Ed Driscoll

Vaclav Havel, the Greengrocer, and Brendan Eich

“We don’t have a ‘gay mafia,’ we have a ‘gay Soviet,'” Bookworm Room recently noted. If so, then Mollie Hemingway’s latest article at the Federalist on “The Rise Of The Same-Sex Marriage Dissidents” dovetails rather well.

“Eich broke the rules of the game. Suddenly everything appears in another light,” Hemingway writes, along the way quoting from Vaclav Havel’s 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” and updating it for another era of totalitarians searching for thoughtcrime and heretics:

In the greengrocer scenario, Havel notes that if the text of the sign read “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he might be embarrassed and ashamed to put it up. The dissidents are the ones who, by refusing to put the sign up, or refusing to recant, shine a huge light on the system, including the ones who go along to get along. All of a sudden those Facebook signs, those reflexive statements, those cries of “Bigot!” look less like shows of strength and more like shows of weakness.

Why was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn driven out of his own country, asks Havel. It wasn’t because he had political power:

Solzhenitsyn’s expulsion was something else: a desperate attempt to plug up the dreadful wellspring of truth, a truth which might cause incalculable transformations in social consciousness, which in turn might one day produce political debacles unpredictable in their consequences. And so the post-totalitarian system behaved in a characteristic way: it defended the integrity of the world of appearances in order to defend itself. For the crust presented by the life of lies is made of strange stuff. As long as it seals off hermetically the entire society, it appears to be made of stone. But the moment someone breaks through in one place, when one person cries out, “The emperor is naked!”—when a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game—everything suddenly appears in another light and the whole crust seems then to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably.

Whether Eich and other dissidents will crack our thick, hardened crust remains to be seen. Perhaps there will need to be dozens, hundreds, thousands more dissidents losing their livelihoods, facing court cases, and dealing with social media rage mobs. But all of a sudden, the crust doesn’t seem nearly as impenetrable as it did last week.

Read the whole thing.