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American Totalitarianism vs. Soviet

It is often said that Mike Pence is angry at the once-and-future dictator for putting him in danger during the January 6 sack of the U.S. Capitol, but he has never made a public statement of anything but the highest praise for the “very stable genius.” This public adulation has continued unbroken, while the Great Man recently unburdened himself of the opinion that it was “common sense” for the baying mob he conjured up to call for Pence’s head.

This behavior is indeed puzzling, Pence’s ordinary careerism and cowardice notwithstanding. But it falls into a long string of such difficult-to-comprehend failures by leading Republican national figures, from the late Senator John McCain to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, to show the most elementary self-respect in the face of the dictator’s crude personal insults. Instead, they have repaid all such sallies with undying public, political loyalty, McCain partially excepted. What is the true explanation?

To get inside the psychology of such figures, one is forced to resort to the history of the Communist officials who surrounded Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the second or third greatest mass murderer in history, who was lavished with such praises as “the greatest genius of all times and all peoples.” I’m thinking here especially of the so-called genius’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986). As his death date reveals, he was a great survivor who not only avoided being purged from Stalin’s “Politburo” (cabinet), imprisoned or shot, but actually lived almost until the end of the Soviet Union itself. The key point here is that Stalin didn’t leave his loyal lackey completely unscathed, having his wife Polina, who was Jewish, arrested and sentenced to a Siberian prison camp on a bogus charge of “Zionism.” Molotov never spoke up for her and never wavered in his support for Stalin. For that matter, there are countless testimonies of prisoners in Stalin’s gulag who remained utterly loyal to the tyrant, insisting that everyone else in the prison belonged there and that the lone injustice in their case was the fault of Stalin’s underlings. Even if sentenced to death, such people would bravely face the firing squad with cries of, “Long live Stalin!”

A classic fictional account of the thinking of such “purged” figures is Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. This novel leaves out the torture and the threats to the prisoner’s families that largely explain why the fallen officials who starred in the Moscow show trials of the mid-1930s publicly confessed to the fantastical crimes they were falsely accused of. But the book does help explain how someone like its fictional protagonist, the “Old Bolshevik” Rubashov, could brainwash himself into believing he had no choice but to parrot the lies of “Number One,” even when these were directed at himself. In brief, the logical syllogism goes like this: Karl Marx’s “scientific” theory proves that worldwide Communist revolution is inevitable; history can take no other course. The Communist Party is at the vanguard of this impending revolution, under the infallible leadership of Stalin. Therefore, if I wish to “stay on the right side of history,” I have no choice but to agree that Stalin and the Party are right about everything, including my own guilt, even though I personally happen to know that I am innocent.

How is this like the current position of a Mike Pence or Ted Cruz? No, they wouldn’t face a firing squad for breaking with the dictator; not yet, anyway, although Pence came within shouting distance of one. They would face blood-curdling and highly credible threats to themselves and their families, as, again, is actually the case for Pence. They would face an end to their political careers, as has already happened to quite a few Republicans who did stand up to the dictator. But, over and above all this, they have brainwashed themselves into thinking that the Party is the only means by which America can be “saved” from socialism, moral decadence, Black equality, etc. And the Party is utterly in thrall to the dictator, who must therefore be treated as if he were infallible, as if any criticism of him would be an affront to all that is good and true and pureā€”and an obstacle in the inevitable course of history. Like good Marxist-Leninist-Stalinists, they would literally rather die than not be “on the right side of history.”

It bears mentioning that, while much of the hysteria about “woke” ideology is contrived to serve the interests of the dictator and his Party, in certain fields such as publishing and academia, there is a similar “progressive” dynamic enforced mostly by career and social pressure, including social media pressure. When accused of racism, sexism, etc., many guiltless people have been pressured into making abject apologies in the name of the Cause. It’s true, they seem to be reasoning, that I did nothing at all, or made a remark in private that the world knows about only thanks to the ever-present surveillance technology. Nevertheless, I’d better take one for the team, both to save myself and because I would rather die than not be “on the right side of history” when it comes to combating racism.

As we surrender our freedoms piecemeal, we Americans don’t even have the excuse that the secret police will come knocking if we don’t cooperate. Not yet, anyway.

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