilt of freedom toward evil has come about gradually, but it evidently stems from a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which man - the master of the world - does not bear any evil within himself, and all the defects of life are caused by misguided social systems, which must therefore be corrected. Yet strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still remains a great deal of crime; there even is considerably more of it than in the destitute and lawless Soviet society. (There is a multitude of prisoners in our camps who are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state by resorting to means outside the legal framework.)

The Direction Of The Press

The press, too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word "press" to include all the media.) But what use does it make of it?

Here again, the overriding concern is not to infringe the letter of the law. There is no true moral responsibility for distortion or disproportion. What sort of responsibility does a journalist or a newspaper have to the readership or to history? If they have misled public opinion by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, even if they have contributed to mistakes on a state level, do we know of any case of open regret voiced by the same journalist or the same newspaper? No; this would damage sales. A nation may be the worse for such a mistake, but the journalist always gets away with it. It is most likely that he will start writing the exact opposite to his previous statements with renewed aplomb.

Because instant and credible information is required, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors, and suppositions to fill in the voids, and none of them will ever be refuted; they settle into the readers' memory. How many hasty, immature, superficial, and misleading judgments are expressed everyday, confusing readers, and then left hanging?

The press can act the role of public opinion or miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters pertaining to the nation's defense publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion into the privacy of well-known people according to the slogan "Everyone is entitled to know everything." (But this is a false slogan of a false era; far greater in value is the forfeited right of people not to know, not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life has no need for this excessive and burdening flow of information.)

Hastiness and superficiality - these are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press; it is contrary to its nature. The press merely picks out sensational formulas.

Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within Western countries, exceeding that of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Yet one would like to ask: According to what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible? In the Communist East, a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has voted Western journalists into their positions of power, for how long a time, and with what prerogatives?

There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the totalitarian East with its rigorously unified press: One discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole (the spirit of the time), generally accepted patterns of judgment, and maybe common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification. Unrestrained freedom exists for the press, but not for readership, because newspapers mostly transmit in a forceful and emphatic way those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and that general trend.

A Fashion In Thinking

Without any censorship in the West, fashionable trends of thought and ideas are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable, and the latter, without ever being forbidden have little chance of finding their way into periodicals or books or being heard in colleges. Your scholars are free in the legal sense, but they are hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad. There is no open violence, as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to accommodate mass standards frequently prevents the most independent-minded persons from contributing to public life and gives rise to dangerous herd instincts that block dangerous herd development.

In America, I have received letters from highly intelligent persons - maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but the country cannot hear him because the media will not provide him with a forum. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, to a blindness which is perilous in our dynamic era. An example is the self-deluding interpretation of the state of affairs in the contemporary world that functions as a sort of petrified armor around people's minds, to such a degree that human voices from seventeen countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will be broken only by the inexorable crowbar of events.

I have mentioned a few traits of Western life which surprise and shock a new arrival to this world . The purpose and scope of this speech will not allow me to continue such a survey, in particular to look into the impact of these characteristics on important aspects of a nation's life, such as elementary education, advanced education in the humanities, and art.

Socialism

It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world the way to successful economic development, even though in past years it has been sharply offset by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of no longer being up to the level of maturity by mankind. And this causes many to sway toward socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.

I hope that no one present will suspect me of expressing my partial criticism of the Western system in order to suggest socialism as an alternative. No; with the experience of a country where socialism has been realized, I shall not speak for such an alternative. The mathematician Igor Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliantly argued book entitled Socialism; this is a penetrating historical analysis demonstrating that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death. Shafarevich's book was published in France almost two years ago and so far no one has been found to refute it. It will shortly be published in English in the U.S.

Not A Model

But should I be asked, instead, whether I would propose the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, I would frankly have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through deep suffering, people in our own country have now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life which I have just enumerated are extremely saddening.

A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human personality in the West while in the East it has become firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience. The complex and deadly crush of life has produced stronger, deeper, and more interesting personalities than those generated by standardized Western well-being. Therefore, if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant points.

Of course, a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case in our country. But it is also demeaning for it to stay on such a soulless and smooth plane of legalism, as is the case in yours. After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced as by a calling card by the revolting invasion of commercial advertising, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.

All this is visible to numerous observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.

There are telltale symptoms by which history gives warning to a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, a decline of the arts or a lack of great statesmen. Indeed, sometimes the warnings are quite explicit and concrete. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.

But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive. You can feel their pressure, yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?

Humanism And Its Consequences

How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present debility? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing steadily in accordance with its proclaimed social intentions, hand in hand with a dazzling progress in technology. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very foundation of thought in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was born in the Renaissance and has found political expression since the Age of Enlightenment. It became the basis for political and social doctrine and could be called rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the pro-claimed and practiced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of all.

The turn introduced by the Renaissance was probably inevitable historically: the Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, having become an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. But then we recoiled from the spirit and embraced all that is material, excessively and incommensurately. The humanistic way of thinking, which had proclaimed itself our guide, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man, nor did it see any task higher than the attainment of happiness on earth. It started modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend of worshiping man and his material needs.

Everything beyond physical well-being and the accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtle and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any higher meaning. Thus gaps were left open for evil, and its drafts blow freely today. Mere freedom per se does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and even adds a number of new ones.

And yet in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that 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 one thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims.

Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in the West; a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming ever more materialistic. The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even excess, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistic selfishness of the Western approach to the world has reached its peak and the world has found itself in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the celebrated technological achievements of progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century's moral poverty, which no one could have imagined even as late as the nineteenth century.

An Unexpected Kinship

As humanism in its development was becoming more and more materialistic, it also increasingly allowed concepts to be used first by socialism and then by communism, so that Karl Marx was able to say, in 1844, that "communism is naturalized humanism." This statement has proved to be not entirely unreasonable. One does not see the same stones in the foundations of an eroded humanism and of any type of socialism: boundless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility (which under Communist regimes attains the stage of antireligious dictatorship); concentration on social structures with an allegedly scientific approach. (This last is typical of both the Age of Enlightenment and of Marxism.) It is no accident that all of communism's rhetorical vows revolve around Man (with a capital M) and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today's West and today's East? But such is the logic of materialistic development. The interrelationship is such, moreover, that the current of materialism which is farthest to the left, and is hence the most consistent, always proves to be stronger, more attractive, and victorious. Humanism which has lost its Christian heritage cannot prevail in this competition. Thus during the past centuries and especially in recent decades, as the process became more acute, the alignment of forces was as follows: Liberalism was inevitably pushed aside by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism, and socialism could not stand up to communism.

The communist regime in the East could endure and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who (feeling the kinship!) refused to see communism's crimes, and when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify these crimes. The problem persists: In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. And yet Western intellectuals still look at it with considerable interest and empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.

Before The Turn

I am not examining the case of a disaster brought on by a world war and the changes which it would produce in society. But as long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we must lead an everyday life. Yet there is a disaster which is already very much with us. I am referring to the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness.

It has made man the measure of all things on earth - imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. It is trampled by the party mob in the East, by the commercial one in the West. This is the essence of the crisis: the split in the world is less terrifying than the similarity of the disease afflicting its main sections.

If, as claimed by humanism, man were born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to death, his task on earth evidently must be more spiritual: not a total engrossment in everyday life, not the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then their carefree consumption. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become above all an experience of moral growth: to leave life a better human being than one started it.

It is imperative to reappraise the scale of the usual human values; its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance should be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or to the availability of gasoline. Only by the voluntary nurturing in ourselves of freely accepted and serene self-restraint can mankind rise above the world stream of materialism.

Today it would be retrogressive to hold on to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Such social dogmatism leaves us helpless before the trials of our times.

Even if we are spared destruction by war, life will have to change in order not to perish on its own. We cannot avoid reassessing the fundamental definitions of human life and society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man's life and society's activities should be ruled by material expansion above all? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our integral spiritual life?

If the world has not approached its end, it has reached a major watershed in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will demand from us a spiritual blaze; we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life, where our physical nature will not be cursed, as in the Middle Ages, but even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon, as in the Modern Era.

The ascension is similar to climbing onto the next anthropological stage. No one on earth has any other way left but - upward.

Reprinted from A World Split Apart by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, (Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1978).


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Announcements; Constitution/Conservatism; Government
KEYWORDS: harvard
Some scholars say Harvard never recovered from the speech. Books (check your public library) are available on the speech with critiques by well-known commentators as Michael Novak and George Will.

BACKGROUND: Solzhenitsyn, expelled from Russia, lived for a time in Vermont, then repatriated only recently with the fall of Communism. He is the author of several monumental books as "The Gulag Archipelago" and "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," two of my favorites (check your public library).

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970, gave the commencement address at Harvard in 1978.

Michael Novak has called it "the most important religious document of our time." Predictably the New York Times and other secular media have reviled it because: "He believes himself to be in possession of The Truth."

Solzhenitsyn traced the American "cult of material well-being" to the false "humanism" of an Enlightenment worldview which proclaimed "man—the master of this world" and "the center of all;" which denied "the existence of intrinsic evil in man;" and which failed to see "any task higher than the attainment of happiness on earth".

He reminded his audience that "in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God's creature," and that "freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility".

Solzhenitsyn called for a renewal of personal discipline and "voluntary self-restraint," and "a new height of vision," concluding: "No one on earth has any way left but—upward".

1 posted on 10/26/2002 9:03:38 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
Great post Liz. I have always admired Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and have many of his writings and speeches.

Michael Scammell, an English author wrote "Solzhenitsyn-a biography" (1984, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London) which is 1000 pages long but very readable.

2 posted on 10/26/2002 9:15:44 AM PDT by RipeforTruth
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To: Liz

 

A World Split Apart

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A loss of 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 and of course in the United Nations.

Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.

And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

When the modern western states were created, the following principle was proclaimed: governments are meant to serve man, and man lives to be free and to pursue happiness. (See, for example, the American Declaration of Independence.)

Now at last during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state. Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the morally inferior sense which has come into being during those same decades.

In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to obtain them imprints many western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition permeates all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development.

The individual's independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, leading them to physical splendor, happiness, possession of material goods, money and leisure, to an almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment. So who should now renounce all this, why and for what should one risk one's precious life in defense of common values, and particularly in such nebulous cases when the security of one's nation must be defended in a distant country?

Even biology knows that habitual extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.

Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad.

People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd.

One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Every-body operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

In today's western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that each single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpect-ed initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.

It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and, in fact, it has been drastically weakened in all western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say about the dark realm of criminality as such? Legal frames (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (There is a huge number of prisoners in our camps who are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state resorting to means outside of a legal framework.)

The press too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word press to include all media.) But what sort of use does it make of this freedom?

Here again, the main concern is not to infringe the letter of the law. There is no moral responsibility for deformation or disproportion.

What sort of responsibility does a journalist have to his readers, or to history?

If they have misled public opinion or the government by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, do we know of any cases of public recognition and rectification of such mistakes by the same journalist or the same newspaper?

No, it does not happen, because it would damage sales. A nation may be the victim of such a mistake, but the journalist always gets away with it. One may safely assume that he will start writing the opposite with renewed self-assurance.

Because instant and credible information has to be given, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors and suppositions to fill in the voids, and none of them will ever be rectified, they will stay on in the readers' memory.

How many hasty, immature, superficial and misleading judgments are expressed every day, confusing readers, without any verification? The press can both simulate public opinion and mis-educate it.

Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters, pertaining to one's nation's defense, publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: "Everyone is entitled to know everything."

But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era: people also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive, burdening flow of information.

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press. It stops at sensational formulas.

Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within the western countries, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: By what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible?

In the communist East, a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has granted western journalists their power, for how long a time and with what prerogatives?

There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the East where the press is rigorously unified: one gradually discovers a common trend of preferences within the western press as a whole. It is a fashion; there are generally accepted patterns of judgment and there may be common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification.

Enormous freedom exists for the press, but not for the readership, because newspapers mostly give enough stress and emphasis to those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and the general trend.

Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges.

Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life. There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development.

This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, to blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self--deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of a petrified armor around people's minds.

Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.

It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world a way to successful economic development, even though in the past years it has been strongly disturbed by chaotic inflation.

However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of not being up to the level of maturity attained by mankind. A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.

I hope that no one present will suspect me of offering my personal criticism of the western system to present socialism as an alternative. Having experienced applied socialism in a country where the alternative has been realized, I certainly will not speak for it.

But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours.

Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life, which I have just mentioned are extremely saddening.

A fact, which cannot be disputed, is the weakening of human beings in the West while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of western experience. Life's complexity and mortal weight have produced stronger, deeper and more interesting characters than those generated by standardized western well-being.

Therefore, if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant scores.

It is true, no doubt, that a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case in our country. But it is also demeaning for it to elect such mechanical legalistic smoothness as you have.

After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.

All this is visible to observers from all the worlds of our planet. The western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.

There are meaningful warnings which history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen.

There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc.

The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.

But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started.

The forces of evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?

Very well-known representatives of your society, such as George Kennan, say: We cannot apply moral criteria to politics. Thus we mix good and evil, right and wrong and make space for the absolute triumph of absolute evil in the world.

On the contrary, only moral criteria can help the West against communism's well-planned world strategy. There are no other criteria. Practical or occasional considerations of any kind will inevitably be swept away by strategy. After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis, it prevents one from seeing the size and meaning of events.

In spite of the abundance of information, or maybe because of it, the West has difficulties in understanding reality such as it is. There have been naive predictions by some American experts who believed that Angola would become the Soviet Union's Vietnam or that Cuban expeditions in Africa would best be stopped by special U.S. courtesy to Cuba.

Kennan's advice to his own country - to begin unilateral disarmament- - belongs to the same category. If you only knew how the youngest of the Moscow Old Square officials laugh at your political wizards!

As to Fidel Castro, he frankly scorns the United States sending his troops to distant adventures from his country right next to yours.

However, the most cruel mistake occurred with the failure to understand the Vietnam War. Some people sincerely wanted all wars to stop just as soon as possible; others believed that there should be room for national, or communist, self-determination in Vietnam, or in Cambodia, as we see today with particular clarity.

But members of the U.S. antiwar movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear?

The American intelligentsia lost its nerve, and as a consequence thereof danger has come much closer to the United States. But there is no awareness of this.

Your shortsighted politicians who signed the hasty Vietnam capitulation seemingly gave America a carefree breathing pause; however, a hundred-fold Vietnam now looms over you.

That small Vietnam had been a warning and an occasion to mobilize the nation's courage. But if a full-fledged America suffered a real defeat from a small communist half-country, how can the West hope to stand firm in the future?

I have had occasion already to say that in the 20th century western democracy has not won any major war without help and protection from a powerful continental ally whose philosophy and ideology it did not question.

In World War II against Hitler, instead of winning that war with its own forces, which would certainly have been sufficient, Western democracy grew and cultivated another enemy who would prove worse and more powerful yet, as Hitler never had so many resources and so many people, nor did he offer any attractive ideas, or have such a large number of supporters in the West - a potential fifth column - as the Soviet Union.

At present, some western voices already have spoken of obtaining protection from a third power against aggression in the next world conflict, if there is one; in this case the shield would be China. But I would not wish such an outcome to any country in the world.

First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days.

And yet - no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being.

Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. Thus at the shameful Belgrade Conference free western diplomats in their weakness surrendered the line where enslaved members of Helsinki watch-groups are sacrificing their lives.

Western thinking has become conservative; the world situation should stay as it is at any cost, there should be no changes. This debilitating dream of a status quo is the symptom of a society which has come to the end of its development.

But one must be blind in order not to see that oceans no longer belong to the West, while land under its domination keeps shrinking. The two so-called world wars - they were by far not on a world scale, not yet - have meant internal self-destruction of the small progressive West which has thus prepared its own end. The next war - which does not have to be an atomic one and I do not believe it will - may well bury western civilization forever.

Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?

How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development?

It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant. technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness. This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries.

I refer to the prevailing western view of the world, which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one.

Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth.

It based modern western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense.

That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.

However, in early democracies, as in 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 50 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.

As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation at first by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say in 1844 that "communism is naturalized humanism."

This statement turned out to be not entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorship; concentration on social structures, with a seemingly scientific approach.

This is typical of the Enlightenment in the 18th century and of Marxism. Not by coincidence all of communism's meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness.

At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today's West and today's East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes, which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.

In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.


Russian exile Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his commencement speech at Harvard, addressed the western world Publicly for only the second time since his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974. The Nobel Prize-winning author has come out from his seclusion in Vermont to take the podium and deliver a powerful warning to America.
While IMPRIMIS publishes only those papers that are delivered on the Hillsdale College campus, we think that this presentation is worthy of the widest possible distribution. Because of that, we commend Solzhenitsyn's words to your attention.


Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the monthly journal of Hillsdale College. August 1978, Vol. 7, No. 8.


   

3 posted on 10/26/2002 9:17:31 AM PDT by ppaul
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To: Liz
The Gulag Archipelago is one of your favorite books? I've never heard anyone say that. Which volume?
4 posted on 10/26/2002 9:49:41 AM PDT by Jack Black
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To: Liz
Thanks again for reposting this landmark speech. Someone once referred t oSolzhenitsyn as 'the conscience of the Twentieth Century'. Lord knows it needed one.

But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive. You can feel their pressure, yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?
I have a feeling that this low-frade cultural and spiritual war in which we have been engaged is about to run white-hot. What indeed, it the joy about?
5 posted on 10/26/2002 10:06:26 AM PDT by Noumenon
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To: Liz
Thanks Liz for this great post. I have never read The Gulag Archipelago but I recently bought both the paperback and hardback. I have read Harry Wu's books on his 19 years of hell in the Laogai--the Communist Chinese version of the Gulag that number in the thousands today with millions of poor souls producing the "cheap" goods found in Walmart and Kmart. Harry's books are "Troublemaker: One Man's Crusade Against China's Cruelty" and "Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China's Gulag." Great books.
6 posted on 10/26/2002 10:06:45 AM PDT by HighRoadToChina
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To: Liz
Solzhenitsyn has always been one of my heroes, everyone should read his Gulag and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - This was also made into a remarkably good film with Tom Courtney - hard to get though, I just saw a copy go for $58 on ebay - though I got one for twentysomething several months ago.
7 posted on 10/26/2002 10:15:42 AM PDT by Maigret
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To: ppaul
Hmm, a call for moral behavior and self restraint. To do what is right instead of what is allowed. An interesting read.
8 posted on 10/26/2002 10:22:23 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter
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To: Liz
Light reading for the day.
9 posted on 10/26/2002 10:23:59 AM PDT by KC Burke
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To: Jack Black; HighRoadToChina; Noumenon; RipeforTruth
I once read that no civilized person can afford not to read at least part of this great work in three volumes (The Gulag Archipelago). It was an enormous achievment, and in fact, was acclaimed and achieved fame in the rest of the free world (and is monumental in its raison d'etre; Solzhenitsyn was kicked out of his country because of it).

It is certainly a look at a stark and bitter existence which was real. The free and easy life we lead is in sharp contrast. We need to read it not for enjoyment but to recognize what could happen elsewhere and to more highly value our freedoms in order to fight to safeguard them even more zealously.

10 posted on 10/26/2002 10:34:27 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
Good speech, Liz. Thanks for posting.
11 posted on 10/26/2002 10:53:52 AM PDT by Z in Oregon
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To: Liz
Thank you for making the effort to post this....
12 posted on 10/26/2002 10:55:39 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: Liz
A decline in courage? (BJ Clinton.)

Legalistic Life? (Refined by our Trial Lawyers, and various activist judges and State Supreme Courts.)

Destructive and irresponsible freedom? (The Garbage put forward as "art" by our Hollywood Elites.)

The direction of the press? (Helen Thomas, Peter Jennings, George Stephanopolous,...)

Socialism? (Tommy Dasshole, Dickie Gephardt, and Ted Kennedy's endless salesmanship of class envy.)

Humanism? (The "First Humanist", Hillary Rodham. She knows what's best for us... even better than God.)

I never read much about this guy, but I like him already. No wonder the Harvardies didn't like it. Too bad such a great speech was wasted on them. Good post Liz. Thanks.

13 posted on 10/26/2002 11:02:55 AM PDT by TheEngineer
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To: Liz
"The ascension is similar to climbing onto the next anthropological stage. No one on earth has any other way left but - upward." Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

This will be the opening of my next NSS club newsletter essay. Okay, as a Space Cadet I see space as the next step in our evolution and maybe the ultimate salvation of our civilization, (see the "High Frontier" or visit www.ssi.org!)

14 posted on 10/26/2002 11:16:08 AM PDT by Young Werther
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To: KC Burke
Light reading for the day.

Indeed the prose is a bit thick for us dumbed down Americans. (Some time, take a look at the Lincoln-Douglas debates. We used to be able to listen and comprehend complex and subtle arguments. Alas, today, the soundbite rules.)

Interesting, this morning Mrs don-o and I were discussing whether we had heard of any comments that Solzhenitsyn had made about Russia's involvement in Chechnya.

Thanks for the post, Liz.

15 posted on 10/26/2002 11:24:53 AM PDT by don-o
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To: Liz
Bump for later
16 posted on 10/26/2002 12:04:32 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: TheEngineer
The speech wasn't entirely wasted. It gained enormous currency.......and lives on to this day via my post.

Thanks for your deconstruction.

17 posted on 10/26/2002 12:06:19 PM PDT by Liz
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To: Registered; Fracas; NYpeanut; texasbluebell; reformed_democrat; rintense; The Old Hoosier; ...
.......our post-Clinton freedoms in an interesting context.........
18 posted on 10/26/2002 12:11:25 PM PDT by Liz
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To: don-o
We used to be able to listen and comprehend complex and subtle arguments.

Critical thinking is still useful.....but not taught.

19 posted on 10/26/2002 12:12:56 PM PDT by Liz
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To: Jack Black
"The Gulag Archipelago (I & II)" are in my permanent library. I was devouring them when they came out three decades ago; between Solzhentisyn and Dostoyevsky I was launched into two decades' fascination with Russian authors (with one book by Turgenev as yet unfound).

Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is on my list of favorites, along with "August 1914."

20 posted on 10/26/2002 1:01:53 PM PDT by Eala
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To: Mad Dawg
To: f.Christian

Now I follow, thank you. Actually, I don't disagree with this at all since I see the left as abandoning the uncertianty of democracy and majority rule for the assurance technocracy and expert rule.

152 posted on 9/10/02 12:17 PM Pacific by Liberal Classic

and...

To: f.Christian

Dakmar...

I took a few minutes to decipher that post, and I must say I agree with a lot of what you said.

fC...

These were the Classical liberals...founding fathers-PRINCIPLES---stable/SANE scientific reality/society---industrial progress...moral/social character-values(private/personal) GROWTH(limited NON-intrusive PC Govt/religion---schools)!

Dakmar...

Where you and I diverge is on the Evolution/Communism thing. You seem to view Darwin and evolution as the beginning of the end for enlighted, moral civilization, while I think Marx, class struggle, and the "dictatorship of the proletariat" are the true dangers.

God bless you, I think we both have a common enemy in the BRAVE-NWO.

452 posted on 9/7/02 8:54 PM Pacific by Dakmar


21 posted on 10/26/2002 2:23:50 PM PDT by f.Christian
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To: Liz
I must thank you and compliment you for such a thought-provoking post. I first read Solzhenitsyn's speech eleven years ago while in high school. There is a tremendous new book in print that pays fitting complement to Solzhenitsyn's insights about the adult world (of the West)called The Underground History of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto, which traces how mass compulsion schooling inculcates children in the atomistic, self-centered materialism Solzhenitsyn decries. Gatto explains the circumstances and the practice of schooling which together constitute this training, and traces school's evolution in the hands of ideological and economic interests that sought to refashion America as a land of predictable, homogeneous workingmen denuded of those loyalties which could potetially threaten the corporate-state oligarchy that now dominates -- a top-down social model frightfully similar to the Big Lie Solzhenitsyn was kicked out of in 1974!
22 posted on 10/26/2002 5:08:13 PM PDT by Mmmike
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To: Liz
bttt
23 posted on 10/27/2002 9:46:01 AM PST by summer
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To: Liz
Thanks for posting this. I'm currently reading Gulag Archipelago, Book I. Already I consider it among the 20th Century's great explanations of "why we fight." Alongside They Thought The Were Free and The True Believer, this book is the perfect depiction of how and why government 1) will grow to whatever extent it is allowed and 2) MUST be contained to prevent the inevitable excesses.
24 posted on 10/27/2002 10:06:31 AM PST by Semaphore Heathcliffe
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To: Liz
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Warning to the West
http://www.anticommunism.org/solzhenitsyn/index.html
25 posted on 10/27/2002 5:56:10 PM PST by LiberalBuster
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To: Maigret
One of my own favorites is Solzhenitsyn's A Pictorial Autobiography, which after showing picture after picture of Solzhenitsyn in the concentration camps, ends with the following poem:

How east for me to live with You, O Lord!
How easy for me to believe in You!
When my mind parts in bewilderment
or falters,
when the most intellegent people see no further
than this day's end
and do not know what must be done tomorrow,
You grant me the serene certitude
that You exist and that You will take care
that not all the paths of good be closed.
Atop the ridge of earthly fame,
I look back in wonder at the path
which I alone could never have found,
a wonderous path through despair to this point
from which I, too, could transmit to mankind
a reflection of Your rays.
And as much as I must still reflect
You will give me.
But as much as I cannot take up
You will have already assigned to others.

26 posted on 10/28/2002 10:01:14 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: fortheDeclaration; winstonchurchill; ShadowAce; P-Marlowe; Revelation 911; The Grammarian; ...
ping
27 posted on 10/28/2002 10:11:24 AM PST by xzins
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To: xzins
Excellent, excellent post. Those of you too young to remember the dark, dangerous years of the 1970s cannot imagine how close we came to the fall of a global night -- or how bright a beacon of hope Mr. Solzshenitsyn was.

The tide turned the next year; with the ascension of Ronald Reagan to the leadership of the GOP and of Margaret Thatcher to the post of Prime Minister of the UK, the United States, the British and the West began to awaken and arm itself against the Soviet bear that was by then within our gates. That awakening -- and the victory of Soviet communism that followed -- was in no small part the legacy of Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.

One is reminded by this stirring speech that the meaning of the name "Alexander" is "defender of mankind"...
28 posted on 10/28/2002 10:30:02 AM PST by B-Chan
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To: B-Chan; drstevej
At present, some western voices already have spoken of obtaining protection from a third power against aggression in the next world conflict, if there is one; in this case the shield would be China. But I would not wish such an outcome to any country in the world.

First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days.

And yet - no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being.

The above is nothing short of awesomely prophetic.

29 posted on 10/28/2002 10:37:22 AM PST by xzins
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To: Noumenon
I have a feeling that this low-grade cultural and spiritual war in which we have been engaged is about to run white-hot.

Agreed. The stage is being set. As in the achievement of "critical-mass", social and cultural events will descend suddenly and move in rapid succession, to everyone's amazement. The foundational rending will be felt universally, and every person will be a player. The only available joy will come from knowing in advance the ultimate outcome, and in being able to discern counterfeit from authentic.

30 posted on 10/28/2002 10:44:29 AM PST by Prince Caspian
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To: xzins
The West has been dying for five hundred years, heart-cut by the twin blows of schism and scientific "enlightenment". What we're hearing now (and are likely to hear for some time) are merely the death-rattles. Christendom was ther soul of the West, without it, the corpus began to fragment and decay. The triumph of atomistic individualism, empowered by the technology of materialist science, represents the victory of cell over organism -- in other words, disintegration. And, like cells cut off from the living organism, the death of the individual is the inevitable result. That the destruction of the dignity of the individual human person is the direct result of the "liberation" of the individual human person from the organic Body that gave it life is surely the ultimate irony of history.

And next? The realization of the Luciferic dream of biological immortality, the Satanic dream of ultimate Liberty, the apotheosis of fallen humanity: the Wellsian utopia, Men As Gods. A future dominated by fallen Man, bereft of the Natural Law and armed godlike with the power of life and death, is truly a vision of Hell.

The cure for our ailing civilization will not be found in politics, machinery, social programming, or plumbing the depths of personal hedonism. Only a Christian reconquista can save the West; only a true renaissance of overt and militant Christianity can bring the near-dead husk of our civilization back to life.

To be a Christian, one must "die to self", be buried in the water, fire, and desire of baptism, and be reborn as a Child of God. To live, the man-centered, materialist West of the so-called Enlightenment only has to die -- and be reborn as Christendom.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." [St. John 12:22]

31 posted on 10/28/2002 11:25:06 AM PST by B-Chan
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To: Liz
bttt
32 posted on 10/28/2002 11:28:19 AM PST by headsonpikes
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To: B-Chan
And next? The realization of the Luciferic dream of biological immortality, the Satanic dream of ultimate Liberty, the apotheosis of fallen humanity: the Wellsian utopia, Men As Gods. A future dominated by fallen Man, bereft of the Natural Law and armed godlike with the power of life and death, is truly a vision of Hell.

Since this is not possible, the utopia, I mean, and no rational man imagines any such thing, why do you listen to it, and why do you repeat it?

The cure for our ailing civilization will not be found in politics, machinery, social programming, or plumbing the depths of personal hedonism. Only a ___ reconquista can save the West...

Your hallucination of "saving the West" is as unrealistic as any utopian dream, whether by a Christian conquest, or any other. There will always be good, decent, rational individuals who will know how to find freedom and to live responsibly, but, most of the world is stupid, hates freedom, and just wants someone or something to take care of them, and there are always plenty of thugs around to do just that.

It has never changed. It never will.

Most of the big problems of the world, are men's attempts to save the world, or save the West, or save civilization. If people would mind their own business and take care of themselves, there would be no problems. But, as I said, this will never happen, because someone always thinks they know how to save the world.

Hank

33 posted on 10/28/2002 12:13:02 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
Since this is not possible, the utopia, I mean, and no rational man imagines any such thing...
"The roots of transhumanist philosophy are sunk deep in the humanist movement of the 20th century. Humanists believe that humans matter, that individuals matter. We might not be perfect, but we can make things better and promote rational thinking, freedom, tolerance and democracy. Transhumanists agree with this but also emphasize what we have the potential to become. Not only can we use rational means to improve the human condition and the external world; we can also use them to improve ourselves, the human organism. And we are not limited strictly to rational means; we can use technological means that will eventually enable us to move beyond what most would describe as human." [Source]
These rational men imagine it. And there are plenty of others. The dream of perfectability is as old as the human race.

Your hallucination of "saving the West" is as unrealistic as any utopian dream, whether by a Christian conquest, or any other.

Thank you for sharing your opinion.

There will always be good, decent, rational individuals who will know how to find freedom and to live responsibly, but, most of the world is stupid, hates freedom, and just wants someone or something to take care of them, and there are always plenty of thugs around to do just that.

Freedom is not the ultimate goal of humankind. And your "good, decent, rational individuals" are only as good or decent as their devotion to the Divinely-ordained Natural Law as perceived by Reason. No man can be a law (moral or otherwise) unto himself, defining by some self-styled "rational process" Good and Evil; to think so is to participate in the ultimate hallucination, the ultimate utopian dream. "Ye shall become as gods."

Most of the big problems of the world, are men's attempts to save the world, or save the West, or save civilization. If people would mind their own business and take care of themselves, there would be no problems.

But people won't. Expecting people to act like that is a fantasy. Such thoughts do not accord with human nature. In the real world people are bent, twisted on a fundamental level, fundamentally (but not totally) depraved; they crave power for its own sake, are jealous of the success of others, wallow in Schadenfreude at the discomfiture of their enemies. People are not born minding their own business and taking care of themselves; they learn such behaviors from their parents and from the values transmitted them by their native culture: pagan culture, pagan values; materialist/hedonist culture, materialist/hedonist values; Christian culture, Christian values. Whether any given individual follows the code of Right and Wrong inculcated within them is open to question; character is defined by the choices of the given individual, but the people of a given society by their beliefs, values, and actions define their culture.

But, as I said, this will never happen, because someone always thinks they know how to save the world.

Only Jesus Christ can and will save the world. Our only choice is whether or not we want to be His friends or His enemies.

34 posted on 10/28/2002 1:08:39 PM PST by B-Chan
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To: Alex Murphy
Thanks, I'd never seen this one. A man full of Grace.
35 posted on 10/28/2002 2:40:51 PM PST by Maigret
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To: Prince Caspian
The only available joy will come from knowing in advance the ultimate outcome, and in being able to discern counterfeit from authentic.

The former is unknowable - there are no guarantees, but the latter is one aspect of what we (my family and I) have trained for. It's also certain, as you've said, that every individual will be a player, like it or not, ready or not. What's that famous quote from Lenin?

"You may not be interrested in war, but war is interested in you."

36 posted on 10/28/2002 4:54:13 PM PST by Noumenon
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To: Liz
Solzhenitsyn has moments of insight, but the deeper I read his passage, the more I feel he is smitten as a murmuror.
37 posted on 10/28/2002 7:05:45 PM PST by Cvengr
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To: Jack Black
A ping for Igor Shafarevich and his book 'Socialism'.
38 posted on 10/28/2002 7:19:19 PM PST by Cvengr
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To: Liz
"No one on earth has any other way left but - upward. "

Just think. Even after the Second Coming of Christ, a 1000 year rule and perfect environment, the Devil will be loosed but for a time, and during that freedom man will again rebel and a great battle ensues.

Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?"

I say, hallelujah for that day when our hearts and minds are rewritten in His will.

39 posted on 10/28/2002 7:32:02 PM PST by Cvengr
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To: Prince Caspian
Well stated, I concur.
40 posted on 10/28/2002 7:44:28 PM PST by Cvengr
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To: xzins
Thanks..I was just discussing the other day with a friend...we can only look up...
41 posted on 10/29/2002 7:02:35 AM PST by Irisshlass
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To: B-Chan
These rational men imagine it.

I disagree with you that they were rational. I think you also do not believe they were rational, because you said, "And your 'good, decent, rational individuals' are only as good or decent as their devotion to the Divinely-ordained Natural Law as perceived by Reason." Why do you say they are rational? What is contrary to truth is irrational.

Only Jesus Christ can and will save the world.

If you know this, why do you get in such a big sweat over what ignorant men say? You know they aren't going to change anything.

Hank

42 posted on 10/29/2002 12:48:20 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
I believe they are "rational" (note the quotes) because they base their philosophy on reason -- but a "reason" based upon the false Enlightenment assumption that the material world is the only reality. Since their reason is based upon a false premise, the conclusions arrived at are also false.

In other words: such people are rational from the perspective of materialist, humanist post-Enlightenment Western thought -- but, by ignoring the Natural Law and the existence of God ("Right Reason"), they and the post-Enlightement philosophy they represent are the antithesis of reason as it was known in Western civilization up until the end of the Middle Ages.

What I'm trying to say here is that there can be neither goodness, decency, nor rationality in a world without a supernatural Absolute by which to measure such qualities. If Goodness, Decency, and Reason are not real things (ikonos) in and of themselves, but are mere labels defined by popular vote, an oligarchy of trendsetters, or by how a given person's stomach feels on a given day, then the terms "goodness", "decency" and "rationality" are meaningless; Good = Stuff I Like, Decent = Stuff I Like To Look At, Rational = Sounds Good To Me Right Now But Maybe I'll Change My Mind Later. Without a supernatural Standard in Whom "we live and move and have our being", without a transcendental Truth to be perceived by Reason, then reality dissolves into a cloud of sensory data and opinions about same -- and thus into the void of the existentialist, where Universe, Body and Mind are nothing but disposable pawns in a cosmic word-game that no one can ever win.

"What is Truth"? asked Pontius Pilate sarcastically, never dreaming he was literally staring Truth right in the face. Thus always to those who fool themselves into thinking that truth can be derived through intellect alone.

43 posted on 10/29/2002 1:16:40 PM PST by B-Chan
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To: Liz
BUMP flr
44 posted on 10/29/2002 1:30:35 PM PST by jayef
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To: Liz
BUMP for later reading
45 posted on 10/29/2002 1:35:26 PM PST by AFreeBird
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To: Liz

bttt


46 posted on 08/23/2004 2:28:02 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Nice surfing.


47 posted on 08/23/2004 2:42:58 PM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz

Found by this surfer too. Thanks.


48 posted on 04/29/2006 3:04:55 AM PDT by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine

LOL. Man, you're one great surfer..........thanks for checking in.


49 posted on 04/29/2006 5:14:07 AM PDT by Liz (We have room for but one flag, the American flag." —Theodore Roosevelt)
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