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You Cannot Reform a Totalitarian (You’ve Got to Defeat Him)

January 8th, 2012 - 11:51 am

Lots of those who talk about an “Islamic Reformation” seemingly forget (if they ever knew) that the Reformation was not a debating club, but one of the bloodiest moments in Euiropean history.  Although it’s important to demolish the evil visions aimed against us and our free society, you can’t convert fanatics by “winning hearts and minds,” or showing them “the errors of their way.” Utopians unhesitatingly crush or kill those who get in the way of fulfilling the vision.  They have to be defeated.

Religious and Secular Religions

I don’t think Hannah Arendt’s masterpiece on totalitarianism is much read nowadays, which is a pity.  She understood the dynamics of totalitarianism, saw that antisemitism was common to its several varieties, and didn’t permit herself to get hypnotized by one or another ideological theme in the fascist and Communist movements and states.  Thus, the Hitler-Stalin pact made sense, as did the later war between them.

There were some surprising forms of cooperation between fascists and Communists, some of which were seemingly impossible according to the neat division of the world into Left and  Right. My friend Renzo De Felice,  the author of a (very long) biography of Mussolini, came across a fascinating collection of documents that had been sent to the fascist intelligence service by its Soviet counterpart.  They were coded reports on the locations and activities of Italian Communists living in the Soviet Union.  And De Felice also found the code, which was clearly provided to the Italian Duce by the Soviets.

The totalitarians had a lot in common, as they do today.  If Stalin could actively help Mussolini, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find Islamic fanatics working hand-in-mailed-glove with Leftist fanatics.  Don’t make the mistake of believing that they are in cahoots simply because they have a common enemy.  More important is that they share a common vision of total control over the peoples they come to dominate, both their own and others.  There is a fascinating history of Islamist leaders being “educated” and trained by Communists (Khomeini, for example, studied with Soviet Communists at one point), and while there is a long tradition of Muslim antisemitism, a good deal of contemporary Islamist Jew hatred was delivered to them by the Fuhrer’s minions both during and after the Third Reich.  Now the evil is exported from the Middle East to Latin America, where Leftist tyrants like Chavez trot out some of the worst of Ahmadinejad’s antisemitism.

The Fight for Freedom

Totalitarians can’t be reformed.  You can’t “win” by debating, and so in the war against totalitarian countries like Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela, you have to defeat them politically if possible and militarily if there is no other way.  It’s dialectical, as Comrade Marx might say.  Political defeat weakens them on the battlefield, and military defeat makes their ideology much less attractive to would-be recruits, as seen by Al Qaeda’s shriveling after their defeat by American military forces in Iraq, and by the generally improved security in Afghanistan (when you rarely read about fighting in Afghanistan, as at the present, it’s usually because we’re doing well).

The fight against the totalitarians is not just America vs. the totalitarian network;  it’s very much at the heart of American politics right now.  Mark Levin — may the hair on his toes never fall out — has tirelessly and energetically fought against the would-be tyrannical statists who want to dictate our actions in every niche and cranny of life.  When Marco Rubio warns that the Obama administration threatens to turn us into a nation of deadbeats, that’s what he’s talking about.  They’re certainly not the only ones.  Right here at PJ Media we’re blessed with the likes of Simon, Solway, Fernandez, Radosh, Klavan, Hanson et. al., all fighting hard against the totalitarians.

This, too, is dialectical.  The other day, Fouad Ajami wrote a fine piece in the Wall Street Journal about Syria, and he bitterly remarked that “deep down, the Obama administration seems to believe that Assad’s tyranny is preferable to the opposition.”

Just so.  They prefer the tyrants because that’s what they aspire to themselves.  They hate the messiness of our fractious society and they don’t think much of our ability to make good decisions for ourselves, so they just tell us what to do and defy us to beat them.  Just like the foreign tyrants do.

That’s no doubt the “deep down” reason why Obama worked so hard — indeed is still secretly working hard — to get his version of the Hitler/Stalin pact with Iran.

Somebody ought to remind Obama how that great triumph of totalitarian diplomacy worked out for the two of them.

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