Wes Riddle: Two Roads and the Anatomy of Solzhenitsyn’s Warning

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died in 2008.  A leading dissident exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974, he was without question one of the world’s great intellects—a novelist and historian and a keen observer, who left behind a prescient warning for America and the West.  Few politicians today are thinkers, few sophisticated enough to pick up on the signs in front of their faces, much less inside the theoretical discourse contained in pages of books and speeches.  Fortunately Tom Pauken is no ordinary politician, but rather a statesman for our time.  He has written an important book, which lays out the kind of fundamental choice Robert Frost may have referenced, when he spoke of regret and of the Road Not Taken: “Two roads diverged in a wood,” and the choice “made all the difference.”

America today faces such a choice.  One road leadeth to green pastures and beside still waters potentially.  Ironically it is the same path that leads back home; whereas the other road leads on in the general direction we’re headed to destruction and downfall, and to end times for our country.  Tom Pauken cites Solzhenitsyn at length in his new book, Bringing America Home ( Rockford , Illinois : Chronicles Press, 2010).  He analyzes Solzhenitsyn’s warning and breaks it down into six thematic parts.  The anatomy of Solzhenitsyn’s warning reads like a chronicle of what is happening and of night far spent, but don’t forget that the point of sounding an alarm is an implicit hope that somebody somewhere can and will do something to ward off the defeat and/or to escape the danger.  The fire department may actually put out the fire, a hospital dispatch an ambulance and paramedic.  Police may scare off the bad guys or arrest them in a criminal act; or respond with counterforce if it comes to that and win the gunfight.  The cavalry rides to the proverbial rescue in other words!  In politics this means that people awake from their stupor and participate in the democratic process.  They show up on Election Day and throw the bums out.

In terms of themes, Solzhenitsyn argues that the tide of secularism is sapping our strength from within.  The cavalry needs to carry the Cross as it were.  Indeed, every town and hamlet, every state in the name of its sovereignty must reassert independence in this regard.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… [First Amendment].”  No branch of the federal government may reach into public schooling within a sovereign state, or to the hearth at a home school any place in America —meaning there might be prayer in school if people were just willing to make it so.  Towns could have their manger scenes too, if locally elected officials rediscovered their civic courage.  States might even have established churches if they wanted to go that far, as some did well into the Nineteenth century.

Solzhenitsyn also argues that we have failed miserably to value material possessions properly, that we have placed them above higher more important principles.  The so-called Gilded Age ended when localities, cities and states had enough of the unintended consequences of rapid industrialization and took it upon themselves to enact Progressive reforms on behalf of the American Middle Class.  Ironically what Peggy Noonan calls a new ‘Gilded Age’ can be ended in the same way if localities, cities and states resisted modern Progressive attempts to subvert the U.S. Constitution and will of the Middle Class through higher taxation and coercive big government programs.  America must not become another Europe, and so it is up to the American people and vitally important moreover, to overthrow proponents of the democratic-socialist agenda who have found a lodgment in Washington .

Solzhenitsyn argues the decline of our culture is reflected by the quality of our art and literature and that we have quite literally come into the bad habit of “aestheticizing” ugliness.  He argues that we have a system of laws based on the letter of the law and bureaucratic overregulation, which has replaced a traditional system based on ethical foundations.  He argues as well that the concept of good and evil has been replaced in effect by political correctness, with attendant deconstructionist tendencies.  Finally, Solzhenitsyn argues that only Christian unity will provide the necessary curative for all these ills.   Christianity can defeat atheism.  It will help us to find and define Beauty in our culture again, and restore Spirit to the law.  Christianity united—the Body of Christ always chooses the right road: to serve and to honor God; to bring good things to human experience; to banish and defeat those forces, which threaten liberty and would harm the life of a free and prosperous and peaceful American people.

_____________________

Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford .  Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he ran for U.S. Congress (TX-District 31) in the 2004 Republican Primary.  Email: wes@wesriddle.com.

One response to “Wes Riddle: Two Roads and the Anatomy of Solzhenitsyn’s Warning

  1. Mr. Riddle,
    Thanks for your commentary on Mr. Pauken’s new book. I too am a fan of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and very pleased that his prophetic warning to the West made in 1975-1976 is being resurrected especially now. The actions of the majority political party in power last Sunday (March 21st, 2010) is clear evidence that Sozhenitsyn’s dire warnings to the West are coming to pass. To quote the great Russian author: “The West is on the verge of a collapse created by its own hands…Socialism has created the illusion of quenching people’s thirst for justice: Socialism has lulled their consciences into thinking that the steamroller which is about to flatten them is a blessing in disguise, a salvation. “

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