The US is Already Worse than the USSR:
A Reponse to Spencer Quinn
I would like to take a moment to briefly respond to Spencer Quinn’s excellent letter to Terry McAuliffe. In Werner Herzog’s 1977 film Stroszek the protagonist, Bruno S., gives an account of the difference he had experienced between living in a National Socialist-run orphanage and living in America. In the orphanage, if a boy wet the bed he was forced to stand in the sun, holding the sheet until it dried. Occasionally one of the administrators would strike the boy on the back with a riding crop. In contrast, Bruno’s experience in America is that people smile to your face and stab you in the back when you least expect it.
I agree with Quinn’s assessment that we are set in some sort of trajectory towards a Soviet-style society but would like to argue, in the vein of the Stroszek analysis, that our situation is worse. I will grant that the gulags were terrible for particular, contingent reasons, just as our prison systems are terrible for their own particular, contingent reasons. Fortunately, because our legal system is set on surer ground than Russia’s was it seems like the paranoid show trials of the latter are not imminent in the US.
My question then, has less to do with the actual imprisonment of thought criminals, but in how the overall cultures of our two states differ. It seems as if the answer lies in the fact that for the Soviet state there was a de jure prohibition from speaking against the powers of authority. It was illegal to criticize authority figures and doing so led to physical imprisonment. In our present system there is a coalescing on the part of our authorities (both government and corporate) to a de facto punishment of criticism. The certainty of a specific kind of imprisonment is excluded because there is no law governing it, instead, anything could happen to individuals who speak out.
If Charlottesville did anything, it cemented the fact that the Alt Right, at its core, is a critique of authority. Hence, the only people who will be subject to the myriad scope of punishment meted out by the system of authority will be members of the Alt Right. Right now the “anything” mentioned above is limited to: doxxing, lawsuits, harassment, defunding, and deplatforming. If Quinn’s analysis is prescient it will also lead to a more formal de jure precedent in which members of the movement will actually be imprisoned.
I cannot say whether or not this transition will reach completion. However, there are a few points to be made here. First, the system of authority is pushing the meme that “hate speech is not free speech” and in this respect is pushing for the punishments it hands out to fall under the de jure classification. Second, historically maybe the Soviet Union wasn’t as bad as the state we’re headed for simply because there was an inherent honesty attendant to its operation. The Soviets did not have hyper-consumerism and therefore implemented a dull conformity that individuals could identify as being an explicit feature of the oppressive system. Furthermore, this system was imposed upon an ethnically and culturally homogeneous people.
Multiculturalism and hyper-consumerism as they are being employed in the United States is explicit but its effects are nebulous. Even a de jure prohibition on free speech will not wake up the majority of US citizens, who are a heterogeneous lot, to the fact that their existence is just as bland and unfulfilling as their Soviet counterparts was.
This point was addressed by Michael O’Meara in his book Toward the White Republic:
Born of a less happy, but more bona fide nation, Soviet Russians put greater emphasis on individual achievement and recognition than on economic success. Money and materialist designations didn’t play quite the same role in their lives as they do in the US, for their primary needs – work, housing, basic services – were essentially provided by their collectivized economy and the lifestyle consumption native to the American economy wasn’t an option. When the political system stopped functioning and the formal economy suffered its knockout blow, there simply wasn’t the moral and social devastation that is likely to affect Americans.
One of the tacit premises of O’Meara’s essay on the contrasts between the US and the USSR is that no matter how badly the government of the USSR regulated the economy and the general environment of the Russian people, it did so in a way in which the people were allowed to maintain a sense of cultural identity. The explicit indifference of the state to the plight of the individual created an alienation that would ultimately shield the Russian people as a whole when their system of government collapsed.
This is clearly not the case in the US, where the myth of a state/industry that works cooperatively with its denizens is employed in a manner intent on undermining the identity and subsistence of said denizens. In this light, the primary function of multiculturalism is the prevention of this fundamental kind of unity. This unity and solidarity is not only our right, a right we must fight for if we are to survive the transition into a Soviet state of repression, it is also a duty we are bound to protect by sheer virtue of our awareness of this hostility on the part of the state.
 Michael O’Meara, Toward the White Republic (San Francisco: Counter-Currents Publishing, 2010), p. 132.
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