The American Mind: Authoritarianism Without Authority

In Authoritarianism without Authority, Noelle Mering of the Ethics and Public Policy Center writes about the destruction of the concept of authority and how it leads to authoritarianism and the support for authoritarianism.

Any worthwhile postmortem of our COVID-19 response must account for two things: first, the scientistic fallacy that motivated the response itself. Second, the reasons why so many people fell in line en masse.

As Aaron Kheriaty explains, unlike the practice of science, the ideology of scientism “is the philosophical claim . . . that science is the only valid form of knowledge.” Scientism claims knowledge that cannot be supported by science itself. As Kheriaty illustrates, it is totalitarian in nature.

In the past few years, examples of scientism in action are legion. Its mantra is the oft-repeated imperative to just “follow the science!” In November of 2020, Anthony Fauci, the pope of scientism, complained that “science” had become politically divisive—as if debate and dissent are somehow antithetical to the scientific or political processes rather than inherent in both. Fauci reprimanded the public that in spite of their independent spirit, “now is the time to do what you’re told.”

Crafting broad public policy necessarily involves a whole host of various prudential and political judgments outside the realm of science. Ethical concerns must be weighed, and various goods ordered. Smuggling such prudential and political judgments under the cloak of science effectively condemns reasonable dissent as anti-science, as a heresy worthy of censorship and ridicule.

This should have alarmed us all. Freedom of thought and speech are fundamental to a truth-seeking society. Censorship and collective shaming are essential to the perpetuation of a fraud. Yet half the country shrugged, and more than half played along.

In his book, The Captive Mind, Polish poet and political dissident Czeslaw Milosz wrote of the various ways in which people come to accept totalitarian narratives. His own break from Communism he describes as attributable less to the reasoning of his mind than to the revolt of his stomach: “A man may persuade himself, by the most logical reasoning, that he will greatly benefit his health by swallowing live frogs; and, thus rationally convinced, he may swallow a first frog, then the second; but at the third his stomach will revolt. In the same way, the growing influence of the doctrine on my way of thinking came up against the resistance of my whole nature.”

The list of live frogs forced down our throats under the name of “The Science” is long. Liquor stores and strip clubs are essential for humanity, but churches are expendable, according to “The Science.” “The Science” also calculated that the entirely predictable catastrophe of school closures on kids’ emotional, physical, academic, and psychological health was worthwhile. Disagree and you’re a grandma killer.

For many, the third frog came in the summer of 2020, when cities across America exploded in protests and riots, masks barely on or entirely missing from protestors’ faces, bodies jostling together by the thousands for hours and days and weeks on end. Meanwhile, others watched their loved ones die over FaceTime, deprived of one of the most important and deeply human experiences in life. Was it “The Science” that allowed one, but not the other, sort of gathering?

Having recently lost my father, the idea that such a clearly politicized edict could have prevented us from being physically present with him stirs in me a combination of revulsion and rage. Holding his hand, kissing his forehead, cupping his face and looking into each other’s eyes when he could no longer form words—these are not matters of scientific measure.

How did every American’s stomach not revolt against this grotesque injustice?

Mental Lockdown

People grow compliant for many reasons. Certainly, there is a certain fear of public shame that always accompanies deviation from the norm. There is a deeply-rooted human hunger to belong, even if it is just to the tribalism of a political movement. With family life increasingly destabilized, that hunger is more acute than ever, rendering political tribalism more ferocious.

A more disheartening explanation is that contempt for others can be pleasurable and feels like a shortcut to actual virtue.

But perhaps the most fundamental reason is that a society shut off from the transcendent is bound to comply with a totalizing regime like scientism. Obedience is the inevitable result of a society long blinded to the terrible, wonderful mystery of the supernatural. Death is far too imbued with meaning and mystery to categorize, so we anesthetize ourselves to it. Avoidance becomes not just a matter of averting our eyes but an obsessive project of prolonging our lives. In this context, the calculations of scientism carry a satisfying force of moral clarity, while lacking any of the moral complexity that a truly human account requires. This is the ideological sleight of hand: we think our eyes are opened, when really our ability to think has simply been circumscribed within the narrow limits of scientism’s domain.

A truly human account grants the limits of science and so makes room to revere the hidden and higher things before which every knee must bend. Paradoxically, it is in that veneration of the things we can’t measure that we grow resistant to the dehumanizing demands of authoritarianism.

Authority vs. Authoritarianism

Over the past couple of years I’ve often heard people muse about how the “Question authority” generation of the 1960s became the compliant generation, imploring tech companies to silence anyone who, well . . . questioned authority.

But this behavior makes perfect sense if we understand that there is a chasm of difference between authority and authoritarianism, just as there is between science and scientism. The call to question authority, popularized by countercultural icon Timothy Leary, was not an effort to root out corruption in order to preserve proper authority. Rather, it was an injunction to undermine the understanding that there is any such thing as authority at all.

Authority, as the etymology indicates, is generative. Its absence leads to degeneracy. Cultural revolution is not a rejection of a particular as much as it is a rejection of a whole. It isn’t this old book we destroy but the reverence for old books generally. It is not that saint whose statue and memory is reviled; the concept of sanctity in its entirety is destroyed. Iconoclasm is not only directed at marble and bronze, paper and text, but at authority itself—most effectively through the role of fatherhood both human and divine.

And what will fill the void when we have broken down the statues, villainized the heroes, sneered at tradition, deconstructed father and mother, and divorced ourselves from our Author? It won’t be the freedom that comes from a fear of God but the perpetual fear of everything else.

The atheism of scientism is inextricably tied to the psychology of compliance. But as Milosz explains, the cure for this oppression is natural revulsion. At some point your body, your nature, your very being will feel disgusted at the thought of swallowing one more lie. Welcome that revulsion like a window in a dark room: it beckons us to things beyond this stultifying cage of ideology, to see anew what is here and now.

Scragged: Samizdat Strategies

Samizdat copies

Scragged has a series of three articles on Samizdat Strategies or how to survive in a trending police state. Samizdat is a Russian term which referred to self-published articles designed to spread truth under an oppressive communist regime. With Big Tech’s censorship of voices which dissent from the government approved narratives, people in the US may very well need to receive truth from sources other than the mainstream.

The US has a rich history of creation; we pioneered concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, structured as a democratic republic run for the people.  We’ve crated many tangible things such as cars, computers, the internet, etc.  Our use of fossil fuels has freed most of us from slavery to back-braking toil needed to scratch enough food out of the ground to survive. These benefits have been the result of the creativity enabled by the freedom of thought and expression of ideas given to us by our government.

Today, our reality has changed, and not for the better.

All America is in the process of learning many harsh lessons that our forefathers fought and died to avoid us having to repeat.  Perhaps the most severe lesson is this: Given that we have proved ourselves incapable of keeping a functional representative republic, as Ben Franklin feared, it’s now time to take serious, inconvenient action to conceal any of your activities that the cancel mob might consider to be at all controversial either now or in the unforeseeable future.

Government is like fire – a necessary but untrustworthy servant and a fearsome master.  People who seek power over others will do pretty much whatever increases their power.  That’s why it’s said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – a price we have signally failed to pay in convenient monthly installments for lo these many years, and now the accumulated bill has come due with interest.

As soon as someone’s elected to office, he or she figures out that there’s only so much power to go around.  Any power citizens have over their own lives means that elected officials have less power.  Thus, regardless of party, elected officials have a powerful incentive to take power from us and give it to themselves and to their friends.

That’s what politics is all about – gaining and using power.  If  freedom-loving people take their eyes off the ball for even a moment, we end up with tyranny.  Joe Biden is the President because his side understands the effective usage of power: his side controlled the counting of votes, controlled the adjudication of challenges of both the count and the votes, controls the reporting of all of the above, and today, bids fair to control your and my ability even to talk about anything they don’t want discussed.

That is power, pure and simple – truth, justice, and the American way factor in not at all, but that doesn’t make the power any less real or effective in causing grief to dissenters.

Tyranny is always based on fraud, fear, and force.  Since no regime can directly control all of the people all of the time, the majority are kept in line by lying to them or keeping them too fearful to resist.  Force is used against those who refuse to believe what they’re told to believe and become vocal about it; as long as their number is in a small enough minority, they present no threat to those in power.

Truth Finds a Way

During the era of Stalinist tyranny in the Soviet Union, people who saw through the communist fable engaged in a practice known as “samidzat“, a Russian word meaning “self-publishing” to spread whatever truth they could.

When the entire MSM and the Tech Lords colluded to make it impossible for the New York Post, the 4th largest newspaper in America, to spread its story about the Biden crime family’s lucrative connections to Ukraine and China, we realized that we had arrived at the “total fraud” stage of our slide into tyranny.  During the pre-Internet samizdat days, the Russian government tried to register all typewriters to prevent people from spreading the word.  People caught with unregistered typewriters they’d smuggled in from abroad or using registered typewriters in forbidden ways faced jail or worse – sometimes a lot worse.

Similarly, even mentioning the well-attested 2020 vote fraud or claiming that the Capitol riot was organized by Democrats to make Trump supporters look bad will get you canceled from social media and in some cases fired from your job, unless, of course, you’re a Democrat luminary.  AOC, for example, blames Facebook for the Capitol riot because, she says, it let the rioters organize.

Doesn’t she realize that if it was organized, as we all believe it to have been, it couldn’t have been caused by Mr. Trump’s speech, given that the riot had already started before he’d even gotten well underway?  We don’t know what she knows or believes – but we do know that she won’t be criticized for exonerating Mr. Trump of the Democrats’ latest bogus charge against him because Democrats are above criticism.

You can’t possibly keep up with what woketivists can say, must say, and what they can’t say unless you spend hours per day on Twitter.  We don’t have time for that, so it’s time to figure out how to communicate securely and how to minimize the visibility of your now-unacceptable ideas, while still making them visible to those who might still have ears to hear them.

It’s Mushrooming

Once our Tech Lords revealed their true colors by canceling President Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, stopping his campaign from sending email, and lowering his Google page ratings, others are piling on.  Harvard students are circulating a petition to revoke the degrees granted to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw.  The petition describes these three as “violent actors” who need to be held accountable for their actions.

Not to be outdone, Yale law school students and alumni are demanding that Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) be disbarred over what it says were their “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.”

Hawley and Cruz led efforts in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to stop the counting of electoral votes certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Trump in the November election.

If nothing else, these Ivy-league students reveal what liberals mean by “free and fair election” – it means their candidate won, no more and no less.  This isn’t surprising: they’ve been saying for years that “free and fair elections” can only result in elected Democrats.

Twitter has “not yet begun” to censor, per its CEO.  Project Veritas has published information about Twitter founder Dorsey saying, “This is going to be much bigger than just one account”:

“We know we are focused on one account right now,” Dorsey said, in reference to his company’s decision to ban President Trump. “But this is going to be much bigger than just one account and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, and this week, and the next few weeks and go beyond the inauguration. We have to expect that, and we have to be ready for that.”

The New York Post wrote a long article describing the many, many ways Democrats plan to deplatform, demonize, demonetize, and destroy anyone who ever supported Mr. Trump.  One wonders how long their printing press will survive.

That is not an idle concern.  Amazon is the largest bookseller in the world and has used its market power to ban books which contradict the current woketivist dogma.  Searching for “amazon book ban” on will get you quite a list – on Google, though, not so much.

The Washington Post told us how Amazon had reversed a ban on an e-book “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates,” which argued that the mainstream media overstates the threat from the virus.  An hour after Mr. Biden was inaugurated, the WHO announced that they’re changing the sensitivity of the covid test “which will result in large reductions in the numbers of positive cases.”  This confirms our belief that the covid threat was overstated from the beginning, just as we and many others had said.

Why did Amazon ban a book which seems to have told the truth?  Is Amazon on the side of truth and debate?

Amazon also banned a book discussing the health hazards which are inherent in the gay lifestyle, and a book arguing that it’s not a good idea to let a 12-year-old girl decide that her desire to be a boy is so strong that her breasts should be surgically removed.  Trying to talk her out of this irreversible surgery is called “conversion therapy,” which has been banned in some US jurisdictions.

In addition to selling books, Amazon also offers Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the largest cloud facilities on the planet.  When Google and Apple pulled the Parler smartphone from their app stores and made it disappear from many if not most subscribers’ phones, AWS ended their hosting agreement and threw Parler off their platform on the grounds that Parler had refused to delete some posts which AWS regarded as unacceptable.

The concept of a business which rents server capacity having the right to tell customers what they may and may not store on their servers is as new as Twitter and Facebook banning the President of the United States from communicating.  AWS also provides servers to Twitter, which saw Parler as a potential competitor, particularly if all of Mr. Trump’s supporters abandoned Twitter for Parler.  We’re looking forward to hearing what comes out of discovery as Parler sues AWS, though it isn’t going well so far.

The fact that Mr. Bezos is stepping down as head of Amazon to pursue other interests has been in the news lately.  We know pretty much what to expect from his successor, Andy Jazzy, who was the driving force behind the growth of AWS which provides nearly half of Amazon’s operating profit – he accused the Louisville police of murdering Brianna Taylor and he’s the executive who made the decision to dump Parler.  How can any small business stay on AWS, knowing that they may be thrown off the platform at any moment for political reasons?

On the grounds that it’s silly to send money to your enemies, some people we know have stopped buying from Amazon.  That’s a major pain because no other service provides nearly as convenient a mechanism for finding products.  Others have suggested to carefully order only one thing at a time to at least maximize their shipping expenses – but we’ve found that Amazon’s computers are usually smart enough to pick up on this and combine them anyway.

Even if you don’t oppose Amazon because of its political stance, life won’t be pleasant if they put most other retailers out of business and create an effective monopoly.  There’s no reason to cancel your Prime subscription because that will be noticed, but you could stop buying and let Prime expire.

Blocking Advertisements

Google recently blocked ads from an organization opposed to packing the supreme court and took down videos taken in the US Senate(!) of doctors testifying about their experience treating covid.  Banning such forms of free speech is the thin edge of the wedge.

Educrats who are wedded to the idea that kids should always be promoted to the next grade regardless of whether they’ve mastered the material, because being held back damages their self-esteem, have believed for decades that the Christian practice of teaching kids they’re sinners in need of salvation harms their self-esteem and should be banned.

Back before the 2016 election, we quoted the Washington Post which quoted Hillary Clinton as saying that longstanding religious practices would have to “be changed.”  The context of her statement makes it plan that she advocated use of force to bring about such changes.

That notion has led to our “cancel culture” which seeks to ruin anyone who isn’t sufficiently woke, and has led to murder in several cases.

Lest you take comfort in the prominence and visibility of the victims of these wrongful attacks, be assured that cancellation is not limited to prominent persons.  Innocent nonentities such as retired Chicago firefighter David Quintavalle have been falsely accused of participating in storming the US Capitol, and all but driven from his home by ignorance-based abuse.

Mr. Quintavalle presented receipts as proof that he was in Chicago at the time, but false accusations are still all over Twitter and he has received death threats.  TV crews staked out his house and police dispatched a patrol car to keep watch.

Our Department of Injustice

Cancel culture started in the federal government.  You’ve read about their attack on Gen. Flynn.  This was one of many violations of law by the Obama administration.  Now that we know how they shafted him, we know that the FBI is not the good guys.

On the bright side, at least we know how they operate.  Deep State perjury traps depend on most citizens thinking the FBI is seeking truth.  Now that you know that government employees don’t care about truth at all, there’s no excuse for letting them trap you.

It’s simple.  Suppose you tell the feds you had lunch with 2 “friends” on Wednesday.  They lean on your “friends” to get them to say it was Thursday.  Unless you can prove it was Wednesday, they can charge you with lying to them, which is a crime even if you weren’t under oath, and bankrupt you by forcing you to pay for lawyers.

Having a lawyer won’t help you – Gen. Flynn’s first law firm betrayed him to the feds.

Why would they so blatantly violate the fundamentals of legal ethics?  Lawyers have to be members of the bar to practice. Liberals are already calling for the lawyers who defended Mr. Trump to be disbarred. When push comes to shove, will “your” lawyer defend you or defend his career?

King George Rides Again” shows how our bureaucrats are creating a great many “crimes” that can send you to jail.  Prosecutors get rated on the amount of jail time they inflict which is easy to measure.  It gives examples and tells you part of how to protect yourself.

Injustice” tells the story of an innocent man who spent $2 million on lawyers and finally copped a plea for 6 months in club fed as opposed to 150 years if he’d gone to trial.  It gives more detail how they work you over and tells what you need to get from them before telling them anything at all, not even your name.  You can justify that – during WW II, Japanese-Americans were locked up because of their names.  Japanese girls who had married Americans were left alone because they no longer had Japanese names.

There’s no doubt that we are in a position that has been unfamiliar to Americans for centuries: one where, like residents of any totalitarian land, we must watch what we say – or else!  The American mindset is not oriented toward operating in this kind of environment, but necessity breeds invention, which we’ll explore in upcoming articles in this series.

Given that liberals won’t like what we’re telling you and Internet service providers have shown their willingness to take down sites they do not like, ours may disappear.  You’d be best off pasting this article and the rest of this series into a Word doc, or even printing it out, for later reference and samizdat-style sharing.

But, maybe we aren’t to that point yet.  There is much further to fall, as we’ll see in the next article in this series.

See also Part II and Part III.

Libertarian Institute: A Perfect Totalitarian Storm

Author Laurie Calhoun at the Libertarian Institute writes A Perfect Totalitarian Storm about a US populace habituated to submit to authority and the resulting dangers.

People often express consternation over how something as awful as the Holocaust could ever have transpired. It seems utterly incomprehensible, until one reflects upon the acquiescence to government authorities of individuals, most of whom served as unwitting cogs in a murderous machine. The vast majority of people in 1930s and 1940s Germany went about their business, agreeing to do what officials and bureaucrats told them to do and brushing aside any questions which may have popped up in their minds about policies preventing Jewish people from holding positions in society and stripping them of their property. For ready identification, Jews were preposterously made to stitch yellow stars onto their clothing. Later, in the concentration camps, they were tattooed with identification numbers. The rest is the most grisly episode in human history.

It is easy to say today, looking back, that we would never have supported the Third Reich and its outrageous laws, but citizens everywhere develop habits of submission to authority from an early age. Many “rule-governed” persons never pause to ask whether the current laws of the land are in fact moral, despite the long history of legislation modified or overturned in the eventual recognition that it was deeply flawed. It is understandable that people should obey the law—they are threatened with punishments, often severe, for failure to comply. But the little things do eventually add up, and one thing leads to another, with the result that the bureaucratic banality of evil diagnosed by Hannah Arendt in her coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1960 applies every bit as much to our present times as it did to the people going along to get along with the Third Reich. Of course no one is currently sending trainloads of “undesirables” to concentration camps for liquidation, but when one considers the death and degradation of millions of people in the Middle East over the course of the twenty-first century, carnage and misery funded by U.S. taxpayers, one begins to comprehend how the very mentality which permitted the Holocaust to transpire is indeed at work today. The vast majority of Western citizens freely agree to pay their governments to terrorize and attack, even torture, people inhabiting lands far away. The perpetrators call all that they do “national defense,” but from the perspective of the victims, the effects are one and the same.

The banality of evil at work today involves a profound complacency among the general populace toward foreign policy. President Biden bombed Syria about a month after becoming the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, without even seeking congressional authority, and people barely blinked. The elimination of the persons responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was achieved long ago. Yet military intervention continues on inexorably, having come to be regarded as the rule rather than the exception. The “collateral damage” victims are essentially fictionalized in the minds of the citizens who pay for all of the harm done to them. Habits of deference to the Pentagon and its associated pundits on matters of foreign policy have as their inevitable consequence that confirmed war criminals are permitted to perpetrate their homicidal programs unabated, provided only that they claim to be defending the country, no matter how disastrous their initiatives proved to be in the past. Indeed, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the more mistakes a government official makes, the more likely it becomes that he or she will be invited back to serve again, and the more frequently his or her opinion will be sought out by mainstream media outlets.

It requires a type of arrogance to reject the proclamations of the anointed “experts,” and in the age of social media, there are always thousands of shills—both paid and unpaid—standing by to defend the programs of the powerful. Antiwar activists are very familiar with how all of this works. They are denounced as anti-patriotic, ignorant, naïve, and even evil for refusing to promote the company line. During the Cold War, the reigning false dichotomies of “Capitalist or Communist?” and “Patriot or Traitor” held sway and, sad to say, such false dichotomies abound today. The fact that the pundits and policymakers calling for and applauding military intervention themselves often stand to profit from the campaigns they promote is brushed aside as somehow irrelevant. In contrast, antiwar voices are muted, suppressed, and censored despite the fact that reasons for opposing more war cannot be said to be tainted by mercenary motives because peace, unlike war, does not pay. It costs nothing to not bomb a country, so anyone who speaks out against the idea is not doing so in order to profit. Yet such persons are denounced and marginalized in the harshest of terms as cranks, crackpots, extremists, Russia sympathizers and more. President Obama’s drone killing czar John Brennan famously organized terror Tuesday meetings at the White House where “suspicious” persons were selected for execution by unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), aka lethal drones, on the basis of flash-card presentations crafted from bribed intelligence, drone video footage and cellphone SIM card data—all of which is circumstantial evidence of the potential for future possible crimes. Brennan recently included libertarians among what he warned is an “unholy alliance” of “domestic extremists” in the wake of the January 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol. What happens next?

One certainly hopes that educated people are aware that Brennan’s inclusion of libertarians among his list of potentially dangerous domestic enemies betrays his utter ignorance of the very meaning of the word ‘libertarian.’ The non-aggression principle (NAP) embraced by libertarians precludes not only wars of aggression but also individual acts of terrorism. Sadly, it has become abundantly clear that the people still watching television news continue to accept and freely parrot what the mass media networks pump out despite their clearly propagandistic bias in recent years. Accustomed to heeding the prescriptions of “the experts,” people blithely listen to Brennan (and those of his ilk) despite his manifest record of duplicity regarding the drone killing campaigns, and his histrionic, even hysterical, comportment during the three-year Russiagate hunt for a Putin-Trump connection.

Neoliberal and neoconservative powerbrokers naturally wish to quash alternative viewpoints, so perhaps no one should be surprised that Brennan has attempted to discredit libertarians. After all, they pose disturbing questions such as whether all of the mass homicide carried out in the name of the nation actually helps anyone, including those paying for the carnage, or rather harms everyone, with the notable exception of those who stand to profit financially or politically from the wars. What Brennan revealed by lumping libertarians together with “domestic terrorists” is that he is not so much concerned with violent threats to the nation but with dissent from the political and warmaking authorities, a tendency which is becoming more and more marked as the Democratic-controlled Congress attempts to force Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter to “do more” to prevent the dissemination of so-called disinformation. By denouncing some of the most articulate, consistent and persistent opponents to the war machine as “dangerous,” Brennan made it more difficult than it already was for those voices to be heard much less heeded.

The current complacency of people toward U.S. foreign policy is nothing new. Contemporaneously, people any- and everywhere tend to go along to get along, whether or not they are convinced that the policies imposed upon them and their fellow citizens make any sense. In 1930s Germany, anti-semitism was real, but part of the reason for the efficacy of the nationalist fervor drummed up by Adolf Hitler and used to support his quest for total global domination was the dire economic situation following the loss of World War I. Germany was weak and its people hungry. These conditions made it easier than usual to persuade people to comply, in the hope that their lives would be improved by banding together against what was denounced at the time as the evil enemy.

This perennial Manichean trope of political propaganda has most recently emerged in the abject, overt, hatred by about half of the people of the United States of anyone having anything whatsoever to do with Donald Trump. “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” or TDS, is a genuine phenomenon, at least judging by the comportment of people online and sometimes in person as well. As bizarre as this may seem, people actually hate people who do not hate Donald Trump, having failed to understand that contradictions and contraries are not one and the same. It is entirely possible to not hate Trump while also not loving him, but attempting to elucidate this false dichotomy to anyone who spent the last four years of his life wishing fervently for the former president’s demise will be met with an even more strident repetition of the very dichotomy being debunked. Again, if you happen to believe that the post-presidential impeachment trial was a waste of time and taxpayer money, then you must, according to the anti-Trump mob, love the former president. Even more remarkably, somehow over the course of the past four years a large swath of people have come to believe that seething hatred is a moral virtue, so long as it is directed at appropriate objects of loathing. But the capacity to hate one’s fellow human beings reveals absolutely nothing about the hater beyond his or her ability to hate. It certainly does not mean that they are good by contrast, and it is no mean feat of self-deception to come to believe that because one hates Donald Trump, this alone suffices to establish one’s moral superiority over all of the people who do not.

Once people become convinced of their own moral righteousness in the battle against whoever has been designated the evil and benighted (deplorable!) enemy, then it’s only a few short steps from “The end justifies the means” to “Everything is permitted.”  A glaring example has been the more and more prevalent suppression and erasure of so-called disinformation, which of course lies in the eyes of the censors. The necessity of defeating “the enemy” became the basis for such curious developments as the refusal of any of the mass media networks to investigate the pay-for-play connections suggested by the contents of the Hunter Biden laptop made public during the 2020 presidential election cycle. Immediately following election day, when some people pointed out anomalies such as the appearance of vertical lines in the graphs of vote tallies in the middle of the night in multiple states—indicating the sudden addition of troves of votes none of which were for Trump—the mass media immediately, in concert, issued headlines everywhere proclaiming that any and all charges of electoral fraud were “baseless”. The point here is not that the charges were not baseless, which perhaps they were in some cases—those explained away by local election authorities as clerical errors. But no one could know that allegations of electoral fraud were baseless before the matters were investigated.

The slippery slope of censorship is difficult to resist, having taken the first step onto that totalitarian-veering path, and the removal from social media of thousands of conservative and right-wing accounts regarded as sympathetic with Trump and his gallery of rogues is simply not enough, according to Democratic Party elites. Despite having already propagandized much of the mainstream media (as was evident in the election and post-election coverage), the Democrats, giddy with their majority Blue-Blue-Blue capture of Washington now wish to exert total control over what people may say, write and read. This is of course a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, but by achieving their goal through the indirect manipulation of private companies, which are subject to federal regulation and therefore receptive to “innuendos” on the part of legislators, they are hoping that no one will notice what has transpired—at least not before it is too late to do anything about it.

After Trump’s acquittal in the second Senate impeachment trial, the news coverage claiming that he had incited “insurrection” at the Capitol continued on, as though the facts had already been established and the outcome of the trial was entirely irrelevant. These Associated Press (AP) excerpts are typical:

“The only president to be impeached twice has once again evaded consequences…” (February 13, 2021)

“After [Trump] incited a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last month…” (February 14, 2021)

One might with reason wonder whether the wrongness of questioning the outcome of an election does not imply the wrongness of questioning the outcome of a trial. Of course both are perfectly permissible in a society which champions freedom of speech. What this political control of the news reveals is a republic in crisis, for if even supposedly objective news outlets such as the Associated Press reject the outcome of processes intended to ascertain the truth, then the people have no way of being able to determine what actually transpired. Similar examples of journalistic léger-de-main abound in every area of importance to neoliberals, above all, in matters of war, and the mainstream media’s refusal even to discuss the plight of Julian Assange is a case in point. Assange made public evidence of war crimes committed by the U.S. government but is now being persecuted as though he were a murderer. So pathological has the mainstream press become that the only times they were able to bring themselves to praise Trump was when he ordered military strikes on the people of the Middle East.

The tech outlets have now also decided to censor alleged disinformation about the experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, conflating the criticisms of persons opposed to all vaccines (the antivaxxers) with those of persons who have read the spec sheets, are aware of the data on disease prognosis, and find that the risk of possible, as-of-yet unknown, longterm side effects are not outweighed by the alleged benefits of the novel technology (which, it is worth pointing out, never made it past the animal trials when it was tested in the past). Those who express concern about the Procrustean lockdowns have also been subjected to suppression of their speech. The Facebook page for the Great Barrington Declaration was taken down by censors, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense organization has also been deplatformed. But the criticisms offered by these groups are grounded in scientific literature. Indeed, the authors of the Barrington Decree are in fact epidemiologists and public health scientists, yet they are summarily dismissed as quacks because they disagree with the Fauci-Gates program.

What the vast majority of people want is for the current abnormal situation to be stabilized. If that means embracing what the powers that be are calling “the new normal,” then so be it. Anyone who stands in the way of the needed changes—those who refuse to volunteer as unpaid subjects in the largest experimental trial of a novel medical device in history—are summarily denounced in the usual terms: selfish, deplorable, ignorant, inbred, racist, nutjobs, etc. It does not matter in the least whether any of the epithets are true. They are deployed indiscriminately against anyone who disagrees by the self-styled morally superior types who shill for the reigning political and corporate elites—often also for free.

The present circumstances offer the necessary prerequisites to totalitarianism. We would do well to heed the historical record and look closely at how Nazism and Stalinism became dominant outlooks for entire populations, despite the fact that large numbers of people were destroyed by them. The total control of the mainstream media, with a specific agenda being promoted, all alternatives suppressed and the extreme polarization of citizens under Manichean false dichotomies are everywhere on display. What’s more, in these COVIDystopic times, we are witnessing people struggling under the same economic hardships as were the people of 1930s Germany. What is worse, after a full year of nonstop television coverage of death tolls, with nearly no effort by any mainstream pundits to place the tallies into proper context and consider how many people were dying everyday before COVID-19 arrived on the scene, many citizens are understandably afraid.

Fear always brings out the worst in groups of people, who may team up against what they all decry as the evil enemy. But fear, hatred and self-deception conjoined produce a toxic soup, and we need not search the annals of the first half of the twentieth century to find evidence of this. Post-9/11, violent crimes against Muslim people (and other brown-skinned persons sometimes mistaken for “Arabs”) were on the rise. We are currently on a trajectory leading to a place where those who read the spec sheets for the “free” vaccines and then, based on that information, decline to roll up their sleeves, will be denigrated as criminals. The divisions being concretized between those healthy, robust people who agree to COVID-19 vaccination and those who demur are being strengthened by virtue-signaling campaigns making everyone who gets the vaccine believe, again, amazingly enough, that they are morally superior to those who do not. Even Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has come out publicly to denounce those who decline to participate in the experimental vaccine trials as “selfish.”

Technocrats the world over have been warning since at least April 2020 that the only way out of our current predicament will be to issue “vaccine passports” through which the healthy can be distinguished from the unhealthy. However, even if the first and second round of vaccines together work to prevent transmission and infection—which has yet to be established—those who have received them will not be protected from the new variants, and will need to submit to a third round of so-called booster shots, which in another six months will likely “require” a fourth booster, and so on. All of this would seem to imply that the “vaccine passports” being floated by government and corporate leaders will in no way ensure that the persons carrying them are not going to contract or transmit the latest variants of the virus. So what do they really mean?

The idea that those who have accepted COVID-19 vaccines are “fit to fly,” and to work and to socialize, or even to go outside, rests on a truly Orwellian redefinition of “healthy” as “vaccinated,” even as scientists continue to warn that the virus has already transformed enough to check the already questionable efficacy of the current crop of vaccines. Those who support the implementation of vaccine passports are fond of pointing out that people traveling to Africa are required first to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever. But COVID-19 is nothing like Yellow Fever, which kills half of the people it infects. The vast majority of persons do not need to introduce foreign substances into their body in order to survive COVID-19. Because the vaccines appear to mitigate serious symptoms and increase the odds of survival among vulnerable persons, they should of course be offered the option of vaccination, but it must remain their choice, since they alone will bear the brunt of any untoward side effects, which invariably arise in a small portion of the population with every vaccine.

In the Nuremburg trials, nonconsensual human experimentation was decried and judged to be a crime against humanity. But extortion, too, is a form of coercion and we should not be fooled by the latest Newspeak press releases in which “authorities” attempt both to cajole and to threaten us for defying their will. Former UK Prime Minister (and confirmed war criminal) Tony Blair has determined that vaccine passports will be our ticket to freedom. This is a shocking pronouncement because our freedom is not his or anyone else’s to withhold from us, least of all when our own person and body are at stake. It’s as though we are currently inhabiting an episode of Black Mirror (Netflix), where the dark heart of pharma-technocratic rule is working to bend us to its will, using compliant citoyens as its unwitting tools. Peer pressure, shaming, bribes and threats are nothing new, but in this case the consequences could not be more personal.

History clearly demonstrates that one repressive measure leads to another, and totalitarianism creeps in step by step, unnoticed until it is too late. From the suppression of speech to the lockdown and quarantine of healthy people to coercing or extorting them to participate in experimental trials—none of this bodes well for the future of freedom. The fight to retain what are our rights—to speech, liberty, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness—and above all to not be treated as the possessions of government-funded corporations, must be defended while this is still possible. When a system is sufficiently infiltrated at every stratum by fanatics convinced of their own moral superiority and monopoly on the truth, then totalitarianism is near. It happened in Nazi Germany and it happened in Stalin’s Soviet Union. We are moving perilously close to that nightmarish reality right here and now as people redefine basic terms such as ‘sickness’ and ‘health’ and insist on exerting total control over information flow.

Of Two Minds: Intolerance and Authoritarianism Accelerate Disunity and Collapse

From Charles Hugh Smith at the Of Two Minds blog, Intolerance and Authoritarianism Accelerate Disunity and Collapse

Scapegoating dissenters only hastens the disunity and disarray that accelerates the final collapse.
Authoritarianism is imposed on us, but its sibling intolerance is our own doing. Intolerance and authoritarianism are two sides of the same coin: as intolerance becomes the norm, the intolerant start demanding that the state enforce their intolerance by suppressing their enemies via increasingly heavy-handed authoritarian measures.
Intolerance and authoritarianism increase as instability takes hold and living standards decline. In good times, dissent and differences of opinion are not only tolerated but celebrated, as this freedom to hold a variety of beliefs serves to unify society.
In bad times, dissent and differences are viewed as mortal threats to the social order. Perhaps there is a human instinct when times become troubled to insist “we must all row together,” i.e. to seek a unity enforced by a rising intolerance that demands more authoritarian action by the state.
For example, in wartime, pacifist views that were previously tolerated become criminal offenses.
The irony here is this forced conformity doesn’t generate unity–it fractures society into bitterly warring camps as the middle ground vanishes into either/or extremism that sees authoritarianism (in support of our side, of course) as not just justified but essential.
Intolerance and authoritarianism undermine and ultimately destroy the unity that was generated by tolerance and a wide variety of beliefs and dissenting views. As our own insecurities increase, we fall all too willingly to the temptation to see others’ recalcitrant refusal to join our camp without reservations as the source of our insecurity.
In this mindset of insecurity, the “solution” is to force compliance by any means available so everyone is in our camp. And since some might be hiding the insincerity of their devotion to our righteous cause, the need for an Inquisition becomes pressing, so the insincere or closet traitors can be unmasked and punished.
But the Inquisitors themselves inevitably come under suspicion, and an Inquisition of the Inquisitors soon lays waste to those who hubristically held themselves as the arbiters of conformity. There is no way to escape this drive to dissipate insecurity by forcing conformity except the complete collapse of the social, political and economic orders.
This is the path to madness and complete social breakdown. But such is the power of insecurity and uncertainty that history records our self-destructive urgency to abandon the middle ground and a diversity of viewpoints and beliefs for the totalitarian uniformity of forced conformity.
But once rooted, intolerance knows no bounds and the snake of intolerant authoritarianism ends up eating its own tail. In an era of intolerance, ideological purity is a constantly shifting landscape of quicksand. Those at the top passing judgment on others’ ideological purity soon find their own purity is under attack.
Increasingly intolerant, repressive authoritarianism marked the final days of the Roman decline and fall. Rather than face the profound and novel crises directly and unify around the sacrifices needed to resolve the crises favorably, it is so much easier to blame everyone who doesn’t agree with our position as the source of the crises.
This is delusional, of course: crises have real-world sources, and scapegoating dissenters only hastens the disunity and disarray that accelerate the final collapse.

AIER: How Liberalism Can Survive Left-Right Polarization

This article from the American Institute for Economic Research looks into the rise of political extremity, both left and right, in the US, and what we need to do to affirm dedication to liberty while rejecting the vengeful appeal of authoritarianism.

The rise of political extremes in America, both left and right, poses a particular challenge for those of us who prefer liberty over government control. It’s not only in the US; the same grows in the UK, Europe, Latin America, and Brazil. As the old managerial elite in all countries loses credibility and power, socialist and nationalist forms of statism are vying to take their place, while relegating liberalism to the political margins.

To survive and thrive, we will need to gain greater confidence in who we are and what we believe about the social order, clarifying and focusing on what liberty looks like and what precisely we are going for, while avoiding partisan traps along the way. In particular, we need to avoid being lumped in with movements – rightly or wrongly, by expedient or intellectual error – that are contrary to our tradition and philosophical longings.

In case you haven’t heard, for example, many academic and media observers are on a hunt to discover the origin of the nationalist resurgence, and particularly its most bizarre and violent segment of the alt-right. To the horror of many dedicated intellectuals and activists in the liberty space, some academics and journalists have tried to link this movement backward in time to the libertarian political movement as it developed over the last two decades, and, by extension, the rise of the Trump-controlled Republican Party.

It should be obvious that, in theory and contrary to what the socialist left has long claimed, there is no connection whatsoever between what we call libertarianism and any species of rightist ideology. One negates the other. As Leonard Read wrote in 1956, “Liberty has no horizontal relationship to authoritarianism. Libertarianism’s relationship to authoritarianism is vertical; it is up from the muck of men enslaving man…”

And yet today, there does indeed appear, at least superficially, to have been a social, institutional, and even intellectual connection, and migration, between what is called the liberty movement and the emergence of nationalism, right-wing identitarianism, and the politics of authoritarianism. Some of the most prominent alt-right voices in the 2017 Charlottesville marches once identified as libertarians. This fact has been widely covered. It’s a fair question to ask: did these individuals ever really believe in a liberal worldview? Were they trolling all along? Were they just deeply confused?

I’ve been interviewed many times on these questions. How did this come to be? The answer is complex. It was more than six years ago that my article “Against Libertarian Brutalism” raised a conjecture: a libertarianism, rendered simply as nothing more than a “leave me alone” outlook, with no larger aspiration for the good life, and no interest in the subject of social cooperation, could find itself divorced from a historical conception of what the advent of liberty has meant to human life and society as a whole. Without that, we fail to develop good instincts for interpreting the world around us. We are even reduced to syllogistic slogans and memes which can be deeply misleading and feed even illiberal bias.

And where does this bias end up? Where are the limits? I see them daily online. In the name of fighting the left, many have turned in the other direction to embrace an alternative form of identitarianism, restrictions on trade and migration, curbs on essential civil liberties, and even toyed with the freedom of the press and the rights of private enterprise, all in the name of humiliating and eliminating the enemy. Some go further to celebrate anything they believe the left hates, including even odious causes from the authoritarian past.

The rhetoric at the extremes approaches nihilism. The press isn’t really free so why not impose restrictions, censorship, and litigated punishments? The borders aren’t private so why not prohibit all entry? Some speech doesn’t support freedom so why permit it the rights that freedom entails? Social media companies aren’t really private enterprises, so why not force them to carry and promote some accounts that I like? That large company has a government contract so why not bust it up with antitrust?

The gradual evolution of language has unleashed all kinds of confusion. Activists denounce “the establishment” without a clear distinction between government and influential media voices. They will decry “globalism” without bothering to distinguish the World Bank from an importer of Chinese fireworks. They promote identitarianism and racial collectivism without the slightest understanding of the illiberal origins and uses of these ideologies in 20th-century history. After all, they say, there is nothing “inherently un-libertarian” about casting down an entire people, religion, gender, language, or race, so long as you don’t directly use violence.

It takes a special kind of circuitous sophistry to justify, in the name of liberty, collectivistic animus and state violence against voluntary association. But the history of politics shows people are capable of making huge mental leaps in service of ideological goals. All it takes is small steps, little excuses, tweaks of principle here and there, seemingly minor compromises, some element of confirmation bias, and you are good to go, ready to make as much sense as the old communist slogan that you have to break eggs to make omelets…

Click here to read the entire article at AIER.