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The Moral Critique of Consumerism in Solzhenitsyn’s Economic and Political Thought

Camryn Zeller, Steven McMullen

Abstract


Though best known for his literature and critique of Soviet communism, in the 1970s and 1980s Russian novelist and historian Alexandr Solzhenitsyn shook the West with his controversial criticisms of the weaknesses he saw in Western culture, especially concerning the lack of morality and an obsession with material goods. His critique closely follows contemporary critiques of consumerism, particularly among Christian scholars. This article summarizes Solzhenitsyn’s critique of the West, and compares his ideas with modern scholarship about consumerism. Solzhenitsyn’s work demonstrates the importance of a proper understanding of the purpose of human beings for economic and social thought. Moreover, his work provides an important account of the necessary morality of economic life that prizes individual choice, takes economic culture seriously, and rejects technocratic visions of economics.

Camryn Zeller and Steven McMullen, "The Moral Critique of Consumerism in Solzhenitsyn's Economic and Political Thought," Journal of Markets & Morality 24, no. 2 (2021): 309-324.


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