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Western Man and the Suicide Porn of Our Age

Forty-five years ago, anti-communist dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn caused a stir at Harvard with a famous commencement speech deploring the decadence of the West. The rivalry of the Cold War was not as neat as it appeared, he said. The liberal West, by making man and his desire for material satisfaction the measure of all things, was becoming a spiritual desert not unlike the Communist world:

One does see the same stones in the foundations of an eroded humanism and of any type of socialism: boundless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility (which under Communist regimes attains the stage of anti-religious dictatorship); concentration on social structures with an allegedly scientific approach. (This last is typical of both the Age of Enlightenment and of Marxism.) It is no accident that all of communism’s rhetorical vows revolve around Man (with a capital M) and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today’s West and today’s East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

The West had become cowardly and ruled over by “legalistic” elites without morality. The erstwhile master of the world was becoming the slave of its former colonies.

Solzhenitsyn’s oracular pronouncements ring even truer today. Western “scientists” fancy themselves miracle workers who are beyond reproach, and they are treated as such by intellectual elites and much of the population. Despite its uncontested material prosperity, the West is so enervated that many are captivated by the prospect of their own destruction. Western nations have welcomed the steady replacement of their peoples and cultures as “progress.” COVID, before it became hysteria, was an entertainment that filled many a void in people’s lives. When an eerie smog enveloped the northeastern United States earlier this month, quite a few got carried away with morbid speculation of a looming apocalypse. 

A short-lived “coup” in Russia this weekend was the latest fascination of jaded Westerners. 

Overnight, liberals became partisans of a foreign mercenary group headed by Putin’s former chef, who had pledged to march on Moscow. But the feverish anticipation over such a bold venture, unheard of in today’s world, was nonpartisan. An information blackout did not stop Putin’s more passionate critics from declaring his demise. Putin himself, in a speech to the Russian people attacking the “criminals,” compared the attempted “coup” to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. And then, as quickly as it began, it was over without an ounce of blood spilled.

The eventless-ness of the postwar world has taken its toll on the human psyche. In his famous review of Mein Kampf, George Orwell credited Hitler with this psychological insight: human beings want not only to have comfort, pleasure, and security, but occasionally, to experience pain, difficulty, and danger. It is quite natural for the Ukrainians to want the Russians out of their country. What is strange is the West’s ideologization of this object, for which it is prepared to risk everything, even nuclear war. Possibly the West wants to be put out of its misery, without knowing it.

If the world is spared fiery destruction, the alternative is to trudge aimlessly through an endless winter. Western leaders have become hectoring dictators, caught up in endless exhortation. Toward what goal? “Democracy,” they say. “Equity.” 

What have been the fruits of these idols? Oppressive ennui, mediocrity, and evils that multiply faster than the human imagination can reckon. The political freedoms once associated with Anglo-American liberalism, such as free speech, are now an illusion, replaced by a purely libertine conception of “freedom.” The blasphemous worship of sexual exotics and racial minorities is enforced by the world’s most powerful government. What could be worse than world war, you ask: How about a 1,000-year-long celebration of sodomy? 

Not since the days of the Roman Empire have Christians faced so fearsome and obdurate an enemy. 

Solzhenitsyn predicted that a consanguinity between Western liberalism and communism meant the former would inevitably lose to the latter and its undiluted offering of utopia, but the totalitarian evolution of “liberal democracy” since the fall of the Soviets has rendered the distinction meaningless. Western “democracy” has become a powerful force for evil in the world, one that ruthlessly lowers the horizon of man to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Propaganda portraying Putin as the valiant foe of an atheist empire has found sympathy among disaffected Westerners for a reason. 

After the “coup” in Russia, the consensus in the Western media is that Putin looks weaker than many imagined, but this is likely a mixture of truth and typical Western self-congratulation. Before rushing to write obituaries for its enemies, Western “democracy” should ask how much time it has left in the sun. It is ultimately a question of whether Western man can be reduced to a brute with no destiny beyond his next meal.

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About Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a Mt. Vernon fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a staff writer and weekly columnist at the Conservative Institute. His writing has also appeared in the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter @matt_boose. ‏

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for task task says:

    I suggest that the above treatise regarding Solzhenitsyn should be distilled down to one party rule emblematic of the Democratic Party because that is what actually exists. Look at who controls the Federal Government, the bureaucracies, the agencies, education, including Academia, the media, Hollywood, the festering blue cities, the borders, the corporations and the Godless culture. If Republicans and Conservatives would be eclipsed today is there any doubt that tomorrow would not be the same? No, it would not be. It would, instead, be noticeably worse.

    The Democratic Party has swallowed all government and private institutions and the culture is representative of exactly what Solzhenitsyn had in mind by his commentary.

  2. This essay should be viewed as a companion piece to another article here at AG entitled, “Corporate Culture and the Lord of Lies” by Raw Egg Nationalist. In both cases we are beset by so many calamities in a single point of time there appears to be no way out. That is both saddening and frustrating. I never grew up that way. I grew up in a time where the procedure was (1) identify the problem, (2) work the solution, (3) rinse, repeat until the problem has been solved.

    Today there are too many problems where every proposed solution creates even greater problems with the people proposing the solutions do so with a single focus of perpetuating the original problem because that is where the money and power is. Growing homelessness in major cities is but one example. Eroding public safety to correct the “perceived” problems of inequity is but another.

    The parallels World Marxism through World Communism (1917 Russia) and World Marxism through World Socialism (2023 America) differ only in the fact that the first was brought on by revolution, while the second was by ballot. The common Russian was given no choice and had no say in 1917, but those today having had the benefit of knowing history, still choose willingly to embrace the degradation of tyranny in the name of equity.

    In the most recent poll, 74 percent of the population recognize that the country is going in the wrong direction but are basically powerless to grab the steering wheel from the 26 percent who not only control the wheel but are hitting the accelerator. Madness.

  3. Hard Times Create Strong Men,
    Strong Men Create Good Times,
    Good Times Create Weak Men,
    Weak Men Create Hard Times.

    Has anyone taken a look around at our men without chests?

  4. My short-cut way of understanding our educated-class rulers is World War. First it was World War Kaiser, then World War Hitler, then World War Commie.

    Now it’s World War COVID, World War Pride, and World War Climate. And don’t you dare disagree, peasant.

  5. Avatar for task task says:

    I cut out the bench presses last year in preparation for my shoulder surgeries. I can’t wait to return :slight_smile:

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