Tag: totalitarianism

Book Review: The Family and the New Totalitarianism

 

I just finished the book, The Family and the New Totalitarianism (2019) by Michael D. O’Brien. The book was originally published 24 years ago as a compilation of various articles and speeches by the author, as a writer, editor, and speaker. As a father of six, he and his friends’ challenges were with the rapidly changing Canadian school system, as they began to incorporate more controversial teachings, such as the introduction of alternative lifestyles and sexual conduct to younger and younger children.

Political and social changes were influencing the content beyond the acceptable norms that most parents would consider appropriate, but they had little say over their children’s education. When they met with school authorities, they were met with indifference, and in some cases, hostility. This forced the O’Briens, as well as some of their friends, into homeschooling.

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ACF Critic Series #24: Cold War

 

Back to Pawel Pawlikowski: @FlaggTaylor and I have a companion piece to Ida Cold War, a romantic tragedy, which features a couple escaping from and then returning to the Iron Curtain. Whereas Ida is about divine love, this is merely human love. In both cases, the Polish past and totalitarianism are the most important concerns of the story. A deeply affecting movie about national memory and personal memory with special attention to what art and love can and cannot do. A remarkable performance by Joanna Kulig. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography of Lukasz Zal (which earned him an Oscar nomination), as well as heartbreaking Polish folk songs.The movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes as well as the director prize — it was nominated for three big Oscars, too.

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The Demise of Moral Relativism – and Its Consequences

 

The claims of moral relativism have been the bane of modern society as it has risen in popularity. Its origins started centuries ago, but as Progressivism has continued to dominate the Democrat party, it has paradoxically forecast its own death — and deadly consequences for American society. How has that happened and where will it lead us?

So that we’re all on the same page, let me provide a definition of moral relativism. Here’s one:

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‘Woke’ Activism Is a Dangerous Religion

 

So argues a new book by Daniel J. Mahoney, reviewed currently in City Journal by Gerald J. Russello. Philosophers have been seeking to replace the strictures of both religious faith and politics since the Enlightenment, and it seems that they have nearly achieved their project at last. The new faith does not have a formal name as yet, but several observers have described it as “Humanitarianism.”

Humanitarianism is itself a religion, and as Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule has argued, modern secularism has its own eschatology (the eternal overcoming of “hatred”), its own sacraments and holidays, and various prohibitions and commandments, usually centered around specific groups. Coupled with the rise of various would-be pagan religions and the cult of the self, these movements represent a retreat from rational reflection on politics.

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 “Unity, the Pope insisted, is built in this walking together, and it’s a “grace” that has to be asked for. It’s for this reason that he repeats: “every form of proselytism among Christians is sinful. The Church never grows from proselytism but ‘by attraction,’ as Benedict XVI wrote.” More

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The recent Jewish holiday of Purim signified the defeat of Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews in The Book of Esther. Christians are now observing a holy period called Lent, a remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, tempted by Satan and represents a time of prayer, self-examination and reflection. The Holy Season of […]

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Vaclav Benda and The Long Night of the Watchman

 
Me, Kamila Bendova, and Martin Palous (a close ally of both Benda and Havel and former Ambassador to the United States).

I’m the editor of a recently published edition of the essays of Vaclav Benda called The Long Night of the Watchman. Benda, who died in 1999, was a central figure in the Charter 77 movement in the former Czechoslovakia. I met his wife, Kamila Bendova, on my first trip to interview former dissidents back in 2011 and wrote about that encounter right here on Ricochet.

It was at that meeting that I asked if anyone had spoken to her about getting her late husband’s essays into an English translation. It took a bit longer than I had hoped, but it’s finally out and I hope it gets the wide audience it deserves.

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Clinical psychologist and student of philosophy, theology, existentialism and Marxist totalitarianism, Dr. Jordan Peterson warned that the hammer from the NeoMarxist Postmodernists would soon come down on Americans in the form of legislation compelling them to use fabricated gender pronouns (see the videos below). More

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of Arthur Koestler’s great novel Darkness at Noon. More

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The Czechoslovak Underground Church (II)

 

I’m back in Prague and am finally getting around to fulfilling my promise to keep writing about religion in the Czech lands under communism. In my first post, I mentioned the extreme repression the Catholic church suffered under communism in the former Czechoslovakia and the ways the church and its clerics sought to maintain a vibrant faith community for lay people. Many formerly “official” priests risked imprisonment by participating in religious education and similar activities in private homes. Many had served terms in the labor camps adjacent to uranium mines in the 1950s. This camp, called Vojna, is the site of a memorial today.

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How Do Dictatorships Fall?

 

Asked about Obama’s foreign policy achievements, his defenders always trot out Cuba as a historic diplomatic success. In their minds, the re-establishment of relations with that small, impoverished, long-suffering dictatorship falls somewhere between Commodore Perry’s breaking down the door to Japan in 1853 and Nixon’s China gambit on the Richter scale of statesmanship.

The mantra of our Cuba policy objectives is “a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy.” According to our State Department:

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Unconstitutional CA Law Forces Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortion

 

wide-b0827d5e12470eadc96938dbce042ab84879dfeb-s900-c85Imagine a state law that forced Weight Watchers to direct its health-conscious clients to locations where they’d be hard-sold piles of discount bacon. Delicious as Baconalia sounds to me and maybe you, what kind of government would threaten a weight-loss center for merely not promoting the very thing (weight gain) it was created to prevent?

Well, such a state government did pass such a law. And Alliance Defending Freedom is in federal court challenging it. ADF filed a complaint in federal court in October 2015 against the state of California for passing an unconstitutional law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion. The state law requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to direct their patients and clients to state programs that offer free or discounted abortions. The pro-life centers, under the law, even have to give out the phone number for the abortion program!

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I am beginning to wonder if “totalitarianism” is a misnomer. In the countries we have historically labeled as “totalitarian,” did the “total” number of people in that country receive harm? Did any receive benefits/favors/special treatment, or were any unharmed? I’m thinking of that quote by Martin Niemöller: More

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I don’t often talk about my organization, but given what we were discussing on Merina’s post I would like to share something important. I wanted to post this there as a comment but ran out of room. The gal I work for, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, believes that the Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian ideology. […]

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I will end my attempt to correct an annoying new mistake concerning thinking about decent politics & terror. I have argued that this is inadequate theoretically & a liberal prejudice practically. Finally, I have some remarks on how Americans can understand what’s at stake & how the non-American additions to American government in the age […]

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The other day, I started publishing some notes on the way to think about fascism. You have there an insistence on the theoretical origins & orientation of radical politics that you might not often see. At any rate, I offer it as a corrective of the kind of scholarship that has led people to say things like, […]

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China: Harbinger of a Brave New World

 

shutterstock_275764925Totalitarianism is a function of technology. Prior to recent times, governments might claim to be absolute, but they did not have the record-keeping, administrative capacity to make good on that claim. Now they can do so far more easily than ever before — without hiring armies of spies. All that they have to do is follow the population on the Internet and use computers to collect and analyze the data. What Google can do, governments can do — and in Xi Jinping’s China that is what they are going to do. As The Weekly Standard reports,

China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ” In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.

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Academic-speak these days is quite easy to imitate. Here is a representative specimen that might well be found in your email in-box if you happen to work in American higher education: “As a community we must all rededicate ourselves to dialogue about inclusion, diversity, and social justice and, and to rejecting the hegemonic discourse of […]

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“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” Thus begins Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind. Bloom famously explores the nature and origin of the Weberian distinction between “facts” and “values” and offers the widespread embrace […]

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