Belmont Club

The Mental Reign of Terror

Jon Miltimore argues that Yale is becoming a kind of jail which hands out professional credentials to those hardy enough to serve out their term. Until then its inmates should be careful not to make waves.  The wardens in Miltmore’s story are college administrators who’ve created a kind of politically correct kingdom where they — not the professors — are the rulers; where conformity not inquiry, is the most highly valued virtue.

It’s hard to watch the documentary without recalling Mao’s Red Guards, a parallel which Roger Simon already noticed more than a year ago. He should know.  “I got a personal look at the remnants of the Cultural Revolution in 1979 when on an ‘activist’s’ tour of China.”  Simon writes:

So you will excuse me if, from the outset, when I heard how our college campuses were being overtaken with these new-fangled “trigger warnings” and “microagressions,” perfect Maoist terminology for our computerized times, it immediately gave me the heebie-jeebies. Thought control, via political correctness, had come to America in the very spot it had begun in China — the schools.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution is now forgotten history.  Yet important thing about the “Red Guard” movement was how artificial it was.  It was astroturf all the way. Behind the youthful Chinese faces was the aged figure of Mao Tse Tung and his political cabal. Like some malevolent spirit he projected his voice through a million gullible dummies carefully nurtured on propaganda and paranoia.  The whole thing was controlled by directive.  One Red Guard later recalled: “in Chongqing, Zheng, who was studying electrical engineering, saw his ‘humble’ principal targeted as the local authorities tried to fill the quota of ‘two to three capitalist roaders at each university’. The quota was passed down by the provincial authorities in Sichuan, which then governed Chongqing, following a directive from Beijing.”

It was political theater, with designated villains and appointed symbolic heroes; with scripted dances and talking points. The Cultural Revolution was tremendously destructive, so corrosive that in the end, having lived out its usefulness, the puppet rebels were eventually liquidated by the puppetmasters. The Red Guards ruthlessly dispersed by Mao himself. “With different factions of the Red Guard movement battling for dominance, many Chinese cities reached the brink of anarchy by September 1967, when Mao had Lin send army troops in to restore order. The army soon forced many urban members of the Red Guards into rural areas, where the movement declined.”

Ironically having served as a political cudgel neither the Cultural Revolution nor the Red Guards could save the puppetmasters. The madness and excess eventually discredited the Mao era and set the stage for its replacement. It may be trite to observe that each insanity carries within it the seed of its own self-destruction. But the insane never think of the obvious.

Political correctness may one day be regarded by students at Yale as a plague.  But the fever has not yet run its course.

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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Author Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistible. He shows that their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. By reverse engineering behavioral addiction, he explains how we can harness addictive products for the good — to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play — and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Author Joseph J. Ellis sifts the facts shrewdly from the legends and the rumors, treading a path between vilification and hero worship in order to formulate a plausible portrait of the man who still today “hover[s] over the political scene like one of those dirigibles cruising above a crowded football stadium, flashing words of inspiration to both teams.”

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Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, Authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT bring together a range of statistics, examples, and arguments to show that technological progress is accelerating, and that this trend has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. They make the case that employment prospects are grim for many today not because technology has stagnated, but because we humans and our organizations aren’t keeping up.

For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.

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.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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