Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one of the great figures of our time, died yesterday at age 89. If America had heeded his 1978 Harvard address, instead of being offended by it and ignoring him thereafter, America and the West would be in far better shape today.

Solzhensityn was a dissident from the former Soviet Union, and I think that any serious American conservative today must be a dissident from our own country. Which means, not that we’re disloyal to it, but that we refuse to accept its current immoral, unconstitutional, anti-Western regime and that we stand apart from it, as expressed in my traditionalist’s credo.

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Sage McLaughlin writes:

I would humbly submit to you that the neocons’ favorite embodiment of earthly virtue, John Paul II, was unfit to loose Solzhenitsyn’s sandals. But that’s just me. What a loss.

PS—I realize that this is a gross generalization. Many neocons have become much more enlightened and would probably put MLK in the number one spot.

LA replies:

Because of the unfortunate, common misspelling today of “lose” as “loose,” some people will think that you’re saying that JPII was unfit to lose Solzhensitysn’s sandals.

Anthony Damato writes:

Thank you for your post on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I am embarrassed to say, I know nothing about him except what I just read. his Harvard speech was prophetic. I can’t believe he saw in 1978, the decline of the West as clear as day. He also saw correctly, the reasons leading to the moral decline, and the progression of liberalism, to socialism , to communism, something we see the Democratic party clearly pushing today. I can see why he was silenced by the intellectual elites, especially for his understanding of the role of Christianity, in the development of the West, and his rejection of Humanism. When he said, “If as Humanism states, Man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die”, I thought that to be brilliant. He thought mans existence is set to be more spiritual as well, and that of course would upset the liberal elites.

LA replies:

For those not familiar with Solzhenitsyn, in addition to his Harvard speech, I would recommend in particular One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a short novel about a man in a Soviet prison camp making it through an ordinary day; The First Circle, about the highest level of the Soviet prison system, for scientists, and The Gulag Archipelago, at least volume one, which is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

Charles M. writes (August 5):

The accepted party line on AS is that in Russia he was a heroic victim and denouncer of Soviet repression; in Vermont, he turned weird and somewhat disagreeable; back in Russia, he became a reactionary loon and, in a final act of irrelevance, kissed and made up with the KGB in the person of Putin.

But I’m not in a hurry to buy that story. AS was three steps ahead of us all, about the USSR, about our morally diseased West, and, just maybe, about this resurgent Orthodox and patriotic Russia. The day may come when rightists throughout the West will have to ask themselves whether such a Russia is more worthy of their allegiance than their own rotted, PC-whipped governments.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 04, 2008 07:30 AM | Send

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