Homo Sovieticus

The years spent in the midst of the life, death, and world of Soviet Russia unfold in chapter six Peter Hitchens’ book The Rage Against God – How Atheism Led Me to Faith.  Peter Hitchens, the brother of renowned “new atheist” Christopher Hitchens, has spent six chapters unveiling the world he grew up in, his diving into atheism, and his stepping out of atheism as a system that left him with more questions than answers and more despair than hope.  (I haven yet to get to his journey to faith in the book).

After his journeys in the Soviet Union Hitchens came to several conclusions that I found to be of interest:

I came to the conclusion – and nothing has since shifted it – that enormous and intrusive totalitarian state power, especially combined with militant egalitarianism, is an enemy of civility, of consideration, and even of enlightened self-interest.  I also concluded that a high moral standard cannot be reached or maintained unless it is generally accepted and understood by an overwhelming number of people.  I have since concluded that a hitherto Christian society that was de-Christianized would also face such problems, because I have seen public discourtesy and incivility spreading rapidly in my own country as Christianity is forgotten.  The accelerating decline of civility in Britain, which struck me very hard when I returned their in 1995 after nearly five years in Russia and the USA, has several causes. The rapid vanishing of Christianity from public consciousness and life, as the last fully Christian generation ages and disappears, seems to me to be a major part of it. I do not think I would have been half so shocked by the squalor and rudeness of 1990 Moscow if I had not come from a country where Christian forbearance was still well established. If I had then been able to see the London of 2010, I would have been equally shocked. (p 91)

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