Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend read to widen your horizons

from the writer who brought the world "Archipelag Gulag"
Giving the 1978 Commencement Address at Harvard University, Alexander Solzhenitsyn delivered a sharp and stunning rebuke to the modern West, repudiating its liberalism, materialism, and supremacism.
“There is this belief,” Solzhenitsyn said, “that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction. However, it is a conception which developed out of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, out of the mistake of measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet’s development is quite different.”
He went on to describe the mentality which led the Western elites to adopt multiculturalism and pluralism, while they simultaneously lacked the courage to defend their Western culture or to challenge Communist governments which did not have the support of the peoples they governed. Solzhenitsyn described this lack of courage as “the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days”.
“The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists. Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”
Solzhenitsyn went on to condemn the materialism of Western culture, fostered by the welfare state. He argued that the extreme safety and prosperity of the Western world caused Western people to be unwilling and reluctant to defend the most essential and important values that their culture and tradition were based upon, for fear of relinquishing the “physical splendour” they enjoy “to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about”.
“Even biology knows that habitual extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.”
full article here