This TV segment is from mid-November, but we’re running it now because of all the news about Solzhenitsyn. It starts with a discussion of the US mid-term elections, and how uncivil the tone is in the US, and then has a very good discussion of Solzhenitsyn.
He specifically calls out excessively individualistic ideology in the Western world as one that will lead to future decline and decadence:
This decadence can be seen in various clips of vicious fighting in the American mid-term elections. What democracy can endure when such extreme hatred, rather than collaboration, is normalized between the two main political parties of a country?
On Tuesday, the mid-term elections were held in the USA. The bottom line is President Trump strengthened his position in the upper chamber of the American parliament. He gained a majority in the Senate. It means there will be no impeachment. Trump will remain in office.
But in the lower chamber of the Congress, in the House of Representatives, Trump lost his position. Now, he has a minority there. Since it is the Congress that determines the country’s foreign policy, this means that it will be obviously impossible to agree on major issues with Trump. Trump has only a consultative role.
Also, the governors were elected. An interesting fact — among all the governors in the USA, there wasn’t and there still isn’t a single black governor after these elections. Think what you like. Not a single one.
The number of women in the House of Representatives grew — on the wave of the feminist movement. There is even the first openly lesbian from an Indian tribe, which is considered a huge achievement of American democracy. And there’s the first Muslim as well which is also widely discussed as something unusual.
The distinctive feature of the US election campaign was extraordinary fierceness and unrestrained rudeness. There’s an example. CNN’s political observer, Anna Navarro, casually calls President Trump a “racist pig” on air, and this was received calmly as something ordinary.
This style, however, reflects the deep irreconcilability and even hatred which is shown to each other by the two American camps — the Republicans and the Democrats.
Since the bloodthirstiness in the split American elite won’t disappear after the election, the USA will face nothing good with such an attitude of the upper crust. They have no sobering experience of civil conflict.
There are no restraining motives. But the exasperation is growing. There is a situation in the elite when everyone hates and everyone is hated. At the same time, the culture of the political struggle is falling apart.
There’s an important point — Nikolai Berdyaev wrote about the primacy of culture for the sustainability of society.
“In society’s life, spiritual primacy belongs to culture. It’s not politics or economy but culture where the goals of the society are fulfilled. The value and quality of the public are measured by a high-quality cultural level.”
That is, the quality of culture determines the quality of the public. This brings to mind the famous Solzhenitsyn speech at Harvard University. Soon, we will be celebrating Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s centenary.
With the anniversary coming up, I’d like to turn to his thoughts on the symbol of the West, America, that he knew so well, he used to live there while in exile. What was said 40 years ago turned out to be a prophecy, because it sounds relevant, even fresh, and intellectually bold.
Alexander Isaevich spoke then about the “blinding of superiority” and “the fall of courage” as a “sign of the end.” He spoke of the need for moral criteria and that legal restrictions are never enough for the society. At that time, intellectual America applauded to the words.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “I’ve spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.”
Further, correlating the interests of the individual and the society, speaking against anthropocentrism, against the uncouth man as a measure for everything.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless. Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence.”
Harvard listened then with bated breath, after all, Solzhenitsyn spoke about the very core of the ideas of Western democracy.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.”
It was a call to rise to light self-restraint and to be able to leave this life as a being that’s higher than the one at the beginning of the path. Solzhenitsyn called material America and indeed humanity to go to the next as he put it, “anthropological level.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that human life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?”
Yes, it is extremely instructive today to consider ourselves in the light of such deep and sublime thoughts of Solzhenitsyn. To consider ourselves and America where Solzhenitsyn sounded so powerful 40 years ago.
HSE working to amend booster system as people receive multiple appointments
The Health Service Executive (HSE) is working to amend the coronavirus vaccine system, as multiple channels offering third jabs has caused challenges for the booster campaign, HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has said.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor explained that the booster vaccine was available through vaccination centres, general practitioners and pharmacies.
Some people had gone to their local pharmacy to get their booster vaccine and then had received an appointment at a vaccination centre, she said. She called on people to cancel their vaccination centre appointment if they had received their booster through their GP or pharmacy.
Ms O’Connor’s comments come after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that there were 87,000 no-shows for boosters last week, and the chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley, described the non-attendances as “very disrespectful”.
Ms O’Connor said the priority for the HSE was to get as many people fully vaccinated as possible.
When asked about the lower levels of people in the 60-69 age cohort who have received their booster vaccine, Ms O’Connor said that not everyone in that age group would have had their second vaccine more than five months ago. That was “a natural limiter”.
Ms O’Connor said people possibly were apprehensive or busier, now that many were back at work or were preparing for Christmas, but the vaccine was important as was the booster.
To date more than a million people have received their booster vaccine, she added, and appointments will be offered to people aged between 50 and 59 from Thursday.
“We will also have walk-in centres open to people to get their vaccine and as ever we encourage everybody to avail of the vaccine. It’s really important, especially with a new variant, that we try to protect as many people as possible,” Ms O’Connor said.
Meanwhile, Dr McAuley told Newstalk Breakfast that there were very few no-shows to booster appointments at GP surgeries, because people know their GP personally.
Now was not the time for “messing”, he said in relation to people failing to attend their appointments at vaccine centres.
“If you get a vaccine appointment, make sure that you go there rather than getting your hair done or going shopping – or if it is a work thing, stay on the helpline to get a new appointment.
“Be respectful of the mass vaccination centres. These are people who are working very hard and it is very disrespectful to have over 80,000 people not turn up in one week. It is not appropriate. You wouldn’t do it to your GP so why are you doing it to these healthcare workers.”
There was also a concern that some people were waiting to see what happens with the Omicron variant before getting their booster. Dr McCauley said that the booster would greatly reduce the chances of picking up the virus or having to go into hospital
Dr McCauley said there needed to be “a call to arms” for people to get vaccinated and he warned that when more information about Omicron emerged, booster appointments could be harder to come by.
All you need to know on getting the Moderna vaccine as a booster
People due to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccine in coming weeks will primarily be offered the Moderna dose at HSE vaccination centres.
The HSE is reported to have large supplies of Moderna due to expire next month, so that will be the main vaccine administered over coming weeks to the over-60s, over-50s, healthcare workers, and younger people in vulnerable groups – though it will be restricted to people over 30.
Anecdotally there are indications some people may be reluctant to take the Moderna vaccine. This may be due to Irish stocks about to expire shortly and/or confusion about its efficacy. This follows the company’s chief executive Stéphane Bancel warning last week the Moderna jab may not be as effective against Omicron as it had been with the Delta variant.
The HSE has confirmed recipients will have no choice on what vaccine they are given.
What type of coronavirus vaccine is the Moderna jab?
It is a new kind of synthetic “mRNA vaccine” – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is from the same stable. They provide excellent protection against severe illness and hospitalisation – and have played a critical role in reducing Covid-19 deaths since being approved. A downside, however, is that the Moderna version must be kept at -20 degrees.
Should people be worried about receiving a soon to be out-of-date vaccine?
|Total doses distributed to Ireland||Total doses administered in Ireland|
In short no, as they retain the ability to boost antibody production within currently approved time spans – though inevitably potency wanes over time. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) vaccines were put on the market with emergency use authorisation of up to six months.
This compares with a shelf life of two to three years for most vaccines and other medicines. This is an “inevitable consequence of getting the vaccines out of the door as quickly as possible”, chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Gino Martini told the journal BMJ.
Months later, these “emergency” expiry dates remain in force for these vaccines. For approved Covid-19 vaccines, the initial shelf lives were based on data available at the time of submission for regulatory approval.
The long-term shelf life has not been extended for any of the vaccines. A shelf life extension would require supporting evidence from relevant stability studies. Vaccine manufacturers are monitoring batches of vaccines with the aim of providing a longer shelf life; probably the usual two years.
What about the Omicron threat?
While Moderna said existing vaccines including its mRNA version will probably be less effective against the Omicron variant, most experts believe they will continue to provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. It should be stressed, however, definitive indication has yet to emerge. That will be a matter of weeks, if not days.
Moderna has confirmed it is developing an Omicron-specific booster though manufacturing the new vaccine would take time. Tens of millions of doses could be available in the first quarter of 2022, but scale-up would not happen until the second quarter – provided it is shown such boosters are required.
What is the latest indication on the benefits of mixing vaccines?
Evidence supporting a mixing of vaccine doses has hardened over recent months. A study this week shows combining a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with a second dose of either the Moderna or the Novavax jabs results in far higher levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells compared with two doses of the AstraZeneca jab.
This finding also has important implications for lower-income countries that have not yet completed their primary vaccination campaigns as it suggests you do not need access to mRNA vaccines – and therefore ultra-cold storage facilities – to trigger an extremely potent Covid-19 vaccine response.
The study also bolsters confidence that using the Moderna vaccine as a booster dose in people who have previously received the AstraZeneca jab should result in high levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells.
It follows separate data published last week suggesting the Pfizer and Moderna booster jabs can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences.
Woman (90s) dies following single-vehicle crash in Co Clare
A woman in her 90s has died following a single-vehicle crash in Co Clare in the early hours of Tuesday.
The incident occurred at about 12.30am at Annagh, Miltown Malbay. The woman, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car involved in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her body was removed to Limerick University Hospital, where gardaí say a postmortem will take place at a later date.
The road has been closed to facilitate an exam by Garda forensic collision investigators, and local diversions are in place.
Gardaí have appealed for witnesses – particularly road users who may have camera footage – to come forward. Anyone with information can contact Kilrush Garda station (065 908 0550), the confidential line (1800 666 111), or any Garda station.
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