Our Authoritarian Moment
In The Authoritarian Moment, Ben Shapiro warns of the rise of censorship, voter fraud, fake news, and other leftist tactics for seizing control. According to Shapiro, these authoritarian abuses have been especially prevalent since the start of Obama's second term, because it was in his second presidential campaign that Obama made the fateful decision to radicalize the Democrat party and tie its future to a coalition of so-called marginalized or minority groups.
Shapiro prefers the term "authoritarian," but he might just as well have used totalitarian, dictatorial, fascist, Stalinist, or any number of other terms. It is clear that something very disturbing is afoot in America that we have not seen in the past, and that the progressive left, intent on exercising and holding on to power, is behind it.
It is also clear from Shapiro's analysis that progressives are the enemies of ordinary Americans and that progressive values are opposed in every way to the thinking of decent, hardworking Americans who love family, country, and God. These decent citizens are hated by the left simply because they are decent and refuse to participate in the anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and anti-white woke culture.
Unfortunately, progressives have had the advantage. They are fervent, almost religious (or pseudo-religious) in their commitment to change. They comprise a small, cohesive group similar to the Bolsheviks in revolutionary Russia, and, like those revolutionaries, they believe that the righteousness of their cause justifies any sort of behavior ("by any means necessary," as they say). And, because they despise Middle America and its citizenry, they are motivated by the strongest of emotions: hate.
Nothing like this can be said of ordinary Americans, who still believe in fair play and following the law, and that is why so many key institutions have fallen into the hands of progressives, including government, corporations, education, the federal bureaucracy (including elements within the FBI and IRS), entertainment and sports, and even the church. As Shapiro has it, ordinary Americans are not focused on the culture war to begin with, and when they are, they are too polite to object. They lack the fanaticism and ruthlessness of the left, and so the left has been winning.
Unfortunately, a lot of well-meaning conservatives fall into this "too polite" category. A lot of us have believed for too long that totalitarianism could never happen in America. We believed that our constitutional guarantees and system of checks and balances would keep us safe. We like to think Antifa and Black Lives Matter are simply fringe groups that will have their day and disappear, that the left's takeover of government is temporary, and that the midterm elections will restore constitutional government. The problem is that, after eight years of Obama and a year of Biden, authoritarianism has become deeply rooted.
Now we are threatened with attempts by the left to seize permanent power through federal control of voting, executive orders, and a massive expansion of federal spending. Senators Manchin and Sinema may have blocked Build Back Better for the time being, but, even with the likelihood of a GOP victory in the fall, Democrats have another nine months and a lame-duck Congress in which to have their way. And we're stuck for another three years with a leftist president whose grasp of reality is questionable but who seems to be in the hands of radical handlers.
What the left has in mind is chilling, for it would transform America into an authoritarian nation similar to communist China, theocratic Iran, and oligarchic Russia. Like these dictatorships, America would then be governed by a permanent ruling class with no regard for our Constitution or our traditions of liberty and democracy. We would live under the tyranny of one-party rule, bureaucratic abuses, ideological censorship, fraudulent elections, show trials, and political prosecutions, aspects of the totalitarian state that are already too familiar.
Ben Shapiro, in his books and popular podcasts, is doing a service by exposing the breadth of these abuses and the dangers that lie ahead. It's clear that he loves America and is dedicated to trying to save it. But the forces of authoritarianism are powerful, well funded, and influential, and it's far from certain that conservatives will prevail.
The November elections will be a good start, but even with Republicans in control of Congress, that leaves Biden in the White House for another two years, and it leaves an anonymous bureaucracy, most of it left-leaning, in control of nearly all of our government agencies and departments. And it leaves radicals in charge of our schools and colleges, cowardly CEOs too frightened to oppose the extortion of radical leaders, and even scientists too afraid to speak out on matters like climate change and biological sex differences. It leaves us with a mainstream media establishment still in the hands of mindless leftists spewing the party line on everything from national defense to abortion to so-called gay rights. It leaves mayors, judges, state legislatures, governors, and bureaucracies at the state and local levels still in the hands of the left. And all of this progressive leviathan is intent on transforming America into what amounts to a fascist state.
Just to have a chance, we must constantly oppose authoritarianism through legal and peaceful means, through voting and political organization, and through writing and speaking out, and we must be a little less polite in our resistance. If we fail, this really will be "the authoritarian moment" — or, more to the point, the establishment of a totalitarian communist state in America.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image via Picryl.