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The Tilt of Freedom Toward Evil

Posted by admin in January 7th, 2019
Published in Uncategorized

Solzhenitsyn. The name conjures up a few images, like folks who know they should eat their vegetables, “But it’s just so hard to find the time.” Or, “I love him, though I’ve never actually read him.” Most pseudo-intellectuals like myself LOVE the idea of Solzhenitsyn, but just haven’t take the time and hard work of actually digesting him.

As Americans we want to be intellectually astute and many claim to have read Solzy, but in truth, we’ve only read bits and pieces and stuff others have written about him. Hand raised, I’m the guiltiest among us.

Recently, Daryl (who actually read The Gulag Archipelago on vacation a few years back) shared with me a book review written by Polish scholar Ryszard Legutko. Legutko is brilliant. He speaks five languages, authored half a dozen books, is a professor of philosophy, and a member of Poland’s parliament. His English-language writing style is glorious. Basically, he’s a rock star. In January’s issue of First Things Legutko writes a book review on Solzhenitsyn’s Between Two Millstones, Book 1: Sketches of Exile. The book ends with Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard commencement speech. Legutko calls him “The Russian Jeremiah.” And quite frankly, he’s right.

In the Harvard speech Solzhenitsyn wears the mantel of a prophet (though he is a bit Fidel-Castro-like in his appearance). He is a clear, concise voice speaking to a generation of Western elitists warning them of the dangers hidden in a worldview filled with secular, liberal, leftists, democracy-before-God pluralism. I have to say without hesitation, never have Solzhenitsyn’s words been more needed in our country than today. (Here’s a link to the speech. You can listen to it or read via this link: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/alexandersolzhenitsynharvard.htm ).

Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard speech is what Legutko describes as Solzhenitsyn’s views on the West. But I think it is more accurate to say it’s his views on America. Legutko describes the prophetic voice that rang that day, 40 years ago, in the halls of Harvard,

Take, for instance, [Solzhenitsyn’s] expression ‘the tilt of freedom toward evil.’ The defenders of liberalism and liberal society expressed indignation at such an accusation, but Solzhenitsyn was right. The liberal concept of freedom tends to favor immoral conduct and disfavor moral conduct. Liberals always say that we do not have sufficiently strong reasons to ban pornography, vulgarity, blasphemy, abortion, or drugs. All these things are deemed to be the inevitable consequences of liberty: We are told that once we accept freedom, we have to agree to them, partially or completely, even if we find them outrageous.

Legutko goes on to say, “The same liberals are allergic to such concepts as truth, goodness, and morality. Merely invoking [these terms] in public discourse provokes very strong, almost knee-jerk resistance on liberals’ part. Efforts to praise or promote virtue are met with a reduction ad Hitlerum and invocations of the Spanish Inquisition, all of these to the effect that those ideas necessarily engender authoritarianism, oppression, and ideological terror.”

So basically, as we see in public discourse today, if one wants to discuss right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, truth vs. lies, facts vs. feelings, she is confronted with a now-common argument style of name calling and virtue signaling rhetoric. I’m with Sgt. Joe Friday, “Just the facts ma’am.” But too many of the folks I try to discuss important ideas with have an emotional breakdown and revert to anger if I quote a fact they don’t like or they strongly wish didn’t exist. Especially when it comes to the truth about socialism and Obamacare! I’ve been unfriended, verbally abused, cut off from family members–all simply because I questioned the soundness of illegal immigration or defended Israel’s right to exist; simply because I quoted a statistic that more white men die each year in the U.S. from police shootings than black men. Or because I doubted Ford’s testimony based on the facts of her life rather than the words of her mouth (i.e. fear of flying). Big mistake.

Another passionate misconception of liberals (and most college students I know) is that totalitarianism comes from the evil reign of society believing in only one universal truth. Quite the contrary. Totalitarianism is based on the idea that there is no truth, there are no absolutes, and there can be no rule of law. Totalitarianism is based on the whims of leaders and every turn of the ideological winds. Only in a society where truth is honored and sought after, only in a society where truth matters and virtue is pursued can man really live free. Absolutely.

So, liberals bow to worship the law and declare the law as the ruling supreme guide, the plumb line by which we all must live. And as Solzhenitsyn pointed out in his Harvard address, there must be a distinction between law and morality. Even the Bible says “all things are legal, but not all things are profitable” (I Cor. 10:23). Forty years since the Harvard speech and we can see the harm that an amoral legal system can do to a nation’s moral fiber – legalized abortion, legalized same-sex marriage, legalized euthanasia, redefining family, redefining gender, redefining truth—-all in the name of legality.

The problem with replacing legality for morality is that laws can be changed by human beings who are flawed. Morality—true, authentic, eternal morality–does not change as it is rooted in the Truth of God’s Word. Our nation doesn’t need more laws, it needs more morality. We’ve lost our moral compass in the name of legality.

Critics of Solzhenitsyn’s ideas about Western society need to take a second look at that Harvard speech. The Russian Jeremiah nails us to the wall with his sharp criticism of Americans’ worship and elevation of our legal system and rule by law. He effectively criticizes journalists and intellectuals in America who have, “…fallen into a slumber by their own monotonous rhetoric of pluralism, fails to see that it has been spawning generally accepted patterns of judgments, wheedling herd instincts, and encouraging not competition, as it claims, but monotonous homogeneity in the name of unity.” We hear the far-left crying out, “Think like we think or be damned.”

You see, Solzhenitsyn being born and raised under Soviet communism gave him insights into authoritarianism and oppression that few of us have ever experienced here in the free West. Absolute truth and morality based on guiding eternal principles are never bondage or restrictive, but just the opposite. It is only through these things that humankind can find real and lasting freedom. Peace.

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