I’ve spent the last view decades engaged in a strange intellectual pursuit: studying the conditions that gave rise to the totalitarian dystopias of the 20th centuries.
As as the first discernible fissures set into the foundations of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 80’s, I undertook a rather assiduous study of the factors that ultimately contributed to the collapse of Soviet communism. I became an avid reader of the International Section of the New York Times, which provided superb coverage of all the subtle ways that rot was setting into this conquered domain, particularly within the Soviet Union’s imperial crown jewel, East Germany.
I complemented this with deep reading of a wide range of books dealing with how both forms of totalitarianism, Communism and Nazism, became rooted in Central and Eastern Europe in the first place.
I was also treated to a knock-on effect, because this reading yielded remarkable insight into how both of these systems invariably required bogeymen, essentially the manufacturing of existential threats, which supplied these regimes with the two essential and invaluable tools, which not only served to create a perpetual siege mentality among the masses but also provided the regimes with an effective strategy for diverting public scrutiny away from their manifold shortcomings and failures.
Indeed, this proved to be one of the major insights driven home to me via all this reading: that all ideologies require stategies that afford a means of both focus and deflection, and that is why bogeymen have proven such valuable tool.
Small wonder why I am simultaneously fascinated and repelled by the rhetoric of wokism, which evinces many, of not most, of the traits of incipient totalitarianism. But then, wokism, like all hard ideologies, is inherently weak, because it demands a radical departure from real-life realities.
Given this fact, it’s not surprising at all that one especially scabrous polemicist of wokism, Damon Young, seems to be employing language smacking of the same rhetoric that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Kulaks in the Soviet Union and millions of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
It’s horrifying, to say the least, and should be regarded as a wake-up call – a deeply troubling portent of the dystopia that awaits the Western world, at least, what remains of it. But I wonder: How many of us not only are willing to acknowledge this rhetoric for what it is – genocidal speech – but also to speak out against it?
That remains one of the most vital questions as we move into the second quarter of what is shaping up to be a very troubled century.