At the precise moment of his arrest and exile from Soviet Russia in 1974, the celebrated literary dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn released a document that was as powerful as it was brief: Live Not By Lies.
At the precise moment when so many are speaking plain truth today – saying 2+2=4 –and getting kicked off popular social media platforms for doing so, Solzhenitsyn’s words are deeply relevant and essential.
It was the great novelist’s simple and profound answer for how his people could resist the soul-crushing tyranny under which they lived. It is our answer today as well.
Communist ideology re-fashioned basic reality in a way the masses knew to be false; giving established words new meaning for political and ideological purposes. Dissent from the new order was not tolerated. Citizens were required, through excruciating political, economic, and ideological pressure, to speak and give assent to a carefully constructed, but wholly false reality. The people wrongly believed they controlled no real levers of power.
Does this sound like anything you recognize in culture today?
But Solzhenitsyn told his fellow citizens, and us today, they possessed the greatest power of all: the individual choice to refuse to live by lies. This is what this short, regime-toppling document explains, and it is worth us reading again today and taking to heart.
Solzhenitsyn explained the simple fact that the ideological system they were suffering under “demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies.” Thus, he told his countrymen,
“The simple and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation is this: personal non-participation in lies.”
Read that statement again for emphasis and reflect upon it. This truth is equally simple and profound. Resolving to refuse to speak or assent to what you know to be false is one of the greatest revolutionary acts a human can perform. Solzhenitsyn explained,
“It is the easiest thing for us to do and the most destructive for the lies.”
“Because when people renounce lies, it cuts short their existence. Like parasites, they can only survive when carried by a person. …Our way must be: Never knowingly support lies … and we will be amazed how swiftly the lies fall away, for that which should be naked will be exposed as such to the whole world.”
Lies have no life if we all refuse to let them live in our own words. Simply stop serving as their host. This remarkable insight served to give a humble and seemingly powerless people the moral courage necessary to bring down one of the most dehumanizing systems in modern times. Their example is instructive to us in our age.
The gender-redefinition movement is a global scheme – working through nearly every major social institution – to require each of us to subscribe to and repeat falsehoods about what it means to be human as male and female. Try dissenting from the new order at work, school, or on social media and you will soon learn the slightest disagreement is not tolerated. This is not a discussion where different views are welcomed. It is a new fundamentalism. It is not progressive, but profoundly regressive.
Therefore, all people of common sense and goodwill should intentionally choose to refuse to voice the new gender lies. These lies must be intentionally resisted. They will not die otherwise.
How do we do this?
It is not enough just to disagree with the lies in our hearts and minds. We must refuse to use the language we are tyrannically expected to use, even if our motivation in speaking such things is to be kind. (And tyranny is exactly what this is when dissent is not permitted!)
Solzhenitsyn instructed his countryman, “from this day onward” we should never…
- “…sign, write or print in any way, a single word or phrase, so far as we can see, which distorts the truth.”
- “…utter such a phrase, neither in public or private, on his own behalf or at the prompting of others, that is a distortion of the truth.”
- “…not cite, either orally or in writing, a single false phrase to please someone, protect oneself, or achieve success in work, if he does not completely agree with the meaning of the phrase.”
- “…will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film if he hears a speaker tell lies or speak ideological non-sense.”
The great novelist tells us, “There are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest” concluding,
“And he who is not sufficiently courageous to defend his soul – don’t let him be proud of his ‘progressive’ views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or an artist, a distinguished figure… Let him say to himself: ‘I am part of the herd and a coward. It’s all the same to be me as long as I’m fed and kept warm.”
British author, journalist, and public intellectual Douglas Murray, himself an openly gay man, brings Solzhenitsyn’s insights to bear on the present age and the gender issue. In his important book, The Madness of Crowds, he addresses the literal madness of gender politics and language control, asserting boldly, “And so, we are being asked to agree with things we cannot believe. We are asked to believe things that are not believable and being told not to object to things most people feel strong objection to.” Murray is realizing the great Russian novelist’s moral strength in our present situation in noting,
“As anyone who lived under totalitarianism can attest, there is something demeaning and eventually soul-destroying about being expected to go along with claims you do not believe to be true and cannot hold to be true.”
The truly free and faithful person cannot live by lies. Everyone who chooses to do so, for whatever reason, is not truly free … nor morally strong. As Solzhenitsyn said many decades ago, such a person must admit, “I am part of the herd and a coward.”
Never feel compelled to say anything you don’t fully believe. Anyone who pressures you to do so doesn’t care about you or your individual integrity. And there is nothing good or compassionate in that.
Photo from Twitter.