“Stalin’s dictatorship, too would be expected to foster ‘a permanent condition of stress by creating enemies at home and abroad and/or by imposing upon the population gigantic tasks that would be unlikely to be carried out in the absence of the dictatorship’ as well as, ‘a charismatic image of the dictator,’ ‘a utopian goal, carefully kept in a remote future’ and ‘proscription of any deviating values, supported by threats and acts of repression.’” (From Stephen Kotkin, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, p. 306)
Observations and reflections of seemingly no relevance to your daily comings and goings jump out at you sometimes and make a strong, unexpected connection to your unrelenting, consuming nightmares. Jumping out at me was the above reflection on Stalin’s dictatorship from a new biography by the prolific historian of the Soviet era, Stephen Kotkin. So, how does a long dead, mass-murdering Bolshevik connect to twenty-first century American politics now in a constant, wild frenzy over one of its most bizarre of improbabilities, a TV-reality show star and former real estate mogul with gorgeous wife numero tres sitting the White House?
The closest we have gotten to a “charismatic image of the dictator” in recent times might have been the cult of personality that enveloped candidate Barack Obama, The One, in 2008 replete with fainting maidens at his rallies, God-comparisons by serious journalists, and fake Greek columns for the backdrops of his speeches. Obama’s “healing the planet” magic was sustained for a season by the massive collective sycophancy composed of the media establishment, the entertainment industry and academia. The cult of Obama, however, was a celebrity cult and Americans in their embrace of celebrities are, if nothing else, a fickle lot. Obama is now (at least for the time being), past tense, the mystic, Oprah, the current fashionable buzz. For better or worse, we have, as they say, moved on, and whatever one might care to say about Donald Trump, “charismatic” is not what first jumps to mind.
What strikes so close to home about Kotkin’s comments on Stalin’s rule is his noting of “a permanent condition of stress by creating enemies at home or abroad….” It is safe to say, I believe, that “a permanent condition of stress” captures what so many of us now feel as we endure the daily irruptions of ideological warfare increasingly infused with the language of apocalypse and the denunciation of yet another enemy of “our democracy.” Nancy Pelosi, of the recent Republican tax bill, intoned, “It is the end of the world… The debate on health care is life/death… This is Armageddon.” In the head of this cognitively impaired septuagenarian, predicting how the levers move to arrange her thoughts might be an entertaining exercise, but she cannot possibly believe this. No one believes it, but American politics has descended into untrammeled tribal warfare, and warfare is all about friends and enemies. Obama let it slip out in a 2010 Univision interview, dropping his ‘g’s in order to sound less like a President and more like a mob boss, “We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends.” Obama, however, had stumbled on to something: enemies exist to be punished; that’s the whole point, and when you practice politics as warfare, that’s the only rule.
The existence of these enemies Obama had put in his sights for punishment, I would suggest, is what makes our “permanent condition of stress” permanent. Moreover, it should be obvious that, whatever the particular threats political enemies might exude, persistence and endurance are of the highest importance, in a word, permanence. A completely vanquished enemy is no longer an enemy, and without him, the status-quo with all of its limitations and imperfections conveniently ascribed to his wiles, belongs entirely to the victor, an undisputed but tainted possession, however, that does not work completely to his advantage. On our enemies, we depend for our longevity more, perhaps, than on our friends.
Stalin was extremely fortunate in the early stages of his dictatorship to have had Hitler and Mussolini as his enemies. The racial and national superiority claimed by the Nazis and Fascists and their affinity for violence and military aggression made them the perfect foil for the Soviet’s phony “peace” propaganda and the promise of humanity’s revolutionary march of progress toward a world of equality, harmony and plenty and a socialist workers paradise. The Soviets were the “progressives” of the 1930s; they had divined the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice and were, in stark contrast to the Nazis, bending right along with it. Though Nazi Germany was militarily vanquished by Stalin (with considerable assistance from the capitalist powers he had vowed to destroy) the imagery of fascism was embraced by the Soviets up to its collapse in 1991 to define its enemies, including its primary cold war enemy, the United States.
Who then are the enemies that now foster this “permanent state of stress” that seems to plague American politics? These are “enemies within,” those who oppose or are indifferent to the coercive moralism of the self-proclaimed “progressives” who now own the Democratic party. These enemies, in continuity with the practice of the Soviet-era progressives, employing the ominous swastika-blackshirt imagery of the 1930s, continue to be smeared as fascists; “fascism” meaning opposition or resistance to progress. Only moral defectives and mental pigmies can be against progress which is why “fascist” rolls so effortlessly off the tongue of a progressive whenever he encounters someone not of his ilk.
Progress, however, is conveniently and hopelessly abstract and remains always an elusive goal, one, as noted in Kotkin’s observation above, “that is carefully kept in the remote future.” The future is never where we are at, and thus it serves to defer accountability for current failure and as the ideological fulcrum to justify the application of whatever force is necessary to prepare everyone for arrival, someday, at that morally pristine destination of perfect equality, progressivism’s ruling motif. All progressives, whether of the 1930s Bolshevik-genre or 21st century American social justice warriors, are enthusiasts for coercion since not everyone comprehends their current fallen state and only those who are willing to submit to the purification rituals get to continue moving toward the promised land. Those who do not are, as Hillary Clinton put it so bluntly during her 2016 Presidential campaign, “irredeemable.” With the shift of a few electoral votes, the future for anyone belonging to this class would have looked even less promising. When you have the power, what exactly will you do to a large, intractable class of irredeemables that will not involve massive coercion? Hillary’s irredeemables would have felt her revenge; a bit like Stalin’s kulaks of the 1930s.
For today’s progressives, so enthralled with the promises of Obama and now in desperate “resistance” to President Trump, their “friends” and “enemies” no longer break out into Bolshevik-theorized hostile classes (oppressed-proletariat versus oppressor-capitalist) but into racial tribes (oppressed-people of color versus white-oppressors).* The vehicle of this relationship is racism, and it is barely an exaggeration to say that twenty minutes cannot pass without Americans being reminded by some angry or condescending “authority” from the chattering classes about what a racist society they live in.* They watch the mobs assault historical monuments, benignly regarded for hundreds of years, now proclaimed “racist.” Speech that does not conform to the standards set by self-proclaimed victims of racial discrimination and oppression is proscribed as “hate speech,” and harassment and banishment meted out to the transgressors. Whiteness and white-privilege are officially the marks of moral turpitude and require the bearers to undergo confessional “struggle sessions” reminiscent of the Mao’s Red Guard in action during the Cultural Revolution.
Racism, Obama revealed to us late in his Presidency, is “still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it.” This was not good news, at least for some of us “folks.” Translated into practical-political terms this means that racists are here for the duration, enemies, you might say, of a permanent nature. What punishment might be in store for them is a matter of grim speculation. Obama’s metaphor of the “cure,” clearly, is a euphemism that barely conceals the growing hostility and resentment for the heritage and traditions of white European America and the determination to erase them.
There was no push back on Obama’s “diagnosis” from any notable within our culture-shaping institutions. Indeed, this seems to be the received, state-enforced wisdom, the foundation of the ruling orthodoxy, and so once again Kotkin’s text on Stalin’s last-century terror-state bears out a certain resemblance to the descent of 21st-century American politics into a soft dictatorship. We now, as did the Russians in the 1930s, face the “proscription of any deviating values, supported by threats and acts of repression.” The dictatorship we live under today has no mustachiod, grey tunic-wearing party General Secretary who personally sets the standards for “correct” thinking enforced by an elaborate apparatus of state-terror. The proscription and repression for us are of a different more insidious, sophisticated order. Instead, we have a hoard of mini-Stalins (race-careerists, political opportunists, left-wing globalists, and professional Neoliberal moralizers) throughout the land sniffing into every corner of American society for any scent of racism. The American-Stalinist orthodoxy is the judgment that racism, the defining core of American history, dominates every aspect of its social order. Redemption comes only by remaking America into a multicultural rainbow that reflects the diversity of the planet. This is not a debatable proposition: to raise questions or doubts is a high-risk enterprise. Your career can be destroyed, like Nobel prize-winning geneticist, James Watson, was for publishing research on race and IQ. You cannot speak and may be assaulted on a university campus if your views on race-related matters do not meet official approval, Charles Murray, and his faculty escort, for example, at Middlebury College last year. Professional advancement, academic respectability, social approval and mobility, all rest heavily on conformity to the affirmations of the fixed faith.
In government, the mini-Stalins busy themselves opening the borders to millions of third world people and denouncing as “racist” Americans who resent not only the financial and social burdens they impose but also fear the loss of their culture and heritage. The journalists and media advocacy-functionaries, perform Pravda-like, rewarded for their fawning with access to corridors of power. From the corrupt, dissolute entertainment industry, we are subjected to productions of obscenity-laced nihilism and a steady barrage of barely disguised works of left-wing agitprop. Little-Stalins infest the workplace as sensitivity enforcers policing such things as the use of gender pronouns, searching for micro-aggressions, expanding the world of victims whose feelings require constant protection from the bigots who fail to grasp the imperatives of diversity and inclusion.
In this dictatorship that the overlords continue, laughingly, to call “our democracy,” we – white, European, Christian Americans – are the enemy, the permanent enemy. Apologies for slavery and racism and copious confessions of white privilege will not change that. Reparations will not change that. Diversity indoctrination, sensitivity training and absorbing more lectures on tolerance will not make us less toxic. Reverence and worship of Martin Luther King and attendance at MLK prayer breakfasts will make no difference, will impress no one and will not diminish the hostility and rancor held against us. Nothing we say or do will make “whiteness” other than a permanent moral stain. The first practical order is to stop pretending otherwise and collaborating with the engineers of our destruction. What comes next should be obvious.