Friday, July 10, 2015
Revisiting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's warnings to the West
Unsurprisingly, the Harvard address shocked Americans, particularly journalists, and even struck some of them as ungrateful. How could a man who had escaped the jaws of a despotic regime have the nerve to criticize the country which had taken him in? While Solzhenitsyn insisted that his criticisms were meant to be constructive, coming “not from an adversary but a friend,” he alienated Americans across the political spectrum by condemning a “destructive and irresponsible freedom” that had, in America, been granted “boundless space.” President Ford, put out by Solzhenitsyn’s intransigent anti-Communism, had already declared the dissident a “horse’s ass.” Now others agreed.
Asinine or no, Solzhenitsyn’s speech must be read in the context of Russian conservatism, a tradition which differs in key respects from its American counterpart. Whereas the American conservative imagination is typically informed by the US Constitution and the Founding Fathers, the Russian conservative takes his bearings from iconography, liturgical music, and folk tales. For better or worse, Russian patriotism is bound up with Slavic heritage and the Orthodox Church, not the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
Read the rest here.
Thank you Aleksandr Isayevich. May your memory be eternal.