Look at the worldly and at the whole world that exalts itself above the people of God; are the image of God and his truth not distorted in it? They have science, and in science only that which is subject to the senses. But the spiritual world, the higher half of man's being, is altogether rejected, banished with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. The world has proclaimed freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs; only slavery and suicide! For the world says: "You have needs, therefore satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the noblest and richest men. Do not be afraid to satisfy them, even increase them"--this is the current teaching of the world. And in this they see freedom. But what comes of this right to increase one's needs? For the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide, for the poor, envy and murder, for they have been given rights, but have not yet been shown the say of satisfying their needs. We are assured that the world is becoming more and more united, is being transformed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air. Alas, do not believe in such a union of people. Taking freedom to mean the increase and prompt satisfaction of needs, they distort their own nature, for they generate many meaningless and foolish desires, habits, and the most absurd fancies in themselves. They live only for mutual envy, for pleasure-seeking and self-display. To have dinners, horses, carriages, rank, and slaves to serve them is now considered such a necessity that for the sake of it, to satisfy it, they will sacrifice life, honor, the love of mankind, and even will kill themselves if they are unable to satisfy it. We see the same thing in those who are not rich, while the poor, so far, simply drown their unsatisfied needs and envy in drink. But soon they will get drunk on blood instead of wine, they are being led to that. I ask you: is such a man free? I knew one "fighter for an idea" who told me himself that when he was deprived of tobacco in prison, he was so tormented by the deprivation that he almost went and betrayed his "idea," just so that they would give him some tobacco. And such a man says, "I am going to fight for mankind." Well, how far will such a man get, and what is he good for? Perhaps some quick action, but he will not endure long. And no wonder that instead of freedom they have fallen into slavery, and instead of serving brotherly love and human unity, they have fallen, on the contrary, into disunity and isolation.... And therefore the idea of serving manking, of the brotherhood and oneness of people, is fading more and more in the world, and indeed the idea now even meets with mockery, for how can one drop one's habits, where will this slave go now that he is so accustomed to satisfying the innumerable needs he himself has invented? He is isolated, and what does he care about the whole? They have succeeded in amassing more and more things, but have less and less joy.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, tr. Richard Pevear and Larissa Vokohonksy. New York: Vintage, 1991, pp. 313-314.
The words of the Elder Zosima, a Russian monk. Aside from a few archaisms (carriages, slaves), the words could apply to the present, especially the assurance of unity and "brotherly [sic] communion" brought about "by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air." Or the internet; or text messaging.