Monday, August 4, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

Quoting from the famous 1978 Harvard address, Andrew Cusack eulogizes Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the heroic foe of Communism who puzzled many in the West by refusing to uncritically embrace secular democratic capitalism either.

I'm not sure whether Solzhenitsyn would have accepted the designation of "monarchist," and indeed he was perhaps too complex a figure to be adequately summed up by any one label, but he seemed to have leanings in that direction. Certainly he was perceived that way, all too often by those for whom "monarchist" is apparently a self-evidently sinister or pathetic thing to be, like New Yorker editor David Remnick, quoted in the New York Times obituary: “In terms of the effect he has had on history, Solzhenitsyn is the dominant writer of the 20th century. Who else compares? Orwell? Koestler? And yet when his name comes up now, it is more often than not as a freak, a monarchist, an anti-Semite, a crank, a has been.”

Idiotic statements like that, which imply that monarchism (or even a hint of nostalgia for Tsarist Russia) deserves to be grouped with such epithets, remind those of us who know better how outnumbered we are. But on the other hand, if an acknowledged giant can be called such names, monarchists--who at the very least share with Solzhenitsyn a refusal to accept the lie that modern liberal democracy is the only alternative to totalitarianism--can be proud to have kept such company.

1 comment:

William Harvey said...

Great post, Theodore!