Or “Why Winston loves Big Brother.”
So the tempest in a teacup in my field right now is that someone very appropriately named has written an article telling people to spend a year reading a specific kind of author. Yes, you read that correctly, a specific kind of author, not book. She is, mind you, generous, and allows you to pick what kind of author you wish to read: racial minority, sexual minority, insanity minority or any other kind of minority you might prefer. What you’re not allowed to read, specifically, are males and white males at that.
For a full window into that controversy, if you feel you must, Larry fisked her very thoroughly and competently.
As usual that’s not quite where I’m going. For one, because though this poor woman has issues and her issues have come home carrying little issues in arms, what is causing the furor and the issues is not, of course, where the problem is, but the reflected image of the problem, the part that we can more easily talk about.
The author, who comes from an affluent background and who shall henceforth be referred to as “Princess Tempest in a Teacup” is the fulcrum of the issue, but not the issue.
But her precious little tantrum, published by the ever obliging Guardian, clicked in my head with something else. The person she’s specifically throwing a tantrum at is a progressive white male author. And people are doing the usual “I wonder if this will open his eyes.” To which my answer was “well, no, it won’t,” which usually is not believed.
However, while discussing the subject, Elizabeth Moon and the semi-organized tantrum that is Wiscon came up. For those not in the know, Moon dared, sometime back, to hint that perhaps feminists should be more concerned with the treatment of women under Islam. This was enough to bring on the full panoply of retaliation from the left: holding their breath, crying, calling her mean and saying they now feel unsafe near her. Oh, who am I kidding? Although that’s what it amounts to, their actual retaliation is far more vicious and involves blackening her character and calling her the equivalent of a Nazi.
Back then too the writers to the right of Stalin (which is what my side amounts to) thought “maybe this will open her eyes.” It didn’t. Not only did it not cause her to question any of their other positions and behaviors, as soon as they were done yelling at her, she crawled back into the safety of their embrace. She did this because she has too much invested in her identity as a woman of the left, and in her leftism as a positional good. Whether she’s also convinced herself that they were right to beat her is something I can’t answer since we’re not exactly buddies.
The person I was discussing this with – one of them – is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. When explaining what had happened I said “you know the drill” and she answered with “I know it, I just thought I’d left it far behind.”
Which made it click for me that yes, this is the equivalent of when – in a communist state – a high functionary or bureaucrat would get rebuked for some minor act of deviationism, and immediately crawl back into the embrace of the party as soon as the beatings stopped.
This in turn made me think of this quote:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. — Theodore Dalrymple
Forget emasculated. It becomes a society of neurotic liars, because in communist societies, and in our own left, the “gospel” keeps changing. As new events emerge, they change the story to fit, or even they change it because they can.
As commenter Synova put it at Mad Genius Club sometime back, it’s the equivalent of crossing a floor composed of identical squares, and suddenly, out of nowhere, you get hit, and get told it’s because you stepped on that square. Yes, that one there. And you should have known better. And your only salvation, the only way to make the beating stop is to admit you did wrong and stepped on that wrong square, even though it’s indistinguishable from all others.
Reason will not avail you. There is no reason to look at Princess Tempest Teacup and feel guilty. She was raised in an affluent family and, like many poor little rich girls, has been trying to make up a different story for herself ever since. She also exaggerates her “minority racial characteristics” in photos, which is neither here nor there except in terms of neurosis. One has reasons to feel sorry for her – and enough. I watched her before she blocked me on Facebook for telling her she was fracking nuts, attacking a poster simply because he wore a hat in his picture. That was it. She built an entire identity for him based on wearing a hat – and also vaguely repulsed, because she’s trying to ride her non existent victimhood pony to glory. But one has no reason to feel guilty of her treatment as a “minority.” Unless the guilt is over the fact that we allow people to claim non-existent and counterfactual oppression and enable them with benes and appeasement.
However, if you’re on the left you can’t say that. You can’t say “Oh, for heaven’s sake, woman, put a sock on it. In the scale of people who have ‘suffered’ for circumstances not of their making you come way behind most white people in Appalachia and for that matter 90% of the colleagues in our field, regardless of color or orientation including but not limited to everyone who works for a living.”
You can’t say it even though it’s patently obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.
Instead, you have to parrot the obvious and in your face falsehood that these people screaming victimhood — for the most part white, for the most part from affluent backgrounds; for the most part women; for the most part academics; for the most part rewarded all out of proportion because they espouse the correct “progressive” line – are suffering under the boot an oppression and being mistreated and held down.
The very thought is enough to make your eyes roll so hard they escape your head and are batted around by cats on the floor.
To anyone – and I had it relatively easy, since though I came from a poor place my family made do well enough and I never went without anything essential. (Okay, fine, clothes that fit during growth spurts but in a scale of victimhood that’s “hangnail” level pain.) And my greatest struggle was adapting to a new language/culture and breaking in without any contacts in the field – who actually has had to struggle to get where they want, the “victimhood” of “but he looked at me funny because I have a vagina” or “because I can sort of tan” fails to impress. (For instance, Princess Tempest quit a corporate job to attend Clarion. I was invited, and at one time offered a scholarship to attend Clarion, but even with the “tuition” paid for, I couldn’t afford the travel or the time because I had small children and responsibilities. And no, not repining. I think in many ways it was a good thing I did not attend. On the other hand, the fact she could do this without a second thought but thinks she’s “underprivileged” and “oppressed” is laugh-out-loud funny.)
But it is exactly because it is risible that this big lie has power. It empowers people who actually already have a lot of power since their kind controls the traditional gateways of publishing either by taking them over or by being able to scare those who do with screams of victimhood. It turns the world on its head by pretending that being leftist is a liability instead of the keys to the corridors of power in the arts and literature. And it requires you go along with it on pain of becoming an object of hate.
And most people go along with it, particularly if it’s the first time they’ve been outside the group and been accused of all-out-of proportion evil for their minor thought crime.
Once they’ve done that, once they’ve parroted the lie while being aware it’s a lie, they’re owned. Not only their credibility but their self respect is gone, and their only hope is to hide their shame by standing with the people who hold the positional good of the “politically correct” position.
This is why they crawl back and often become the loudest voices defending things like the idea that books have value because of who wrote them, not what is between the covers. Or the idea that separate is really better than equal, and “minorities” need “safe rooms” where they can avoid the horrible fear someone will look at them wrong or even questioningly. Both of these are on the face of it evil and stupid ideas. Both are required to be in good standing with the establishment that – surreally – gives out the accolade of “speaking truth to power” for speaking exactly what the power wants to hear.
Once you’ve been to room 101 and repeated back patent untruths, you have to tell yourself they’re the truth, or you can’t go on looking at yourself in the mirror.
And the only cure – the only cure – is to keep telling the truth and shaming the devil the progressives. Because that’s the only way back from being forced to tell lies for us as individuals, the only way back to self-respect for us as thinking creatures, and possibly the only way back from the abyss for our civilization.
You see, to navigate reality you must see it. If you’re collectively enveloped in a fog of lies, you end up doing things like fighting imaginary problems like inequality, while real problems like corruption and economic stagnation goes ignored.
And that ends up with everyone equally eating out of the same dumpster, while a boot holds them down forever.
Keep struggling to see the truth as it really is. And keep telling it, no matter how many attempts are made to silence you and shame you.
Believe your lying eyes over what they’re telling you.
And in reference to the idiotic tempest in a teacup – read whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. And neither are the progressives who compose the establishment.
If you need to atone or be saved do so in the safe confines of religion. Politics is not an instrument of salvation, and you’re not required to wear sackcloth and ashes in front of anyone just because they shriek.
Set yourself free.