Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler shares that ‘the foundation of totalitarianism is an ideology made of lies and it requires the masses to be too afraid to speak the truth’
Even though the air filtration system on airplanes is such that it is virtually impossible to catch COVID while flying, it has become more acceptable to live by a lie. Even though women bear children, and men have athletic advantages, it has become more acceptable to live by lies. Even though young children have statistically zero chance of dying from COVID, it was more acceptable to muzzle them with masks for years and live by a lie. Even though being obese is proven to be unhealthy, it is more acceptable to shout body positivity and live by lies. Even though Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter is poised to offer a lifeline to free speech, it is more acceptable to repeat the idea that this would undermine democracy and continue to live by lies.
In the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s final message to the Russian people in 1974 before he was exiled, he said, “If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining we are being suffocated. We are doing this to ourselves. If we bow down even further and wait longer, our brothers the biologists may then help to bring the day when our thoughts can be read and our genes restructured. If we are too frightened to do anything, then we are hopeless and worthless people.”.
I recently read a book by Rod Dreher with the same title as Solzhenitsyn’s message. For me it will become my battle cry as I decide every day to “Live Not By Lies.” It was eye opening, informative, and explained well what we have been experiencing, through the lens of history. Dreher suggests, ”too many of us are sleeping through the erosion of our freedoms, assuming totalitarianism can’t happen in America.” The book dives into the rise of Soviet and European totalitarianism, through the eyes and experiences of those who lived it. And the correlation to what we are witnessing as a nation and a world today really is bone chilling.
The first excerpt I want to highlight reads as follows: “What unnerves those who lived under Soviet communism is this similarity: Elites and elite institutions are abandoning old-fashioned liberalism, based in defending the rights of the individual, and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups – ethnic, sexual, and otherwise – and to think of Good and Evil as a matter of power dynamics among the groups.”
Obviously, this is exactly what is evolving today through the incessant categorizing and demonizing of those in particular “perceived” groups. One is largely unable to stand alone in one’s beliefs, and instead is only seen as a member of this group or that group, unable to possess qualities outside of the group’s stereotype or norm. Certain groups intrinsically hold certain attributes, while other groups inherently hold others. This technique creates broad division between groups of people, and brilliantly encourages infighting among the masses. And then while the fools are distracted defending all of the lies, the powerful advance in power.
In the book, I was struck by the recollection of one Czechoslovakian émigré who grew up in a society that looked over their shoulder before they spoke in hushed tones for fear of their unpopular ideas being discovered. I, myself, have done this too many times to count. I’m sure I’m not alone. In a healthy and civil democracy, there should be no fear in speaking your mind and heart. There should be no ousting of position, or ruining of reputation, no matter what viewpoint one holds. There should be no cancel culture. Today, dissenters of the one prevailing, accepted viewpoint du jour, are shamed and banished.
In Dreher’s pages, one Soviet-born émigré who teaches in the US stresses the urgency of Americans taking people like her seriously. She stated that, “You will not be able to predict what will be held against you tomorrow. You have no idea what completely normal thing you do today, or say today, will be used against you to destroy you. This is what people in the Soviet Union saw. We know how this works.”
You would have to be hiding under a rock to not see that this is exactly how the game is being played today in America and beyond. Hannah Arendt, a foremost scholar of totalitarianism, describes truth as being whatever the rulers decide it is. We are seeing this in real time every single day between the ever-changing forced ideas regarding gender, race, climate, COVID and more. There is an “accepted by the elite” ideology that is unable to be questioned. Since when is truth unable to withstand trial by fire? Since the birth of soft totalitarianism, that’s when.
The rise of Soviet totalitarianism could not have happened without the simultaneous rise of propaganda. The definition of propaganda includes, “information used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” No one can deny that the main-stream media today is chock full of propaganda. Every issue is reported upon through a political lens. And huge media conglomerates are sold out to special interests, and political agendas. In my opinion, this is the most dangerous aspect of existence today. The crush of the pact between big tech, media, education, and Hollywood should frighten every citizen, no matter what one’s individual views are. Even if you smugly believe that your ideology is winning at this moment, the power and corruption and censorship it takes to create and sustain this army will come for you at some point down the road. No one will be safe. And by then it will be way past the time to save our country.
I had a relative recently apply for a government position, and one of the requirements in the application process was to give access to all of his social media activity past and present, including all internet search history. I knew this was already happening to an informal extent, but what in actual communism is this? Some new bits of information simply take the breath out of my chest. We are being introduced to the concept of thought crimes, and this is one way of eliminating dissenters from the employment pool.
Arendt teaches that the politicization of everything is a warning sign that a society is ripening for totalitarianism. This is 100 percent where we stand today. Most unfortunately, we have been led in a direction where it is difficult to be close friends with those of opposing political views. I am thankful every day that I grew up in a simpler, more reasonable time where common sense prevailed among all. Today, we have been involuntarily placed in ideological camps and encouraged to hate one another. But virtuous hate is an oxymoron. It is impossible. As long as our education system no longer teaches critical thinking, but instead opts for teaching pupils what to think, we will only deepen the trenches that exist. And the tragic joke will be on us all in the end if we do not recognize the urgency to wake up.
Dreher explains that we are currently in a post-Christian age. According to a Pew Research study, in the late 1970’s, 90 percent of American adults identified as Christian. In 2019 that percentage dropped to 65 percent. According to this explanation, a common thread in post-Christian culture is the assumption of Christian values without respect for Christian contributions. Today, there is widespread acceptance of Christian values and fruits of the spirit such as goodness, love, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and self-control, but the actual Christian roots for these godly characteristics are getting lost. Eventually a post-Christian society moves from this assumption of Christian values to ignoring them, resenting them, to repressing them, and eventually to persecuting them. America is somewhere in this process as we speak. In fact, Air Force master sergeant Vincent White is currently on the brink of a trial by court-martial in what his lawyer describes as the “targeted discrimination” of conservative Christians in the military. And we have already witnessed the purge of Christians from the workforce under the guise of vaccine non-compliance.
The need for a higher calling and purpose to one’s life is placed in us by our creator. And when there is a hole where God is meant to be, that void is getting filled with what we see today in progressivism. The religion of progressivism. In this religion who decides what is true and what is false? Those who hold power. Dreher writes that in totalitarian history as well as today, the value of truth claims depends on who is making them. This is the absolute spot on lunacy we see today.
The term totalitarianism was first used by supporters of fascist dictator Bernito Mussolini, who defined totalitarianism concisely: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” That is to say, totalitarianism is a state in which nothing can be permitted to exist that contradicts a society’s ruling.
This passage in the book made me think of the Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S Homeland, released by the Department of Homeland Security in February 2022. In part it states that The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors, and continues on describing the heightened threat landscape as… the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions…”
Our own government is telling us that we are terrorists if we undermine public trust in the government. This is simply horrifying. If this doesn’t send a shiver down every single citizen’s spine, then this alone confirms that the propaganda is so thick, most are unable to see. A good friend told me recently that when Trump was president she was scared for her life. Her fear is so backward that I barely know where to start. Good is evil, and evil is good.
While I could fill this column with the entire book as it is that important, my main takeaway for myself and for everyone still reading these words, is to value nothing more than the truth. The foundation of totalitarianism is an ideology made of lies and it requires the masses to be too afraid to speak the truth. We must never knowingly support lies, and as Solzhenitsyn so wisely wrote decades ago, “Lies can only survive when attached to a person. Let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!”