The name of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has fallen on hard times. My many public lectures on this author convince me that his sympathetic admirers are legion, but even these admirers are troubled that the press commentary on him seems to be fairly consistently negative. While almost all of his Western critics allow that Solzhenitsyn is a majestic presence on today’s generally bleak human landscape, most of them save their intensity for stiff negative comments. These comments are less about his art than about his opinions on matters of public life.

The most common criticism is that Solzhenitsyn does not understand the West. And, so the line goes, he especially does not understand—and therefore does not value—democracy. The implicit—and sometimes explicit—conclusion is that we should not listen to Solzhenitsyn when he speaks about the West in general and democracy in particular. So widespread is this view that it can now fairly be called the received opinion. Perhaps, having had little firsthand experience of democracy (although he has now lived one-fourth of his adult life in the West), Solzhenitsyn is not in the best position to interpret it. But any writer deserves to have his own words heard, and Solzhenitsyn’s view of democracy is not what his crihcs say it is.

The misunderstanding about Solzhenitsyn on the subject of democracy derives from a misunderstanding of—or an aversion to his– general orientation toward human reality. His view of life and human nature is alien to most of his crihcs. Simply stated. Solzhenitsyn has a religious believer’s view of things. Many of his critics do not. Historically, the 18th-century French Enlightenment provided the theoretical basis on which the West’s standard secular view of democracy is built. In broad terms, it proposed that for every human problem there is a rational soludon. In practice, a rational solution has come to mean a political solution. Solzhenitsyn deviates from this regnant orthodoxy; he does not accede to the primacy of politics. He thinks that moral and religious issues are more important than political ones. Certainly, he does not accept the religion of democracy, a notion safely ensconced in the statement of purpose of virtually every public-school district in the United States, that training for citizenship in democracy is the supreme goal of the educating of our children. He does not believe that the virtues of democracy are so self-evident that we can raise no questions. Indeed, he does raise trenchant questions about democracy.

Yet Solzhenitsyn is not antidemocratic, as has frequently been charged by many critics (and especially detractors). At the same time, it is definitely not the case that he is enthusiastically pro-democratic. Rather, Solzhenitsyn articulates a position which can be described as neither for nor against democracy in and of itself. Such a position can be equated with an antidemocratic position only by those who are so enthralled by the abstract concept of democracy that they must see as a foe anyone who is not an ardent advocate of their own position. Indeed, there are hints that Solzhenitsyn’s view is more for than against democracy. But, overall, his view on the subject is a complex matter, not one to be resolved by the affixing of a label.

Solzhenitsyn’s attitude towards democracy may be resolved into five positions. First, Solzhenitsyn never urges the states of the West to abandon democracy. Second, he speaks freely of the faults in the practices of modern Western democracies. Third, he fears the social upheaval which he expects would come from a sudden introduction of democracy into the Russian context. Fourth, he imagines that authoritarianism might be preferable to democracy for  the Russia of the present moment. Fifth—and most important—he has not declared, ever, a theoretical prefer­ence for authoritarianism over democracy.

In a recent exchange in the correspondence section of Commentary (June 1985), Norman Podhoretz acknowl­ edged all of these five points, yet persisted in thinking that his allegation that Solzhenitsyn was “explicitly antidemo­cratic” (emphasis mine) was just. Podhoretz, who calls himself “a virtual idolator of democracy” (note the religious diction), says that Solzhenitsyn’s “antidemocratic” position is the kind with which he can live, but I hope that he cannot live long with the illogic of his position. For Podhoretz does not call Solzhenitsyn either nondemocratic or implicitly antidemocratic, rather explicitly antidemocrat­ic. On the basis of which of the five points?

Anything but a mean-spirited detractor of Solzhenitsyn, Podhoretz represents the opinion of a wide spectrum of Western commentators. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. asserts, “As against democracy, with its weaknesses, mediocrity and moral chaos, Solzhenitsyn prefers systems ‘based on subor­ dination to authority.”‘ Schlesinger here is referring to certain passages where Solzhenitsyn speaks only of the Russian situation. Schlesinger does not acknowledge the context, but instead abstracts a phrase from that concrete setting and applies it universally. As we shall see, Solzhenitsyn generally grounds his statements about de­mocracy in some specific historical situation. Schlesinger continues, “Solzhenitsyn’s ideal has nothing to do with liberal democracy His ideal is a Christian authoritari­anism governed by God-fearing despots without benefit of politics, parties, undue intellecttial freedom or undue concern for popular happiness.” The problem with this statement is that Solzhenitsyn has never stated any political ideal of his own. And what of Solzhenitsyn’s call for the lifting of censorship when he was still in his home country?

Solzhenitsyn’s refusal to offer a political program of his own has frustrated several Western commentators. For instance, Jack Fruchtrnan Jr., referring to Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard commencement address, complains, “Why did he offer this indictment of Western society, and then suggest really nothing in the way of remedy?” But, of course, the remedy which Fruchtman wants would be a statement of political program, and politics is simply not Solzhenitsyn’s central concern. Even in the monumental Gulag Archipel­ago, generally received in the West as a political expose if there ever was one, the author says early, “So let anyone who expects this book to be a political expose slam its covers shut right now.”

It was left to Mary McCrory, in her guileless review of the Harvard address, to get to the heart of the matter of why Solzhenitsyn so offended his Western commentators: “But nothing Solzhenitsyn said went so much against the grain as his negative view of our society. The unspoken expectation was that after three years in our midst, he would have to say we are superior, that our way is not only better, but best.” One may applaud her patriotism—while laughing at the charge that Solzhenitsyn is the ethnocentric and chauvinis­tic one.

However, even critics more favorably disposed toward Solzhenitsyn have challenged his view of democracy. Michael Novak at least recognizes that to consider Solzhenitsyn’s position, one must focus on “the relation between Christianity . . and democracy,” but he never­theless does “not think that Solzhenitsyn understands that connection well at all.” Solzhenitsyn, according to Novak, can be dismissive of democracy becallse he locates its source in the Enlightenment and not in the Gospels of the New Testament.

The proper definition of democracy and biblical support of democracy would fill many books. In responding to Novak, I restrict myself to three observations. First, individ­ ual freedom is not coterminous with freedom, though some Western democrats seem to think so. Second, the Enlight­ enment surely has had a profound influence on modem conceptions of democracy. Third, since Solzhenitsyn never rejects the idea of democracy, Novak’s argument is beside the point.

Indubitably, Solzhenitsyn would agree with Novak that “democracy by no means ensures virtue, though without virtue it cannot survive.” He, above all others, knows, as Novak goes on to say, that “the human heart is endlessly mixed”; he has made the same point repeatedly. How unfitting, then, is Novak’s following speculation: “If this were a world of angels, Solzhenitsyn’s vision would create a City of Light. Its rulers would be saints, its people willing followers, its constitution the very laws of God. The civilization he envisages would be a heavenly city. The state would wither away.” Surely, Solzhenitsyn, with all of bis anti-Enlightenment sentiments, is immune to the charge of utopianism-including Novak’s variant of angelism (a term, incidentally, used by some literary critics to describe works far different from the kind of Christian realism found in Solzhenitsyn’s works).

When we turn our attention from Solzhenitsyn’s critics to Solzhenitsyn himself, we see that they seem to be inhabiting different worlds of discourse. Though his detrac­tors bring up the subject of democracy repeatedly and insistently, Solzhenitsyn very seldom addresses the subject, and then only briefly and in passing. Solzhenitsyn asserts, “It is not the task of the writer to defend or criticize one or another mode of distributing the social product, or to defend or criticize one or another form of government organization. The task of the writer is to select more universal and eternal questions.” Far from sharing the modern preoccupation with economics and politics, Solzhenitsyn focuses on the perennial moral concerns of human heart and conscience. When he touches upon the domains of economics and politics, it is only to bring a moral judgment to bear upon them. So he can lament that today “the evaluation of political life by ethical yardsticks is considered totally provincial.” And he opines that even “the elimination of privileges is a moral, not a political, task” Try to imagine Schlesinger or McCrory saying such a thing.

Or try to imagine them saying, in a situation of oppres­sion such as Solzhenitsyn knew in the Soviet Union, that “the absolutely essential task is not political liberation, but the liberation of our souls from participation in the lie forced upon us.” We see how far Solzhenitsyn is from sharing the assumption of the primacy of politics when he says, “The state structure is of secondary importance. That this is so, Christ himself teaches us. ‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ not because every Caesar deserves it, but because Caesar’s concern is not with the most important thing in our lives.”

Once we understand these rudiments of Solzhenitsyn’s view of the relationship between. morality and politics, we can better approach his comments about democracy. These infrequent comments come in reference to two quite different settings: modern Russia and the West. Some ofthe confusion over Solzhenitsyn’s view of democracy comes from not distinguishing between these settings. Since Solzhenitsyn is a Russian who writes mostly to Russians and about Russia, it is not surprising that most of his comments about democracy refer to the Russian setting.

Solzhenitsyn has spoken clearly about democracy and Russia in three pieces: “As Breathing and Consciousness Return,” a response to Andrei Sakharov published as the lead essay in From Under the Rubble; the Letter to the Soviet Leaders, surely the most misunderstood statement written by Solzhenitsyn; and The Mortal Danger, a slim volume which first appeared as an article in the American journal Foreign Affairs.

In the first of these pieces, Solzhenitsyn challenges Sakharov’s theory of convergence between East and West, to which the West’s chief contribution is to be democracy. Solzhenitsyn observes that “in the long history of mankind there have not been so very many democratic republics, yet people lived for centuries without them and were not always worse off.” With common sense he adds that authoritarian systems, too, can offer people a tolerable life, “provided certain limits are not exceeded.” About Russia today and tomorrow he modestly and cautiously suggests,

If Russia lived under autocracy for centuries and . . suffered total collapse under the democratic system which lasted eight months in 1917, perhaps—I am only asking, not making an assertion—perhaps we should recognize that the evolution of our country from one form of authoritarianism to another would be the most natural, the smoothest, the least painful path of development for it to follow?

He adds that “we have never been shown any realistic path of transition from our present system to a democratic republic of the Western type.” Notice here that it is a particular variant of authoritarianism which is unacceptable and must be changed. Notice, also, that there is no defense of authoritarianism in principle nor attack of democracy in principle.

When confronted in the Soviet Union by the extreme form of authoritarianism which we know as totalitarianism, Solzhenitsyn joins Sakharov in castigating its evils. He does recognize certain virtues of authoritarian regimes: “stabili­ty, continuity, immunity from political ague.” Yet he warns that there are “great dangers and defects in authoritarian systems of government: the danger of dishonest authorities, upheld by violence, the danger of arbitrary decisions and the difficulty of correcting them, the danger of sliding into tyranny.” A system of authority becomes evil when “it demands of us total surrender of our souls, continuous and active participation in the general, conscious lie. . . . When Caesar, having exacted what is Caesar’s, demands still more insistently that we render unto him what is God’s—that is a sacrifice we dare not make!” There were times when autocrats “felt themselves responsible before God-and their own consciences.” The new Soviet autocrats are “dangerous precisely because it is difficult to find higher values which would bind them.”

Some Westerners apparently reject any distinction be­ tween authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and it is hard to know what to say to them. At a minimum, they are stuck with the untenable position of refusing to allow that Solzhenitsyn is an antitotalitarian, despite the whole record of his life and works. They also must come to terms with the whole historical record of regimes which did not seek to control every aspect of a citizen’s life—social, cultural, personal—which allowed freedoms of speech, thought, travel, occupation, academic pursuit, religious belief and practice. They are forced to say that all leaders not democratically elected are tyrants.

Solzhenitsyn’s position in “As Breathing and Conscious­ness Return” is unchanged in the two later pieces. The Letter to the Soviet Leaders is, for better or worse, Solzhenitsyn’s most overt attempt to influence current practical politics. To understand it we must keep in mind its very limited intended audience: the rulers in the Kremlin. It is to these anticipated readers that Solzhenitsyn observes, “Here in Russia, for sheer lack of practice, democracy survived for only eight months—from February to October, 1917.” He adjudges that Kerensky and his associates “turned out to be ill-prepared for it themselves, and . . . Russia was worse prepared still.” He is here trying to assure the Soviet leaders that both he and they are hardheaded realists, that he will not suggest what Sakharov might: that the cure for Russia’s ills is the immediate introduction of Western-style democracy. So he adds, “Over the last half-century Russia’s preparedness for democracy, for a multiparty parliamentary system, could only have dimin­ished. I am inclined to think that its sudden reintroduction now would merely be a melancholy repetition of 1917.”

Clearly, Solzhenitsyn here is not arguing political theory but discussing specifically the current situation in one state. Yet, even when trying to pacify the Soviet leaders, he refuses to denounce democracy in principle. Indeed, one reading of these statements is that he wishes that J ussia were ready for democracy and that he hopes that someday it will be. Such a reading is supported by a later passage, offered in the form of questions: “That for the foreseeable future, perhaps, whether we like it or not, whether we intend it or not, Russia is nevertheless destined to have an authoritarian order? Perhaps this is all that she is ripe for today?” Clearly, Solzhenitsyn is here doirig something other than advocating authoritarianism as a desideratum. In fact, he is speaking, uncharacteristically for him, in the language of the practical politician, the language of com­ promise. He is operating in the same rhetorical mode when he tells the leaders that he understands that:

You will not willingly tolerate a two-party or multiparty system in our country, you will not tolerate real elections, at which people might not vote you in. And on the basis of realism one must admit that this will be within your power for a long time to come.

A long time-but not forever.

Having granted to the Soviet leaders that they will not loosen their hold on the reins of power, he proceeds to outline what kind of authoritarian rule he would be willing to settle for. In his words, “Everything depends upon what sort of authoritarian order lies in store for us.” The villain, he explains, is not authoritarianism per se but the ideology which fosters totalitarianism. So he urges the leaders, since they will not willingly give up their power, to exercise it on the basis of a different principle: “Let it be an authoritarian order, but one founded not on an inexhaustible ‘class hatred’ but on love of your fellow men.”

Nowhere does Solzhenitsyn suggest that no evils were committed by the state in the millennium preceding the Bolshevik Revolution. At the same time, even his critics cannot doubt that modern attacks upon human spirits and bodies are much greater than those of bygone centuries. Solzhenitsyn explains: “In those days an important condi­tion was fulfilled: that authoritarian order possessed a strong moral foundation, embryonic and rudimentary though it was—not the ideology of universal violence, but Christian Orthodoxy.” The qualification, “embryonic and rudimen­tary,” is significant; it blunts the charge of romanticizing the past, a charge usually leveled only by those who have read Solzhenitsyn casually and in part. But what is key is Solzhenitsyn’s belief that any political order short of totali­tarianism could work—as long as it is based on a solid moral underpinning, one which honors human dignity. Solzhenitsyn’s own opinion is that “Christianity today [is] the only living spiritual force capable of undertaking the spiritual healing of Russia,” though he adds, “I request and propose no special privileges for it, simply that it should be treated fairly and not suppressed.” This is not the language of a theocrat.

Solzhenitsyn emphasized the pragmatic intent of his Letter to the Soviet Leaders when he answered some criticisms of it in The Mortal Danger. Acknowledging that those leaders would not allow “free general elections” or a change of leadership, the most that he could have hoped for was that there might be certain “concessions on their side,” including “a renunciation of communist ideology and of its most cruel consequences.” He elaborates, “And the only path down from the icy cliff of totalitarianism that I could propose was the slow and smooth descent via an authoritari­ an system. (If an unprepared people were to jump off that cliff directly into democracy, it would be crushed to an anarchical pulp.)” In other words, his overriding concern is with the civic health of his people, not with some political dogma. One can understand, then, his chagrin as he adds, “This ‘authoritarianism’ of mine also drew immediate fire in the Western press.” Note his quotation marks around authoritarianism. He says that the reaction by Western commentators “simply astonished me.” His astonishment is justified.

Really, Solzhenitsyn requests of his Western critics merely that they extend to his people, the Russians, the same latitude that they willingly extend to many peoples of the Third World: “I would simply ask that the Russian people not be denied the same kind of treatment, and that we not be dictated to, just as Africa is not.” Those who condone Third World departures from Western-style de­mocracy should take the same attitude toward a Russian people emerging (if they ever do) from the yoke of Soviet rule. Regarding African states, such critics take exactly the same line which Solzhenitsyn proposes for Russia: “The answer can only emerge through an organic development of accumulated national experience, and it must be free of any external coercion.”

One specific allegation which Solzhenitsyn finds particu­larly galling is that he is “an advocate of a theocratic state, a system in which the government would be under the direct control of religious leaders.” He calls this charge “a flagrant misrepresentation” and adds, “I have never said or written anything of the sort.” (Could it be that this silly accusation persists because commentators read earlier commentators, rather than Solzhenitsyn himself?) He asks for Russia no more of religious presence in public life than can be found in Poland or Israel.

Solzhenitsyn’s final, general statement about the future form of government for Russia is this: “As concerns the theoretical question whether Russia should choose or reject authoritarianism in the future, I have no final opinion, and have not offered any.” Anyone who persists in calling Solzhenitsyn authoritarian and antidemocratic is advised it this point to recall Solzhenitsyn’s charge at Harvard in 1978 that the Western press is guilty of “hasty, immature, superficial, and misleading judgments”—a charge hardly new with Solzhenitsyn.

Although most of Solzhenitsyn’s comments on democra­cy refer to the Russian context, he has not refrained from passing judgment on the West. As Mary McCrory and others have noted with dismay, his judgments have not been glowing. He acknowledges in The Mortal Danger that his “criticism of certain aspects of democracy is well known.” He refuses to believe that “the will of the English people” was implemented when for years England was “sapped of its strength” by a Labor government which received only 40 percent of the vote, nor that any nation is well-served “when half the electorate is so disillusioned that it stays away from the polling booths.” Provocatively, he suggests that totalitarian regimes have grown out of weak democracies, not authoritarian regimes. As always, whether one agrees or not with Solzhenitsyn’s analysis of defects in democracy, he always directs his criticisms toward specific instances, not toward democracy in theory.

Since the critics have conjoined Solzhenitsyn’s alleged antidemocratic stance with his alleged anti-Western senti­ments, we must have straight Solzhenitsyn’s view of the West in generaland the United States in particular. His own words Hally contradict those who find him antagonistic toward the West: “I am not a critic of the West. I repeat that for nearly all our lives we worshipped the West—note the word ‘worshipped.’ We did not admire it, we worshipped it.” He quickly specifies that which he criticizes: “I am a critic of the weakness of the West. I am a critic of a fact which we can’t comprehend: how one can lose one’s spiritual strength, one’s will power and, possessing freedom, not value it, not be willing to make sacrifices for it.” In other words, far from being negative toward the West, Solzhenitsyn calls on the West to be more Western, to embrace its traditional values. And, as for this nation, he unequivocally calls himself “a friend of the United States.” He declares, “The United States has long shown itself to be the most magnanimous, the most generous country in the world.” According to recent news reports, Solzhenitsyn is now seeking U.S. citizenship.

Why are such clear statements by Solzhenitsyn so little mentioned in Western press accounts of him? Why are passages which are much less clear and straightforward picked up and then picked apart in an effort to label him antidemocratic and anti-Western?

Solzhenitsyn’s general approval of the West lends pi­quancy to his criticisms of its defects, some of which are linked to democracy. It was the criticisms in his Harvard commencement address which provoked the greatest outcry of protest. But it is disarming to see a simple listing of the specific objects of his attack: the holding of colonies; passivity in the face of overt criminality, including terror­ism; excessive litigiousness; hasty and superficial judgments by the press; intellectual faddism; commercial advertising; TV stupor; “intolerable” music; and a loss of courage and willpower among the American intelligentsia, one result he saw as the hasty capitulation in Vietnam.

Many of Solzhenitsyn’s criticisms are standard fare from many Americans. But it was on those points where Solzhenitsyn pointed the finger at the media and intellectu­als that they responded with heat. Never mind all of the areas of agreement; he had trodden on (their) sacred ground. It was the responses to this Harvard speech which crystallized the charge that Solzhenitsyn was antidemocrat­ ic. Yet, if one coolly examines this speech to see how many of the West’s problems Solzhenitsyn blames on democracy, the answer is—startlingly—none. By my count, the words democracy and democratic appear only five times: of these five, two are in passing, two are of middling importance, and one is of major importance.

Of middling importance is the assertion, “Thus medioc­rity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints.” We democrats concede a certain validity to the charge but chalk up the problem—appropriately, I think—to the need to accept a minor vice along with a major virtue. Also of middling importance is the observation that “in the 20th century Western democracy has not won any major war by itself.” The context is Solzhenitsyn’s assertion that the West could have defeated Hitler’s Germany without the aid of the Soviet Union and thus not raised the Soviet Union to the status of world superpower. But such an argument points only to a tactical error and says nothing against democracy.

The major mention of democracy in the Harvard address comes late, near the climax. And, as the climax offers historical reasons for the moral decline of the West, so is this reference to democracy set in historical and moral terms. “And yet in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility.” Obviously, this is anything but an antidem­ocratic statement. It is especially significant that this Chris­tian writer locates the origin of democracy in the religious impulse (not, as Novak has said, in the Enlightenment). Only secularists could be displeased, and then on grounds that have to do with religion rather than politics.

And all capitalistic democrats should appreciate the following comment by Solzhenitsyn—said, no less, to the Soviet leaders: “[Marxist ideology] was mistaken when it forecast that the proletariat would be endlessly oppressed and would never achieve anything in a bourgeois democracy—if only we could shower people with as much food, clothing and leisure as they have gained under capitalism!” If there is some loose usage here, almost an equating of democracy and capitalism, certainly there is an expressed appreciation for certain of the fruits of Western society, including democracy.

The single most inflammatory comment by Solzhenitsyn on democracy, I believe, is one from Letter to the Soviet Leaders. The passage has been used in such damaging ways that it must be quoted at length:

[Shall we] argue in all sincerity that we are not adherents of that turbulent “democracy run riot” in which once every four years the politicians, and indeed the entire country, nearly kill themselves over an electoral campaign, trying to gratify the masses. . . . While even in an established democracy we can see many instances when a fatal course of action is chosen as a result of self-deception, or of a random majority caused by the swing of a small but unpopular party between two big ones—and it is this insignificant swing, which in no way expresses the will of the majority (and even the will of the majority is not immune to misdirection), which decides vitally important questions in national and sometimes even world politics. And there are very many instances today of groups of workers who have learned to grab as much as they can for themselves whenever their country is going through a crisis, even if they ruin the country in the process. And even the most respected democracies have turned out to be powerless against a handful of miserable terrorists.

There can be no doubt that Solzhenitsyn here expresses distaste for certain practices which he observes in modern democracies. But it is helpful to remember, first of all, that these words are part of Solzhenitsyn’s effort to ingratiate himself with the Soviet leaders long enough for them to listen to his proposal that they abandon Marxist ideology. Also, it is simply the case that Solzhenitsyn pinpoints some problems in democracies-including the inglorious aspects of campaigning—which democrats themselves acknowl­edge. And, from at least John Stuart Mill on, Western political theorists have discussed the dangers of majoritarianism—as if one thought that 51 percent of the vote proved wisdom while 49 percent proved folly.

But the most offending phrase was “democracy run riot.” Frankly, I am surprised that this phrase gave offense. For, by putting the phrase in quotation marks in the original, Solzhenitsyn seems to be signaling that he perceives a difference between democracy and “democracy run riot.” He seems to be attacking an aberrant practice of a political theory and not the theory itself. This same distinction holds in regard to that one aspect of democracy which he singles out for special questioning: the system of party politics. If democracy means that the people decide on matters of governance, why pour that abstract theory into the concrete containers of political parties? Democracy is the principle; party politics is one possible way of practicing it. The latter does not inevitably follow the former. Indeed, many local American elections are nonpartisan, free of party-affiliated candidates.

Solzhenitsyn fears that an electoral candidate sponsored by a party may have primary loyalty not to the nation but to the party and thus may even damage the nation’s interests. It is not parties but nations which are the loci for a language and a whole culture. So he opines, “Parties are obviously utterly inhuman formations. . . Nations, on the other hand, are very vital formations, susceptible to all moral feelings.” Perhaps the sense of a people, of a nation, runs deeper in Solzhenitsyn, who has felt deprived of it by his government, than it does in his commentators from melting-pot USA. And perhaps his fear of political par­ties is excessive. But all should recognize that criticism of the party system is not the same as condemnation of democracy.

One other sentence by Solzhenitsyn must be mentioned here, though it has drawn little comment. It addresses neither the Russian nor the Western situation, but that of Taiwan, in a speech given there.

It seems to be fashionable in the West to demand from all who stand in the forefront of defense, under machine-gun fire, to demand the widest democracy, and not just simple, but absolute
democracy, bordering on total dissoluteness, on the right to destroy their own state and country—such freedom as Western countries tolerate.