by Anniel 6/22/16
Latest: Part 3: Short Takes on the Remaining Articles • Gateway Edition, Available at Amazon. Copyright 1974. 1989 printing. Written and Edited by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Six Others.
Part One. An Article by Solzhenitsyn concerning Andrei Sakharov’s Treatise on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom. which appeared in Russia as samizdat, or “self-published” writing, in about 1972.
This book, a compendium of articles by Russian writers sponsored and gathered by Solzhenitsyn, first appeared in the West many years ago. It is not available as an e-book, but I hope some day it will be. The book is remarkable in that it is so timely to the needs of the Western nations of today, our day, and a powerful testimony of what may yet save us, if we are faithful, resolute and brave.
Andrei Sakharov (21 May 1921–14 December 1989), known as the Father of the Russian Hydrogen Bomb, was a Russian Nuclear Physicist, Dissident, Human Rights activist, and, based on his actions within Soviet society, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Solzhenitsyn’s (it might be easier to refer to him as just “A.S.”) article is based on assumptions made by Sakharov’s samizdat writings about what the Soviets needed in order to restore free thought and speech after years of repression and fear.
Some Russian dissidents said that it was “too late” because loss of free thought and speech had left Russia so far behind, especially in science, it would take 50 years to catch up. A.S. tells them and us:
But it is not too late because in [Russia] a massive section of educated society is still stuck fast in the way of thinking which Sakharov has passed through and left behind. It is not too late for another reason, that several groups in the West apparently share the same hopes, illusions and delusions.
This article is a warning to all men. A.S. titled it: As Breathing and Consciousness Return. The first paragraphs are heart-rending in describing what the people faced when free speech was denied them:
The transition from free speech to enforced silence is no doubt painful. What torment for a living society, used to thinking for itself, to lose from some decreed date the right to express itself in print and in public, to bite back its words year in and year out, in friendly conversation and even under the family roof.
One of the most insidious things the communists did was to require children to speak against their families. Destruction of the family unit was a primary goal of Marxism. What better way than to subvert the children?
But the way back . . . the return to breathing and consciousness, the transition from silence to free speech – will also prove difficult and slow, and just as painful, because of the gulf of utter incomprehension which will suddenly yawn between fellow-countrymen. . . For decades, while we were silent, our thoughts straggled in all possible and impossible directions, lost touch with each other, never learned to know each other, ceased to check and correct each other . . . [This has] made mental cripples of us and left very few minds undamaged.
This is the same thing PC speech has done, not just in the United States, but in all Western nations. Watch the mental cripples all over Europe and the U. S. When our son lived in Germany he said there were two things the Germans in general would not discuss at all: politics and religion. If you wished to know what Merkel was saying or doing your sources were on the Internet or e-mails from friends.
Powerful and daring minds are now beginning to struggle upright, to fight their way out from under heaps of antiquated rubbish. But even they still bear all the marks of the cruel branding iron. . . we are so shriveled. . . in falsehood, thirsted so long in vain for the refreshing drops of truth, that as soon as they fall we tremble with joy. “At last” we cry, and we forgive. . .
Solshenitzyn says the dissidents are so happy to speak that they are willing to forgive almost anyone for anything, including Stalin and the regime that caused starvation and reduced the peasantry to serfdom. He speaks of the inequities, the chances for education and advancement that are still not available to every citizen. He praises some things Sakharov spoke out about, and brings out the things he failed to address at all. Things that A.S. thinks still NEED to be said.
Apparently the feeling that it was good to criticize every other country than their own was a big idea for many Russian intellectuals. They blamed capitalism and the West in general for all Soviet problems. A.S.’s take on this attitude was:
We have the moral right to make judgments on international problems and still more on the internal problems of other countries, only if we take cognizance of OUR OWN internal problems, and do penance for our own faults. . . Before casting an eye on “attempts to conceal this cynicism and cruelty from the American people” we should take a good look around – is there nothing similar nearer home? Where they don’t just “try to conceal,” but are eminently successful? And if “the poverty of twenty-two million Negroes is tragic,” are not fifty-million collective farm workers still poorer? . . . however resoundingly the word “self-criticism” was pronounced , however boldly printed, it has always been criticism of the next man. For decades a belief in our socialist superiority was instilled into us, and we were permitted to sit in judgment only on others . . . It is no easy thing for us to accept this return of free thought, not get used to it right away and at one gulp. . .
A.S. speaks of socialist “ideals,” sometimes expounded by Sakharov, in areas such as education, as making a real “hell on earth”, and socialism is not to be considered as clearly thought out. In his article he faults Sakharov for saying we need to put an end to evil by turning to science for answers, and to stop the “privilege” of others, as if it can be forced by decree.
Certainly intellectual freedom in [Russia] would immediately bring about a great transformation and help us to cleanse many stains. Seen from the dark hole into which we are cast, that is so. But if we gaze into the far, far future – let us consider the West. The West has supped more than its fill of every kind of freedom, including intellectual freedom. And has this saved it? We see it today, crawling on hands and knees, its will paralyzed, uneasy about the future, spiritually racked and dejected. Unlimited external freedom in itself is quite inadequate to save us. Intellectual freedom is a very desirable gift, but, like any sort of freedom, not of intrinsic worth, only a means by which we can attain another and higher goal.
Ouch! “. . . crawling on hands and knees, paralyzed. . .” Does that describe many of the nations and leaders of the West today or not?
A.S. ended his original article by again openly criticizing Sakharov’s socialist political solutions to Russia’s problems. It would be four years before he added a powerful postscript to his thinking. He had met with Sakharov many times and Sakharov told A.S. he was not fully invested in
many of his own original ideas. A.S.’s 1974 Postscript, I believe, is one of the most powerful religious and philosophical writings I have ever encountered and I will quote it extensively here.
Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944) was a Marxist political economist who zealously believed that the Communist Party and the nation should only be concerned with the people’s freedom and happiness. A.S. is not particularly concerned with the people’s freedom here, except to acknowledge that it was paid for with the blood of millions, both in Russia and elsewhere.
A group known as the Cadets, or People’s Freedom Party claimed to represent the people. But it turned out that the people themselves had no real concept of freedom. Their desire for happiness was encapsulated in the desire for LAND. Land of course means freedom and wealth, but it is also an obligation and mystical tie with the earth that brings a sense of worth. Isn’t the ownership of land a fascinating way of viewing the people’s minds, ownership was BOTH an obligation and a gift of freedom.
Can external freedom for its own sake be the goal of conscious living beings? Or is it only a framework within which other and higher aims can be realized? We are creatures born with inner freedom of will, freedom of choice – the most important part of freedom is a gift to us at birth. External or social freedom is very desirable for the sake of undistorted growth, but it is no more than a condition, a medium, and to regard it as the the object of our existence is nonsense. We can firmly assert our inner freedom even in external conditions of unfreedom . . . In an unfree environment we we do not lose the possibility of progress toward moral goals (that for instance of leaving this earth better men than our heredity endowment has made us). The need to struggle against our surroundings rewards our efforts with greater inner success.
I have always remembered A.S. speaking when he lived in the U.S. that he was never as free as when he was a prisoner. Then the only choice left to him was whether to be a human being or not. The materialism of the West, what it did to his family, and how to live with it was always a conundrum for him.
There is therefore, a miscalculation in the urgent pursuit of political freedom as the first and main thing: we should first have a clear idea of what to do with it. The multiparty parliamentary system, which some among us consider the only true embodiment of freedom, has already existed for centuries in some Western European countries. But its dangerous, perhaps mortal defects have become more and more obvious in recent decades, when superpowers are rocked by party struggles with no ethnic basis; when a tiny party can hold the balance between two big ones and over an extended period determine the fate of its own and even neighboring peoples; when unlimited freedom of discussion can wreck a country’s resistance to some looming danger, and lead to capitulation in wars not yet lost; when the historical democracies prove impotent, faced with a handful of sniveling terrorists. The Western democracies today are in a state of political crisis and spiritual confusion. . .
Capitulation in wars not yet lost? Sniveling terrorists anyone? Political crisis and spiritual confusion? And this was written about 42 years ago. Makes me want to weep for us all.
. . . in the long history of mankind there have not been so very many democratic republics, yet people lived for centuries without them and were not always worse off. They even experienced that “happiness” we are forever hearing about, which is sometimes called pastoral or patriarchal (and is not a mere literary invention). They preserved the physical health of the nation. . . They preserved its moral health, too, which has left its imprint on folklore and proverbs – a level of moral health incomparably higher than that expressed today in simian radio music, pop songs and insulting advertisements: could a listener from outer space imagine that our planet had already known and left behind it Bach, Rembrandt and Dante?
One of our young grandsons told his father the other day that he hated music that was the “ugliest of ugliness.” To me that perfectly describes gangsta rap. I realize that we have not all left behind good music, art, writing, and education, but Common Core is doing that to our children and grand children.
A.S. says authoritative governments do present dangers, but some of them are not frightening – only those that are answerable to no one and nothing, as in the USSR, for instance.
The autocrats of earlier, religious ages, though their power was ostensively unlimited, felt themselves responsible before God and their own consciences. The autocrats of our day are so dangerous precisely because it is difficult to find higher values that would bind them.
Not even our wonderful Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, nor the blood of heroes shed to preserve them can bind the blind traitors and autocrats of today. As more and more people are unwilling or too fearful to speak out, the lying tongues only become stronger and more seductive.
It would be more correct to say that in relation to the true end of human beings here on earth. . . the state structure is of secondary significance. That this is so, Christ himself teaches us. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” – not because every Caesar deserves it, but because Caesar’s concern is not with the most important thing in our lives.
Too many of our fellow-citizens have no idea that there are things of greater importance than their wants, their own idols that they worship and adore. How can the blind, who have no eyes to see, nor ears to hear, understand their own enslavement? We face a great work, everywhere in the world. That is why history must be preserved, so that truth is known. I’m not certain I agree that political freedom is truly secondary, but I do believe that repentance and return to God are first needed to begin the process of restoration.
Our [Russian] system is unique in world history, because over and above its physical and economic constraints, it demands of us total surrender of our souls, continuous and active participation in the general and conscious LIE. To this putrefaction of the soul, this spiritual enslavement, human beings who wish to be human cannot consent. When Caesar, having exacted what is Caesar’s, demands still more insistently that we render unto him what is God’s – that is a sacrifice we dare not make!
The most important part of our freedom, inner freedom, is always subject to our will. If we surrender it to corruption, we do not deserve to be called human.
But let us note that if the absolutely essential task is not political liberation, but the liberation of our souls from participation in the lie forced upon us, then it requires no physical, revolutionary, social, organizational measures, no meetings, strikes, trade unions – things fearful for us even to contemplate and from which we quite naturally allow circumstances to dissuade us. No! It requires from each individual a moral step within his power – NO MORE THAN THAT. And no one who voluntarily runs with the hounds of falsehood, or props it up, will ever be able to justify himself to the living, or to posterity. . .
I find this book endlessly fascinating, both from the standpoint of history as a witness who lived it and then testified what it did to a whole nation. Today we have those who fall prey to the same old evils, the unchanging lies that threaten our nation, we who wish to remain free have much to consider in the shifting sands of our time.
* * *
Next, Part 2. Igore Shafarevich
A history lesson for Bernie Sanders supporters.
Part 2: Igor Shafarevich — Socialism In Our Past and Future
I first began this review by saying this article was for the education of Bernie Sander’s supporters. I changed my mind when I decided they have no clue what Socialism is and what it always leads to, nor would they believe Shaferavich’s thoughts, even though he lived under a socialist society. This has become a very difficult emotional subject for me to follow, and I have had to read the piece many times in order to digest His conclusions. They are truly frightening, especially for a God-fearing free people.
Please forgive me, but for the sake of some brevity and my Russian lack of skill, I’m going to use only Igor’s first name. As far as I know, he is still living. He would be 83 years old.
Igor says that all people tend to believe they live during an important turning point of world history, that they tend to make the mistake of exaggerating the influence of their era. Historically, he says, such radical changes happen only about every 500 years, but it cannot be doubted that we live in such an era. The way acknowledged lies and change seem to be piling up in so many countries confirm, at least to me, that the changes have only intensified since Igor wrote this article.
In 1974 some problems in Russia seemed insoluble and were painfully clear as they foreshadowed great difficulties ahead. Those who claimed solutions all pointed to socialism as the answer. But Igor says that young Russians needed to be educated about socialism before they chose such a future, which he says will decide mankind’s fate for the rest of time.
These are the questions Igor thinks we need to know about socialism:
What exactly is socialism?
What is its origin?
What forces does it use?
What are the causes of its success?
Where is it taking us?
Igor quotes V. I. Lenin saying:
When feudalism was overturned and “free” capitalist society appeared it was immediately discovered that this freedom denoted a new way of oppressing and exploiting the workers. Various socialist movements at once came into being as a reflection of this tyranny and a protest against it. . .”
This was the supposed “truth” that dictated what the Soviet people were taught from the time of the revolution.
Bernie Sanders undoubtedly agrees with this 100%. And his Nimrod followers are know-nothings about history. For Russians in 1974 no questions about socialism’s beginnings had been answered and other questions had not even been asked.
The first principle of socialism is set forth in The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engles: “. . .Communists can state their theory in one proposition: the destruction of private property.” Igor says that some Russian thinkers had proposed that socialism is merely “state capitalism” but he has found it is more than that and the difference is that the party is an ideology that is the driving force behind everything, in society.
The communist leaders may have said that the destruction of private property was its primary goal, but the party hates religion even more than whatever system is used for economics. Igor calls hatred of religion a BIRTHMARK of all socialist societies. Marx observed, “. . . the criticism of religion is the premise for any other form of criticism . . .” And said that when Hitler cast religion aside he freed Germans and he also freed mankind. Being freed from religion is such a good thing, of course.
Marx said, “Atheism affirms man through the denial of God.” So are all of Bernie’s followers ready to give up any links to God for their own “affirmation”?
The other aspect of socialism Igor brings up is the abolition of the family, a revolution that means men and women have no allegiance to anyone but the party. He told of one socialist group that killed a follower for “acting like a husband.” No love allowed.
Igor then shows socialism in countries of the past. He chose to use Mesopotamia and the Incas for this part of his history, and mentions a few others civilizations along the way, like Egypt. The three socialist ideas are always there: The leaders always control the property; no God is allowed unless it’s a false god approved by the leaders; and serfs have no rights, including to their own mates or children, the very idea of family is destroyed. In the past punishment for infractions against the order was sudden and severe, there were no appeals or rights given any of the lower orders. Socialism tries to control every aspect of human existence.
Igor says there were no new developments to socialism in the 19th or 20th Centuries. He gives a short course in Philosophy, particularly that based on Plato’s Republic to show how ancient the ideas of socialism are. He also covers the medieval heretics who attempted socialist societies to show men where the teachings lead, and where we are on that path today is a shocking revelation to me. These groups were blood-thirsty murderers who thought to take all goodness from the earth and kill all others, particularly the religious. All proposed Utopian sects, are socialist, Thomas More being one who wrote of them. The aim of all writings through the centuries is to have bureaucrats rule mankind and make decisions for every living creature.
Igor quotes a thought from An Outline of the History on Socialism in Most Recent Times by R. Y. Vipper (himself a socialist), “. . . one could say of socialism that it is as old as human society.” Igor adds:
. . . this observation has not been used to evaluate socialism as a historical phenomenon. But its significance cannot be exaggerated. . . If socialism is a feature of nearly all historical periods and civilizations, then its origins cannot be explained by any reasons connected with the specific features of a specific period or culture. . . socialism is one of those basic and universal forces that have been in operation over the entire span of human history.
There is much more going on here. Igor says that when socialism fails, as it always does, that is when leaders condemn it, but at that same moment take steps to more fully implement it and destroy those who seek freedom. He cites Marxist theories from Trotsky and Engels, and then one of the most frightening claims about the socialist Ideal, absolute EQUALITY, which in practice means absolute EQUIVALENCE, which shows how far down the line we are today:
The thirst for education is already an aristocratic thirst. As soon as there is a family or love, there is a desire for property. We shall throttle that desire: we shall unleash drunkenness, scandal, denunciations; we shall unleash unprecedented debauchery; we shall extinguish every genius in his infancy. Everything must be reduced to the common denominator, total equality. F. Dostoevsky
Igor admits that Christianity does call for equality, but only in contact with Godly principles and the good that God desires for man as an individual with his own personality. Socialism destroys all the higher aspects of personality.
It all sounds so familiar. But now we get to the shocking part of what I think Igor wants us to know. The final purpose of socialism is to destroy mankind from the earth. Period. The socialists are nihilists at the core and the purpose of their ideal exists to that end and has from the beginning of time. There is a long discussion about this supposedly Freudian “death wish” in all (!) men, and Igor shares with us a song the Soviet children sang during military training when he was young:
Bravely shall we enter battle
On behalf of Soviet power
And altogether we shall die
In this struggle of ours.
I cannot write more on the first two articles by Solzhenitsyn and Shafarevich without a total wipeout because of the Socialism/Communism that stalks our land today. Just look about you and see what anti-human Socialist Utopianism has done to us:
Unaccountable Politicians and Bureaucrats
Extra Judicial Activism
Abortion and Zero Population Growth
Economic Depression and Massive Public Debt
Extinguishing of God-given, Constitutionally Protected Rights
Persecution and Hatred of Christians
Destruction of the Family, particularly among Blacks
Social Justice instead of Rule of Law
Demands for diversity and equality at the same time, an impossibility
Educational idiocy under Common Core
Drugs, most from Mexican Cartels
Scientific lies (Climate Change)
Lie, lies, and more lies
Cultural rot and Loss of great art, music and beauty
Name Your poison, I’m sure you have your favorites
All in the name of Socialism/Communism.
Part 3: Short Takes on the Remaining Articles
There are several articles remaining, but the first two I discussed were the ones most clearly dealing with the effects of the deceptions of Socialism and those effects on the Russian people. In this article I hope to do only a short synopsis of the remaining articles so we can accurately judge what the country faced when they turned away from their government and the lies that held them bound for three generations.
Contemporary Socioeconomic Systems and Their Future Prospects by Mikhail Agursky. This Article was sobering in that it shows how cut off the Russian economy was from reality. Stay with Socialism or go to Capitalism? Maybe Socialism administered by Boards? At one point Agursky laments the need to build automobile factories, for instance, when they will have a limited life span once enough autos and roads have been built. Potemkin autos anyone? He does mention the West’s greed and planned obsolescence. He ends with a “We’ll have to wait and see what we actually need.”
Separation or Reconciliation? – The Nationalities Question in the USSR, by Igor Shafarevich. There were so many different countries and ethnic groups and religions no one knew if they could be held together by a central government. How could they reconcile, or would they ever? Who would bear the blame and shame for the horrors of communism? The former USSR countries still face these questions.
Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. This is a really interesting discussion on the question of “national repentance.” Is such a thing possible on a large scale? If so, who is its leader and who speaks on behalf of the State? Who speaks for the victims or do they or their descendants need such remembrance? What of compensation? What must be repented of? Can only individuals repent? What is the role of the Church in any repentance? How does anyone even begin to enforce self-limitation on present and future leaders so no one falls into the same old traps? Especially the leaders who refer to their subjects as “tools to be used and then discarded.”
The Direction of Change, by A. B.
Intellectuals in Russia before the revolution were looking for explanations to the problems of where to find truth and not surrender to despair. A. B. says that Russians need to find new spiritual energies and he sees Christianity resurgent in the lives of the people. A very hopeful sign. He quotes Dostoyevsky:
The bee knows the formula of its hive and the ant the formula of its anthills, but man does not know his formula.
This author says that man’s problem is that he is free, which is not our “natural” inheritance, but is the aim of our life. Christianity says that man is the prisoner of sin and we should free ourselves from that servitude first.
. . . the basic features of life in the USSR are a direct result of the hegemony in our country of socialist ideology. This ideology is the enemy of every nation., just as it is hostile to individual human personality. It is able to exploit the aspirations of this or that people temporarily , for its own purposes, but its fundamental trend is toward the destruction of all nations. The Russians no less than others are its victims; indeed, they were the first to come under fire.
This article is dedicated to The Memory of Father Pavel Florensky. By F. Korsakov
I reserve the right to use the beginning and ending in this article for a personal telling of my own struggles with the subject of Socialism.
Korsakov tells of his spiritual and intellectual journey within the Russian Orthodox Church when he decided to return to the Church and faced the ostracism of being a “believer” among that community.
Korsakov thinks that to some extent all the people must accept some of the blame for allowing socialism to overtake their homelands. He says they should avoid seeking external cures for their problems and rely on their internal strengths to improve their destinies.
It took a long time for him to accept being among folks he thought of as being his intellectual inferiors, and to learn the necessary repentance and humility to become one in spirit with them.
The Schism Between the Church and the World by Evgeny Barabanov
Barabanov takes his fellow-countrymen to task for allowing the State to control their religious life. To become serfs in the supposed Kingdom of God. Some bear the bondage “for the sake of the church,” while others have acquired a taste for the state church and enjoy it.
The author says there are those who believe the Church can be saved only when, or if, the believers return to it. Only on the basis of higher truths is it possible to warrant a spiritual destiny to man and what he creates. He feels Christianity is the only vehicle by which that view of man is so upheld.
A history of the church in Russia and its effect on national life is given for anyone interested. He also speaks of the martyrdom of the brave priests and leaders who began speaking out about the abuses of the State and some religious leaders themselves. He says today as never before we must stand against a godless humanism which is destroying mankind.
Personality and National Awareness by Vadim Borisov
Not so long ago it seemed impossible that the debate about Russia, after everything she has suffered, should revive. But present developments offer a glimmer of hope that an end to peremptory Marxist decisions and predeterminations of Russia’s fate may now be near and that henceforward her crippled soul and body may THEMSELVES begin to seek ways back to health. . . It is not rhetoric, but cold fact, that our people’s very LIFE now depends on their solution. Unless we can discover in OURSELVES the source of some power to lead our ravaged consciousness back to a single spiritual center, all present enthusiasm for social experiment may turn out to be Russia’s last agony.
Borosov says that the one thing that can totally annihilate a people is to remove its memory, and its thought, and then the soul of a people will die. The personality of each person should be valued by the country, which is free to develop its own national personality.
He shows how our Founding Fathers determined the rights owed to all men:
The American Founding Fathers . . . first propounded the “eternal rights of man and the citizen,” postulated that EVERY human being bears the form and likeness of God; he THEREFORE has an ABSOLUTE value, and consequently also the RIGHT to be respected by his fellows. . . Rationalism, positivism and materialism, developing in opposition to religion, successively destroyed the memory of this absolute source of human rights. The unconditional equality of persons before God was replaced by the CONDITIONAL equality of human individuals before the law. . . Deprived of divine authority , the concept of the HUMAN PERSONALITY could be defined CONDITIONALLY, and therefore inevitably arbitrarily. . . If the human personality is conditional, then so are its rights.
Christianity is the answer in that it seeks to transform man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The Smatterers, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn speaks here of those intellectuals in Russia who dabble in small ideas without ever confronting the spiritual rebirth that is most important, in fact they regard it with suspicion. He thinks in much broader terms than those about him, and craves that the dignity of human personality to be defended by all.
He says the Smatterers are those who just give up any effort and moan that “It won’t do any good anyway.” Those who surrender before the war is fought.
Does Russia Have a Future?, by Igor Shafarevich
Igor thought that any country has a future only if it stops worshipping those things that have no real worth, but turn to the things of God. Especially the children, who are the future. They must see their parents earnestly striving to turn to that God who gave them life.
All of these last articles look at man’s relation to God, or to Christ in particular. The Russians had historically been a spiritual people and hungered for that spirit. These writers were attempting to help them in extraordinary conditions.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone studying history, particularly the history of Socialism and Communism. It is also a sobering look at America and where we are rapidly heading.