Category Archives: The West

Appreciating Solzhenitsyn: The 1978 Harvard Graduation Speech

Solzhenitsyn turned his formidable skills as a prophet of doom first upon the Soviet Gulag terror system, and then when invited to Harvard to address the graduating class of 1978, on the American society of “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness,” “TV stupor,” and “intolerable music.” In a post-9/11 world his criticisms of the loss of courage of Western elites, of the incorrigible mendacity and self-loathing of the Western press, and of the Soviet-style legalistic crusade against religion appear newly relevant. But his assignment of blame to the free market and humanism itself for these failings strikes a wrong note for (at least) two reasons.

First, the claim that the humanistic Renaissance inevitably led to classical liberalism, which inevitably led to Jacobin-style radicalism, which led to Prussian-style socialism, and finally, inevitably to communism, is a Marxist analysis of history. Those who reject Marxism do not have to accept such an analysis. They certainly need not accept the claim that a society cannot stop at classical liberalism or turn back from socialism to a less-intrusive, classically liberal government of, by, and for the people.

Second, Solzhenitsyn’s claims that corporations are at fault for Western failings such as excessive legalism, the welfare state, and the war against the soul are obvious nonsense. How exactly can corporations be responsible for legalism, the welfare state, or the government and legal repression of public religion? All three are expressions of state power. The common law is not determined by corporations but by the judiciary’s interpretation of traditional rights, while legislative law is determined by the sovereign government. The welfare state speaks for itself. And the legal repression of public religion is not the sort of thing any company seeking to please the mass of its customers would endeavor upon.

So while I cannot agree with Solzhenitsyn blaming humanism for modern, shallow materialism, or his prescription of a traditional, religiously anointed monarchy for what ails Russia and the West alike, I agree with his observations about the increasingly dangerous moral weakness of the West. And I suspect others will too.

Without any further ado let’s get into the speech.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises
Thursday, June 8, 1978

I am sincerely happy to be here with you on this occasion and to become personally acquainted with this old and most prestigious University. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today’s graduates.

Harvard’s motto is “Veritas.” Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. Continue reading

4GW Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

When you are having difficulty drawing even in [a] global popularity contest with a crowd of bearded fanatics who put beheading videos on the internet, it’s time to admit there’s a problem.

Continue reading

This and That

Being a grab bag of things that Panglossians might find interesting.

Aussie Dave kicks it off with The Refugee Issue Examined

Around 820,000-850,000 Jews were either expelled from, or were otherwise forced to leave Arab countries after the 1948 War of Independence, a war started after the 5 Arab armies attacked the newly established State of Israel. Of these Jewish refugees, approximately 590,000-600,000 were absorbed into Israel, leaving behind their homes, businesses and possessions without receiving any compensation.

The War of Independence also produced some Arab refugees, totaling somewhere between 430,000-650,000. The vast majority of these refugees (approximately 68%) left without even seeing an Israeli soldier, but rather at the beckoning of the invading Arab armies, who were certain of a quick victory. [..]

So from my point of view, it is clear that the only just solution is for the Arab refugees to be absorbed into the Arab countries, rather than being kept in refugee camps as a pawn in the war against Israel. As for talk of compensation, Jewish refugees left behind assets in the Arab countries of greater worth than the Arab assets left behind in Israel, so if any side has a claim, it is us [Jews].

Next, Mirsulzhan Namazaliev is concerned about the Islamization of Kyrgyzstan

The citizens of Kyrgyzstan, a nominally Muslim country, have an interesting history with Islam: While the nomadic Kyrgyz haven’t really been introduced to the religion before the 18th century, Kyrgyzstani Uzbeks from the Ferghana Valley practice a more traditional form of Islam. During the Soviet era, religion was pushed to the sidelines of society, but Islam has seen some revival since Kyrgyzstan’s independence in 1991, again mostly in the southern rural parts of the country.

Last week, Kyrgyzstani bloggers were worried about the threat of Islamisation in their country. The debate was the result of an interdepartmental commission’s decision to allow Muslim women to wear hijabs for their passport photographs.

The decision of the commission was based on a claim that Islam prohibits women to uncover their heads and ears in front of unknown males. “We feel discomfort when we go through border control. The airport personnel demands us to take off our hijabs instead of introducing special rooms and having women personnel checking us”, Islamic representatives were quoted as saying.

Mong Palatino rounds up the separatist voices discussing the all-out war of secession in Basilan, Philippines.

War is raging in the island of Basilan, located in the southernmost part of the Philippines. An all-out war was recently declared by the government against the Abu Sayyaf bandit group accused of beheading 14 Marines last month. The military offensives have displaced thousands of families and imperiled the peace negotiations between the government and other Muslim rebel forces..

See what I mean about taking the side of the separatists against the legitimate government of the Philippines? The rest goes on like this, but is still a good overview of the ground.

Samir Khalil Samir writes about the issues raised by the case of Mohammed Ahmad Hegazi, an Egyptian who converted to Christianity and had to flee Egypt.

Islam protects itself against conversions by putting apostates in prison or by killing them. But its obsession with conversion includes a series of privileges it claims for itself. So much so that in many Muslim countries, even those that are supposedly secular, the right to promote the Islamic faith is taken for granted and is not enshrined in law. Conversely, the right to promote any other religion is considered de facto and de jure unacceptable.

Islamic propaganda is part of the state’s mandate. In Egypt for example public institutions disseminate songs, prayers, movies and written material that praise Islam and denigrate Christianity. Inevitably this favours conversions to Islam. By contrast, Christian propaganda (tabshīr) is banned by law.

Recently in Algeria, a new law was approved that condemns anyone promoting the Christian faith and anyone who converts to Christianity. Of course, some might say that this kind of law is directed only at Protestant proselytising. True! But Muslims proselytise as well? Should the law not be the same for everyone?

And finally, Steve Verdon explores the links between Hillary Clinton, Norman Hsu, and Communist Chinese money going to a whole raft of Democrat candidates by way of Hong Kong and Mr. Hsu of the inscrutable business history.

Drudge has three links to the news about Norman Hsu apparently a big time donor to Democratic candidates, and Hillary Clinton in particular. Hsu has donated over $600,000 to various candidates, but what is interesting is that his income appears to be a complete mystery. Further, there is an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest in a fraud case, and that Hsu has now been taken into custody and held on $2 million bond.

Hsu appeared in court accompanied by a lawyer and publicist, both of whom declined to say whether the New York apparel executive would immediately post bail. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he skipped the sentencing for a 1991 grand theft charge.

Publicist? This is sure looking like it will be interesting to watch. Needless to say all the candidates that Hsu has donated to, either directly, or through what appears to be proxies, have been scrambling to hand the money over to charities.

The Clinton campaign has said it will give to charity $23,000 that Mr. Hsu contributed, and yesterday representatives of Mr. Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who received $50,000 from Mr. Hsu, said they would do the same. A spokesman for Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who is a rival of Mrs. Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination, said Mr. Obama intended to give away $7,000 that Mr. Hsu contributed to his committees.

The Clinton-Gore campaign donation case, wherein Johnny Chung funneled money from Chinese intelligence services to the 1996 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, suddenly doesn’t look so closed.

I hope you find these to be as fascinating as I do.

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Can Muslims Awaken from their Civilizational Nightmare before they bring about the end of the world?

Very interesting from Bahrani blogger Emoodz, as translated by Amira Al Hussaini of Global Voices.

My family, like a lot of other families in Bahrain, suffers from a breakdown due to work, which never ends. We rarely meet as a family for lunch on weekdays. This gives lunch gatherings during holidays a special flavour, even if they lack in all the rice and curry dishes as many of us are avoiding getting obese – which has become the boogie man many families have been avoiding in the last half of the previous decade, mostly at the expense of delicious food.

While speaking to my dad as he was devouring a piece of Mullet (type of fish) in a unique ferocity associated with Bahranis (Shia population of Bahrain), we started speaking about sectarianism and the division in society based on sects, particularly in Bahrain, and around the Arab world in general. He spoke in depth about how religion was the basis and reason for sectarianism, adding that it is now one of the woes we as Muslims have to accept without objection. Continue reading

Not Islamophobia, but a justified concern

Responding to a heartfelt essay by Army Girl, I would start by saying that Islamophobia should properly be defined as a “senseless reaction against Islam.” Defined thus, any fact-based objection to Islam is not Islamophobia, but justified concern. Continue reading

Blatant Media Lies & Coverups: How Long has this been going on?

Randall Hoven has a list. So does Wikipedia. Hoven comments:

Offenses include lying and fabricating, doctoring photos, plagiarism, conflicts of interest, falling for hoaxes, and overt bias. Some are hilarious, such as an action figure doll being mistaken for a real soldier. Some are silly, such as reporting on a baseball game watched on TV. Some are more serious.

I leave it to you to judge whether the internet damaged “journalism’s ability to do its job professionally”, as Marvin Kalb accuses, or if the internet has in fact helped expose an already damaged “profession”.

There are two central problems. First, the media thinks that it is objective and that the perfect journalist would never take sides, even to choose between a psycho killer and the journalist’s own child. They do not realize that inventing a moral middle ground between good and evil is to conceal evil, and to partake of evil. Second, the media is culturally Marxist, buying into the Gramscian/Stalinist program of political correctness that fills them with self-loathing and loathing of western civilization, and of civilization and humanity in general.

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Attempts to Islamise the west cannot be denied

The Eurabia project is well underway. Mark Steyn predicts that Europe will be under the jackboot of Islamic law by the end of the 21st century we are now in. That means the Mona Lisa will be destroyed or painted over with a burka. The Vatican will be besieged and overrun. The great churches will be burned down or converted into mosques, their altars desecrated and the stained glass bricked up, the pews hacked up and converted into firewood, the stone floors carpeted over. Exhortations to Jihad and the killing of Infidels will blare from every mosque. The Christians and Jews of Europe will live in fear. The atheists, homosexuals, decadent artists and intellectuals of Europe will convert to Jihadist Islam like Cat Stevens or be killed like Theo Van Gogh.

Dymphna of Gates of Vienna describes the latest development in the Vatican’s understanding of the situation:

Given the Muslim outrage the last time the Pontiff said something substantive about the history of Islam and the West, it has fallen to his secretary to make public observations about what is going on:
Pope Benedict XVI’s private secretary warned of the Islamisation of Europe and stressed the need for the continent’s Christian roots not to be ignored.

“Attempts to Islamise the west cannot be denied,” Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published Friday.

“The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness,” the magazine quoted him as saying.

As Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale:

Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.
–The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, l. 232

While the murder of the West in Europe is not complete, it is planned. And it is obvious, and day by day becoming more so even to those who squeeze their eyes shut. If we watch we will see the knives plunge into its breast pinning Jihadist threats again and again, every day. If we refuse easy, shallow pacifism and take action, we may yet be able to save the West, even Europe.

It is good to know that the Vatican is awake. It is still the soul of Europe, and can still be its salvation.

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