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Live Not By Lies by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1974)

Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow’s intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. 

[An excerpt. Emphasis added]

Our path is to walk away from the gangrenous boundary. If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

And from that day onward he:

  • Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
  • Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
  • Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
  • Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
  • Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
  • Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
  • Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.

Of course, we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice. But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelop your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family.

A great people of Europe, the Czechoslovaks, whom we betrayed and deceived: Haven’t they shown us how a vulnerable breast can stand up even against tanks if there is a worthy heart within it?

You say it will not be easy? But it will be easiest of all possible resources. It will not be an easy choice for a body, but it is the only one for a soul. Not, it is not an easy path. But there are already people, even dozens of them, who over the years have maintained all these points and live by the truth.

So you will not be the first to take this path but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. Let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and our brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?
Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper August 18, 2018, 9:20 AM

    The lying is everywhere now, untruths.
    Multi-layered, deep.
    The matrix is being created, almost complete.

  • Casey Klahn August 18, 2018, 10:02 AM

    I didn’t read Solzhenitsyn in the seventies. I wonder why? Although I was dead set opposed to the Soviet Commies, I guess maybe it seemed too distant physically and psychologically. The truth (I hope this pisses some people off) is that close to the turn of the last century hordes of “people’s workers” came over the docks on the west coast, where I hail from, and began the subversion here in America. Those mother fuckers are now enshrined in local museums, and I can hardly see any daylight between the dems in Washington state, and the wobblies.

    I’d better put Solzhy on my reading list. His character is hard to ignore. Ghostie’s right: the layers of lies now make it hard to say what is true. I can read down the Drudge headlines and note which will link out to a bent lib article and which will lead to just information. It is part of Drudge’s brilliance. Drudge has been shadow banned at airports and hotels. He is full frontal pornography to the left, but he never writes a thing other than headline aggregation. The naked power of editing is a white hot fire in itself. Imagine speaking the truth outright.

    I think that Norm MacDonald and Gavin McInnes speak the truth. They are comedians. Let that sink in.

  • Terry August 18, 2018, 1:34 PM

    The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn is without a doubt one of the most important documents of our time. A must read for anyone who thinks his house is in order. This book turns leftism inside-out. The truth prevails in life. Solzhenitsyn leaked the truth to the world in a way not experienced before. Stalin saw his own demise coming at that point in time. Solzhenitsyn also perceived the decay within the USA while living here. Now we all see it.

  • Howard Nelson August 18, 2018, 1:50 PM

    And this is why, echoing Solzhenitsyn, Jordan Peterson is taking the Western world by storm. Uncommon sense, incontrovertible clinical evidence, courage, and persistence propel his tidal wave of truth.
    The bullet points above should be taught in schools and etched in personal experience. Martin Luther is available to counsel on courage, as are a host of selfless martyrs, patriots, and saints.

    The MSM losers with their loos news are flushing themselves down the poop chute to sewers and cesspools of fools. They don’t know how to swim but they’re going through all the movements.

    No need for us to reinvent the wheel, so let’s roll!
    All aboard!!

  • Terry August 18, 2018, 2:37 PM

    Howard. I’m with you.
    Jordan Peterson quotes Solzhenitsyn several times in his current book. The problem I see is, the generations following ours, do not read, anything.

  • ghostsniper August 18, 2018, 2:44 PM

    The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn in pdf format.
    3 files, about 70mb total.
    Just grabbed em, haven’t looked at em yet.
    I’m the messenger.


  • Howard Nelson August 18, 2018, 3:45 PM

    Terry, there’s real hope with Peterson continuing to attract 1000’s of young follks to his lectures/Q&A, podcasts, YouTubes, and recent best-selling book.

    For the carnivores in this community, see Peterson make chopped meat out of an unfair interviewer who learned little from the Cathy Newman circus.
    The interviewer is Stephen Sackur, a Brit with a bee in his Britches. The running commentary is also great. The interview is about 1 hr 6 minutes.
    The final 15 minutes are golden.


  • Jewel August 18, 2018, 4:41 PM

    My daughter created a Jordan B Peterson dating app, so to speak. She is a gorgeous and lovely young woman who became a huge fan of Peterson. She went to his lecture in NYC and got a picture of herself with him, put it as a profile picture on a dating site and after 2 different dates she met a wonderful and likeminded man…oddly enough who is a steak chef, since Peterson is full on carnivore.

  • rabbit tobacco August 18, 2018, 5:49 PM

    The truth must be born again like apples on a tree.

  • Alex August 18, 2018, 5:57 PM

    “Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
    – Theodore Dalrymple

  • ghostsniper August 18, 2018, 7:42 PM

    Truth never died, rabbit, but it has always been boring and optional to children.
    When you remove responsibilities from adults they become children.
    What else could they be?
    Cut ALL taxes by 90% and cut ALL gov’t employees by 90% and overnight you will see a change you can believe in. Grown children will instantly be required to grow into adults. Or die on the vine.

    Why are there so many children?
    When the gov’t expands it removes rights and responsibilities from the citizens which reduces said citizens to children, whom have no rights and responsibilities in the first place.

    Since the gov’t has no plans to reduce you can expect all of this to get much worse, far beyond your imagination. The light in the tunnel is that principles always win in the end.

    See you on the other side. Onward.

  • Barry the little brown emoji August 20, 2018, 8:50 AM

    Annnnd “Universal Humanity” is what the globalist cabal is all about.
    They believe to remove all competition between the lower classes is to broker lasting peace through total control.
    Because it’s worked so well before, see?