Solzhenitsyn: We Ignored His Warnings

16 March 2023

3.9 MINS

Nation First looks at the unheeded exhortations given to the West by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

The King James Bible gives us this quote from Jesus Christ that, like all of what He said, rings true to this very day: “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

The saying basically means that those who speak out, point out errors and tell us to change our ways are not just ignored by those in the area in which they came from, but they are actively opposed.

But far from the prophet suffering from this ignorance and opposition, it is their homeland who actually suffers by rejecting the prophetic message which could possibly have saved them from some pending calamity.

That saying has been shorted in modern times to “a prophet isn’t welcome in his home town.

That was certainly the case for one of the great prophets of the 20th century, exiled Russian writer and intellectual Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

But while Solzhenitsyn’s commentary against the Communist ideology of Soviet Russia was welcomed in the United States of America and elsewhere in the Western world, his calls to action against Communism were not.

Neither were his critiques of Western civilisation which he rightly saw as suffering from moral decay, a lack of spiritual values and, worse still, a culture that prioritised consumerism, material wealth and individual pleasure above all else.

Here was the prophet calling out for repentance (which, from the Greek metanoia, literally means a turning around) by our society lest we slide into the totalitarian abyss that had engulfed his former homeland.

Solzhenitsyn’s Expulsion from Soviet Russia

After suffering eight years imprisonment in a labour prison camp and then three years of internal exile, Solzhenitsyn was expelled from Russia in 1974.

The expulsion was triggered by the publication of several works critical of the Soviet Union, including The Gulag Archipelago.

Solzhenitsyn later settled in the United States, in the little-known village of Cavendish, Vermont, where he continued to write about the dangers of Communism and its threat to Western values, as well as the West undermining itself.

The West is Suffering from Christianity’s Decline

If you want a summary of Solzhenitsyn’s warnings to the West, you could possibly do no better than to read his speech of 8 July 1978 delivered at Harvard University and titled “A World Split Apart”.

It really is a jam-packed tour de force of a speech.

There is so much Solzhenitsyn has to say in it, but there are some very jarring sections to note.

The first such section highlights the loss of our Christian roots, leading to the rise of consumerism, materialism and hedonism in the West:

There is a disaster, however, which has already been underway for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness…

On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.

In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests suffocate it. This is the real crisis.

The West’s Lack of Courage

The second section highlights the lack of fight in the West to stand up for its own values and how this rot seemingly developed first (and, I would add, quite possibly deliberately) amongst the elite:

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.

Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Will Communism Fill the Spiritual Void?

The third such section highlights the danger of a West with a spiritual vacuum slipping into Communism, and of the Western elites who, at the time, were encouraging that slip (and, again I would note, still are today!):

As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say that “communism is naturalized humanism.”

This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorships; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach…

The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive, and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic.

Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism; radicalism had to surrender to socialism; and socialism could never resist communism. The communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see communism’s crimes. And when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them.

In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.

Sadly, we ignored Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s warnings and now we are suffering the consequences.


Originally published at Nation First. Photo by Anefo.

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  1. Kaylene Emery 16 March 2023 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Thank you George. God willing we are now ready , with the guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ, to learn what we teach.

  2. Peter Pearce 16 March 2023 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Thanks George. yes Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was definitely a prophet. I read gulag archipelago back in 2017 around the time I was starting to wake up to what was going on in the world.

  3. Pearl Miller 16 March 2023 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Thank God for The Bible where we find the happy ending for believers…. Have you see the ARC? Jordan Petersen is organising a global way forward without the WEF… May God guide him.

  4. Cai 16 March 2023 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Read his works/books back in the 1970’s and 80’s …….i have been awake to injustice most of my life….but my voice is soft…and has mostly been silenced or ignored…..may you and others speak loudly and may this generation listen!

  5. John Coverdale 19 March 2023 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Highly recommend a 3 part series on utube called The Gulag . They were around from 1918-1957 horrible. Also a 10 part series ( roughlly 10 minutes each) entitled “The Specter of communism ”
    From Lenin, to how communism is infiltrating the west today.

  6. Jim Twelves 12 April 2023 at 8:23 am - Reply

    George, many thanks for this. I read a little of Solzhenitsyn in the 1970s but I did not get to read the Gulag until the covid era alerted me to him. I am reading him now ‘Cancer Ward’. He is a brilliant writer in my view and his life was such an example too, well worth the study, as his books are not short! John’s recommendation to the videos is excellent, thank you.

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