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Review: Between Two Millstones: Sketches of Exile by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (claremont.org)
81 points by 80mph 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

>Solzhenitsyn reminded people that having the right to do something does not make it right. What troubled him most was that elites trivialized the civilizational struggle between freedom and tyranny.

>Under despotism, Solzhenitsyn could readily spot an informant or a self-seeking careerist. In the West, where almost everyone seemed forthright and earnest, he put his faith in people who let him down or took advantage of his inexperience.

Wow this actually hits close to home.

I've certainly been a more naive type, and sadly fallen for the same kind of thing even growing up here.

There are some good people, but I think we're falling apart without enough of them and it is hard to talk about this.

In a society built on lies, truth is a powerful thing, and vice versa.

So I wouldn't say too few good people, just that they aren't in position to do anything.

Do yourself a favor and read 'Warning to the West'.


Reading a bit more about this guy he seems to have some interesting views. He points to Atheism as a key reason for the death of 60 million people under the Soviets, and states that America capitulated too early in the Vietnam war.

Regardless, I am surprised how in some aspects he was spot on. Seems to me he escaped 1984, only to find himself in a Brave New World.

Religion can be useful as a knowledge-set of distilled, inherited cultural lessons and values.

Afaik he said to not abandon it entirely. He thought we had a sort of new religion in each world, materialism in the west.

I think though that the interpretation of religious tenets and the character of decrees by religious authorities change over time. Evangelists in America claim God told them they ought to buy private jets. As a result I don't think Materialism is incompatible with religion. I don't think Materialism is atheistic or religious in character.

>He points to Atheism as a key reason for the death of 60 million people under the Soviets

Not very far off. In their fervor, the soviets replaced a millennia old in their parts known quantity religion, with an atheist cult of "communism", the all-known "party", and the "new man". That strand of militant atheism operated the same way, and worse, than actual religion.

One could e.g. murder people and let go of compassion, as that was a "christian" thing. What supposedly mattered were the end results (the building of communism). Heck, they even made mummies and pilgrimages of their supreme leaders...

Dostoyevsky had already said pretty much the same (e.g. in the Possessed, and in Crime and Punishment), regarding the new revolutionary fervor in Russia and where Russia was headed, 100 years before Solzenyntsin.

Thats also the position of Yuval Noah Harari. I found the comparison of Political commissar to a Chaplain especially apt.

> Dostoyevsky had already said pretty much the same

Wasn't Dostoyevsky also religious?

Yes. His point wasn't that religion is bad.

His point was that the kind of revolutionary mania emerging in Russia was bad, and a kind of atheist substitute of religion (which, in its fervor and conviction lacks its controls and subtlety).

I suppose though it'd be very in character for a religious commentator to see religions as having controls and subtlety that atheism doesn't.

He was also an early supporter of Putin and very much a Russian imperialist in policy views.

Growing up in Russia, Solzhenitsyn was one of my childhood heroes and still is. But I value him mostly as a reporter. The Gulag Archipelago was a success of reporting. I'm less excited about his work as a writer (in the moralistic Russian tradition which was always boring to me) or as a teacher (why did he try to teach the West from a position of inexperience?)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of my all time favourite books, it is as meaningful with words as the best works of Chekhov and shows the power of the human spirit.


>He decided not to settle farther north because he thought Canadians were too nice and lacked spirit.

is this how assange will be remembered too?

Of course not. He'll die in jail, awaiting The Process. As a warning to other journalists.

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This request was blocked by the security rules

Does anyone have an alt link?

Edit: here it is: https://outline.com/NbS3kF

neither link works for me

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