Belmont Club

It'll be so wonderful

Don't Resist

It’s possible for individuals to lose their minds but can civilizations do the same? Is there some mechanism of informational and cognitional corruption which, on a macro scale, is able to mimic craziness on the individual level? Theodore Dalrymple believed that the main objective of Marxist propaganda was to gaslight whole civilizations, to drive them crazy:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

But to what purpose?  On that subject, more later. Suffice it to say that something is causing societies to engage in behavior that is financially unsustainable. Cultures are deciding to commit suicide for no apparent reason. The most expensively schooled generation in history is throwing childish tantrums, rolling around the floor or carrying a mattress the whole day long. People are attempting to change their congenital makeup, claim they biologically belong to another race or gender. They engage in worshipping the ocean, identify as animals etc. because they think it’s good. Leon Pomeroy of George Mason University says it all reminds him of an epidemic.  Writing in Psychology Today, Pomeroy uses terms not out of place in a zombie apocalypse:

If the reports are to be believed, many Millennial students (Born after 1980) on college campuses have become “infected” with the mental contagion of emotional thinking or pathological thinking  … As a practicing psychologist, I’m surprised and shocked by the scale of this problem …

This bad and pathological thinking has resulted in the coining of expressions like “microaggressions” and “trigger- warnings.” If I have my facts straight, I’m inclined to propose the diagnosis of pseudocultural paranoia with anger. … Let’s face it! Something is seriously wrong.”

Those are terms which apply to individual crazy people. But what do we call it when such actions are normative to a society? If they were characterized as sacred and recommended to all? And this sacred state could be one thing today and its exact opposite tomorrow? What terms apply when anyone can be guilty of anything, sometimes of two opposite things on the same day? Would one not say that society itself has gone crazy?

The alternative theory to madness is religion. The public is being converted to a new religion. “There’s a new religion exploding on the campuses of American universities and colleges, says Thomas Cooley professor of ethical leadership at New York University, Jonathan Haidt. And if it isn’t stopped, it might just be better to shut them all down in the next 10 or 20 years.”

The religion of fundamental social justice sweeping across college campuses is so alarming, intense, and dripping with such extreme liberal fundamentalism, says Haidt, it has created an existential crisis for American academia while punishing heretics with public shame.

“There is an extremely intense, fundamental social justice religion that’s taking over, not all students, but a very strong [space] of it, at all our colleges and universities. They are prosecuting blasphemy and this is where we are,” Haidt warned an audience about the religion at a lecture billed “The American University’s New Assault on Free Speech,” organized by the Manhattan Institute in New York City this week.

Strong words those, but the idea Marxism would rule through its own church predates Haidt. The first modern formulation of the concept comes unsurprisingly from George Orwell. He predicted, through the writings of his fictional character Emmanuel Goldstein, that the world would be subjugated by totalitarian theocracies through the medium of a death-worshipping religion.

The conditions of life in all three superstates are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. … Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of a semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare.

This insight, given so little attention even among those who know Orwell’s writings well, is so shocking as to provoke disbelief in one commentator who said, the phrase “death worship has always intrigued me in that it doesn’t fit into the rest of the narrative of 1984 as a modernized totalitarian world. Instead it ushers back to something primitive, ancient and mystical. More akin to archaic Oriental Despotism than modern Stalinism. Almost as if Orwell did not think East Asians were capable of western scientific socialism.”

Maybe that was because Orwell understood “western scientific socialism” as something ‘primitive, ancient and mystical.” Communism was something far older than Marx, older even than Bernie Sanders. As Emmanuel Goldstein himself put it it, “the idea of an earthly paradise in which men should live together in a state of brotherhood, without laws and without brute labor, had haunted the human imagination for thousands of years. The heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be influenced by them to some extent. But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian.”

Orwell, perhaps alone among the mid-20th century Marxist commentators, had the temerity to predict the world would belong not to “science” but instead to a world-wide death cult. No one would have believed it in the 1930s any more than they would have credited Samuel Huntington’s prediction that the 21st century would be an era of religious war. Yet here we are and who can certify an entire civilization insane, or equivalently, enlisted in a death cult except we ourselves? Perhaps nature could do it, and may have done it thousands of times already, which is why so many mighty empires have vanished into dust.

Contrary to popular opinion, death is not the the worst thing that could happen to you. It is the possibility of consciousness after death that is the most frightening thing conceivable. At best wouldn’t you get bored? At worst what if you found yourself trapped in a narrow coffin of rock — forever? If one were accountable for one’s actions, what might befall? Hitler’s ultimate escape pod was his 7.65 mm Walther PPK pistol. Imagine if Hitler shot himself, woke up and realized he couldn’t get away? That would be worse, far worse, than facing the Russians. Life, unless it can be lived without consequences, would be unbearable. Shakespeare understood the terror of eternity.

To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

So did Herman Melville. In Moby Dick, where the preacher talks of Jonah, he speaks eloquently of the terror of being born into a world without an exit, and duty from which there was no escape, not even in a ship, nor even in the ends of the earth. “But God is everywhere; Tarshish [Jonah] never reached. As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale … I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world’s, or mine own. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?”

The ultimate goal of Marxism is not so much to write its own history — though it craves that — but to write its own eulogy. Stalin, who believed death solved everything, needed to be sure it was supreme; that men stayed dead, and failing that, that at all events he himself could remain in the grave, deaf to any further summons. Death is essential to earthly power both before and after the fact. Whoever grasps this point will realize that all totalitarianisms must eventually construct themselves around it.

There’s an interesting book by Leonard Susskind describing, in popular style, the essence of the argument he won with Steven Hawking. Susskind asserted that nothing could break the chain of causality and therefore Black Holes themselves would evaporate. Information is not lost, which is really scary to the designers of Memory Holes. If a black hole cannot erase information, what chance did Hitler’s little 7.65mm pistol have?

Then we would be face-to-face with eternal life and we don’t want to go there. A philosopher whose name I forget described how his childish happy faith was in one night destroyed by the realization of how vast and perhaps unending the universe was. As long as the sky was near and time was bounded by dawn and dusk, God could be personal to him. How could you relate to something in eternity? He ran from it. Yet the same limitation applies with even greater force to the tyrant. The earth can be ruled only for so long as it is bounded. But what puny dictator should dare to “live out the lifetime of his God?”

The true goal of the cult of political correctness (or as George Orwell calls it, Death-Worship) is not to avoid death but rather to use it to cover their tracks, and provide its adherents with the comforting illusion of control by attempting to partner with it. The Grim Reaper’s intrusions on life can at least be scheduled through abortion, assisted suicide and, where necessary, by state-sanctioned “kinetic action”.  ‘Health and safety’ are designed not for Promethean forays into the unknown but to reduce variance in lifespan. The innovativeness of medical science under political correctness may actually decline, but it will be administered more evenly, with the same leveling effect as a mason’s trowel applied to wet cement. PC doesn’t want the unknown; it craves control, a control made all the more necessary because it must impose a modicum of order upon a society spooked with despair.

The best preview of Death-Worship in its last stages was Jonestown in Guyana, whose leftist credentials were impeccable and consequently can be expected to anticipate its inner logic. It had everything that has become so odiously familiar to the modern newspaper reader. Speech-codes, loyalty tests, the paranoid fear of right-wing persecution. “This slide into madness could be marked by the increased frequency and duration of ‘White Night’ meetings, ever-longer and ever more incoherent ranting sessions over the PA or to his followers, drastic escalations in the level of repression and punishment meted out to commune wrongdoers, and a growth in complexity of the conspiracy theory Jones fostered about the Temple’s opponents in the USA.”

The fiery rallies took an almost surreal tone as black activists Angela Davis and Huey Newton communicated via radio-telephone to the Jonestown crowd, urging them to hold strong against the “conspiracy.” Jones made radio broadcasts stating “we will die unless we are granted freedom from harassment and asylum.” Ptolemy Reid finally assured Marceline Jones that the Guyana Defence Force would not invade Jonestown. ..

Jones urged Temple members to commit “revolutionary suicide”. Such “revolutionary suicide” had been planned by the Temple before and, according to Jonestown defectors, its theory was “you can go down in history, saying you chose your own way to go, and it is your commitment to refuse capitalism and in support of socialism.”

Jonestown isn’t past. It’s prologue. The West today is in danger of becoming Jonestown written large. Behind the nice houses and the ordered streets of its capitals lurks the kind of fear that comes only from total despair. The result of that despair and indeed its ultimate expression is Political Correctness. Once you are in possession of Emmanuel Goldstein’s codebook, you can understand that its teachings are all about fear. The translation of Hope and Change is “this is all there is”. Obamacare is about making you comfortable until your statistical time to die. Making America great again is just another way of saying sit quietly until the Mexicans come. But there will be control. Not real control but the illusion of control, at least over the moment of our suicide. What more could you want than that? The main, if not the ultimate goal of socialism, is to pick the day when the calendar ends. Orwell painted the scene from his sickbed.

The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.’

That is their pathetic little kingdom. Control. Dry control. As one movie screenplay put it, “you can be different. You can be free. All that useless pain can be gone. It’s something anyone can have and you can have it too.”  Except what if you don’t want it?  The true mark of rebellion in the 21st century may be a willingness to live, even if need be, forever.

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Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
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