It is striking to read the many references to the human soul in Solzhenitsyn’s writings. He says, “Beyond upholding rights, mankind must defend its soul, freeing it for reflection and feeling”; and “the greatness of a people is to be sought not in the blare of trumpets . . . but in the level of its inner development, in its breadth of soul . . . in healing its soul.” He also warned modern people that, because of their belief in progress, “we had forgotten the human soul”; and “the destruction of our souls over three-quarters of a century is the most terrifying thing of all.” In a powerful passage, he denounces communist totalitarianism for corrupting the soul: “Our present system is unique because, over and above its physical and economic constraints, it demands total surrender of our souls . . . to the conscious lie. To this putrefaction of the soul, this spiritual enslavement, human beings who wish to be human cannot consent. When Caesar, having exacted what is Caesar’s, demands still more insistently that we render to him what is God’s—that is a sacrifice we dare not make!”These are words that tend to frighten the West since they point to the essential need to examine the soul, not just political policy.
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