The American system of government has been described as a “great experiment,” given how radically different it was from how the world operated at time of its inception. It was a huge success and inspired many imitators.

That was a couple hundred years ago.

Since then, we’ve witnessed another ‘great experiment,’ that of socialism. It sounded great, it inspired the intelligentsia and flourished in erudite circles. It appeared in numerous incarnations: Soviet Socialism, National Socialism, Fascism, Communism, and various other melanges and permutations. It was a spectacular failure that killed over a hundred million (and by some counts twice that many) and impoverished billions.

That failure didn’t surprise everyone. The inspiration for the name of this blog, George Orwell, warned us well before that horrific body count became known. But, even Orwell didn’t foresee it all.

Orwell, along with many others, warned us of the perils of totalitarian government, of unchecked State power, of Big Brother who saw and took note of everything. While he did present to us the “sheep,” the masses who dutifully bleated what they were told in order to drown out dissent, the sheep were guided by those in charge.

Today, we don’t need anyone in charge for the totalitarian demands of fealty to the cause to be enforced.

One of the great joys of social media is the opportunity it offers to ‘meet’ and befriend new and interesting people who you’d never even cross paths with in RL. I have a “home” on Facebook, a closed group of 150 or so people, mostly conservative, with a sprinkling of libertarians and libertarian-ish sorts. One friend from the group shared a tidbit. Because my friend has refused to participate in any public protest relating to George Floyd and Black Lives matter, a couple real-life friends declared that they needed to take a break from the friendship.

They were described by my friend as “lefty.” Not much of a surprise, that.

Here’s the kicker.

They are white (one man, one woman).

My friend is a black woman.

It was a mere two weeks ago that I blogged about Twitter’s apparatchiks, who relentlessly hunt down and “cancel” those who dare put forth an opinion that doesn’t conform. Or, who don’t clap hard enough when that conforming opinion is voiced. Or who simply choose not to participate.

Corporations and businesses, large and small, are issuing statements of solidarity with the current “moment.” Ditto for other institutions, including universities. While many are doing so merely because it’s smart business sense, others are doing so against their instincts because of public pressure.

And here, we have friends engaging in the modern version of tribal expulsion of someone who is of the demographic whose oppression they are protesting! Someone who lifted herself out of poverty and homelessness, someone who they should be proud to support, even in contrary opinions (she leans conservative). Instead, they are “punishing” her for not bending to their will and whim (scare quotes for “punishing” because, honestly, a rational and thoughtful person is better off without such ‘friends’).

The hypocrisy is stunning. The blind self-importance is nauseating. This wouldn’t be a big deal if that’s all it were, if it was just some people being assholes. Their suspension of friendship would be their loss, and a telltale that they don’t deserve my friend’s friendship. As I recently read somewhere, woke without cancel culture would be just fine.

But, we bear daily witness to “canceling” of, well, anything and anyone unfortunate enough to be noticed. And, we’ve crossed a line from being cancelled for saying the wrong things to being cancelled for not saying the right things with sufficient fervor. We are now told that “white silence is violence.” We’ve progressed from groveling apology for uttering an un-woke phrase, context and intent be damned, to groveling apology merely for not speaking promptly and loudly enough.

None of what we are seeing today, by the way, involves, requires, or is born of government. Orwell figured that his fellow humans would be oppressed by those who sought and gained formal power, who became part of a totalitarian machine. Government today is being reactive rather than proactive, in its actions. Our progressive politicians are tyrants-by-proxy, acting as the woke-mob demands rather than simply feeding their own lust for power.

That woke-mob’s slate of demands is voracious and endless. Many within the mob are well-intentioned, and some of their demands are reasonable and worthwhile. Many of the confederate statues and monuments in public squares, for example, were not raised in praise of patriotic heroes after the Civil War, but rather in the early 1900s as a “message” to blacks. They should go. To museums, not to the scrap heap (I don’t need to quote Santayana here, do I?). But, it wouldn’t end there, even if there was total concurrence. Statues of Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, and countless other major historical figures are being vandalized and destroyed. Not with concurrence of the governments that maintain them, but by mobs that don’t care about debating the validity of those commemorations. Spineless politicians and a press corps that has totally abandoned any sense of ethic are condoning or apologizing to those vandals.

The wake of the George Floyd shooting has not resulted in calls for reforms that would reduce the chances of more such incidents. Instead, we hear “defund the police,” whether partially or wholly, from people who concurrently demand their movement get control of that money. Rather than singling out the bad cops and making it easier to excise them, all policing is under attack. That crime is on the rise seems of no concern to the woke-mob, even when that crime affects the people they are championing.

Ditto for the rights and liberties of all those not within their ranks. We all have the right to protest, a right that’s explicitly protected by the government, alongside protections for speech, religion, and assembly. But, just as we can choose not to speak, choose not to believe, and choose not to assemble, we can choose not to protest. Even if we share some or all of the views that the protestors voice. To punish people for not being vocal or visible enough is the stuff not only of Orwellian dystopia, but of actual 20th century totalitarianism. The lessons of history are blatant and stark, and yet we are witnessing the same horrific progression towards a state we know will destroy us.

The Democrats are riding the woke-mob’s rage and power-lust, figuring it will carry them into power this November. What they’re going to do with that power once they get it? It’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to rein in the woke-mob, especially after their lust for Trump’s orange scalp and all the tactics thereto have been rewarded. Cancel culture, as ugly as it has become, may still be in its infancy. Big Business and Big Government are already bending the knee to it, but that may be nothing yet. Next year, will we witness them with forehead to the ground, in total trembling obeisance?

The only way this rolling tide is halted is by each of us taking a stand, as my friend did. Unfortunately, it may already be too late. A conversation in another Facebook group (closed and conservative) centered on people’s tempering their public political voices out of fear for their jobs, careers, and social standing. You, the reader, know exactly what I’m talking about here. Many of you not of the woke-mob are already circumspect in what you say and to whom you say it. Many Democrats are extremely happy about this, because it helps their team’s chances in November. Both polling and the gambling markets tell us that, were the election to happen now, Trump would lose badly, and the Democrats would take all of Congress. And, while the election is still five months away, Trump is, well, blowing it. As usual, he’s his own worst enemy, and that comes on top of his failure in leadership re the George Floyd matter.

Even if we remove Trump and the effect he has had on discourse and harmony from the equation, we should remain very worried about today’s trends. The New York Times and other notable outlets are busy rewriting history, not to correct errors and mis-glorifications, but to fit a counterfactual but “woke” narrative. This reeks of Lysenkoism, the abandonment of actual scientific knowledge in the early Soviet Union in favor of a belief (to call it a theory would be way too generous) unsupported by fact, for political purposes.

Today’s apparatchiks are smarter than the Soviet leaders. They mix in bits of truth and some good bits into their grand deceit. Yesterday was Juneteenth, a commemoration that has not been sufficiently taught in schools, and it’s a good thing that public awareness be improved. This bit doesn’t, however, validate the NYTimes’ broader 1619 “project,” which is an overt and counterfactual effort to cast the entirety of America’s history as born of slavery, and unique slavery at that. And, at the risk of repeating myself, it’s noteworthy that today’s apparatchiks aren’t of government, and they don’t need to be. They’re managed to capture the hearts and minds of enough earnest naifs and fools to reach a critical mass.

Thing is, a critical mass needs to be managed carefully, with safeguards in place to keep it from going supercritical, from the chain reaction running faster than those who are seeking to harness and benefit from it can handle. If that happens, we get either a meltdown or an explosion, with catastrophic effects.

This grass-roots totalitarianism is, in some ways, more dangerous than one imposed by a tyrannical government on a sullen and non-concurring populace. It’s an infection of minds, not a mere and base lust for power, that turns friends against friends, creates distrust of everyone, and corrodes society’s very roots.

If Orwell were alive today, I’d imagine he’d have material for a whole new dystopian tome.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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