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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

EDITORIAL: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Good Riddance


EDITORIAL

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Good Riddance

It was fitting that on the same day the Moscow Times reported the demise of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whom it called a "literary giant," it also reported that "prime minister" Vladimir Putin had issued a public pledge to strengthen Russia's ties with America's hated foe Cuba, thus inviting a new escalation in the cold war. "We need to rebuild our positions in Cuba and other countries," Putin declared. In other news, arch American enemy Hugo Chavez was spewing forth plenty of Castro-like anti-American hatred as he took delivery on a couple of dozen Russian war planes. To round things out nicely, another round of the campaign to resurrect and rehabilitate the mass murderer Josef Stalin was announced, this time in the form of smears and slurs against Stalin's great nemesis, Nikita Khrushchev.

As we report below, Russians overwhelmingly believe that it is Putin, not their so-called "president" Dimitry Medvedev, who wields the real power in their country. And Putin is using that power not to advance the interests of the Russian people but to undermine them by provoking and alienating the world's most powerful country, just as his Soviet forbears did. Nothing else can be expected, of course, from man who spent his whole life in the KGB. Putin's actions give the U.S. justification for doing the same in Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltics, and anywhere else that Russia might see as threatening. It's neo-Soviet suicide, pure and simple.

If Solzhenitsyn had had his right mind, the one that produced The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, he would have been the world's leading critic of Putin's KGB regime. But he didn't, so he wasn't. Solzhenitsyn's brain went soft years ago, right about the time he returned to Russia and decided the thing to do would be to host a TV talk show. The show was, of course, a cataclysmic failure -- and Solzhenitsyn has not written a significant book in decades. Instead, he churned out dreck attempting to blame the Jews for the excesses of the USSR and, as we've reported several times on this blog, issued numerous statements rationalizing the KGB regime of Vladimir Putin in an apparent attempt to curry favor with power for the sake of his senile ego mania. Putin attempted to praise Solzhenitsyn as some kind of linguist, totally ignoring his work documenting the horrors of Soviet Russia. As Viktor Sonkin, a literature columnist for The Moscow Times Context section and a teacher of cultural studies at Moscow State University, wrote in his column: "Solzhenitsyn understood Western society only superficially, and many alarming things he said about it were simply not correct. Rejecting the 'bad totalitarianism' of the Soviet type, Solzhenitsyn was promoting a kind of 'good totalitarianism,' as if there were such a thing in the world."


We warned Mr. Solzhenitsyn that if he wasn't careful, he was going to pass from this earth in a state of mortal sin, having abrogated his entire life's work for the sake of his old man's ego. He ignored us. And now, it is too late. The eulogies can talk about Solzhenitsyn's courage in standing up to the USSR, but they can't say he did anything whatsoever in the past ten years to stop Russia from sliding down the path towards becoming a neo-Soviet state. To the contrary, by accepting awards from the Putin regime, history can only conclude that Solzhenitsyn played role, however minor and doddering, in helping Russia become what he loathed and risked his life to chronicle.

In the end, Solzhenitsyn was a traitor to Russia, a traitor to his own ideals. The only thing that can be said in his defense is that his actions were surely a sign of the toll taken on his psyche by being evicted from his own country, his fellow citizens having not lifted a finger to protect him, just as they did nothing to protect Pushkin or Dostoevsky, and the crippling affects of his advanced age and the deprivations he suffered in the GULAG. Solzhenitsyn lived two decades longer than the average Russian man (thanks to his comfy digs in a gated community and plenty of access to elite medical care sponsored by the Putin regime), but he spent more than enough time in Russia to suffer its ill effects.

Solzhenitsyn, like the majority of his craven countrymen, sat by and watched as a proud KGB spy wiped out political opposition, destroyed the mass media and crushed local government, centralizing power under his filthy jackboot. He applauded, like the majority of his malignant countrymen, when that proud KGB spy provoked a new cold war with the United States, the same cold war that reduced the USSR to rubble. His ability to generate literature of import vanished, and he groveled for attention like an aging puppy dog. Years from now, when anyone challenges the latest draconian moves against civil society by Dictator Putin, he'll undoubtedly whip out the above photograph and claim that he had Solzhenitsyn's blessing just before he packs off the critic to the neo-Soviet GULAG.

And that will be the story of Solzhenitsyn. Talking about the "good" Solzhenitsyn did long ago now is like talking about how Hitler made the trains run on time. It's beside the point.

Good riddance, Aleksandr Isakyevich. You used your final years to stab yourself and your country in the back, and you could not have disappeared from this earth soon enough to suit us.

7 comments:

Penny said...

Kim, I couldn't agree more that Solzhenitsyn diminished his moral authority in his later years and did a great disservice to this generation of younger Russians.

He never trusted capitalism, a free press or the common man. He felt Russia ruled by a benign autocrat as best for them. During his yeas in the US he was incurious about our successful democracy. His Harvard Commencement speech revealed his lack of understanding and distain for a free press, an essential component of a democracy.

How a man who documented the horror of the KGB could endorse Putin is beyond me. I suspect it was vanity and naivete.

Tikhon said...

No surprise, hate filled dreck bidding "good riddance" to someone who did more for Russia with one paragraph than all of the chatterers like Kim Zigfeld have ever done, and attacking someone who actually suffered at the hands of the Soviets for allegedly failing to denounce the "neo-Soviet Union".

KZ lies about Solzhenitsyn. He did not advocate autocracy, but grassroots self government and Orthodoxy as the solutions to Russia's problems (of course KZ hates Orthodoxy too). I have no idea where KZ is getting this "he lived in a gated community with his healthcare paid for by Putin" crap. It is simply made up, like so much else on this blog. But why should we have expected any better?

Anonymous said...

"I suspect it was vanity and naivete."

In the Soviet time such a way of putting a genius into the frames of the official revolutionary mith was sarcastically called 'voprekism': 'Dostoyevsky was a genius notwithstanding his reactionary views'.

La Russophobe said...

TIKHON:

You have no idea how we know he lived in a gated community, you ignorant APE, because you did not read the links in this post before you spewed out your pathetic bile. The link is here:

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/369539.htm

Read it, then we demand you apologize for your outrageous lie.

Nothing in this post claims that Solzhenitsyn advocated autocracy. Again, you lie while complaining about lies, classic Russian idiocy and hypocrisy. It says Solzhenitsyn rationalized KGB rule of Russia and never criticized it, and that is precisely so.

Your post is full of hate while complaining about hate. You are a blogless cipher accusing us of insignificance. You are, in short, a classic Russian ignoramus, a perfect illustration of why Russia is, quite literally, dying out.

So pathetic. We pity you.

La Russophobe said...

"Solzhenitsyn understood Western society only superficially, and many alarming things he said about it were simply not correct. Rejecting the 'bad totalitarianism of the Soviet type, Solzhenitsyn was promoting a kind of 'good totalitarianism,' as if there were such a thing in the world."

-- Viktor Sonkin, a literature columnist for The Moscow Times Context section and a teacher of cultural studies at Moscow State University, writing in the Moscow Times.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/369605.htm

Don't you Russophile idiots ever get tired of humilating yourselves in public with your gibberish?

Anonymous said...

This is small minded.

We're talking about a man who sometimes called things right, and sometimes wrongly.

When it counted for his generation, he called it right.

Anonymous said...

he didn't understand freedom, esp the importance of a free press. he saw all of this as messy.
since bad journalists exist, and some tell lies and make mistakes, he didn't think there should be a free press. he didn't trust people to sort it out, to question, to not believe everything they read.
but yea---he was a great man, he just wasn't able to deal with the messiness of a free society.