One of the greatest voices against communism fell silent this week and I heard very little from the same folks who can’t say “Ronald Reagan” often enough when talking about the downfall of the Soviet Empire. Alexander Solzhenitsyn stood up to the Stalinist while Ronnie was still trying to get third leads in Hollywood and pitching Borax. I like Reagan, he’s number two on my list of people who I would liked to have met right behind Elvis, but Reagan was a strong anti-communist from the safety of Southern California while Solzhenitsyn was making little rocks out of big ones in a prison camp where -30F was a heat wave.
Solzhenitsyn’s pen put the first crack in the Berlin Wall at a time when the American left was still singing the praises of Big Joe Stalin and getting a copy of “Soviet Life” was seen as cool. Solzhenitsyn was pounding on the Iron Curtain when even most hopeful Goldwater Conservatives could not imagine a world without the U.S.S.R.
Stalin, for you lefties are too young to remember was the guy who used the word “progressive” to describe slaughtering twenty or thirty million of his enemies. Anyone who spent some time in the Stalinist Gulag would have seen having a pair of panties put on your head as a day off.
When you hear someone in this country chirping about a “chill wind” blowing through their right to self expression think of Solzhenitsyn striking blows against communism in a time when looking at the wrong guy in the wrong way could get you whacked in less time that it takes a Democrat Congress to head for vacation.
He spent most of his exile in America but never became Americanized. He deplored the west for its immorality, decadence and materialism. Like all good conservatives Solzhenitsyn sought a nation that would return to its roots and religion. There are those who believe his legacy was diminished by his support of Putin whom he thought was trying to accomplish those things he held dear. But many old men, feeling their time grow short make mistakes in trying to live to see their dreams come to fruition. Einstein’s early work wasn’t diminished by his mistakes late in life nor will Solzhenitsyn’s legacy be lessened by his association with Putin.
My only question is when will the right in this country become welded to ideals like Solzhenitsyn rather than marginalizing our principles for votes.