What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

Say what you will about Pascal’s famous observation, but, as near as I can make out, what most souls exhibit is not so much that much-talked-about “God-shaped hole” but a Stalin-shaped cavity. And they seem all too willing to fill it with the most outrageous provocations, plans and prejudices.