By David Truman
On 10 May 1983, two years before Gorbachev came to power, and nine years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered an Address in London titled Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag. His opening words were:
“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
He explained how the Russian revolution and the communist takeover were facilitated by an atheistic mentality and a long process of secularization which alienated the people from God and traditional Christian morality and beliefs.
“The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. … Today’s world has reached a stage which, if it had been described to preceding centuries, would have called forth the cry: ‘This is the Apocalypse!’
Solzhenitsyn’s Address, given in accepting the Templeton prize for Progress in Religion, is very relevant to the mass violence, looting and murder we have been seeing over the past two years on the streets of American cities and being copied in lesser degree in London, Melbourne, Sydney and elsewhere. These destructive events are happening under the spurious pretext that some lives matter, but not others, and that the whole system of our society needs to be torn down to bring in a utopia of “equality”.
“Dostoevsky warned that ‘great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared.’ … And he predicted that ‘the world will be saved only after it has been possessed by the demon of evil.’ Whether it really will be saved we shall have to wait and see: this will depend on our conscience, on our spiritual lucidity, on our individual and combined efforts in the face of catastrophic circumstances. But it has already come to pass that the demon of evil, like a whirlwind, triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…
“The meaning of life in the West has ceased to be seen as anything more lofty than the ‘pursuit of happiness’ … The concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from common use, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of short lived value. … The West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss.
“When external rights are completely unrestricted, why should one make an inner effort to restrain oneself from ignoble acts? Or why should one refrain from burning hatred, whatever its basis – race, class, or ideology? Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today.
“Atheist teachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society.
“Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (and all moderate forms of socialism) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degree of authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain “equality” – the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, the broader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or even of abundance – the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become. …
“We must recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society.”
The nature and prevalence of evil
Lance Morrow in his book Evil: an investigation (2003), makes these points:
Evil has made a successful career over many centuries by persuading people that it does not exist.
Evil portrays itself, almost without exception, as injured innocents, fighting back.
Evil plays with mirrors in order to confuse the mind and erase distinctions between itself and good…. Evil abhors clarity.
The word “evil” is the capital punishment of the moral world – the anathema, the excommunication, the unforgivable…. This reaction – a categorical rejection, the gag reflex of the system – proclaims a healthy moral immune system. And a healthy immune system is ruthlessly intolerant.
It is in rich Western democracies that the denial of evil is strongest.
Those qualities of a hater – strength of conviction, seriousness of moral intent, passionate ideas about right and wrong, clarity of opinion – are indispensable in recognizing evil and combating it. Evil usually cannot be fought very well by people with a relaxed and tolerant attitude.
To mistake evil for freedom is a defining fallacy of the twentieth century, much employed by, among others, the authors of utopian schemes that became totalitarian hells. … The refusal to take responsibility is one of the great gateways to evil.
Events in America – mid-2020 onwards
Ratchet forward to June and July 2020, in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election. Many American cities are in chaos, with city buildings burned and trashed, property and local economies destroyed, the police attacked, and mobs and even elected officials calling for defunding of them.
There is hugely widespread cynicism about lies by political and other leaders, “fake news” purveyed by the media, the disconnect from reality in teaching by university professors, the blatant hypocrisy and corruption in many religious leaders. This is the latest manifestation of what has been incubating in America for decades now: The Death of Right and Wrong. Tammy Bruce, an ex-leftist, documented this thoroughly in her powerful 2003 book of this title. Michael Walsh’s 2017 book The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West exposes the current spiritual malignancy.
The fact is, much of America – including virtually the entire Democrat establishment and its supporters – has forgotten or deliberately rejected God (the source of eternal, foundational, wholesome values of truth and justice). We in Australia and New Zealand are certainly not immune to the sickness.
The loss of foundational moral values stemming from the abandonment of Christianity has destroyed personal restraint and the basis of civilized society. In its place now are nihilism, postmodern relativism, a utopian but anti-human humanism and an ethic of “the end justifies the means”. This is the common characteristic of all totalitarianisms. For the people engaged now in violence, looting, murder and self-indulgent virtue-signalling, traditional belief in absolute values of truth and morality has been destroyed.
It is hypocrisy to say “Black Lives Matter” while not caring at all about the millions of black (and other) babies aborted every year. And ruinous to human society to push an agenda for destruction of the family – as the Marxist ideologues behind BLM and Antifa are doing.
Jurgen Habermas, German atheist philosopher, gave an interview in 1999 which may be paraphrased thus: “”Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.”
Around 740 BC or slightly after, the prophet Isaiah (5:20-21) diagnosed the spiritual problem afflicting many postmodernist liberals in the West today, two and three quarter millennia later:
This attitude leads to the perversion and depravity of society and is an expression of the unredeemed human heart, as Paul says in Romans 3:18 – “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Things will not improve until large numbers of the people currently afflicted decide to reestablish and nurture the Christian roots of Western society.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a prophet too
Way back in 1947, during his January 26, radio broadcast, Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote these prophetic words about the Satanic evil to come into the world:
“He will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves.”
“He will write books on the new idea of God to suit the way people live; induce faith in astrology so as to make not the will but the stars responsible for sins; he will explain guilt away psychologically as inhibited eroticism, make men shrink in shame if their fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal; he will be so broadminded as to identify tolerance with indifference to right and wrong, truth and error; he will spread the lie that men will never be better until they make society better and thus have selfishness to provide fuel for the next revolution; he will foster science but only to have armament makers use one marvel of science to destroy another; he will foster more divorces under the disguise that another partner is ‘vital’; he will increase love for love and decrease love for person; he will invoke religion to destroy religion; he will even speak of Christ and say that he was the greatest man who ever lived; his mission he will say will be to liberate men from the servitudes of superstition and fascism, which he will never define.”
Archbishop Sheen warned that people would begin dividing into two religions as absolutes — “the God who became man and the man who makes himself God; brothers in Christ and comrades in anti-Christ.”
The Bible gives the solution to the present all-pervasive evil in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”