Russians do not know how to make a good Western, period. Attempts to emulate Hollywood or even Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns, which, nonetheless delivered some of the most remarkable Americana shot not in the US (in Spain, actually), still never got Soviets/Russian beyond Lubok. One needs to be authentic to do Americana. With the exception of cinematographic masterpiece which actually got it, Soviet adaptation of O. Henry's short stories, known in Russia as Business People (or Strictly Business), all other attempts to recreate Wild West really failed. Russians, certainly, managed arguably the best Sherlock Holmes series, with the best pair of Holmes and Doctor Watson ever produced, which made Queen Elizabeth II recognize this contribution to British Culture by Russians. But for Russians that was much easier to do, unlike with Americana, because European commonalities played their decisive role. American dramaturgy, however, was widely (still is) accepted in USSR/Russia and plays by Tennessee Williams or Steinbeck remain a regular theater cuisine even today. Russians, certainly, gobbled classic American literature as there is no tomorrow, from Dreiser, to London (which had a lovely TV mini-series Smoke Bellew, but then again--Gold Rush, Yukon--topics close to Russians), to US sci-fi. And I noticed throughout all this that Russian never uttered any word, never passed any opinion on the issue of who among those important literary figures was a REAL American. Russians just knew them as American writers. Same as H.G.Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle or Shakespeare were English. Just like that, no questions asked.
Well, this is not the case with the modern American so called "intelligentsia", whose only difference from an average Joe on the street is that American "intelligentsia" has humanities degrees and can justify excuses for own psychoses and behavioral dysfunctionality in a more elaborate and sophisticated form, than the same could be done by some farmer from Iowa. As Russians have a saying: street janitor Vasily didn't know he was experiencing a cognitive dissonance, because he had only middle school education and didn't know such words, because of that he simply was going into the mindfuckery. This distinction is important, because, as I say non-stop, with some very minor exceptions, all of the Western "intelligentsia" (or whatever passes for it) is extremely shallow. That means it lacks serious intellectual depth and, because being totally self-centered, due to lack of serious education and training, has next to zero capacity to distinguish right from wrong. That applies even more to the American "intelligentsia" (or whatever passes for it in the US) whose shallowness and lack of any principles now has finally became legendary. Now this question: when was the last time you watched Hollywood movie about Russia? Right. Starting from a disaster of Hollywood adaptation of War and Peace through sheer cretinism of beaten to death cliches and propaganda caricatures, Hollywood, as well as American writers who wrote or write, be that fiction or allegedly academic papers, on Russian topics, one cannot shake off the surrealism of those writings (forget visual images) and many in Russia, in fact very many, ask the question--are they completely that stupid there? My answer is Yes. Moreover, they are weak, unsure, hence, psychotic and that is why they need Lubok. American Lubok on Russia.
Here is the reminder--American "intelligentsia" is not very well educated because if it were it would have never produced The End of History, The Clash of Civilizations or The Grand Chessboard, among many other things. It would also have questioned openly and energetically what I always characterize for many years as "Solzhenitsified" version of USSR/Russia because it was so out of whack. Today nobody will. In fact, they will continue to perpetuate an open madness because they do not know right from wrong. Here is another one of such representatives of American "intelligentsia" who doesn't know right from wrong. He writes in TAC.
Solzhenitsyn spent his exile in America, but he was always Russian, and never Soviet.
This statement alone requires some elaboration and is in many important respects a good demonstration of the ignorance and shallowness of American "thinkers" trying to write about Russia. And here is the hint--Solzhenitsyn was more than just anti-Soviet, he was radically anti-Russian because he denied Russian people the right for the continuation of their national history. To understand this, the author of this, yet another BS piece on Solzhenitsyn, needs to learn Russia's history, he will not. Here are his "qualifications": Richard M. Reinsch II is editor of Law & Liberty, host of the podcast Liberty Law Talk, and coauthor with Peter Augustine Lawler of A Constitution in Full (Kansas Press, 2019). So, do not expect serious study in Russia's military (warfare) history, the nature of Russia's involvement into the Russo-Japanese War, First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907 and well into the WW I. The level of the study of history of the XX century in the US is appalling and is "solzhenitsified" to the point of utter grotesque because:
1. Serious study of history requires skills well beyond some "historical method" and reading Arnold Toynbee or Annales, but serious background in military science and, highly desirable, serious foreign language background;
2. Ability to operate with complex clusters of facts which require serious mathematical, statistical knowledge and high level of technological expertise. None of it are traits of the American "intelligentsia";
3. Ability to endure and accept cognitive dissonances, which imply both human and academic integrity, which allows to address, in case of American intelligentsia both inherent psychosis and contempt to others.
Pp.3 is especially important, because reviewing modern American Russian "Studies" field what one can see is a barren land of ignorance, crude ideological constructs, mediocre, at best "scholarship" and barely hidden American exceptionalism.
So, for Mr. Reinsch II it would be instructive to learn that Solzhenitsyn is not really a Russian writer--he is an American one. I omit here Solzhentsyn's mediocrity as a writer, much of which neither the author of piece being discussed nor Rod Dreher, who unleashed on unsuspecting American Christians yet another doctrine-mongering book under the title of Solzhenitsyn's address (another one) to Russia--"Live Not By Lie"--can grasp because they cannot relate to any event of modern, XX century Russian history, and I doubt either of them even visited Russia other than in a tourist capacity. Neither of them knows Russia's history or have a grasp of the scale of the events in Russia in the XX century--this is simply beyond comprehension of American (and I don't mean Soviet Jewish and other dissidents with clear agenda, who pass for Americans) intelligentsia because they cannot understand why they like Solzhenitsyn. But I know why.
1. First, Solzhenitsyn is barely readable in Russian. Most of his writing from GULAG Archipelago, to One Day of Ivan Denisovich to his feeble attempts at geopolitics and pontification about Russian history is a chaotic combination of random historic facts, hearsay, open stealing from others (such as Varlam Shalamov) to open lies. All that is delivered in a style which discloses a self-centered person who comes across as condescending, if not contemptuous towards his own Russian people. How about Matrena's House? Did our "authors" read it in original? I doubt it. But then again, looking at modern US "literature" and cultural milieu--hey, Bob Dylan got Nobel Prize for literature and rap is considered a viable art--one should not be surprised with anything, least of all level of cultural nourishment. But then again, have you seen Hollywood's War and Peace? Just for a warmup.
2. Solzhenitsyn, when in high school, well-documented numerous facts by his classmates and people who knew him later, was a very nervous (in fact, neurotic) boy, who would faint even at the slightest criticism of his actions by class-mates. Hm, I wonder, if this is significant in the world of American intelligentsia. Is it a red flag for this intelligentsia. Nah, not really. As long as Solzhenitsyn's scribbles serve their purpose, his lies, often openly unhinged behavior and, as already stated, manifestos most of which American "intelligentsia" can not simply grasp in relation to Russia, and how false they are, he will be praised by what in the US passes for "conservative" intelligentsia, which proved time after time that human integrity and truth are irrelevant and relative. After all, American intelligentsia is a euphemism for systemic liars--they lie so much, including to themselves, that they lose ability to know right from wrong. Look at the modern United States;
3. But why Solzhenitsyn, apart from being a mediocre writer and a liar who has been caught on lies time after time, remains so dear to American intelligentsia, which is so ignorant on Russian culture and history that cannot even grasp that Solzhenitsyn, his every allegedly original thought, every insight which is worth something is first, if not second derivative, or stolen goods from truly great Russian thinkers who make Solzhenitsyn a midget. The answer is simple:
American intelligentsia today is a product of American modern Manichean culture whose shackles this intelligentsia simply cannot break because it doesn't want to, or simply doesn't even recognize those shackles due to its intellectual feebleness and seeing Russia, her history, her culture with its global appeal, be that initially through pacifying Europe in XIX century, or by defeating it, yet again, in the XX--as the only nation which will never accept America's self-proclaimed hegemony. As such, America is not at war with USSR (Communism), not at all--American is at war with historic Russia and Russians as race and as a nation, as culture and as civilization. As such Russia is vilified, Russians are dehumanized and hated no matter what form Russia's continuous history provides her with--socialism, Stalinism, Monarchy or Anarchy--Russia is the enemy and as any enemy Russians must be bad, the Russian nation must consist of scoundrels, criminals, traitors, corrupted people all over. Here is where Solzhenitsyn comes in--this is a type of environment of human degeneracy he likes. He is a sublimation of subconscious fears, now being realized by American intelligentsia, and hatred towards Russia, his mediocrity and CIA involvement in his promotion be damned--Russian sins, Russian Mordor, is what Solzhenitsyn's writing is all about, no matter that most of it is openly ahistoric lie. No relative of American intelligentsia ever fought and died in defense of America. None of them has any concept of the scale of violence combined West brought to Russia--no, it was not just Nazi Germany, it was a unified Europe. The scale of West's crime against Russian and other people of Russia is such that everything else in history pales in comparison.
Solzhenitsyn is an American intelligentsia's (again, this term is used with contempt) psychiatric defensive reaction--anything, any lie, as long as Soviet sacrifice and victory, which saved Western Civilization, could be compared and equated to European National-Socialism in its evil is accepted, even when not just some lie but a grotesque even Goebbels would envy. If it takes a mediocre writer, a neurotic and always false Russian dissident and de facto deserter by design on the eve of the Battle for Konigsberg (of course, none of them read his biography and its details)--so be it. But, of course, where else the author of this piece, or Dreher, can read the real Solzhenitsyn's biography, especially his admiration to Nazi collaborator general Vlasov and Solzhenitsyn's insane claims about Great Patriotic War. Doesn't matter, as long as an anti-depressant like Solzhenitsyn exists to address America's intelligentsia feeble-mindedness, lack of talent and pathos-ridden ignorance with reinforcement of the only thing they want to feel--freedom from fear that they are full of shit and as long as they can say to themselves that "we are better than them" lies will be accepted as truth. This is the only reason why they continue to promote a traitor, universally hated in Russia, scoundrel and mediocre scribbler as "real" Russian without even having a good grasp of his real motivations and intents. But then again, I wrote about how shallow they are already.
But pathos they have enough. As Reinsch writes:
Solzhenitsyn had written “Rebuilding Russia” in 1990 for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda for precisely this moment. In it, he recovered the Russian traditions of small and local democratic government, the art of representation, and indirect election methods that Publius would certainly understand. Solzhenitsyn underscored the habits of citizenship and drew from the rich tradition of western political thought to do so, but he stated that the Russian experience would need to be woven into these western ideas about liberty. He observed that the breakup of Greater Russia with the loss of Ukraine and Byelorussia was done in an arbitrary way, but Solzhenitsyn thought they had a right to leave. The real focus was on Russia resuming and building on its betrayed tradition.
For starters this opus was published simultaneously in KP and Literaturnaya Gazeta, but it doesn't matter--the reaction on the streets was simple: what kind of BS this creep tries to sell us, again. They also cannot grasp why Solzhenitsyn rotates in his grave every May 9th when millions of Russians and other people march over Russia in Immortal Regiment procession manifesting everything Solzhenitsyn hated with all his guts all his life--a refusal to condemn their own uninterrupted history in which Soviet period is both tragic, but also magnificent period which saw achievements of historic scale. That is why names of Alexander Nevsky, Stalin, Peter the Great and Pushkin still dominate Russian psyche and sense of millennium-old Russian civilization which Russians refused to condemn and that is why Solzhenitsyn's funeral had so few, scandalously few, Russian people attending it. Solzhenitsyn is an American writer who not only never knew Russian history, he falsified it so much that lost any touch with it, but missed in exile on a whole new generation of Russians who fully recognized who Solzhenitsyn was and, rightfully, rejected his pontification on the fate of Russia and her people which Solzhenitsyn never knew or loved.
But I am sure this will not stop American intelligentsia from addressing their own psychoses and ignorance by creating their own idols and false prophets...as long as they can say that "we are better than them". Russians have a proverb--don't spit into the past, it will respond with a salvo from cannons. Solzhenitsyn tried. Now his few monuments are 24/7 under video surveillance since Russians constantly try to express their "love" for him by all kinds of means--most popular being painting a word "Judas". Even liberal Levada Center (officially registered Foreign Agent on Russia's territory) could not hide Russian attitudes towards their greatest Russians and non-Russians. Among men of letters I see Tolstoy, Lermontov, of course Pushkin, Yesenin. I don't see Solzhenitsyn with his "truth" among them, and that's all for the better for Russians. As for American intelligentsia--I doubt any of them ever read and grasped War and Peace, nor, for that matter, any of them ever saw, let alone read, a book or saw The DawnsHere Are Quiet. They will not get it anyway. Just look at modern day America--its present state to a large degree is a manifestation of the failure of American intelligentsia of whatever ideological spectrum to come to terms to the reality--a skill not provided by reading Solzhenitsyn's books. In this respect, Solzhenitsyn and American intelligentsia deserve each-other, because their meaning of truth as merely own passions and opinions coincide perfectly. That is why Solzhenitsyn is not really a Russian writer, but an American one.