Prophet of the Nation.

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A regime based upon violence, he writes, must make use of lies because in practice it cannot use direct force against all its subjects at all times. So of the rest it requires “only a submission to lies, a daily participation in deceit.” Each subject, he says, is thus faced with a clear choice: “will he remain a witting servant of the lies (needless to say, not due to natural predisposition, but in order to provide a living for the family…), or has the time come for him to stand straight as an honest man, worthy of the respect of his children and contemporaries?” If the latter, then Solzhenitsyn lists a number of practical steps he can take “from that day onward,” among which are that “he… will not be impelled to a meeting where a forced and distorted discussion is expected to take place; will at once walk out from a session, meeting, lecture, play, or film as soon as he hears the speaker utter a lie, ideological drivel, or shameless propaganda.”

I recall in about the 1980s seeing an explanation for American naïfs of the Soviet “closed lectures” to which Solzhenitsyn is here referring, in which apparatchiks propagandized captive audiences at their workplaces. How could free Americans be expected to understand such a thing? Today, of course, we are all familiar with mandatory sensitivity training, diversity workshops, sexual harassment seminars, etc. These, like their Soviet predecessor, serve not merely for brainwashing, but as tests of our submissiveness. If a certain critical mass of men is willing to risk their livelihoods to resist such encroachments, they will end; if not, we are in for much worse. One of the hazards of reading Solzhenitsyn is that he may make us ashamed of our own moral compromises.

(The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 3, Fall 2006).

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