"One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world."
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a giant in the defense of freedom in the 20th Century, has died. Many, if not most will remember him for his authorship of the troika of books known as the Gulag Archipelago. When Maximus and I were students at Servite High School in the 1980’s, it was required reading. I hope it still is.
Less well known is Solzhenitsyn’s address to Harvard University in 1978. I believe it will go down in history as one of the most prescient speeches ever given. In league with Pericles "Funeral Oration," Cicero’s "Fourth Philippic," Zola’s "Appeal for Dreyfus," Theodore Roosevelt on "The Strenuous Life," or his cousin FDR’s "Arsenal of Democracy" speech.
His moniker of "Oracle of the Twentieth Century" was well-earned.
The full text of his Harvard address can be found here:
Some salient quotes of his critique of the West:
"In today's Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds."
"Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil."
"This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists."
I always have looked at Solzhenitsyn and Pope John Paul II as bearing essentially the same message, one in the political sphere, the other in the religious. While both were devoted to the cause of the defeat of Soviet Communism, they were also attune to the inherent dangers of the libertine society the West has become.
I think Solzhenitsyn, the "Gipper," and JPII are the triumvirate that brought down the Bolsheviks.