Wretchard at The Belmont Club replays Alexander Solzhenitsyn's speech at Harvard where Mr. Solzhenitsyn levels a criticism at Western society that still applies.
Solzhenitsyn charges the West has lost its courage and then goes onto to note that is a symptom of a greater sickness. That sickness is an OD of materialism. Materialism as properly understood, not as in Madonna's Material Girl where someone likes to buy and obtain material possessions.
Materialism is a worldview that says all that is real is scientific fact, things we can touch or feel. Even if we can not actually touch or feel electrons the concept is one that belongs to a materialistic worldview. In fact Solzhenitsyn says this hardcore obsession with materialism is also a symptom that is caused by removing the spiritual from one's outlook.
The removal of the spiritual causes man to place himself at the center of the universe. The person is not subservient to others or to another higher being but all are subservient to him and his whims. The unbridled excesses of Western society are condemned by Mr. Solzhenitsyn. Many leftists may be nodding along thinking solely of those who earn unimaginable wealth but there are other excesses as well. Mere material satisfaction we all know does not guarantee happiness or well being.
The most important observation is:
The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense.Source: The Belmont Club - Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs
So since the material is paramount in Western society and we are at the center of the universe what use is sacrifice? There is no logical reason to check one owns desires or whims.
The most interesting idea of this observation is the fact of how the Western world swung from one wretched extreme to another.
The last thing I will leave you with another quote from Solzhenitsyn:
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.The Belmont Club - Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs
Indeed, what is America's looming health crisis? Not starvation but obesity.