Scanning for Future Horrors

Article excerpt

Time magazine's choice of scientist Albert Einstein as "person of the century," with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as second choice and Indian pacifist M. Gandhi as third, tells us a lot about ourselves, or about Time's editors and Northeastern intellectuals.

If Time were selecting scientist of the century, Einstein would no doubt be an obvious choice. Over the course of the 20th century, Einstein's name has been a household word synonymous with genius.

But person of the century should be more than a great thinker, or an American president who presided over the demise of accountable law and the rise of the administrative state, or a political dramatist, who rode to fame, as one wag put it, on the British craze to divest themselves of India.

In human terms, the hallmark of the 20th century was the organized slaughter of classes who were demonized by communist doctrine. Few among Western elites protested or even acknowledged the class genocide on which a "new civilization" was constructed in the Soviet Union and China.

Intellectuals, so morally sensitive to India, dismissed the organized murder of scores of millions of people by communists with smug phrases such as "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs."

Whoever stood up to this unrelenting evil had to stand up not only to secret police and the unaccountable power of communist states, but also to the disparagement of Western intellectuals. This superhuman feat is identified with one man - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the person of the century.

When the first volume of his trilogy, "The Gulag Archipelago," appeared in 1973, American intellectuals were made uneasy by their obvious moral negligence. They had thought of evil in terms of the "underrepresentation" of black students at Ivy League universities.

For American intellectuals, taking "the moral position" had always meant supporting the class warfare of the Democratic Party. Mr. Solzhenitsyn confronted them with compelling evidence that class warfare had dehumanized the government of a new civilization and brought about a vast system of slave labor camps in which hapless inmates were worked to death. …