8/4/08

Condolences

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
1918-2008


Russian Nobel laureate who was incarcerated in the Gulag died on Sunday, August 3, 2008.



To read/Or not to read


In 1973 he wrote the following regarding Communist Russia and the Gulag:
“…tens of thousands of specially trained human beasts standing over millions of defenseless victims. Was it only that explosion of atavism which is now evasively called ‘the cult of personality’ that was so horrible?...

Is it not still more dreadful that we are now being told, thirty years later, ‘Don’t talk about it!’? If we start to recall the sufferings of millions, we are told it will distort the historical perspective! If we doggedly seek out the essence of our morality, we are told it will darken our material progress!...”[1]




In 1983 he stated:
“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God….

It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that ‘revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.’ That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot…”[2]


[1] Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Thomas P. Whitney, trans., The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 – An Experiment in Literary Investigation (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), pp. 93-94
[2] Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, “Men Have Forgotten God” – The Templeton Address

4 comments:

  1. He'll be missed. One of the greatest anti-totalitarian writers of all time.

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  2. That's one new author added to my Amazon list.

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  3. He was a good antitotalitarian, but a rabid antisemite. Lets not even get into "Russia forgot God". Obviously they didn't- a thrid were theists during Soviet days.

    Honestly it reminds me of the peasents belief in "the mandate of heaven". If something is bad the ruler most have offended the Gods.

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  4. "He was a good antitotalitarian, but a rabid antisemite."

    Ah, atheists and inaccuracies. Never apart from one another - like rednecks and moonshine.

    Antisemitic... Right; that's why he wrote "Two Hundred Years Together".

    And as a Jew, I can admit that Bolshevism had it's Jewish element. Yakov Sverdlov, anyone? And yet, what does Solzhenitsyn say on this? Does he blame Judah for every misfortune that befell Russia?

    If you read, you'd know the answer to that. But I guess that's the point. You don't.

    "Obviously they didn't- a thrid were theists during Soviet days."

    Inaccurate? Perhaps that's a kinder way of saying "ignorant".

    "A thrid" were theists in an atheistic regime... Wow, I guess 2+2 does equal 5.

    Even if this were a supposed left over from the Old Orthodox world, look at the numbers: the entirety of the Stolypin repressions in comparison with, say, a good day of Revolutionary/atheist-fueled purging right after 1918. Or any time in Russia after that up to the mid/late 60's.

    In comparison with maybe 100's of arrests and tens of executions throughout the whole of Russia during a period of time (years) under the Tsar, you have several thousands of outright executions occurring in several (or a single) Oblast during a day, week, or month under Soviet rule. Za Stalina.

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