Excommunicated from his home country of Russia for his rejection of Communism, Alexander Solzhenitsyn presented his famous speech “A World Split Apart” at Harvard on June 8th, 1978. Addressing possible future world leaders inspired Solzhenitsyn to speak about issues relevant to their experiences with Western culture. In the midst of the Cold War, it was his goal to critique failures and exemplify the truth of his opinions in this opposite culture. While presenting valid points, Solzhenitsyn’s view of the Western world was disillusioned due to his foreign perspective and demeanor brought upon by his own austere society.
In this contemporary domain, there are more than three types of worlds in existence according to the speaker. Besides the poor, dependent third world, the first world giants with rich economies, and the second worlds falling somewhere in the middle, underlying factors make these categories too broad for specification. While Solzhenitsyn uses this thought to help listeners comprehend the state of Russia, it falls short in relation to real word conditions, where countries are actually defined by these conventional qualifications. The writer does hit the mark with reference to Imperialism and its shortcomings, as it produced only temporary and toxic results in the long run. Even though Solzhenitsyn’s view is narrow in its approach, it demonstrates an alternate and fresh viewpoint of global classification.
A common misconception of the Cold War was convergence, the idea that the victor would replace the losing side’s ideas with that of its country. Solzhenitsyn believed this was a betrayal of principles, and that the possibility of Russia’s transformation from Communism to the Western philosophy was not the answer. Despite the good intentions of this objective, during the time a functioning system other than Russia’s was better than continuing on with old patterns, flaws or not. This leads into “a decline in courage”, which calls out the faint-hearted West when faced with a stronger opponent. A touch of bias is shown here, as this weakness applies not only to Western culture but to proud forces of any nationality, even the Russians.
Citizens living in the Western world, especially the United States, are known for always looking for “bigger and better” things. This is partly because of the government’s promise of freedom to its inhabitants and the message it instills in a person. Solzhenitsyn makes this out to be a bad trait, when it is this defining characteristic that makes the West so prosperous. Unlike the severe environment of Russia, the United States’ liberty allows for not just mass collection of material possessions as the writer suggests, but for greater achievement and expression in everyday life. Proving that Westerners still have the will to succeed and not give up, the affluence of this society does not weaken one’s soul as the essayist says, but instead strengthens it in a way he does not understand.
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