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Assault on Ideology

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Political Thought, 2nd Edition

James F. Pontuso - Foreword by Daniel J. Mahoney

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is almost a forgotten man, a relic of the Cold War, like some broken and discarded bit of the Berlin Wall. He is also one of the most important writers of the 20th century, and has had more direct influence on politics than any author since Jean Jacques Rousseau. At a critical time after America's loss in Vietnam, Solzhenitsyn stood as a towering moral force against a policy of appeasement towards an evil adversary. In this new edition of Assault on Ideology: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Political Thought author James F. Pontuso showcases the titanic thought that understood Marxism to be a vain and ultimately merciless effort to fulfill the Enlightenment dream of fully conquering and exploiting nature in order to establish a perfect and just society on earth. Solzhenitsyn's claim was that Lenin, Stalin, and the Russian people applied Marx's principles to the letter yielding horrific results. Pontuso traces the causes of the horrific events of the Great Terror beginning with Stalin's megalomania, back through the cruel precedents laid down by Lenin, to the ideology established by Marx, and ultimately to the philosophy begun in the Enlightenment. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 226Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-0-7391-0594-8 • Paperback • February 2004 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
James F. Pontuso is Elliot Professor of Political Science at Hampden-Sydney College.
Chapter 1 A Chronicle of Terror
Chapter 2 Solzhenitsyn's Stalin
Chapter 3 Solzhenitsyn's Lenin
Chapter 4 Solzhenitsyn's Marx
Chapter 5 The Consequences of Marxism in the Soviet Union and Elsewhere
Chapter 6 Solzhenitsyn on the West
Chapter 7 On a Revival of the Spirit
As a political thinker, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was never much appreciated in the United States. And soon, the half-century long Cold War and why it had to be waged will be all but forgotten. In the meantime, a soft Marxism still seems to prevail in the academy and to some extent in popular culture as well. James Pontuso's Assault on Ideology means to right this situation. He sets out for us a lucid, sympathetic rendering of the political thought he finds pervasive in Solzhenitsyn's writings. With Solzhenitsyn, he retraces the atrocities of Communist regimes to their source in the misguided theories of Karl Marx and even to some extent in the very principles that gave rise to modern western liberalism. Pontuso forces us to weigh the accuracy and importance of Solzhenitsyn's analysis of communism and of western ambivalence in its face. In doing so, he makes us reflect not only on recent history, but on how we might best confront the new challenges we are now meeting in the twenty-first century.
Delba Winthrop, Harvard University

James Pontuso's elegantly written and brilliant book was the first and remains the best account of the many and varied connections between Solzhenitsyn's courageous anti-ideological literary genius and the enduring concerns of the tradition of political philosophy. Solzhenitsyn is one of the two or three most important and the single most admirable writers of the 20th century, and Pontuso has provided an indispensable guide to how we can learn from and be ennobled by his greatness.
Peter Augustine Lawler, Berry College