There Is Only One ‘Ideology’ To Be Resisted: Authoritarianism


Mrs Rodin and I recently watched a documentary on Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale amongst other novels. She is a fascinating character. Toward the end, both of us were put off by her focus on her fear of conservative authoritarianism. Not because she feared conservative authoritarianism, but because she seemed to be blind to progressive authoritarianism.

As Mrs Rodin noted: When you examined her work and her statements she had statements about not seeing yourself (as a woman) to be a victim; she adapted to her role as a mother — restricting her writing to when she wasn’t caring for the children — without expecting her author husband to pick up the slack; and she took on a caretaker responsibility, apparently without complaint, when her husband developed dementia. In other words, she defined herself as an individual and did not make doctrinaire decisions in how she lived her life.

In fairness, the documentary was made during the Trump Administration, so I wondered whether Covid and events in Canada under Justin Trudeau, or what’s going on with WEF, has given her any concern about progressive authoritarianism. Sadly, it doesn’t appear so. She is firmly in support of climate alarmism, and while she certainly supports the women’s protests in Iran and author freedom as well, she doesn’t seem to appreciate that “Gilead” — Atwood’s fictional dystopia — can be arrived at through multiple routes.

Atwood is a Canadian. And it is startling to see such a proponent of “liberty” not involving herself in marches opposing Trudeau’s “Gilead” — the arrest of the preacher during the pandemic, the Emergencies Act shutting down of credit and banking to wrong thinkers, the banning of protest, the continuing health emergency rules. She was happy to do so in America during the Trump administration.

The reason why Atwood and many people who see themselves as progressives are blind to progressive authoritarianism is the same reason why people who see themselves as conservatives are blind to conservative authoritarianism: we focus too much on the path and not the destination. The authoritarian impulse exists and it is agnostic about the pathway. Who among us has not at one or another time secretly (or not so secretly) wished that we could extend our personal control and order things to our (righteous) preferences? If we can see that in ourselves, we know it exists in others.

And it is this impulse that can be exploited through ideology in service to someone else’s more powerful drive for authoritarian control. And that is what we must fight, whether it is “our” team or “their” team. We can disagree mightily about this or that policy, so long as we can agree that we will not succumb to authoritarianism in support of our policy preferences.

But it appears that only the “losing” side at any given time is ever sensitive to authoritarianism; the “winning” side seems to revel in how they are getting their way without giving any thought to how authoritarianism will eventually grind them down. If we are to save ourselves, it is not through forcing our will on anyone; it is through acceptance of suboptimal outcomes (from our perspective) that maximize individual liberty.

When your neighbor paints their house an outrageous color, rejoice in their freedom to do so, or look for new neighbors. Don’t turn the country into a massive homeowner’s association thinking that the rules will always reflect your tastes. For any homeowner’s association left unchecked will surely, at some point, become a gulag.

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  1. Rodin Member

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    I support immigrants who assimilate into our culture, not those who want us to assimilate into theirs. One doesn’t have to change religions to assimilate. If being exposed to our religion will be harmful or hurtful to them, they should choose somewhere else.

    This could lead to a discussion of assimilation vs integration, which has been discussed before on Ricochet, but probably not enough. The way some people use the word “assimilate” they seem to be demanding a religious assimilation to some degree. It’s complicated, because here in the U.S. not everybody follows the one, true religion.

    It is that I expect another religion to follow is that I expect them to be tolerant of the religion of those who welcomed them into the country. Rude guests can leave.

    That gets pretty close to my view, though it’s more the culture, values, and principles of government that I expect them not to undermine. It’s not a bad idea to learn what we can from the newcomers’ cultures, but I draw the line at letting them undermine or sabotage ours.

    Changed my is to isn’t in my first sentence. Fat fingers and skinny keyboard must have hit delete instead of space bar.

    I resemble that remark.

    • #91
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