Did Solzhenitsyn really say or write this?

Julien

New Member
"Men not having the same capabilities, if they are free, they will not be equal, and if they are equal, then they are not free."
This sentence is commonly attributed to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but did he really say or write it? Or is it a paraphrase based on something he did say or write? Or is this quote simply misattributed?

Solzhenitsyn's principle.jpg
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What evidence have you found so far? Where is it listed? Why are you asking?

The claim that freedom and equality are irreconcilable is not uncommon, Nikolai Berdyaev said "freedom is the right to inequality" (Свобода есть право на неравенство). It seems like a fairly obvious observation.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Try Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II (1840):
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/detoc/ch2_01.htm
 

Henk001

Senior Member.
A google search returns this page as the only place the quote exists in its entirety as per the OP.
There are numerous sites with quotes. They give dozens of quotes on Solzhenitsyn, but this one isn't there. However, if you search on "Human beings have different capacities, if they are free.."etc. I find a number of sites that (ab)use this quote in a context of "alt-right", anti-socialist, anti-feminist or even openly nazi sentiment. [Radical Traditionalism; Conservative Revolution; AlphaGame; returnOfKings].None of them gives a source, though.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Oldest place I could find for the OP's quote (the one in his attached image) is also a University of Virginia page from July 2002, on a list of a PhD student's "favorite quotes".

Next instances of it appearing online seems to have been in 2007, where it appears on several blogs. From there, I guess it spread.

The quote on the UVA page, however, though attributed to Solzhenitsyn, is unreferenced and undated.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
This thread is in a wrong forum and need to be moved to a proper one. Fixed

I have gone through the popular Solzhenitsyn's quotations in Russian sources, but there was no Russian version of the OP quotation. The nearest about freedom (and democracy) is the following one from The First Circle
 

Julien

New Member
What evidence have you found so far? Where is it listed? Why are you asking?

The claim that freedom and equality are irreconcilable is not uncommon, Nikolai Berdyaev said "freedom is the right to inequality" (Свобода есть право на неравенство). It seems like a fairly obvious observation.
My replies to these questions:

1. "What evidence have you found so far?"
I have asked the question simply because I could not find any direct and reliable evidence that Solzhenitsyn had actually written or said the words that figure in the poster above.

2. "Where is it listed?"
When performing a Google search, the quote appears in many sites, most of them being sites specialized in quotations (which might simply repeat on and on the same initial misquotation).

3. "Why are you asking?"
I asked because in a few cases, the mention "possibly misattributed" (or something similar) was attached to the quote.
Given I'd like to re-use the quote, I wish I could cite it right. Otherwise, I would not cite it, or attribute it to Solzhenitsyn.

Since my initial posting, the only apparently reliable quote from Solzhenitsyn I have found so far on the same topic is from a speech he's reported to have given, apparently in French, on Saturday September 25, 1993, at Lucs-sur-Boulogne, France, at the inauguration of the "Historial de Vendée" (an event thus related to the memory of the War in the Vendée; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_the_Vendée):

"La Révolution française s'est déroulée au nom d'un slogan intrinsèquement contradictoire et irréalisable : liberté, égalité, fraternité. Mais dans la vie sociale, liberté et égalité tendent à s'exclure mutuellement, sont antagoniques l'une de l'autre! La liberté détruit l'égalité sociale - c'est même là un des rôles de la liberté -, tandis que l'égalité restreint la liberté, car, autrement, on ne saurait y atteindre. […]"
(Literal English translation:) "The French Revolution developed in the name of a motto that was intrinsically contradictory and unrealizable: liberty, equality, fraternity. But in social life, liberty and equality tend to exclude each other, are antagonistic of one another! Liberty destroys social equality – here is even one of the roles of liberty –, whereas equality restrains liberty, for one would not be able to reach it otherwise. […]"
This speech is extensively given at http://la.revue.item.free.fr/nouvelles_de_chretiente141_090808.htm

I therefore suspect the quote that is the subject of this thread may represent a simpler and more compact rephrasing of the view expressed by Solzhenitsyn in this 1993 speech. I have however no proof of that. Of course I may be lacking more information, and I hope contributors to this thread may shed light on the topic. Many thanks in advance.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I therefore suspect the quote that is the subject of this thread may represent a simpler and more compact rephrasing of the view expressed by Solzhenitsyn in this 1993 speech.
This seems to happen quite a bit with quotes. Someone else paraphrases what someone else said, and then that gets reported as if they were quoting it, and it sticks.
 

Julien

New Member
Try Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II (1840):
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/detoc/ch2_01.htm
This is indeed interesting but it expresses that liberty and equality go together, hand by hand, whereas the quote attributed to Solzhenitsyn expresses they are incompatible.
 

Julien

New Member
This seems to happen quite a bit with quotes. Someone else paraphrases what someone else said, and then that gets reported as if they were quoting it, and it sticks.
The good news may be seen in that the idea expressed in the paraphrase that appears in the poster above was indeed formulated by Solzhenitsyn in his mentioned 1993 speech in French. If true, the idea (but not the quote, strictly speaking) may be reliably attributed to Solzhenitsyn.

I am still wondering, however, about how and when this idea was retrieved from this speech and rephrased into that quote. Given the speech was delivered in French and in France, I suspect that there might be some "French connection", at least initially, to explain the broadcasting of this idea. Another possibility is that the speech appeared in some collection of Solzhenitsyn's speeches, or in another collection of Solzhenitsyn's minor works, in some major language, and that the idea was retrieved and rephrased from there.

The chronology highlighted above by Rory (initial appearance in Virginia in 2002, followed by significant spreading on the Web starting 2007) is compatible with the date of Solzhenitsyn's speech in Vendée, namely September of 1993. There are however 9 years during which we are lacking information (so far) regarding the extraction and rephrasing of Solzhenitsyn's idea.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
You could try writing to Clark Coleman, the guy who posted it in 2002. Who knows? Maybe he remembers where he found it? Or perhaps will 'fess to making it up. ;)

(There are two email addresses for him at that page, and he's easily findable on facebook.)
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Since my initial posting, the only apparently reliable quote from Solzhenitsyn I have found so far on the same topic is from a speech he's reported to have given, apparently in French, on Saturday September 25, 1993, at Lucs-sur-Boulogne, France, at the inauguration of the "Historial de Vendée" (an event thus related to the memory of the War in the Vendée; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_the_Vendée):
There is a Russian version of this speech, which is either the original, or the author's translation into his native language. It was published the same 1993 year by at least two different Russian émigrés magazines with the text of both publications being identical. Here is the above quotation in Russian:
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Given I'd like to re-use the quote, I wish I could cite it right. Otherwise, I would not cite it
fyi, this isnt to say Solzhenitsyn didnt express a similar sentiment at some point (as in the 1993 speech) but as far as the [almost] exact phrasing in that quote:



National Youth Alliance wiki
 
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