Moral Relativism and Fall: Solzhenitsyn’s Forgotten Warning to America

Posted by D.L. Adams

It is not understood definitively anywhere when the decline came. What is understood and easily seen is that we are a culture and society in deep trouble. There are proofs and evidence everywhere for those who care to look for such things.

We were warned by one of the greatest men of the 20th century that our civilization would fall if we lost our core beliefs and our identity.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Soviet prisoner of conscience, author of Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, a titan of moral clarity warned us about the coming failure of our society back in 1978 in a speech given at Harvard University. We didn’t listen.

Equivalence is the essence of moral relativism; the jihad murders at Fort Hood were allowed to occur because Hasan’s expressions of jihad intent, intolerance, and hate were viewed by his superiors and colleagues as simply “his opinion.” No action was taken against Hasan to prevent the atrocities because to do so was considered politically incorrect by his military superiors. Fort Hood is a devastating failure of understanding and demonstrates our deep inability to respond to oppositional definitiveness even when that absolutism means treason and murderous intent.

There seems little doubt that the attack at Fort Hood by the traitor, killer, jihadist Hasan was preventable. The fact that it was not shows a great confusion on the part of those whose positions require moral and ethical certainty, clarity, and courage. Their apparent confusion (and subsequent failure to act) stems from the dark influence of moral relativism and its fraudulent affiliated concepts, multiculturalism and political correctness.

If we have no standards of belief, no accepted concepts of truth and value, then any new ideology that reaches our shores is considered by moral relativists to be as valid as the host culture and perhaps even superior simply because it is “different”. The radical acceptance of all as equal which is foundational to practically applied moral relativism means that moral relativists have no basis upon which to make moral or ethical judgments.

Cultural and societal decline is certain when fundamental concepts of value and importance are abandoned, and the conflicts that arise from better/worse, good/rotten, intelligent/ignorant, victim/oppressor, right/wrong dichotomies can no longer be resolved .

The fact that moral relativism, multiculturalism, and political correctness are failures hasn’t prevented us from adopting these self-destructive concepts as the basis upon which we interact with others, at home and abroad. The failure to prevent the jihad treason murders at Fort Hood is perhaps the most obscene and obvious culmination of the damage that moral relativism has done to us all.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines moral relativism as something that one accuses another of, rather than something to which one proudly admits. Reasonable people know that some cultures, ideologies, and political systems are better than others, but most now lack the courage and clarity to declare it.

Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons. Sometimes ‘Moral Relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.
(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 “A World Split Apart” speech at Harvard was both an appreciation of and a warning to the West that rejection of definitive truths will lead to our decline and eventual fall. He identified the abandonment of the concept of evil and the rise of “humanism” that today is moral relativism and post-modernism as the cracked egg from which failed cultures are born.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected.
(Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 1978)

Without a firm concept of identity and a clear understanding of and belief in concepts of right and wrong, good and evil and the ability to resolve similar dichotomies our society will fall to more absolutist ideas. We will fall because we lack the moral willpower to resist.

And yet — no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.
(Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 1978)

We saw with great pride a rush of enlistments after the jihad attacks of 9/11. Concomitantly, the greatest surge of conversions to Islam in the United States occurred immediately in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities.

Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?
(Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 1978)

Solzhenitsyn believed that moral growth was imperative for any healthy society. The existence of and adherence to a legal system is insufficient; the law is not itself the source of meaning and value. As a former prisoner of the Soviet Gulags Solzhenitsyn knew well of what he spoke.

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