Rorate Caeli

100 years later, the Lessons of the October Revolution

In the post-Christian West, this is seen over and over again: in the end of the 20th century, and first decades of the new one, the same mistake that paved the way in the mighty Russian Empire in the end of the 19th century, and first decades of the new one: a rejection of good CONSERVATISM, a "slavery to Progressive quirks."

Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai, Lithuania 

Dostoevsky's DEVILS - apparently a provincial nightmare fantasy of the last century - are crawling across the whole world in front of our very eyes, infesting countries where they could not have been dreamed of; and by means of the hijackings, kidnappings, explosions and fires of recent years they are announcing their determination to shake and destroy civilization! And they may well succeed.

The young, at an age when they have not yet any experience other than sexual, when they do not yet have years of personal suffering and personal understanding behind them, are jubilantly repeating our depraved Russian blunders of the Nineteenth Century, under the impression that they are discovering something new. They acclaim the latest wretched degradation on the part of the Chinese Red Guards as a joyous example. In shallow lack of understanding of the age-old essence of mankind, in the naive confidence of inexperienced hearts they cry: let us drive away THOSE cruel, greedy oppressors, governments, and the new ones (we!), having laid aside grenades and rifles, will be just and understanding.

Far from it! . . . But of those who have lived more and understand, those who could oppose these young - many do not dare oppose, they even suck up, anything not to appear "conservative". Another Russian phenomenon of the Nineteenth Century which Dostoevsky called SLAVERY TO PROGRESSIVE QUIRKS.

Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn
Nobel Lecture
(Written in 1970)

Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism; radicalism had to surrender to socialism; and Socialism could never resist Communism. The Communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see Communism's crimes. And when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them. In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.
Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man's life and society's activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?

Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn
Harvard Commencement Speech
June 8, 1978

(Personal recess)