Monday, August 04, 2008

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, RIP

A Russian patriot, a great writer and a remarkable person is dead at the age of 89. The author of The Gulag Archipelago, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and many other novels, short stories, plays and books of essays died last night. Solzhenitsyn chronicled his experience of torture and survival in the Soviet political prison system and wrote of history of the madness of repression that was Soviet Communism under Joseph Stalin. Western leftist intellectuals and many liberals had long had a sympathetic view of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn's writings caused many of them to face the truth about the evils of Communism.

While the West is well acquainted with the horrors of Nazi Germany, our World War II ally, Soviet Russia, was even more brutal than the Nazi regime. Ten of millions perished under that system. Solzhenitsyn recorded that history that many in the West wanted to ignore. For his exposure of the Soviet system, he was forced into a 2o year exile, but lived to see the Soviet Union dissolve.

On my reading list of six or so "essential books", that I think everyone should read is The Gulag Archipelago. Communism still has its Western admirers and apologist. While there are only a couple orthodox Communist countries left in the world, Marxist ideology is not dead. Marxism is still in favor in much of academia and among intellectuals. While the evil that was Nazism has rightly earned universal condemnation, it is still acceptable to be a Communist in polite society.

The nature of Communism and the history of the Soviet Stalinist era should not be forgotten or whitewashed. I am glad Solzhenitsyn exposed the Soviet Union for what it was.

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