The Corner

Igor Shafarevich

Last week I posted a quote from Igor Shafarevich’s book The Socialist

Phenomenon. A couple of readers have asked me for more information. I’m sorry, I don’t have any, and no time to google it. Here is what I know. In

the mid-1980s I wrote a book about communism that no-one wanted to publish.

I used Shafarevich as one of my sources, but have since lost the book. He

tried to link modern socialism with all the millenarian & apocalyptic

movements of the past–the Spartacus rebellion and so on. However, he came

at it all from a spiritual angle, trying to show how these things arose

through the perversion of basic spiritual needs. He was, in short, very

Russian. (I dimly recall, in fact, that he was accused of antisemitism, on

what grounds I do not know. I don’t recall any antisemitism in his book.)

He was actually a mathematician by profession. Here is a more extended

quote, which I also used in my unpublished book. It gives the flavor of his

work very well: “There is no doubt that if the ideals of utopia are

realized universally, mankind, even in the barracks of the universal City of

the Sun, shall find the strength to regain its freedom and to preserve God’s

image and likeness — human individuality — once it has glanced into the

yawning abyss. But will even THAT experience be sufficient? For it seems

just as certain that the freedom of will granted to man and to mankind is

ABSOLUTE, that it includes the freedom to make the ultimate choice –

between life and death.”

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