Still thinking about Fulang Lo and the donkey that is not a horse, I am posting something new, something previously unpublished from American Betrayal. It comes from Chapter 12, which was the only chapter I cut down for size before publication in 2013. It was a sizeable cut -- I took the chapter from thirteen thousand words down to seven thousand words. The editorial idea was a clean sprint to the finish. I have now restored the chapter to its original form in the new audiobook. Call it the director's cut.
Here, then, from American Betrayal, is an excerpt from the new and complete Chapter 12:
“With such truths repressed, falsehoods in every field were incessantly rubbed in in print, at endless meetings, in school, in mass demonstrations, on the radio.” The line is from Robert Conquest about Soviet Russia, but it sounds like something out of American “PC.”
And what is “PC”? The tag itself, I have come to think, creates a lingustic cul de sac where we just park our brains. “PC” is, gosh, “PC.” We look no farther. Sure, the acronym “PC” – “political correctness” -- conveys the idea that something is phony, forced, and ideologically, not logically inspired, but it doesn’t advertise its bona fide totalitarian provenance – what Alain Besancon called the language of ideology, the official vocabulary, which, once accepted, once internalized, draws an individual into that ideological pact with the devil in which reason is cast into the flames.
And it happened here.
I can think of multiple points in my research where descriptions of totalitarian conditioning under Stalin sounded painfully, sickeningly familiar. Maybe the first flash lit up while I was reading a 1966 study by Paul Hollander about brain-washing techniques of “Stalinist literature.” The Soviets, he wrote, designed a literature “to overhaul the popular system of values.”
So, too, did the diversity brigades – feminists, ethnicitists, sexuality-ists, race-ists, and more.
They (the Soviets) set out to inculcate regime-approved attitudes and behaviors by providing “artistic representation of social reality in terms of what it ought to be like….”
So did the commissars of the race-color-creed canon that replaced the Western canon in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
“Typicality in socialist realism is, therefore, a device for presenting reality as it is supposed to be,” Hollander continued, again describing the Soviet system, but conjuring thoughts of Western “PC” enforcement. “As such it is a means of evading or idealizing reality.”
Islam is peace.
How does Hollander’s description of the Soviet system of overhauling “popular values” differ from our own system of inculcating “diversity”? The mechanisms behind the two kinds of regimes are completely different – Gulag vs. professional ostracism, say -- but the impact, the net effect is perplexingly similar. Summing up the Kremlin’s concerted efforts to provide “models of behavior for the population” in literature, Paul Hollander writes: “This objective can be viewed as a form of social control peculiar to totalitarianism.”
My first reaction on reading that last line was: Oh yeah? It’s pretty darn peculiar to the Free World, too. For example, we have completely remade the English language with the political imposition of the feminist suffix “-person,” thus changing the fundamental relationship between the sexes; we have completely transformed the image of the white man into the perennial dork who main purpose in life is to serve as a foil to hip chicks or wise “women of color” via television advertising, to take another example of social conditioning, thus reinforcing a new victimology. Our cousins in Europe, meanwhile, have actually begun holding inquisition-style speech trials in recent years, from England, to Holland, to France, to Austria and Denmark, thus instituting a totalitarianism enforced by the post-democratic state. So how Free is our World?
That I can ask this question and many others besides and still sleep well at night (no knocks on the door) indicates very, very free. How free-thinking, how free-speaking is our world might be a better question. Powers that be have long ago learned that, as a matter of social control, the Gulag was overkill. Marxist conditioning today is better enforced by “PC” codes that order our society, by fiat, by peer group, and, increasingly, by law.
Remember FDR’s fond hopes for convergence? What we persist in calling and observing as “PC” is a system of social control with origins in 20th century totalitarianism. We accept it, we participate in it, but we don’t recognize it for what it is, not really. “PC” marks the incursion and entrenchment of ideology as social control in the West. Ideology is not innate to the West. Indeed, the Cold War was not a struggle between two ideologies as it is commonly framed. The Western approach, as Robert Conquest writes, “was not an ideological one at all.” Western culture, he explained, “had, in a general way, a view of politics which included political liberty and the rule of law. It did not have a universal and exclusively defined mind-set.” Liberty is not a mind-set; it defies mind-sets. That said, the struggle between the US and the USSR was over ideology, all right – a struggle to resist the imposition of Communist ideology in the West following the debacle of World War II.
We lost. Not recognizing, not understanding the mechanism of that defeat is communism's crowning achievement and springboard for the next.