Are We Headed into Year Zero?
In TV's The Man in the High Castle, which presents an alternative 1963 America occupied by victorious Axis powers, Nicole Dormer, the Lebensborn siren dispatched to Nazi America to shoot propaganda films à la Leni Riefenstahl, announces to minister of propaganda Billy Turner the project name for Goebbels's latest idea:
Nicole: Jahr Null. Year Zero. An experiment. A reset. A new America.
Billy: What's the angle?
N: Deprive people of their national consciousness. Dilute their national pride. Do not teach their history.
B.: So the Reichsfuhrer wants to erase American history.
N.: They don't have that much of it anyway.
B. When do we start?
It's just a TV show. But then you change the channel and see the news. Back in our world, Year Zero's been in progress for decades.
Describing the fallout from Stanford University's decision 30 years ago to banish Western civ, Stanley Kurtz has produced an in-depth report outlining how the goal of "[a]cademic history as currently written and taught ... is to undermine the public's sense of national or civilizational identity. With nothing left to kill or die for, the world will presumably 'live as one.'"
David Randall at RealClearEducation remarks on the report's stark conclusions that abandoning the study of Western civilization "was the erasure of a body of knowledge that constituted the American identity. To remove Western Civ was a body-blow against America's civilizational memory — brain damage deliberately inflicted[.] ... This brain damage makes it possible for Americans to be molded by woke tyranny's euphemisms of social justice, multiculturalism, and global citizenship."
For reasons we've hardly had a chance to sort out yet, the murder of George Floyd by a police officer turned America's steep downhill skid toward national amnesia into a precipitous free fall. "The speed with which protests over the murder of George Floyd morphed into a war on the past has been staggering," observes Brendan O'Neill at sp!ked. The BLM/Antifa Cultural Revolution he describes in the U.K. sounds not at all different from ours:
Statues are being tumbled, past art erased, people cancelled. Wide-eyed Woke Guards, heirs to Maoist-style intolerance, are compiling lists of monuments to target and individuals to humiliate. They are remorseless. Nothing old that runs counter to their newthink can be tolerated. Tear it all down.
Whether it's Maoist, Stalinist, or fascist, there's no real difference in tactics if the prize is totalitarian control. German economics professor Antony Mueller compared the ideologies and shows that Antifa "call themselves 'anti-fascist', when, in fact, more than any other ideology, fascism characterizes their own movement." Both the communists and the Nazis wanted a socialized society, both were atheist, both anti-capitalist, and both justified violence. Both are anti-Semitic, and so are Antifa and BLM. In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, they vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned business. In LA, "[a] statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis, was smeared with anti-Semitic slogans."
But it was a Nazi idea to reorder the entirety of law and society on a foundation of crackpot racial theories, weaponizing the law to no longer "apply long-held principles of fairness and justice, but to root out the enemies of the state and to express the true racial feeling of the people."
Brendan O'Neill recognizes the racialist component behind the recent unruly demonstrations, the toppling of statues and defacement of monuments, and the widespread declarations that all decent human beings support Black Lives Matter. "Let's be clear about what is happening here," O'Neill warns: "this is an effort to establish racial collective guilt for the murderous suffocation of George Floyd." He goes on:
There are two problems with this approach. The first is that collective guilt on the basis of racial origin is always a wicked ideology to pursue. Whether it's Jews being held collectively guilty of the alleged excesses of "rich Jews" or blacks being collectively punished for the offences of individual black people, such racial extrapolation always leads to prejudice and suffering. There is a twisted irony in the fact that so many commentators and activists who pose as anti-racist are promoting the ideology of collective racial guilt in response to the killing of George Floyd.
Antifa and BLM may both have sprung from Marxist roots, but the core issue for true Reds is class, not race. Yet modern progressives are all but incapable of uniting on any issue but race. Their rejection of a shared history and murderous hatred of Western civilization have, as Kurtz writes, "backed us into a corner in which inflated accusations of racism, bigotry, and genocide are virtually the only remaining sources of collective purpose." Through their influence, "omni-directional accusations of racism and bigotry ... seem to have swallowed not only today's college students but American politics as a whole."
America's progressive minority wield a disproportionate amount of influence in no small part because they hold majority control of public schools and universities, the entertainment industry, journalism, and social media. To that they've added effective control of the Democrat Party platform. The result is that, while they don't represent the majority of Americans, they still understand themselves as occupying the mainstream viewpoint. Joe Biden estimates the number of "not very good people" at only 15%, while at Vox, David Roberts assumes that a demographic majority of Americans share his progressive religion. His colleague Ezra Klein thinks holdouts with contrary views are only a small minority whose opinions inhabit "a sphere of deviance in which a view is considered universally repugnant, and ... need not be entertained." Senator Tom Cotton's op-ed in the New York Times, in which he advocates military intervention to quell uncontrollable mob violence, is an example of what Klein considers a "deviant" opinion, and he joins the leftist throng shaming the Times for stooping to run it. David Roberts agrees that responsible media should be censoring unenlightened ideas, because it's the media's job to defend America's values. Away with journalism that looks at both sides, or op-eds that argue opposing viewpoints; there's too much risk that the none too bright proletariat will be lured into wrongthink. He scorns "'both sides' journalism [for] presenting racist authoritarianism as a legitimate political stance." Elite media's guiding principle, as summed up by Stanley Kurtz: "Fascists don't get rights."
Even if Roberts thinks most Americans share his hatred for Trump, he also thinks they're too dumb to be trusted with unfiltered information. "The American public, by and large ... do not understand that right-wing authoritarianism is perilously close to toppling US democracy because they are not able to pick that signal out of the noise of daily 'balanced' news coverage[.]"
Progressives well deserve the charge of projecting their own worst faults on their opponents. Roberts uses the word "authoritarian" 13 times in one article to slander Trump and his supporters, even as he advocates for a journalistic standard of absolute ideological conformity, lest the masses are enticed to a political stance that is not "legitimate."
At this moment, we're watching the left's increasingly bold use of its most powerful weapons — control of mainstream news outlets, education, and social media to indoctrinate adherents and silence conservatives, the blitzkrieg of cancel culture to enforce orthodoxy and terrify doubters — to supercharge the "deliberately inflicted" erasure of "America's civilizational memory" that David Randall warns of.
There are now millions of young adults, increasing numbers of them taking positions of influence, "whose faith in their country has been systematically destroyed throughout their lives by the education and media establishment." John Hayward at Breitbart describes an intentional deployment of ideological subversion at work — KGB-inspired — known as "demoralization," another word for which is "guilt." "Guilt is the most powerful force in left-wing politics and academia," Hayward goes on to say. "People will not accept the radical expansion of punitive government power unless they feel guilty and deserving of punishment." (Italics mine.) National pride is at a record low.
The proof that we're drawing nearer to that expansion of tyrannous power is in the daily rounds of public confessions we're forced to endure, the apologies and fealty sworn to BLM by everyone from Hollywood actors to Chick-fil-A, and the refusal of elected officials to protect their cities and states from mob violence and occupation. And the Democrat Party — a party that could control the government soon, or at least in the near future — is unanimous in its adulation of vandals, cop-haters, and organized revolutionaries who promise they'll eliminate law enforcement, "disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family," and undo America.
Progressive influence shows no sign of weakening.
If a new Joseph Goebbels tried Year Zero on us, could it look very different?
T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.