I remember last night talking about some meme warfare that took place against the United States by the Soviet Union which currently infects our world view, especially the world view of the Left. It fascinates me because until 9/11, for the most part the two parties in the United States were indistinguishable: I would regularly switch party affiliations at whim depending on which party's primaries I wanted to vote in. (I think I was a registered Democrat when I first met my wife, for example.)
When 9/11 happened, the differences came into sharp relief--and the ideological minefield planted by the Soviets in the 1930's started exploding in the oddest places in our public discourse. Feminists started defending burkas and female genital mutilation by the Taliban. Peace activists started swinging clubs and bashing their ideological opponents--effectively going to war against those they disagreed with--at peace rallies. Liberal supporters of freedom showing their support of murderous dictators with a track record of genocide.
To my mind the otherwise slightly kooky but groovy liberalism of the 1990's suddenly shivered, and an alien popped out of its stomache spitting acid that dissolved the bulkheads.
What the fuck? I mean, really: what the fuck?
In part it goes back to a flamboyant German Communist by the name of Willi Munzenberg, whose understanding of western values and western media made him the perfect leader of propaganda operations in the West. Willi Munzenberg managed to plant a variety of memes in the west--ideas that have so permeated our thinking that that to even question them sounds like questioning Mom's Apple Pie. Memes which are now destroying Western Values:
Consider the following propositions:
These ideas travel under many labels: postmodernism, nihilism, multiculturalism, Third-World-ism, pacifism, “political correctness” to name just a few. It is time to recognize them for what they are, and call them by their right name: suicidalism.
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But “oppressed” people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
Trace any of these back far enough (e.g. to the period between 1930 and 1950 when Department V was at its most effective) and you’ll find a Stalinist at the bottom. Among the more notorious examples ware: Paul de Man — racist and Nazi propagandist turned Stalinist, and fonder of postmodernism; Jean-Paul Sarte, who described the effects of Stalinism as “humane terror” and helped invent existentialism; and Paul Baran, who developed the thesis that capitalism depended on the immiseration of the Third World after Marx’s immiseration of the proletariat failed to materialize.
These suicidal ideas have had their best foothold into the Left, who have run with these ideas to the point where, for example, feminism has dealt a crushing blow to boys in school as boys are constantly reminded they are now biological second-class citizens. (This warfare even dates to my time, and is the root of some of my own personal sexual problems, as I was constantly reminded during my formative years that all boys are rapists and all acts of sex where the male is even the slightest bit assertive is an act of rape.)
For many on the Left, especially those who claim neo-pagan beliefs that predate modernism and who expouse a complete rejection of Christian values as damaging to the human spirit, it's fascinating that many of the memes they expouse in their political liberalism have solidly Christian roots--roots which were mutated by the Stalinists:
Stalinist agitprop created Western suicidalism by successfully building on the Christian idea that self-sacrifice (and even self-loathing) are the primary indicators of virtue. In this way of thinking, when we surrender our well-being to others we store up grace in Heaven that is far more important than the momentary discomfort of submitting to criminals, predatory governments, and terrorists.
The Communist atheists of Department V understood that Christian self-abnegation tends to inculcate a cult of self-sacrifice even among Westerners who are themselves agnostics or atheists. All the propagandists had to do was make the case that the value of self-abnegation applies to culture as well as individuals. By doing so, they were able to entrench the idea that suicidalists are morally superior to non-suicidalists.
They did this so successfully that at least one major form of Western self-abnegation seems to have developed as a secondary phenomenon: “deep environmentalism”. I can’t find any sign that this traces back to the usual Stalinist suspects, but it is rather obviously a result of generalizing suicidalism not just to culture but to species.
I think it’s important to understand that, although suicidalism builds on some pre-existing pathologies of Western culture, it is not a native or natural development. It is an infection that evildoers and their dupes created and then spread as part of a war against the West; their goal was totalitarian control, and part of their method was to talk the West into slitting its own throat.
Well, now we get an interesting revelation that is a few months old, but I only just saw it today: Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship. From ESR's blog:The Meme War Continues:
Sound like a crazy premise? Wait. It gets better. Vladimir Bukovsky, a leading dissident of the Soviet era whom was invited to testify at the Russian government’s inquiry into whether the Soviet Communist Party had been a criminal institution. got to see more of the KGB’s secret reports to its masters than perhaps anyone else since the old Soviet Union fell. He says:
In 1992 I had unprecedented access to Politburo and Central Committee secret documents which have been classified, and still are even now, for 30 years. These documents show very clearly that the whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a joint project […] the structures of the European Union were initially built with the purpose of fitting into the Soviet structure.That’s right. The European Left cooperated with a Soviet project to make Europe amenable to totalitarian control from Moscow, and not way back in the 1950s, either; the key agreements were made around 1985! Read the whole article; I can’t do justice to Bukovsky’s report in a summary.
I have been accused by some of not appreciating or understanding the history of classical liberalism in the west, or the value of the striving of the human spirit. It's quite the opposite: I have a great appreciation of the human spirit. I believe the first and last principle of human interaction is the human--the individual. I have always believed government should exist to serve three fundamental purposes: to protect us from foreign and domestic threats, to establish normative economic values in order to protect the stability of the economy from both monopolistic threats and from other economic distortions, while protecting the economic commons (the classic Adam Smith definition), and to promote the values of liberty--which in no small part requires both parents and a culture which periodically reminds us that liberty--that we are all kings of our own castles--requires some exercise of responsibility to our fellow man.
It's why I'm quite cynical of a large number of memes--including the DNC talking point that fizzled out as a non-starter a few months ago that "anti-government conservatives" were betraying their roots by being willing to spend more money on the millitary--as if conservatives oppose all federal spending, rather than oppose the overt intrusion of the government into people's lives. (Goldwater Conservatism, which defines today's mainstream GOP, was formulated to oppose the "Great Society" and its implicit threat of government intrusion everywhere in our lives. To say that Conservatives are opposed to military spending is to suggest Conservatives are anarchists--and they most certainly are not.)
And it's why I'm increasingly cynical of the fringe left in the Democratic Party, who seem hell bent upon destroying everything, while smiling as they get their pictures taken with Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein.
9/11 changed everything. But the biggest thing it changed is that it exposed these dangerous memes to the sunlight. And these memes are not liberal or left--they're insane.
(Book recommendation which documents much of this: Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals)