'Courage gone,' saith the prophet

    (By John Andrews) Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the prophetic voice who helped bring down Soviet communism, gave one of the most important warnings of our time in his address at Harvard, June 1978. It is required reading for anyone who cares about America's backbone. I was reminded of it last weekend on the radio when Dr. Jack Wheeler mentioned a lack of "civilizational confidence" among US elites, and when Nathan Chambers quoted Solzhenitsyn's "decline in courage" passage (part of the Harvard address) before a Tom Tancredo campaign speech in Aurora. With my urging that you read the address in full, here is that passage:

The decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.

Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.

And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

So ends the excerpt from Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Harvard address, June 1978. Click here to read the address in full.