Monday, August 04, 2008

Vintage Solzhenitsyn

Here is one of my favorite passages from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's oeuvre, excerpted from his Nobel prize lecture of l970:

"Our twentieth century has turned out to be more cruel than those preceding it, and all that is terrible in it did not come to an end with the first half. The same old caveman feelings--greed, envy, violence, and mutual hate, which along the way assumed respectable pseudonyms like class struggle, racial struggle, mass struggle, labor-union struggle--are tearing our world to pieces. The caveman refusal to accept compromise has been turned into a theoretical principle and is considered to be a virtue of orthodoxy. It demands millions of victims in endless civil wars; it packs our hearts with the notion that there are no fixed universal human concepts called good and justice, that they are fluid, changing, and that therefore one must always do what will benefit one's part.

Any and every professional group, as soon as it finds a convenient moment TO RIP OFF A PIECE, unearned or not, extra or not, immediately rips it off, let all of society come crashing down if it will. As seen from outside, the mass of waste in Western society is approaching the limit beyond which the system will become metastable and must collapse. Violence, less and less restricted by the framework of age-old legality, brazenly and victoriously strides throughout the world, unconcerned that its futility has been demonstrated and exposed by history many times. It is not simply naked force that triumphs but its trumpeted justification: the whole world overflows with the brazen conviction that force can do everything and justice nothing. Dostoevsky's DEMONS, a provincial nightmare of the last century, one would have thought, are, before our very eyes, crawling over the whole world into countries where they were unimaginable, and by the hijacking of planes, by seizing HOSTAGES, by the bomb explosions, and by the fires of recent years signal their determination to shake civilization apart and to annihilate it! And they may very well succeed. Young people, being at an age when they have no experience except sexual, when they have as yet no years of personal suffering and personal wisdom behind them, enthusiastically repeat our discredited Russian lessons of the nineteenth century and think that they are discovering something new. They take as a splendid example the Chinese Red Guard's degradation of people into nonentities. A superficial lack of understanding of the timeless essence of humanity, a naive smugness on the part of their inexperienced hearts--We'll kick out thosefierce, greedy oppressors, those governors, and the rest (we!), we'll then lay down our grenades and machine guns, and become just and compassionate. Oh, of course! Of those who have lived their lives and have come to understand, who could refute the young, many DO NOT DARE argue against them; on the contrary, they flatter them in order not to seem "conservative," again a Russian phenomenon of the nineteenth century, something which Dostoevsky called SLAVERY TO HALF-COCKED PROGRESSIVE IDEAS."


I've always thought that Osama bin Laden and his caveman allies would've gotten along famously with the Bolshevik and Tsarist Russian true-believers Solzhenitsyn alludes to here...they come from the same mold.

2 Comments:

Blogger jobsanger said...

And you think McBush is better?

11:27 AM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

good point. i think there IS a strong true-believer element in bushland, as evidenced(among many other things) by the purge at the DOJ, the lawless detention of gitmo suspects and the elevation of ideology and loyalty above competence. it doesn't encourage me about the state of the country that no one seems to recognize how dangerous those tendencies are.

12:08 PM  

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