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On Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Warning to the West


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

3,604 words

And all of us are standing on the brink of a great historical cataclysm, a flood that swallows up civilization and changes whole epochs.
–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, BBC speech, March 24, 1976

In the summer of 1975, the recently-exiled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered three speeches in the United States: two to labor organizations and one to Congress. The following year, he was interviewed by the BBC and then delivered a speech over British radio. The transcripts were then collected in a famous and appropriately-titled volume, Warning to the West, which was published in 1976. On a superficial level, this work may not seem terribly relevant to the nationalist, ethnocentric Right of today. After all, things have changed much since the 1970s, and Solzhenitsyn’s calls to resist the now-defunct Soviet Union may not have aged well considering that country’s demise in the early 1990s. Nonetheless, the near-frantic urgency of the work, combined with its Manichean moral framework and Solzhenitsyn’s keen understanding of human nature, make it easy to update Warning to the West to fit modern struggles. The West may have changed a lot since the 1970s, but the warning against what is slowly killing it has not.

Most of Solzhenitsyn’s work has direct significance for the Right – especially the white Right – of the early twenty-first century. His nationalism, ethnocentrism, counter-Semitism, and anti-Leftism all provide important lessons for racially-identifying whites who wish to reestablish ethnocentric homelands for themselves in Europe, North America, and in other places. Warning to the West, however, differs from this model, since much of it addresses how the West should deal with the external threat posed by the Soviet Union. The work is steeped entirely in the Cold War, yet maintains its relevance if the reader is willing to transpose the external threat of the Soviet Union with the internal threat that the multiracial, globalist Left now poses. Indeed, many of Solzhenitsyn’s statements in this book can be placed directly in the mouths of the Dissident Right today – something that is as unsettling as many of the warnings themselves.

Warning against Appeasement

Solzhenitsyn’s warnings take several forms in this work. Most persistently, he calls for the West to stop providing aid to the Soviet Union, to stop signing treaties with the Soviet Union, and to quit believing in détente, which Solzhenitsyn saw as nothing more than a sham. For one, the Soviet Union would never have admitted to having received help from the West. Solzhenitsyn’s case in point is the American Relief Administration (ARA), which was led by future President Herbert Hoover shortly after the First World War. The effort employed “more than 120,000 Russians and fed 10.5 million people daily,” according to Infogalactic [2]. According to Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet authorities later denounced the ARA as a spy operation. The ARA ceased its operations in the Soviet Union in 1923 when they discovered that the Soviets were once again exporting grain.

Solzhenitsyn further elaborates on how modern Western leaders were all too eager to sign accords with the Soviets while remaining blind to how the Soviets had always violated those accords:

Take the SALT [Strategic Arms Limitations Talks] alone: in these negotiations, your opponent is continually deceiving you. Either he is testing radar in a way which is forbidden by the agreement, or he is violating the limitations on the dimensions of missiles, or he is violating the limitations on their destructive force, or else he is violating the conditions on multiple warheads.

Regardless, Western leaders, looking to “strengthen [their] prestige with the electorate,” swooned at the chance to sign agreements with their enemy while that same enemy was insulting the West in their press and was continually preparing for war with every aid dollar they received. Never was the West given credit for its largesse, which the Soviets quite accurately saw as weakness or submission:

The Communist leaders respect only firmness and have contempt for persons who continually give in to them.

Solzhenitsyn hammers this theme home quite often in Warning to the West – and it mirrors the Dissident Right’s current struggles with the so-called conservatives, or “cuckservatives.” Such people claim to be on the Right, but refuse to oppose the Left in any meaningful way – likely in order to strengthen their prestige with potential employers or donors, to borrow a phrase.

To quote Gregory Hood [3], such conservatives “completely accept the moral standards of people who despise them” and “take pride in degradation and defeat.” Where the Western leaders of Solzhenitsyn’s day tacitly accepted the egalitarian standards of Communism, so do modern conservatives abide by the similar standards of multiracialism. If all races are as equal to each other as the proletariat was to the bourgeoisie in Lenin’s day, then there is no reason not to take in refugees or immigrants from Africa, Latin America, and the Muslim world. This is how the pro-immigration Right is effectively anti-white. This is how we get so-called conservative lawmakers condemning White Nationalism [4] while not condemning other forms of racial nationalism and simultaneously supporting Jewish nationalism [5]. This is how we get conservative writers actively lobbying against white interests [6]. This how we get conservatives who oppose President Trump’s border wall [7] with Mexico, and yet supporting defending borders in Syria [8]. This is how we get supposedly conservative writers who piously cite [9] the pro-black/anti-white huckster Martin Luther King, or who claim that white working-class communities deserve to die [10].

These conservatives, like the weak Western leaders in Warning to the West, are signaling to the enemy that they are good guys. They are seeking peace through concessions. They are abandoning everything they stand for, either for popularity or for money or because they never really stood for conservative principles to begin with. Yet the Left will never repay them in kind. That a Leftist neocon recently blasted National Review [11] for daring to criticize his anti-white rhetoric proves this nicely. National Review is populated almost entirely with cuckservatives, but that failed to save them. The Left will never purge its most radical voices in the way that William F. Buckley did with the Right’s [12]. The Left will never stop airing anti-white vitriol [13] from its major news organs in the way that conservative publications constantly stifle voices [14] that the Left deems unfit for public discourse [15].

In such a dance, the enemy always leads:

And, in a difficult moment, at a party meeting in Moscow, [Lenin] said: “Comrades, don’t panic, when things get very rough for us, we will give the bourgeoisie a rope, and the bourgeoisie will hang itself.”

Then Karl Radek, who was a very resourceful wit, said: “Vladimir Ilyich, but where are we going to get enough rope to hang the whole bourgeoisie?”

Lenin effortless replied, “They will sell it to us themselves.”

Warning against Complacency

Towards the end of his BBC speech, Solzhenitsyn laments how individuals fail to see something as real until that something impacts them directly. This is complacency, and it is something that Solzhenitsyn rails against in his works almost as much as Communism itself:

We, the oppressed people of Russia, the oppressed people of Eastern Europe, watch with anguish the tragic enfeeblement of Europe. We offer you the experience of our suffering; we would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid. But your society refuses to heed our warning voices. I suppose we must admit, sad though it is, that experience cannot be transmitted: everyone must experience everything for himself.

In his address to the US Congress, he stated:

In my few addresses in your country I have attempted to break through that wall of disastrous unawareness or nonchalant superiority.

Anyone on the Dissident Right today will recognize and appreciate Solzhenitsyn’s frustration with complacency. It’s what we have to struggle with the most when not dealing with outright hostility from individuals ensconced in the mainstream – especially the white ones. In fact, we’d need to alter only a few words from the BBC passage above to make Solzhenitsyn’s concerns directly relevant to the Dissident Right today:

We, the oppressed people whites of Russia America, the oppressed people whites of Eastern Western Europe, watch with anguish the tragic enfeeblement of Europe white people. We offer you the experience of our suffering; we would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid. But your society refuses to heed our warning voices. I suppose we must admit, sad though it is, that experience cannot be transmitted: everyone must experience everything for himself.

Of course, the “death and slavery” Solzhenitsyn refers to is ours as well. The majority of the tens of millions killed by the Soviets prior to the Second World War were white and were killed on the basis of their ethnicity, their Christianity, and adherence to their traditional ways of life. Solzhenitsyn writes at length about some of these atrocities in his Gulag Archipelago series, as well as in Two Hundred Years Together. In Warning to the West, he estimates that in all, “fifteen million peasants were shipped off to their deaths.” Of the terror famine, otherwise known as the Holodomor, he writes:

This was a system which, in time of peace, artificially created a famine, causing six million persons to die in the Ukraine between 1932 and 1933.

The current oppressors of the Dissident Right act as if these atrocities never happened. It’s their sleight of hand which enables whites to forget about their own disastrous past and focus on the suffering of their enemies. If anything, Solzhenitsyn shows us that the enemies of white people are anything but complacent. They know of their own past suffering – exaggerated or not—and then use that as a weapon against white people. By blaming living whites for the sins of their dead ancestors – again, exaggerated or not – they can shame and guilt whites into compliance. And since most whites have forgotten about the vast number of deaths Solzhenitsyn describes, they are all too happy to comply.

“A people which no longer remembers has lost its history and its soul,” Solzhenitsyn warns. This has indeed occurred for most whites and will continue until whites renounce their complacency. Regardless of whether antifa terrorists waved Communist flags [16] during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, or Soviet flags [17] outside the Scandza Forum in Copenhagen in October 2019, whites the world over should see these events as a dire threat. Tens of millions of white people were murdered once before by Leftists who waved these flags, and that could happen again if the Left’s anti-white inheritors gain ascendance today. Only when whites as a group heed the warnings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and shake off their complacency will such a tragedy be averted.

Warning against the Left

No Solzhenitsyn work would be complete without urgent cautions against the dangers of Communism, both as ideology and as the embodiment of that ideology in the form of government. “The Communist ideology is to destroy your social order,” he warns. To follow this ideology is to make one complicit not only in the continuing downfall of the West, but in the unspeakable past crimes of the Soviet Union and other Communist nations. It’s an incredible irony that the Left today tries to shame white people into inaction as their nations get invaded by hostile and inassimilable populations while the Left itself has so much more to answer for. And as with the warnings above, little work would be needed to update Solzhenitsyn’s concerns to meet the needs of today’s dissidents on the Right:

Communism is as crude attempt to explain society and the individual as if a surgeon were to perform his delicate operations with a meat ax. All that is subtle in human psychology and in the structure of society (which is even more complex), all of this is reduced to crude economic processes.

In the above paragraph, replace “economic processes” with “racial grievances” and you have the Left’s makeshift understanding of human nature today. Whites in the West have become the enemy to the Left. If a white person isn’t poor, his “white privilege [18]” makes him into the hated bourgeoisie. And if a white is poor, well, then he’s no better than a Kulak [19], the entire class of industrious peasants and former serfs who were almost entirely wiped out by the Soviets in the 1920s and ‘30s. Note how class no longer has anything to do with it. With Communists, it is never about what they say it is. Solzhenitsyn points out how the Communist revolution in 1917 was led by émigré intellectuals, not the proletariat, except in one instance:

But one of them was a genuine worker, a highly skilled lathe operator until the last day of his life, Alexander Shliapnikov. Who is familiar with that name today? And yet it was he who expressed the true interests of the workers within the Communist leadership. In the years before the revolution it was Shliapnikov who ran the whole Communist Party in Russia – not Lenin, who was an émigré. In 1921, he headed the Workers’ Opposition, which charged that the Communist leadership had betrayed the interests of the workers, that it was crushing and oppressing the proletariat and had degenerated into a bureaucracy.

Shliapnikov disappeared from sight. He was arrested later, and since he firmly stood his ground he was shot in prison.

Solzhenitsyn points out that in the year of Shliapnikov’s murder, the Soviets crushed a strike in Petrograd and shot workers in a nearby town called Kolpino. He also describes a scene in which workers staged a peaceful demonstration in the city of Novocherassk and were subsequently machine-gunned and set upon by tanks. “No family could even collect its wounded and dead,” he states. “All were taken away in secret by the authorities.” So, workers had good reason to be upset with the Soviet leadership. It had very quickly failed to abide by its own mandate. Because the Communists saw power as their north star, nothing that was written down, no law or ideology could guide their behavior when they felt their position of leadership was threatened. Yet they continued to claim they were acting in accord with “economic processes” which were putatively central to Communism.

Things are no different today. The Left cannot stop stoking racial hatred against whites despite how manifestly better the lives of non-whites become when they live in proximity to whites. This is why they come to the West. Yet with greater numbers of non-whites in traditionally white nations, we have greater resentment towards white people. Why? Because racial resentment is the fuel that powers the Left to dominance. The Left manipulates the natural ethnocentrism of non-whites to make them believe their future as a group in the West is in danger (despite being better off than in their own nations). Just as the Communists manufactured class resentment against the bourgeoisie and the Kulaks in the early Soviet Union, the modern Left manufactures racial resentment against whites today. Just as the early Communists claimed they were operating according to “economic processes,” as Solzhenitsyn describes, today’s Left purports to seek racial justice.

In reality, however, they wish only to seek and maintain power. This makes sense from an ideology that “has always opposed freedom” and “has never concealed the fact that it rejects all absolute concepts of morality.”

Warning to Whites: An Appeal to Greatness

We, the dissidents of the USSR, have no tanks, no weapons, no organization. We have nothing. Our hands are empty. We have only our hearts and what we have lived through in the half century under this system. And whenever we have found the firmness within ourselves to stand up for our rights, we have done so. It is only by firmness of spirits that we have withstood.

White dissidents of the twenty-first century will be able to relate to much in Warning to the West. In some ways, all dissidents suffer a similar fate. History can be cruel to true believers, and there’s no guarantee that heroes and martyrs will ever be remembered. What, then, would be the point of honor and composure in the face of suffering? Perhaps this is why Solzhenitsyn continually refers to absolute morality and the immutable concepts of Good and Evil? To give that suffering – and life itself – meaning:

In the twentieth century it is almost a joke in the Western world to use words like “good” and “evil.” They have become old-fashioned concepts, yet they are very real and genuine. These are concepts from a sphere which is above us. And instead of getting involved in base, petty, shortsighted political calculations and games we must recognize that a concentration of evil and a tremendous force of hatred is spreading throughout the world. We must stand up against it and not hasten to give, give, give, everything that it wants to swallow.

From this ironclad moral framework springs his concerns for millions of people who either have been victims of Communism or will be. The central theme of Warning to the West is Solzhenitsyn pleading with the free world to care. He points to injustice, cruelty, hypocrisy, mendacity, and atrocity, and then appeals to our better natures. He also predicts that what was paralyzing the East in the 1970s will soon paralyze the West as well:

Whenever you help the persons persecuted in the Soviet Union, you not only display your magnanimity and nobility, you are not only defending them, but yourselves as well. You are defending your own future.

This might have appeared ironically shortsighted at the time, since a seemingly impenetrable Iron Curtain separated East from West. How could the fate of a myriad of luckless zeks still festering in the Soviets’ vast gulag system possibly impact the fate of the free and mighty West? Because the West was never as mighty as it seemed, and its freedoms were never a guarantee. Because taking seriously the long, bloody swath Communism had cut across the fabric of human history – even if it’s only in one’s prayers – keeps one constantly on guard against the evils this twisted ideology invariably brings. The West took its freedom for granted when it assumed that the disease of Communism would remain an external threat forever. And the West is paying for its arrogance and oversights now as the Left has mutated from a class-based ideology to a race-based one, and has found success not so much in murdering their pale-faced Kulaks but by replacing them with a darker and seemingly more pliable proletariat.

Today, white dissidents in the West are eerily repeating Solzhenitsyn’s calls to care. In the face of the (for now) soft oppression of the Left, we uncover antifa violence [17] and Muslim grooming gangs [20]. We report on knockout games [21] and no-go zones [22]. We discuss psychometrics [23] and genetics, and race and IQ [24]. We devise ingenious arguments for ethnonationalism [25]. We ponder the Jewish Question [26] and white extinction [27]. We envision our white ethnostate [28]. We uncover the rank double standards [29] of our vile and venal elites [30]. We rail against the anti-white hatred [31] of these elites. We look to past heroes [32] and intellectual progenitors [33] for inspiration. We keep our real names hidden, or else bear the brunt of society’s misplaced hatred. We emulate our ancestors by making sacrifices to preserve the freedom of our descendants. And at all times, we assert our identity. We are fighting against apathy and prosperity, against ignorance and lethargy. Most importantly, we are fighting against time. Solzhenitsyn’s urgency in Warning to the West has now become our urgency.

On page after page of these speeches, he predicts the fall of the West. He cites its lack of will and spirit as the primary reason. He may have envisioned this fall taking place with Soviet tanks rolling into Washington, or with Western leaders abdicating the like Tsar in the face of insurmountable Bolshevik revolutions. He may have been less than concrete in anticipating the method, but not the outcome which is now looming just beyond the next generation’s horizon. And knowing what he knew, he called on the men of the West to be great, because only through greatness, spirit, and will can we withstand – or perhaps avert – the diastrophic pressures of history:

Human nature is full of riddles and contradictions; its very complexity engenders art – and by art I mean the search for something more than simple linear formulations, flat solutions, oversimplified explanations. One of these riddles is: how is it that people who have been crushed by the sheer weight of slavery and cast to the bottom of the pit can nevertheless find the strength to rise up and free themselves, first in spirit and then in body; while those who soar unhampered over the peaks of freedom suddenly lose the taste for freedom, lose the will to defend it, and, hopelessly confused and lost, almost begin to crave slavery. Or again: why is it that societies which have been benumbed for half a century by the lies they have been forced to swallow find within themselves a certain lucidity of heart and soul which enables them to see things in their true perspective and to perceive the real meaning of events; whereas societies with access to every kind of information suddenly plunges into lethargy, into a kind of mass blindness, a kind of voluntary self-deception.

Whites in the West today are now descending into the kind of “voluntary self-deception” that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so eloquently warned us about. If enough of us heed his warnings today, with there still be time to save them?

Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You [34].