The Collectivist Mind Game, Part 2: Demonizing the Opposition
Part 1: Demonizing the Non-Compliant
Most modern-day leftists in Western countries have abandoned the idea of a violent revolution, having replaced it with "the long march through the institutions" as part of the culture war to transform the society through cultural hegemony. Instead of commanding firing squads, they play mind games of manipulative illusions, in which the demonization of dissent plays a crucial role. The basic premise hasn't changed: as much as the statists want you to love them, they want you to hate their opponents even more.
Until a time when political opposition can be eliminated completely, having opponents can still be useful: you can steal their ideas, take advantage of their desire to help the economy, and blame them for any of your own failures. In the meantime, certain rules must be followed to control the public opinion and, through it, the opposition itself.
Maintain the perception of being constantly under attack. Don't examine the opponents' beliefs, nor answer their arguments. Discredit any media channels that offer them a platform. Enforce the following media template: the opposition is evil, treasonous, unfathomable, and psychotic. They can't be reasoned with. They are inspired by fascism and financed by a conspiracy of shady oligarchs. Defame their donors. Whatever the mischief you're planning to pull off, accuse them of doing it first; then proceed as planned, describing your actions as a necessary intervention. And ridicule, ridicule, ridicule!
This is what made it easy for Stalin to purge his opponents: by the time he charged them with treason, the orchestrated media coverage had already made them universally hated. Having purged all of his enemies, Stalin continued to manufacture the evidence of their presence. There came a time when even the true believers were being rounded up and forced to confess publicly about one or another fabricated "crime" against the people and the Party. Some did it to avoid torture, some to save their families, and some even cooperated out of the altruistic desire to support the illusion and keep everyone else's beautiful dream alive. Unfortunately for them, that beautiful dream required human sacrifice.
At the same time, Stalin used the only remaining high-ranking Jew in his government, Lazar Kaganovich, as a perpetual scapegoat. Himself a ruthless henchman who organized a number of purges, Kaganovich ended up serving in the capacity of an unpunishable bumbling idiot, a "token Jew," and a darkly comic relief. Implicitly blamed for one government blunder after another, this Joe Biden of Stalin's regime was moved from ministry to ministry only to be blamed again and reassigned to yet another top-level position. As expected, the people's reaction was a universal loathing and bewilderment: how can Comrade Stalin be so soft and trusting of this evil Jew? Kaganovich outlived them all; he died in 1991, among friends and family, at the age of 97.
Across the ocean, years later, the same rules still apply. The perception of a relentless struggle with the opposition must be permanent and persuasive. Even in the times of calm and prosperity the people must think that the opposition is holding them hostage and only the firm, wise guidance of the People's Leader is saving them from imminent ruin. When the opponents are too few, too weak, and too disoriented to put up a real fight, their power and influence must be exaggerated.
Ever since "crybaby" John Boehner became the GOP House Speaker, the media grotesquely overstated the effectiveness of his fruitless, anemic leadership. Among other things, this patent exaggeration allowed Obama to maintain his saintly image while shifting the responsibility for the staggering economy onto "Republican obstructionism."
The following quotes by "citizen journalists" exemplify the public outrage created by the media template of demonizing the opposition. Unlike the honed professionals who can mask their agenda with superficial objectivity, these amateurs let their emotions run wild without realizing that they are being played. Like children, they connect the preprinted dots and eagerly tell us what they see:
Opposition is anti-American: The Republican leaders have remained consistent with their agenda of obstructing the President clearly putting their party ahead of the American people.
Opposition is racist: How far do you think Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and his cohorts in the House will go in their campaign to defeat America's first black President?
Opposition is grotesquely absurd: The clowns - Boehner and McConnell - ignored the needs of the nation to do what they thought was best for themselves . . . to solidify their positions of power and secure their own political futures by tearing down President Obama and America in the process.
Opposition is deceitful: In their effort to make President Obama look weak, Republicans played a dangerous game with the debt ceiling and in the process threw away America's triple-A credit rating... Those Republican obstructionists really know how to twist the facts to support the anti-Obama political campaign.
Opposition is undemocratic: They have essentially fought to block anything and everything the Democrats have proposed and offered nothing in the way of alternatives. So egregious is their barricade of democracy that they have no defense against charges of deliberate sabotage at the expense of American citizens.
Opposition is mind-boggling: Missing from President Obama's acceptance speech in Charlotte last Thursday is one potent argument: An attack on obstructionist Republicans in Congress. ... It's a mystery because a major reason the economy has not done better under Mr. Obama is that Republicans have blocked virtually every initiative he has proposed, even when the president, especially in the early months of his administration, tailored many of his proposals to attract Republican support.
Opposition is guilty of treason: If an enemy declared war on the American economy, the United States would spare no effort to remove that threat to its prosperity and national security. So it was with Osama Bin Laden... But when the Republican Party threatens ... to sabotage the U.S. economy if its debt ceiling demands are not met, the media instead calls that treason a "debate." ... And that's not politics as usual. That's treason.
Just like painting by numbers doesn't make one an artist, actors or singers who are good at articulating prepared lines don't automatically become articulate thinkers. Being in the business of selling emotions rather than rational arguments, they connect the same old media dots as any other amateur -- but do it with extra flair and aplomb. Extrapolating the lines allows them to see horns on the head of the opposition. Voilà! They can't shut up about such an amazing insight.
Harry Belafonte even went as far as suggest that Obama should "work like a third world dictator and just put all these guys in jail" -- because, obviously, since the Republicans "are violating the American desire," the "only thing left for Barack Obama to do" is to pull a Stalin: praise Barack and jail the opposition.
Even if he said this in jest, Belafonte's call for political repressions is a logical extension of the ideas shared by many celebrities who have been swayed by and are now promoting the leftist cultural hegemony. That includes Woody Allen, who said this in an interview to a Spanish-language magazine: "It would be good... if [President Obama] could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."
This begs a question: if Obama is not a socialist, why do his supporters interpret his reelection as "the American desire" to establish a totalitarian dictatorship -- and think this would be a good thing? So much for "socialism with a human face."
No wonder the "hegemonized" Hollywood filmmakers (starting with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator), can never truthfully depict either the Soviet or Nazi totalitarian regimes. Unable to fathom the motives of their fictional villains, they wind up supplanting the collectivist realities of socialism (be it national socialism or international socialism) with grotesque caricatures of improbable monsters, uncultured brutes, neurotic sociopaths, or sadistic, sexually repressed perverts. It never occurs to them that unspeakable crimes could be committed in the name of "the common good" by very ordinary, altruistic people -- out of an all too familiar desire to "do a lot of good things quickly" through dictatorial powers. Such a notion would be too terrifying, of course, because they might just recognize their own reflection in the mirror.
Though many of them may have seen this quote by C.S. Lewis, it is doubtful that their conditioned minds are capable of grasping its meaning: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive... [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Their young audiences, deprived of adequate education and learning about history and current events from Hollywood movies and TV shows, will not recognize the symptoms of an encroaching totalitarianism either. Upon hearing a dissenter who disparages the benevolent guidance of the state, they will immediately recognize a stereotype that is being relentlessly demonized and dehumanized on their screens: the ignorant, close-minded, right-wing nut job. Chances are they will smugly ridicule him with the jokes they heard from their favorite media personalities. In another generation, they may as well feel morally obligated to report the dissenter to the authorities -- and be thrilled at the chance to partake in the historic mission of crushing the remnants of the evil reactionaries, even if they happen to be their parents.
Today's American intellectuals are retracing the steps of their Soviet predecessors in the early days of the socialist dictatorship. Having had hopes to see the workers' paradise in their lifetime, many came to regret their misguided enthusiasm, as they themselves fell victim to the popular illusions they helped to induce, when a mere slip of a tongue, a drunken remark, or an accusation by someone in the new generation of socialist intellectuals who wanted to take their job, wife, or apartment, led them to be lumped with any of the large assortment of the thoroughly demonized and dehumanized "enemies of the people."
There is only one way to redistribute wealth: human sacrifice, with optional variations of manipulative mind games to ease the pain and maintain control over the population. All those who claimed they can do it differently were doomed, sooner or later, to retrace the same path.
Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, is the author of Shakedown Socialism, of which David Horowitz said, "I hope everyone reads this book." In 1994 he moved to the U.S. with the hope of living in a country ruled by reason and common sense, appreciative of its freedoms and prosperity. To his dismay, he discovered a nation deeply infected by the leftist disease of "progressivism" that was arresting true societal progress. American movies, TV, and news media reminded him of his former occupation as a visual propaganda artist for the Communist Party -- a job he reluctantly held, as he knew that no intelligent person would take such art-by-numbers agitprop seriously. Oleg is the creator of a satirical website ThePeoplesCube.com, which Rush Limbaugh described on his show as "a Stalinist version of The Onion." His graphic work frequently appears in the American Thinker.