Trading Places

Normally I wouldn’t post a long piece from another writer on my own site, as their thoughts should result in site views for them, not me. But this passage from Eugene Volokh, which I found via Moldbug, illustrates perfectly a point I’ve been making for years:

“I remember very little about my childhood in the Soviet Union; I was only seven when I left. But one memory I have is being on a bus with one of my parents, and asking something about a conversation we had had at home, in which Stalin and possibly Lenin were mentioned as examples of dictators. My parent took me off the bus at the next stop, even though it wasn’t the place we were originally going.

Perhaps I have some of the details wrong (was it just Stalin, or also Lenin?); childhood memories remembered 35 years later are like that. I’m telling this to explain why I feel so strongly about it, based on my memories; my personal account does not affect the soundness (or unsoundness) of my arguments. But my sense from all I’ve heard is that this is exactly how life was like there, and that no-one who lived there in the 1970s would think the scenario at all improbable.

What’s more, this is so even though most people, including most Communists, knew that Stalin was of course a dictator. The government itself had acknowledged as much. Even Lenin was widely understood to have been a dictator in the sense of someone who didn’t govern through democratic means.

But it’s not the sort of thing that you’d want to say in public, or even to your friends in private. Sssh! — people might hear! Those who hear might draw deeper inferences about what else you might believe. This might get back to the place you work. You might be fired, or blacklisted. By the 1970s, you probably didn’t have to worry much about being shot, or being sent to Siberia; these were not the 1930s. But lost jobs, ruined careers — sure. And a forced public apology: well, of course, that might help a bit.”

Consider that, dear reader, and tell me how it is any functionally different at all from the situation in the “free” West in the modern day? From this, or this, or this, or this? Or from innumerable other examples, all in the same mold? Here we see that the left is all fundamentally the same, and that wherever they take power, we can expect, to a somewhat greater or lesser degree, the same basic outcomes. As soon as they feel that their position is secure, all pretense of regard for freedom of speech or expression or conscience is shed. And so we arrive where we are now – with everyone knowing whom they are not allowed to offend or criticize. No, in America in 2013, you don’t have to worry about being shot or being sent to prison; but neither did one have to worry about that in the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union – a nation which operated under a system that we once said we’d obliterate the planet and annihilate the human race in a nuclear apocalypse sooner than live under.

And so we now see the truth: that in every way important to an average citizen other than perhaps the ability to produce consumer products*, the United States and the Soviet Union of the Brezhnev era have switched places. While Russia gradually recovers, re-Christianizes, drives out Cultural Marxism, and adopts rational foreign and trade policies, the United States  becomes, with every day that passes, more the image of the USSR from Volokh’s childhood memories.

We have met the enemy, and we have become him**.

(*No, present-day Americans don’t even really have that much more economic freedom than Brezhnev-era Soviets. Not in an age where the government can and does tell business owners who they must or may not voluntarily do business with, who they must or may not hire, what they must and may not compensate their employees with, and now, finally, what those employees must or cannot purchase with their paychecks. And those are just a few of the most egregious edicts – there are many more. If the government does not technically own the means of production, one could be forgiven for finding it hard to tell the difference.)

(**Yes, I agree with Moldbug that America has always been a “small-c” communist country. More on that soon. But the point is that it wasn’t nearly this bad not long ago… not even close.)