Monday, August 04, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1918-2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, probably the most famous anti-Communist writer of the 20th Century, is dead at 89.

His death should be an occasion for self-reflection and shame in the West. Faced with the most monstrous evil in human history, how did the leftist intellectual establishment respond? They strained every nerve to deny or conceal the horrifying truth, and when that ceased to be practical, to minimize the evil, or excuse it, or just discourage people from thinking about it.

And they succeeded. I vividly remember giving a class presentation of research paper on the crimes of Stalin in college, and not one fellow student had ever heard about it before. Quite a few of them knew about how many people Pinochet killed, but neither their teachers nor the mainstream media had ever seen fit to tell them what I told them. Mine certainly didn't; I had to learn it on my own.

Sadly, I expect Solzhenitsyn to be forgotten. The forces of amnesia are still at work. There are few Stalinists today, but there are plenty of intellectuals and opinion-shapers who would just as soon not have people think about the Left's historical record. It is they who dominate the dissemination of information, and there is little reason to think they won't win. The tens of millions of victims will go on being ignored.

But at least for a time, Solzhenitsyn made it harder for the deceivers, the dupes and whores and apologists of mass murder and despotism and slavery, to get away with it. That's surely worth something.

Rest in peace.

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Robin said...

Back in my high school and college days, I was equally amazed at the ignorance of my classmates about communism's crimes. But as you observe, they had no way of knowing about them given the willful ignorance and deception prevailing in the mass media and the schools.

My own ignorance ended when I was in junior high school, circa 1977. Reader's Digest published an adaption of John Barron's "MiG Pilot", about the life and defection of Soviet Air Force pilot Viktor Belenko. Some time after that I came across Solzhenitsyn's "Warning to the West".

Solzhenitsyn himself sadly concluded that Americans would have to learn about communism the way the Russians did: by direct experience as its slaves. Given the rise of the neocon/liberal police state in America, he was essentially correct.

Anonymous said...

What's upsetting is that the radical left. i.e. Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Stan Goff, uses all sorts of rhetorical devices, contortions, to try downplay and diminish communism's crimes. They market themselves as super-sensitive souls who care about human right but then show a cold, smug reaction to leftist crimes. They will yes it was terrible but let's put it into context or they will say that the crimes were simply a logical response to capitalism - i..e justifiable.