Solzhenitsyn: The Russian Liberal

When an influential group of American intellectuals, liberals and neoconservatives alike, unites against one man, a Russian scribbler at refuge in a New England town, there ought to be something big at stake. Their own explanation is that Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn is a reactionary, a social conservative, an anti-democrat, a 19th-century romantic or paternalist, a strong statist, a nationalist, and whatever else.

There is an irony about this case, because true social conservatives like Patrick Buchanan, paternalistic statists like George Will, religious romantics like Malcolm Muggeridge, and extreme political right-wingers like James Burnham are not similarly ostracized by the entire intellectual community. Perhaps a simple example can hint at the reason. Jeane Kirkpatrick argued for the comparative advantage of an authoritarian state in some lesser developed, overpopulated countries of Latin America in the 1980's. Solzhenitsyn argued for the comparative advantage of an authoritarian state in Russia in the 1900's-1910's and in the hypothetical transitory period after communism. Yet Kirkpatrick is acceptable, at least to neoconservatives, and Solzhenitsyn is not. The only explanation I can see is that a corporate body of American intellectuals identifies itself with the power-sharing aspirations of Russian intellectuals of the 1900's-1910's and 1980's-1990's, while most Latin American intellectuals are integrated...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here