Saturday, June 18, 2011

They're b-a-a-a-a--a-ack!

The presidential hopefuls. The boys and girls who're champing at the bit to be president. They've been infesting the airwaves again. There was a debate of sorts on the other night, most of which I turned off. Didn't we just go through this two or three months ago? No? Well, it seems like it.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn had something to say on the political obsession. In last week's number The Wanderer reprinted this portion of an interview done with Solzhenitsyn by Joseph Pearce for his book on the author:

“ I must say that, among educated people, politics occupies far too great a proportion of time,” Solzhenitsyn told Pearce during one of his interviews.

“ All the periodicals, all the newspapers are saturated with politics, although many of the objects they are discussing are very transient and short term. Of course, everywhere in the world people do occupy themselves with higher themes, and not just writers, but they always have a narrow audience, sometimes even appear to be some strange group on the edge of things, peripheral. In truth, questions of higher spirit cannot even be compared to the sort of blinking frivolity of politics. The ultimate problems of life and death show the colossal nature of this difference even more. Modern mankind is characterized precisely by the loss of the ability to answer the principal problems of life and death. People are prepared to stuff their heads with anything and to talk of any subject, but only to block off contemplation of the subject. This is the reason for the increasing pettiness of our society, the concentration on the small and irrelevant.”

This concentration on politics stultifies and degrades the peoples of the world, Solzhenitsyn continued.

“ That which is called humanism, but which would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of life. Certainly it is hard to answer these questions for all, but for this irreligious anthropocentrism, this humanism, it is most difficult of all to answer such questions. We have arrived at an intellectual chaos, a crisis of the weltanschauung. Not all understand this crisis, not all grasp its importance.”

One person who did understand the crisis fully, Solzhenitsyn told Pearce, was Pope John Paul II. In Solzhenitsyn’s view, the Communists may have crushed the human spirit with their political system, but capitalist politics was equally harmful, because it corrupted the human spirit with comforts. Pope John Paul II, said Solzhenitsyn, “simply said that the third totalitarianism is coming, the absolute power of money, ‘ the inhuman love of the accumulation of capital for capital’s sake’. . . . I would summarize as follows: Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.”

Neither system, the Russian author continued, “ can tolerate Christian commandments; they do not concern themselves with the spiritual sphere; they reject the spiritual sphere. . . . It is simply a life lived in a different dimensions; the dimensions are separate.”