05 August 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

In case you missed it, Alexander Solzhenitsyn died over the weekend. For those who don't know, Solzhenitsyn was the anti-Soviet dissident whose writings (including One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the The Gulag Archipelago) had a seminal impact on the conservative movement in the United States, especially on modern conservative foreign policy.

Ronald Reagan read Solzhenitsyn's work and redoubled his commitment to ending the Communist/Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn's work provided the West with a window into the horrors of Soviet despotism, and provided Reagan with a treasure trove of examples to put steel into the American spine and keep us focused on the inherent danger and evil of the Soviet state.

But Solzhenitsyn's impact remains today. His work inspired a generation of fellow Soviet dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov, the Russian nuclear scientist turned dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 and died in 1989. It was Sakharov's young protege, Natan Sharansky, whose book The Case for Democracy is a "must read" within the current Bush Administration, and President Bush quoted it in his second inaugural address. Sharansky has since moved to Israel and is now a sitting member of the Knesset in the Likud Party.

Those of you who ever saw my first office at Club for Growth may recall that I had a "quote wall" of "deep thoughts" (for those of you who didn't see it, think Jack Handey, only inspiring conservatism instead of cheap laughs). Solzhenitsyn and Sharansky were both on that wall for these quotes:

If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being? (Solzhenitsyn).

The drug of freedom is universally potent. (Sharansky)

May we not forget Solzhenitsyn's wisdom, and may he rest in peace.

Also Blogging: Earl Capps, Dan Cassidy

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