As a gulag survivor, Solzhenitsyn had a barely disguised disgust for Western elites with little experience of political murder and repression. Nor could he abide the legion of fools who seemed fascinated, from a secure and prosperous distance, with socialist thought. In his foreword to The Socialist Phenomenon—an extraordinary book by his friend Igor Shafarevich—Solzhenitsyn noted “the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism,” and stressed that
The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct, [these contradictions] do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, of communal ownership, and justice . . .