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“…a society that does not protect the right of dissent…will inevitably turn into a fear society that endangers everybody.” – The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny And Terror, Natan Sharansky, Page 40
A few days ago I commented that I had a post formulating in my head about low-trust society and the Anti-Intellectual Era in America. Well, this is what those thoughts have morphed into.
Before Christmas, I started listening to Child 44 again (previous listen was in 2016) and was struck by a passage in the opening chapters that I used in a post at that time:
“Enemies of the Party were not merely saboteurs, spies, and wreckers of industry, but doubters of the Party line, doubters of the society which awaited them.” – Child 44, Page 26
I use that again here to reiterate what I said there:
To call me a doubter of The Narrative (or, as above, the Party line) on any given day would be an understatement. I freely admit that I am an outright denier of each and every narrative pushed on us – no matter how carefully cultivated or raw, hot-off-the-presses the storyline is – until it has weathered at least 48 hours of scrutiny in the open marketplace of actual thinkers. Based on demonstrable past performance, I have no faith in either the ability or the intention of the major media outlets to provide an honest and accurate assessment of anything that happens in this world. Therefore, I default to Narrative Denier status until a story is exposed to proper scrutiny.
Given the events we have just witnessed to commemorate the anniversary of a completely avoidable riot (if only Pelosi and McConnell had taken their oversight and leadership duties seriously), outside of a Global Warming / Climate Change debate, I have never been more intellectually comfortable in my denier status. (I do, however, suspect discomfort in other areas to be imposed on me and people like me – by definition, enemies of the Party – as we move on down the path we seem to have chosen.)
While I did not consume any coverage of the events, some exposure was unavoidable and what seeped through did not disappoint. The purposeful, deliberate (almost robotic) recitation and repetition of crafted narrative talking points, long ago discredited “known facts”, and pure demagogic horse[crap] from the president to that idiot Liz Cheney to countless pretend journalists on media of all types was all so embarrassingly shallow. If such a substantial portion of We the People didn’t buy into it, it would be high comedy for the ages. Sadly, it is not.
Anyway, I have now finished Child 44. Along with the two sequels, I highly recommend it as the Soviet Era-based murder thriller it is. But what drew my attention as much as the story was the little peeks inside a low trust society along the way and how those aspects of society drove behaviors in the lives of the characters. That reminded me of another novel, written more contemporaneous with that timeframe, that had this same effect on me: The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge. (I have harvested posts from that one also.) So, while I intended to dive into some of that material, it struck me this morning that the real context I was after would come from the Natan Sharansky work quoted at the top of this post. So I hereby call an audible…
The guiding light that Sharansky provides is the concept of moral clarity…a properly grounded reference point from which to observe and operate within a society, for the betterment of that society. His wisdom on the subject came from his “exposure to the black-and-white world of the Soviet Union [that] provided him with a unique laboratory to discover the line between good and evil” and he acknowledged: “In a free world, with its varying shades of gray…finding moral clarity…becomes far more difficult.” As we see today, the intentionally gratuitous fog applied to every news cycle complicates that search for many Americans. He also clarifies the evil in this by explaining the difference between “a world of fear and a world of freedom”:
“In the former, the primary challenge is finding the inner strength to confront evil. In the latter, the primary challenge is finding the moral clarity to see evil.” – Page XXII
While my notes from the book tend to focus on a point of view of attempting the great difficulty of transitioning from a fear-based society to a freedom-based society, I believe my coopting of his language for my agenda is valid to warn of the ease with which a free society that voluntarily accepts the growing levels of anti-intellectualism that we have witnessed over the last decade or more can transition the other direction. If we…as in We the People…cannot even summon the will to see the evil in the blatant propaganda and demagoguery fed to us with our January 6 soma then such an intellectually weakened populace will have no chance of confronting it when the more advanced tyranny sets in.
I admit moral clarity can be difficult in this environment…finding it will likely be a personal journey for most. But I will say that if you think you see it in Biden, Pelosi, Cheney, Fauci, and/or anywhere in the modern beltway politico-media complex, you are not even close. And if you think you have staked out safe ground in the anti-Trump / Never Trump zone…well, you are a fool.
I will go further and state that, for those who understand American-style liberty as intended (yes, I’m just arrogant enough to claim that), those listed above are agents for evil…a particularly aggressive cancer that is now consuming our society. And the country “is divided between those who are prepared to confront evil and those who are willing to appease it.” (Page 17) Sharansky further delineates the players we see today into true believers, dissidents, and doublethinkers. It is this last group…those who “no longer believe in [the narrative of the day], but are afraid to accept the risks of dissent”…that interests me today:
“Doublethinkers live in constant tension from the gap between their thoughts and words. They always avoid saying what is not permitted but also try to avoid saying what they do not believe. But fear societies generally do not leave [the] doublethinkers such a luxury. They demand from their “cogs” constant expressions of loyalty. [In the various institutions of society], doublethinkers must parrot the ideology of the regime and hide their true beliefs. This constant self-censorship can be such an inseparable part of a doublethinker’s existence that it becomes so habitual that the tension between thoughts and words is almost no longer felt.” – Page 45
(I assure you that many on factory floors and in cubicle farms and in office buildings across this land are dealing with this constant tension today. The fear is not GULAG level stuff but threats to livelihoods and pensions and homes and families are real and are growing. But I digress.)
I posit that doublethinkers are required to supplement the numbers of true believers. This would explain the need for the sustained efforts to nurture various collective psychoses and delusional hysterias against anything not sufficiently progressive for today’s burgeoning tyrants…no matter how inane and easily debunked the charge. Once properly trained and conditioned, permanent power is easily within grasp:
“…to an outside observer, a fear society’s doublethinkers are indistinguishable from its true believers; … Therefore, to an outside observer, a fear society will consist of only two groups, true believers and dissidents. And if the punishment for dissent is high enough, the fear society will have no dissidents either.” – Page 46
The fear industry – dialed up to eleven since election eve 2016 – is a well calculated and focused strategy. It is wearing down the American spirit (where it still exists) and conditioning the masses. The January 6 charade we just witnessed was a rather grotesque and opportunistic crescendo intended to reinforce the conditioned reflex to join (or parrot) the narrative. Fear is working. And when fear rules, “democracy” will finally run as clean and efficiently as Nancy and Joe desire.
Into the abyss…Published in