ALEKSANDR

SOLZHENITSYN

Speech to the Swedish Academy 1970

And if there are not many such different scales of values in the world, there are at least several; one for evaluating events near at hand, another for events far away; aging societies possess one, young societies another; unsuccessful people one, successful people another. The divergent scales of values scream in discordance, they dazzle and daze us, and in order that it might not be painful we steer clear of all other values, as though from insanity, as though from illusion, and we confidently judge the whole world according to our own home values.

AFL-CIO Trade Union Speeches 1975-76

Solzhenitsyn was much loved by Western trade unions, but they also greatly misunderstood him.  They often interpreted his words through the prism of their own prejudices; often, what they thought was directed at the "bourgeoisie" was directed at them.  "It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones."

The Exhausted West 1978

The split in today's world is perceptible even at a hasty glance.  Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them capable of entirely destroying the other.  However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces.  The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance.

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(c) October 2018: Rebus Institute & Rebus Education Services