Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s response to America’s problems
“Men have forgotten God; that’s why it all happened ”- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
With the 2019 Pew Research poll showing that the percentage of Christians in America has increased from 77% in 2009 to 65% in 2019, the religious transformation of Americans cannot be ignored. For many Americans, religion is viewed as a personal matter that should be disconnected from public life. Many members of the political left claim that Christian values are a danger to public decision-making. Amy Coney Barrett was asked by Democratic senators about the potentially dangerous role her religious beliefs could play in the 2018 Court of Appeals confirmation hearings. The reality is that the level of religion in a nation is at its highest. of great importance for the future of the nation. The prophetic warning of the danger of national spiritual decline, by Soviet author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, is what America desperately needs right now. Let me explain.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born in Russia in December 1918. Although baptized in a Russian Orthodox family, Solzhenitsyn grew up to experience the anti-Christian fervor of the Soviet Union and became an atheist communist activist. During World War II, Solzhenitsyn served as an artillery captain and was three times decorated for his bravery in the fight against Nazi Germany. Despite the heroism of the Red Army, in 1945 Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Soviet gulag due to private criticism of Stalin. It was during this period that Solzhenitsyn experienced a religious conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith from his youth. He came to see the hatred of Christianity at the heart of Communism, and came to better understand the ultimate reason for the horror of 60 million deaths in the Soviet Union. As Solzhenitsyn wrote, it took root because the nation turned away from God.
Solzhenitsyn was released from the Gulag in 1953 and attempted to publish works critical of the Gulag system and the Soviet Union. After persecution by Soviet authorities, Solzhenitsyn was eventually stripped of his Soviet citizenship and expelled from Russia. He lived in America from 1976 until after the fall of the Soviet Union, when, in 1994, he returned to his home country, Russia. During his stay in America, due to his international fame as a writer and dissident, Solzhenitsyn was invited to deliver numerous speeches to various Western audiences. In 1978, Solzhenitsyn shocked liberal Harvard University by warning of the danger of materialism and the rise of secularism that he has seen invade and eat away at the West. Solzhenitsyn compared the horrific consequences of state-imposed atheism in the Communist Soviet Union to the secularism and materialism he saw in America.
It was during his speech in 1983 at the reception of the Templeton Prize that Solzhenitsyn briefly explained the reason for the Bolshevik revolution and the barbarism and atrocities it inflicted on the world: “Men have forgotten God, and so on. ‘that’s why all of this happened ”. It was the ultimate explanation of the horrors of socialism. Solzhenitsyn also warned that America could go through the same thing “forgetting God”.
According to Solzhenitsyn, the violent revolution followed impiety and increased impiety: “It was once again Dostoyevsky who drew from the French Revolution and his apparent hatred of the Church the lesson that ‘the revolution must necessarily start with atheism. ‘ This is absolutely true. But the world had never before known such organized, militarized and stubbornly malicious impiety as that practiced by Marxism. In the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the main engine, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not simply incidental or marginal to Communist politics; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve his evil ends. Communism must control a population devoid of religious and national sentiment, resulting in the destruction of faith and nationality. “
Solzhenitsyn then explained the opposite of Marxism and secularism of his time. Prophetically, this provides the answer to the rise of Marxism and anarchy that we see in America today. As Solzhenitsyn explains, unlike the group, racial, and class divisions of Marxism, America must turn to God, both as a nation and as individuals:
“All attempts to find a way out of the distress of the world today are in vain unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this no way out will be illuminated, and we will seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside are too depleted for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by an outside force, not by class or national enemies, but in each of us individually and within each society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own accord. We ourselves, in our thoughtless daily selfishness, tighten this noose. “
In America today we see the increasing attacks on the foundations of our traditional Christian faith and our nation by groups like antifa and BLM and ideas like Critical Race Theory and Project 1619. Whether it be through the destruction of statues and memorials to the nation and the Church, or shaming national history through fraudulent alternative historical narratives. Solzhenitsyn’s answer to this is the unbeatable power of Christianity.
“Centralized atheism (Soviet Union) before whose armed power the whole world trembles, detests and still fears this unarmed faith (Christianity) as much today as it was 60 years ago. Yes! All the savage persecution inflicted on our people by murderous state atheism, coupled with the corrosive effect of its lies, and an avalanche of mind-numbing propaganda – all of these things have proven to be weaker than our nation’s millennial faith. This faith has not been destroyed; it remains the most sublime, the most expensive gift.
After his conversion from Communist to Christianity in a Soviet gulag, Solzhenitsyn always anticipated the ultimate triumph of Christianity. Joseph Pearce best described Solzhenitsyn’s life and our hope in Christianity: play an important role in the collapse of this system.
Like Solzhenitsyn, let us put our faith in the power of Christianity to overcome modern darkness seeking to envelop our nation and let us never forget God.
Bill Connor, Army Infantry Colonel, author and Orangeburg lawyer, has been deployed to the Middle East on several occasions. Connor was the principal US military adviser to the Afghan forces in Helmand province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate from the US Army War College, where he obtained his Masters in Strategic Studies. He is the author of the book Articles of the War.