Monday, August 4, 2008

RIP Solzhenitsyn

The dissident and writer died recently at 89.
What is worth remembering about Solzhenitsyn is his struggle against totalitarianism. There is another side to the author certainly, the Russian nationalist side. From the Volokh Conspiracy
Unlike fellow dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn was a Russian nationalist, not a liberal democrat. As such, he was suspicious of Western-style democracy and individual rights. While he was not as much of a chauvinist as some other Russian nationalists, his writings defending czarist Russia and Russian culture sometimes verged into anti-Semitism. For example in one of his last books, Two Hundred Years Together, Solzhenitsyn made the absurd claim that the czarist-era Russian government was not anti-Semitic and that Russian Jews bear as much or more blame than Russian gentiles do for the historic conflicts between the two groups. As Cathy Young has pointed out, in view of the czarist state's "systematic oppression and violence" against the Jews, this is "a bit like asking blacks to accept their share of blame for Jim Crow."

For this reason, it should not surprise us overly much that Solzhenitsyn later became a supporter of the Putin regime.
Unsurprisingly, the Russian leadership eulogizes him as nationalist and supporter of the latter-day Chekist regime, rather than a dissident from Stainist tyranny. What a pity.

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