Solzhenitsyn: “Live not by lies!” – I
by Jonas E Alexis & Vladislav Krasnov on 13 Aug 2016 0 Comment

(Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist and historian who opposed the Soviet Union and its totalitarianism, raised global awareness of its Gulag forced labor camps, died on August 3, 2008. Jonas Alexis and Vladislav Krasnov discuss his legacy) 


Alexis: The German magazine Spiegel once posed this dilemma to Solzhenitsyn:

“Your recent two-volume work 200 Years Together was an attempt to overcome a taboo against discussing the common history of Russians and Jews. These two volumes have provoked mainly perplexity in the West. You say the Jews are the leading force of global capital and they are among the foremost destroyers of the bourgeoisie. Are we to conclude from your rich array of sources that the Jews carry more responsibility than others for the failed Soviet experiment?”


Solzhenitsyn responded:

“I avoid exactly that which your question implies: I do not call for any sort of scorekeeping or comparisons between the moral responsibility of one people or another; moreover, I completely exclude the notion of responsibility of one nation towards another. All I am calling for is self-reflection.”


What is your take on the book?


Krasnov: I think Solzhenitsyn is absolutely right in saying that the book is not about “scorekeeping.” Its driving force is more akin to the program of “Truth and Reconciliation” that was implemented in South Africa after the end of the apartheid rule there. As to whether Solzhenitsyn is fair to the Jews, there is enough blame to go around for people of all nationalities and ethnic groups who participated in the Bolshevik Revolution, both inside Russia and abroad, including the USA. Again, the book is not about blaming but about understanding what had happened in order to avoid repeating the mistake.


Alexis: Why is the establishment here in America reluctant to have the book translated and discussed?


Krasnov: I am puzzled too. They might claim that the book won’t sell, but why not try? I suspect something else is at play. Since the downfall of the USSR, the USA has taken upon itself the role of not just political, but ideological hegemony of the world. Its ideology has been formulated by a group of so called neo-conservatives who are not genuine conservatives at all but imposters, mostly, from the ranks of former Trotskyites who found it convenient to advance Israel’s goals in the guise of super-patriotic ideology of America’s Manifest Destiny.[1] Solzhenitsyn’s book would certainly lay bare that sometime some Jews play a sinister role in history.[2]


As I said, Solzhenitsyn does not lay all blame on the Jews, certainly not on religious Jews or those aspiring for a national home. Rather, his book is an invitation to a dialogue between Jews and non-Jews. However, it is a dialogue on equal footing which Zionist extremists, or any totalitarians for that matter, abhor most. They like only monologue, be it Marxist-Leninist under the USSR or Zionist in the US today. To be sure, the US is not a totalitarian society, but it could become one, if the American people allow themselves to be brainwashed by the nearly monopolistic Big Media.


Alexis: I would like to quote Solzhenitsyn:

“Every people must answer morally for all of its past - including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again?


“It is in that spirit, specifically, that it would behoove the Jewish people to answer, both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them. Not to answer before other peoples, but to oneself, to one’s consciousness, and before God. Just as we Russians must answer - for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors.”[3]


This is indeed a brilliant answer to a thorny question. This is what makes Solzhenitsyn different from other writers in the twentieth century because he always brings a moral dimension to thorny issues. Would you not agree?


Krasnov: I do agree with both Solzhenitsyn’s answer and you seeing it in moral terms. I could not have answered it better than he.


Alexis: So what about Peter Eltsov’s claim that Solzhenitsyn’s attitude to the Ukrainians may have influenced Putin’s policy on Ukraine, in particular his move on the Crimea? In Eltsov’s words, “the fiercely nationalistic Solzhenitsyn suggested that post-Soviet Russia must include Ukraine. Solzhenitsyn did not see the Ukrainians as a separate nation.”


“‘All the talk of a separate Ukrainian people existing since something like the ninth century and possessing its own non-Russian language is recently invented falsehood,’ he wrote in a 1990 essay, ‘Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals.’”[4]


Krasnov: I don’t know Mr. Eltsov, but I believe he is not an American. He has an American education and has lived in the US for a while, but most likely he is a Russian expat who obviously feels he is part of the US intellectual establishment, which we all know is heavily anti-Putin. It’s good he turned his attention to Solzhenitsyn’s important 1990 essay in which the writer gave his vision of what needed to be done when the USSR was just about to fall apart.


However, I think Eltsov misread Solzhenitsyn’s views as “fiercely nationalistic” or anti-Ukrainian. Besides, Putin did not need Solzhenitsyn to decide on his policy toward Ukraine today. Nearly all Russians, certainly those who lived and were educated in the USSR, think the same way. More importantly, a great number of Ukrainians think the same way. Even USA Today reported that “Crimea’s election committee said that 97% of voters backed a union between the largely ethnic-Russian peninsula and the huge neighboring country.”[5]


What Eltsov missed in Solzhenitsyn’s 1990 essay is that he favored a trilateral East Slavic union of the Belorussians, Ukrainians and Russians as a backbone of whatever national state might emerge after the USSR. In fact, as early as 1973, Solzhenitsyn wrote a Letter to the Soviet Leaders [6] which he mailed to each member of the Soviet Politburo. He did not challenge their political power but enjoined them to jettison Marxist-Leninist ideology in favor of a national sovereign state.


In my book, Russia Beyond Communism: A Chronicle of National Rebirth,[7] I devoted a whole chapter to Solzhenitsyn’s Letter, arguing that had Soviet leaders followed his advice for reform in 1973, the transition away from Communism would have been less painful and much easier. On nationalities issue, Solzhenitsyn suggested that Soviet leaders allow referenda in “border areas” if they wanted to secede. His attitude was certainly not chauvinistic. I would call his attitude on nationalities issue rather liberal.


Alexis: It seems he was ahead of his time…


Krasnov: Yes, and he was ahead of both Russian and Western liberals. To be sure, the Ukraine-Russia issue is a difficult one. Solzhenitsyn was prescient about it. Here’s what he wrote in 1968:

“It pains me to write this as Ukraine and Russia are merged in my blood, in my heart, and in my thoughts. But extensive experience of friendly contacts with Ukrainians in the camps has shown me how much of a painful grudge they hold. Our generation will not escape from paying for the mistakes of our fathers. …


“…We must hand over the decision-making to them: federalists or separatists, whichever of them wins. Not to give in would be mad and cruel. The more lenient, patient, coherent we now are, the more hope there will be to restore unity in the future…


“…Let them live it, let them test it. They will soon understand that not all problems are resolved through separation. Since in different regions of Ukraine there is a different proportion of those who consider themselves Ukrainians, those who consider themselves Russians and those who consider themselves neither, there will be many difficulties there.


“Maybe it will be necessary to have a referendum in each region and then ensure preferential and delicate treatment of those who would want to leave.”[8]


Eltsov is certainly wrong calling Solzhenitsyn “fierce nationalist”. But, as I said in our earlier interview, there was no reason for the US to take sides in a conflict among Ukrainian citizens, many of whom want to speak Russian and be friends with Russia. We should have shown in Ukraine the same patience, perseverance and Good Will as we have shown toward the national issues in the UK, Belgium, Spain or Canada.


Alexis: You seem to be well informed about Ukraine, but have you written about it?


Krasnov: Yes, I did visit Ukraine both under the USSR and after it became independent. In 1955 I took part in archeological digging for ancient Greek colonies in the Crimea. In late 1950s I was a member of an ethnological field research team studying national self-awareness in Western Ukraine. In 1996 I served as an interpreter for a US team exploring ways for improving security of Ukrainian nuclear-power stations. More than once I visited the Crimea. As soon as the current conflict flared up, I hurried to write “What the West Missed about Ukraine.”[9]


Alexis: From what I see, we in the US missed a lot, not just about Ukraine, but about Russia as well. We seem to be more interested in name calling than facts. What do you think about the Zionist-controlled media calling Putin the “new Hitler”?


Krasnov: It’s a shame. First they were shouting “Heil Hitler” to Milosevic, then Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad, and now to Putin. Such persistent and systematic name calling is a classic example of psychological warfare and covert operation. It’s just diversionary tactics. It works only to inflame passion and vacate reason. It is sick.


The main thing about Putin is not his KGB background, but his maturing while witnessing Western obstruction to Russia’s rebirth as a sovereign Christian nation with freedom for all religious and secular beliefs. I believe it was in Solzhenitsyn’s footsteps that Putin called Lenin and the Bolshevik traitors who led Russia to the defeat in WWI and laid a time bomb under its future. In one of his messages to the Federal Assembly, Putin used Solzhenitsyn’s definition of patriotism, not as an ideology, but as a feeling of attachment to one’s county, its spiritual traditions, its people, and its soil.


Anyone who dares to challenge the Big Media MONOLOGUE should be prepared for being denounced as a Hitler, anti-Semite and worse, regardless of whether the challenger is Chas Freeman, John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt [10], Solzhenitsyn, Jimmy Carter[11] or Putin. As my friend Israel Shamir puts it, the Masters of Discourse are jealously guarding their domain and would love to expand it further by declaring a taboo on any subject where they are at disadvantage.


Alexis: I think we have provided enough food for thought here. Let us conclude with Solzhenitsyn himself:

“And therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal non-participation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!”[12]



[1] See for example Murray Friedman, The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); for a history of the movement, see Alan M. Wald, The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left From the 1930s to the 1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987); Alexander Bloom, Prodigal Sons: The New York Intellectuals and Their World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Jacob Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (New York: Anchor Books, 2008); for a very short version of this issue, see Francis Fukuyama, “After Neoconservatism,” NY Times, February 19, 2006.


[2] For historical studies on this, see E. Michael Jones, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 1998); Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014).


[3] “SPIEGEL Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn: ‘I Am Not Afraid of Death,’” Spiegel International, July 23, 2007.


[4] Peter Eltsov, “What Putin’s Favorite Guru Tells Us About His Next Target,” Politico, February 10, 2015.


[5] “Crimea votes to join Russia; Ukrainians prepare for war,” USA Today, March 17, 2014.


[6] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Letter to the Soviet leaders (New York, Harper & Row, 1974).


[7] Vladislav Krasnov, Russia Beyond Communism: A Chronicle of National Rebirth. (Bolder: Westview Press, Bolder, CO 1991)


[8] Solzhenitsyn’s foresight on Ukraine proves eerily prescient. May 20, 2014. was written in 1968, published in 1974 (The Gulag Archipelago, Part 5, Chapter 2)


[9] W George Krasnow, “What the West Missed about Ukraine. March 14, 2014


[10] John M. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar & Straus, 2007).


[11] Former US President, Jimmy Carter is the author of the book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid (2006) which Zionists dislike.


[12] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Solzhenitsyn Reader (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006), 558.


(To be concluded…)

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