Soft totalitarianism

soft_totalitarianism

The most interesting aspect of the New Right is that, in following Vaclav Havel, it has diagnosed “soft totalitarianism”: the absolute state administered not by its police force, but by its citizens. Citizens turn each other in for rewards, whether official or simply social.

Soft social forces like this can work in a positive way. If there is a neighborhood pedophile, having people come together and remove that person is a benefit to all. However, we switched to organized government long ago because vigilante justice and mob retribution are too often misused or inaccurate, as happened in the Salem witch trial or when online user groups play detective.

In the case of soft totalitarianism however the subject matter is not something as natural as beating down predators. Rather it is the hunting down and elimination of all “politically incorrect” viewpoints. Consider the term “political correctness”: it literally means adjusting everything we say and do to fit with the political ideology of our time. It is the opposite of “think for yourself,” or even “think.” It is the jackboot slamming on the face of humanity, but within our own minds. Why enforce with police, or even courts, when you can get the population to panic instead and flee from any “bad” thoughts, flinging feces at the person implicated?

Soft totalitarianism succeeds because it taps into our instincts going back to our glorious Simian heritage. Monkeys live in “troops,” or small groups like tribes but less strictly associated with heritage. If one monkey comes down with a disease, the other monkeys will throw stones at it and drive it out of the troop. Thus in monkey society, the primary social concern is: where do I rank in the troop, aka how close am I to getting thrown out? Humans have adopted this into in-group/out-group logic within a modern society united by nothing but political-economic ideology; when people have nothing in common with each other, the instant the crowd turns on someone they will have no compunction about destroying that person.

And this requires zero intervention from government. It’s “freedom,” after all, to form a mob and go after people so long as you don’t literally murder them. This is what happened to Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who has driven out of the troop not for hating gays, but for not supporting gay marriage. He did nothing affirmative against gays; he denied that they should have a right historically extended to heterosexuals. The Crowd gathered and deposed him. From Mozilla’s press release:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

The rest is more of the same groveling.

What does soft totalitarianism mean?

First, it means that any dissent with be met with destruction of your livelihood. The only people with true free speech will be billionaires, because they do not require income. Anyone else who speaks up will be driven out of his job; anyone who aids him will be driven out of her job. Anyone who speaks up in her defense will be driven out of his job, in turn. You are the diseased monkey, and the only permissible act is to throw stones at you. We have un-done civilization itself and reverting to witch hunts and lynch mobs.

Second, it means that our society is entirely inwardly-focused. Those who can create things, like Brendan Eich who guided the development of JavaScript, are secondary to those with the right opinions. The resulting hybrid of corruption and ideological nepotism ensures that soon we will have Beautiful People in our elites everywhere, but that they will be useless. Sure, they can memorize instructions and repeat variations on actions from the past. That’s why they’re all so good at developing web apps despite the crushing tedium of doing so. But when it comes to making strategy decisions, or inventing actual new technology, they will be lost. We have replaced the innovators and their politically incorrect opinions with a herd of politically correct but fundamentally useless people.

If you wonder what brings down empires, it is this internal policing of reality. The Soviet Union fell because it was politically incorrect to say that fewer beets had been grown that what the Five Year Plan said should be grown, thus people simply lied. They faked it. Ancient Greece faded from history because they executed philosophers who spoke up for the truth when it was politically incorrect. Ancient Rome became decadent and unable to defend itself because of its own internal system of ideological nepotism based on praising Rome, rather than acknowledging its problems and fixing them. Those who spotted problems were attacked in a “kill the messenger” fashion. The same is true here.

Brendan Eich was a messenger for our society. He dared to differ from the herd on a few crucial points, and for one of those, they attempted to destroy him. When this sort of behavior becomes the norm, you have a society that insists on programming itself toward conformity and ignoring serious warnings about its socially-correct but realistically-incorrect ideals. At that point, the only missing ingredient is time, as the nation waits for the Vandals to finally appear and enforce the reality principle with swords and fire.

18 Comments

  1. LoreTek says:

    First I agree completely. The problem is thinking that modernity and education removes the chance for mob rule, however, it will just make the fire and brimstone more “techy” and the “justice” more cynical.

    We can honestly blame Hollywood for extending this enlightenment era notion. They can’t help but throw a gay spin on everything from Alexander, to Hannibal, to Da Vinci; one would think it was their mission statement to weave it into every story. It is probably a tool used in an attempt to justify their swinish appetites today as much as it was during the enlightenment.

    Platonic relationships don’t exist to the left, if you’ve got a true companion or even someone you can work synergistically with, you must be gay. Fact. Alexander and Cleitus; Achilles and Patroclus; Holmes and Watson; David and Jonathan; Plato and Aristotle; Calvin and Hobbes; all gay. You are either gay or homophobic, no room for indifference. Is it because this is truly logical to left, or because they do not posses the depth of soul to imagine love that is not sexual? If the later is true, how can they love nature, or their mothers?

    Second, the faces being made in this picture make me nervous beyond description. Very uncomfortable, I can’t stop studying them. Great choice.

  2. lisacolorado says:

    At this stage, even as I get what you’re saying and even observe that it’s real, I still have a large part of my mind going “nah.”

    I guess it might hit me when, as has happened in Sweden, somebody from Disqus doesn’t like my comments and comes knocking on my door.

    I’ve already felt alienated from friends who fit themselves right in with being politically and socially correct. And they’ve felt alienated from me because I don’t speak positively enough. To me, “positive thinking” is “correct thinking” and I’m staying away from it. What happens when I get called on it? I said something kind of negative but inconsequential and it got passed along to the third party I was talking about, and I had to take it back to everyone I could, to maintain friendship.

    No big surprise, I’ve been spending a lot more time alone these past few years.

    1. LoreTek says:

      I think many of us are in the same boat. You are not alone – I am truly grateful for this site, essentially for showing me this.

    2. crow says:

      Spending time alone doesn’t necessarily make one a freak.
      Although, for some, it can.
      Time alone is time to discover who and what one is, instead of having others, who know very little about themselves, let alone anyone else, decide for one, who and what one is.

    3. Foam Penguin says:

      I feel like what I want to see is a society where people are conscientious, insightful and philosophical, where they learn from past mistakes and refine forward with a big picture perspective in mind.

      Maybe it’s because I read a ton of Confucius growing up, but I always imagined the height of China’s cultural development as a model for how I want it to be. Back in those days there was a cultural consensus on how you were supposed to FEEL when you encountered this or that. They had it thought OUT.

      When I look around, I see people who don’t give a crap about living in an intelligent and orderly society with reverence for great and beautiful things – the exact opposite of what I want, in fact, they seem to want nothing more than to destroy all the greatness and order they find and make sure nobody being well thought out interferes with their shitty little third world lives.

      As this phenomenon picks up speed to where people will be actively aggressive towards you for wanting an ideal society, I get more isolated in my little social enclaves. I feel like what I have and cultivate in myself would be destroyed by prolonged exposure to normal people, so I hide it.

      Brett sometimes chastises that for being dropout behavior, but I don’t see anything wrong with dropping out of mass society so long as you pour that effort increasingly into your own personal society of acquaintances. I can’t do anything about 7 billion talking cancer cells, but I can try to make sanity the norm in Camp Penguin.

      Remember – the theory goes that while the dinosaurs were stomping around loud and proud, the little field mice hiding quietly in their holes were just about the only thing left when the meteor came.

      1. crow says:

        Camp Penguin. I like it. Can humans survive autonomously in Antarctica? Fuel would be the issue, mostly. No wood, anywhere.
        Global warming, whatever that is, would be a complete non-issue.

  3. Hauer says:

    I like the term ‘political correctness’. By virtue of its own terminology it suggests that it isn’t true. Why use the modifier ‘political’ if something is already ‘correct’?

    1. crow says:

      Nice one. It is the utterly obvious that so often goes right by people, without even registering.

    2. LoreTek says:

      This is exactly the type of thing that will send a liberal into a frenzy as well, I know from experience your exact words will and do. It really does strike directly at the heart of what is wrong with their logic, or lack of. All the justifications in the world come out when you mutter the question of why they are modifying correct with political.

      Apparently, the stand alone “correct” is what they call “archaic bigotry”.

  4. Colleen says:

    “…as the nation waits for the Vandals to finally appear and enforce the reality principle with swords and fire.”

    Right, so those of us who see this disaster coming have to choose between trying to save the sinking ship, or abandoning it. Between making a heroic effort to save civilization from the barbarians, or becoming barbarians ourselves in order to bring down the rotten structure faster, or dropping out of mainstream society like the monks in the late Roman Empire and just trying to preserve some ideals and knowledge while everything slowly collapses into a third world dark age.

    These are three very different paths. The hardest part about all this, from my perspective, is deciding which of them to follow. It may not even be a rational choice. It might be one of those situations where your nature, your tribe, and your specific local circumstances dictate what you will do. Maybe we need people doing all three of these things?

    1. Foam Penguin says:

      Monk path crew checking in

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  9. […] American Jurisprudence has adopted laws against libel and slander as a form of societal improvement. It’s meant to enforce a level of civility and pacifism. Before one gentleman could sue another one for libel or slander, the only available remedy for slighted honor was to demand satisfaction. The gentleman and his opponent would choose seconds, arrange a meet-up and settle it with cocked pistols or bared steel. The libel and slander laws became problematic when they became used as a ban-hammer to shout down anyone who disagreed with your particular strain of opinion. At this point, they become useful to Progressive Purificationists. They can use them to help invoke what has been euphemistically dubbed Soft Totalitarianism. […]

  10. […] American Jurisprudence has adopted laws against libel and slander as a form of societal improvement. It’s meant to enforce a level of civility and pacifism. Before one gentleman could sue another one for libel or slander, the only available remedy for slighted honor was to demand satisfaction. The gentleman and his opponent would choose seconds, arrange a meet-up and settle it with cocked pistols or bared steel. The libel and slander laws became problematic when they became used as a ban-hammer to shout down anyone who disagreed with your particular strain of opinion. At this point, they become useful to Progressive Purificationists. They can use them to help invoke what has been euphemistically dubbed Soft Totalitarianism. […]

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