On the homepage today, I have an “Oslo Journal,” just a light affair, replete with photos. I thought I would say something more serious here on the Corner. The Oslo Freedom Forum includes a reception at Oslo City Hall, usually kicked off by the mayor, as it was last week. Also speaking was Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian democracy leader. (Twice he has been poisoned, and twice he has survived.)
In his remarks, he cited Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who visited Norway in February 1974, days after he was exiled from the Soviet Union. “I have great affection for Norway,” said Solzhenitsyn. “Norwegians still preserve that measure of idealism that is becoming more and more rare in the modern world and that alone gives us true hope for the future.”
To see the great man interviewed, go here.
After quoting Solzhenitsyn, Kara-Murza said, “Idealism is sometimes dismissed as something negative or naïve, but it is idealists — not cynics, collaborators, and yes-men — who move the world forward.” He said that every dissident has some measure of idealism. Otherwise, it’s hard to summon the courage to stand up to brutal regimes.
Dissidents, he said, are often “the true voices, and the true faces, of their nations and their societies.” Throughout history, “autocrats have usurped the sole right to speak on behalf of their nations, from Louis XIV with his ‘I am the state’ to the current regime in the Kremlin, which has said, through the mouth of Vyacheslav Volodin, one of the closest political aides to Vladimir Putin, ‘There is no Russia without Putin.’”
What does Kara-Murza think of this statement? “Probably the most insulting thing I have ever heard said about my country.” One can well understand.
Anyway, a light journal today, with weightier stuff to come.