Ed Driscoll

Your Possible Pasts, Revisited

Back in March, I looked at the surprising number of anecdotes involving Russians and Germans who long for their totalitarian past and concluded:

Part of the challenge of freedom is that it involves the messy vitality of individualism. And a big part of the attraction of totalitarianism is its order. Long before he entered the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan knew the Soviet Union was a third world economy hiding behind an enormous and powerful military. It’s easy to look at millions of hulking men in black boots and assume that their force equals the sum total of a nation’s vitality. And there’s obvious order in those images (see: Riefenstahl, Leni).

They’re seductive surfaces, even though what was under them was so rotten. And its obvious that even as the former Russian, East German–and even West German people and their leaders struggle with moving forward, their dark, but ordered pasts can be an awfully attractive alternative.

Roger L. Simon spots the Chinese revering the third man in the troika of 20th century monsters: Mao, who killed 70 million people. Roger wonders if there will be a potent minority of Iraqis who long for the days of Saddam Hussein, even knowing, as they now do, about the shredding machine, the iron maiden (no, not the rock group), the government salaried official “violator of women’s honor“, and one million murdered.

Sadly, I know the answer; for many Americans, it’s right under their nose.