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jeudi, 10 janvier 2008

A homage to A. Solzhenitsyn


A homage to Alexander Solzhenitsyn

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of postings translated by Fred Scrooby from Robert Steuckers’ interesting and important Synergies Européennes site.

Steuckers, interviewed here by the New Right journal Synthesis, is a heavyweight figure in the philosophical background of European nativist politics.  Synergies Européennes exists to gather and circularise not Steuckers own thought particularly, but all contributions of interest to the movement.  This first quite brief translation, A homage to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was initially published a year ago and appeared on Altermedia - though untranslated.  Steuckers chose to repost it this month, and Fred and I hope you find it a little more instantly readable now and of interest.

Finally, I want to thank Fred publicly for undertaking this task.  He is MR’s premier polyglot, and talent like that just can’t be allowed to go to waste!


Slavic languages specialist Barbara de Munnynck, who is Flemish, devotes two full pages in the Flemish newspaper De Standaard (December 8, 2006) to enthusiastically paying homage to Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  She retraces and analyses his whole body of work and writes this very fitting conclusion:

Solzhenitsyn is no longer in fashion.  It’s because of the recent political upheavals.  Simply put, this man by his nature stands apart from all fashion.  Though known as a political writer, he’s closer to a religion-inspired moralist.  He critiqued the Soviet dicatorship from a spiritual point of view, not in the name of an alternative political ideology.  Measured against the yardstick of Solzhenitsyn’s ethical criteria, neither the West nor the New Russia has any worth.  For these reasons Solzhenitsyn might be considered merely a grumpy old man or a perennial dissident.  No matter:  his attitude toward life, one of coherence, commands respect.  It was forged under trying circumstances and has certain things in common with the Christian humanism of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Edmund Burke.  Solzhenitsyn is a venerable prophet whose message exists beyond the passage of time.  The enthusiasm for him personally during the Cold War was as strange as the disinterest in him today.

Barbara Munnynck’s reflections allow us to draw a few general conclusions:

It becomes ever more clear that our turbulent, agitated, unbridled-capitalist age needs to be judged based on criteria that stand outside of time.  Man’s great works and his equilibrium presuppose long duration; nothing great and lasting can emerge out of the infernal parade of bizarre novelties that strike societies such as ours.  Men require long-term trail-markers and find themselves in trouble if these disappear.  Beyond this or that religion, presented here a priori as the source of Solzhenitsyn’s inspiration, it is this attitude of respect in the presence of long memory, in the presence of all manner of continuity, that we must recover.

Coming up with alternative ideologies presented as panaceas that will straighten everything out serves no purpose or can only lead to new catastrophes.

In order to recover this sense of long duration or long memory, other works than those of Augustine or Thomas Aquinas are necessary.  It amounts to taking the fascinating inventory of mankind’s great spiritual productions.

The disinterest in Solzhenitsyn is the result mainly of two things: in a famous speech at Harvard University he scourged Westernism and Americanism; in the wake of communism’s collapse he didn’t applaud Russia’s westernization.  Thus did he distance himself from the boilerplate repeated ad nauseam in the great global media, centered around opinion-forming American press agencies and leading us in every way to believe americanism is history’s happy, splendid final stage and that Russia’s westernization, despite the failures, is a magnificent opportunity being offered to Russia’s peoples.

Translation from the original French by Fred Scrooby

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