Tuesday, August 31, 2021

On Totalitarianism

 Claire Wolfe has beaten me to the punch for the idea I had for a post today (post here) which is a lovely post on "Dealing with our new totalitarian realities" (if the word "lovely" can be used for such a subject).  As with all things Claire, it is worth your time to read but the Reader's Digest version is that totalitarianism has more or less already arrived; it is no longer an anticipatory event.

The definition of totalitarianism (courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica) is a "form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of individual life to the authority of the state".  Note that it does not concern itself with a political party or type of government or theory of politics (Red Party, Blue Party, Tyranny, Despotism, Fascism, Communism).  All systems can equally use this for their own purposes.

But TB, I hear you cry, we live in the West!  We live in the culture of Locke and Rousseau, of the Amendments and limited government and Common Law and Non-fat Soy Lattes!  We are not those hateful others that we read about every day that control the lives of their citizens.  We are not the Old Horrors like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany or New Horrors like Communist China or North Korea or the "Back For Their Second Appearance", The Orcs.

But just give it some thought.

We have activist governments - not just here in Baja Canada, but through the "West" - that are actively continuing to attempt to dictate or actually dictate where people can go and when they can leave their houses (if you are not otherwise aware, please read up on the recent developments in Australia as sort of a "worst case" scenario).  We have governments which, while although not encouraging the suppression of speech, are neither stepping in and defending it as platforms and mediums decide what is allowable and what is not (which never really works, of course; it just drives it underground.  Ask the Communist Bloc how the Samizdat experience worked out for them).  We have governments currently discussing restricting air travel to certain groups and potentially beginning to monitor (and tax!) movement using motor vehicles.  And what is taxed and and controlled is ripe for being taxed and regulated to the point of being taken away.

Even in my lifetime, the amount of things that I cannot do with government intervention has grown.  The car I drive is smogged and registered and - in some locales, if they get their way - destined for obsolescence as the government will dictate what sort of car I can own (only electric, but perhaps I get to choose the color still?).   In some locales, items I can buy - food, ammunition, computers - are restricted by government diktat.  The types of energy I can use are increasingly driven by government goals, not by actual efficiency or true sustainability

As I wrote yesterday, Our Political And Social Betters  (OPASB) more and more define the nature of questions and truth.  Truth is, apparently, what the government says it should be and those who do not hold to that opinion, while not being forced into compliance overtly, are forced to participate as if they were compliant none the less.  Or, if they are on the wrong side of the opinion, are actively sued by the government to bring them into compliance.

This is not a Red Party issue.  This is not a Blue Party issue.  They are both complicit in the behavior, because both have a deep underlying assumption that more government and more control is better.  Because after all, it really is for the best of reasons:  to protect ourselves from ourselves.

To use one example - and something I am concerned deeply concerned about - the government presupposes that it knows completely and best about the environment and the way to protect it.  In point of fact, there are people throughout the country (Alta Canada too!) that are as or more concerned about the environment than the government and are doing more in their own way to protect it that the government can (some of them post over there to the right).  But because it is "Conservationism" instead of "Environmentalism" and because it is the individual making and implementing these actions instead of under government guidance and control, it is effectively not worth considering by governmental standards.

Do I have a solution?  Well, of course not.  The actual solution, of course, is that government pares down its voracious need to control everything at all times.  The actual sub-solution to that solution of course is that if government will not do so, it is forced to do so by its citizens, most preferably peacefully.

But there is a danger for this in governments as well.

By becoming totalitarian, the State risks unflattering comparisons with other totalitarian states.  Citizens may look at their lives and say "Wow, it is just like I am pretty much living in a society where thought crimes are real and I am truly limited by what I can do - more so, say, than that other country over there."  And those countries that are opposed to ours are fools if they do not take advantage of it, which they do.  All of a sudden, the State finds itself very much in the position of creating its own bases of protest and opposition - not for the purposes of reforming the government, but for changing it.

And history, if useful for nothing else, demonstrates that the fall of totalitarian states is almost never without severe crisis and injury.

20 comments:

  1. Our politicians are paid actors and grifters.

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    1. Regrettably Glen, I would struggle to think of a single politician that I would consider as a role model.

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    2. Paid by our tax dollars which they happily steal.

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    3. Indeed Linda. Ben Franklin noted that the King throws away more paring the cheese than the people can get to eat but what matter; it is the people's cheese the King is cutting.

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  2. I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle of this argument as I do many that you make. On the whole, I don't like totalitarianism either. I do however recognize there is a need for it especially as our small planet continues to get ever more crowded and if we want to give our descendants a fighting chance of even being born. When my health/life is affected by the movement of others, I do think perhaps a little dictation of movement might be warranted. If we didn't dictate the use of motor vehicles, we would be blanketed by a lovely smog and our roadsides would be poisoned with lead.

    I think unless we control our population and perhaps reduce it, totalitarianism will be here to stay in one form or another and if we continue to increase our numbers, it will become more necessary. Yes the government (any government) is not the smartest body to make these decisions but they are the only body with the power to do so in time to make any difference. They do certainly make mistakes but some mistakes (assuming the they get some right) are better than doing nothing at all.

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    1. Ed- I think I fall in the middle of your argument. One can make an argument that limits are required to allow the continuation of certain things or activities - at the same time, there can be more than one way to achieve that. A totalitarian government presumes one way - its way - to make all of that happen.

      I guess my question is "Where does it stop?" To your point, a little dictation of movement might be warranted. But then inevitably more dictation will be warranted because totalitarianism never stops at a little. And then the scope extends, from things we do to items we own to beliefs they have.

      The other difficulty is that when totalitarian governments get it wrong, they quite get it wrong. One can think of the Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution as bodies making decisions which had very ill consequences.

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    2. Our government dictates that we "vaccinate" in order to stay alive, and yet condones abortion at taxpayer expense.

      Government officials charge me more for water in order to "provide low-income families access to clean drinking water." In other words, they are stealing my money so that welfare bums can get water... and electricity... and natural gas... and telephone... for FREE.

      Government officials in California passed legislation banning the use of natural gas in new houses in the near future. This means that everything in the house must be electric. Electricity in California is almost entirely generated by plants powered by... natural gas... Pushback against TPTB will then be mitigated by the simple flip of a switch. Dissenters' houses will be reduced to unheated, uncooled, unlit barns. 'See how this works?

      By and large, California has now long range mass transit, and yet government officials tell us not to use our cars, lest we be taxed by the mile.

      Bigger picture, we're told by government officials that we can't do this or that for environmental reasons, but have no problem with companies offshoring our industries to places that have no environmental controls at all.

      You say we need to control our population, and yet our government has no problem opening our borders to people who've never heard the adage "If you can't feed 'em don't breed 'em."

      Government officials want to take away my God-given right to preserve my life, and yet do nothing to stem the criminal activities that make owning a firearm a necessity where I live.

      I could go on all day. What I see here is government tightening the screws of control with the citizens seeing no benefit from it.

      You might want to rethink your argument, Ed...

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    3. Pete, not to speak for Ed but one point of order Pete: I believe that Ed said "Unless we reduce our population", not "We should reduce our population" and then only in the context of whether totalitarianism remain or not.

      That said, the inconsistencies you point out are real, and there are just as many that you have not mentioned. And as you state, the government seems to benefit from these while the citizen does not. It does make one wonder what the government is doing, if not improving the lives of its citizens - which is the point of the government.

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    4. TB - You asked where does it stop. I think from history, it never stops until it gets to the point where there is a revolution from the people. I hypothesized that it might reverse if we ever reduce our population so we aren't straining our resources but I doubt that will ever realistically happen until we have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

      Pete - You definitely make good points and I'm not in general disagreement. But if we all lived as we pleased all the time, some of our resources that we now still have would be all but gone already. Somehow I think we have to find a balance where we can live those free lives we desire but not harm others. I want you to be able to drive your car whenever and where ever you want but not at the expense of air quality so bad that your neighbors are suffering. Thus far, the compromise seems to be electric vehicles though they have drawbacks too.

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    5. Thanks for the response Ed. I suppose - worthy of a deeper discussion - is if resource constraints are only ever the reason for totalitarianism and then revolutions. My sense - and it is only my own - is that it something deeper in the human psyche. For the religious, the sin of pride and power; for the non-religious, the bent to desire complete control of others.

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  3. "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3

    The human being is the crown of creation. Nothing else is made in the image of God. Human life is sacred.

    Meaning no disrespect, this comment: "I think unless we control our population and perhaps reduce it" is the type that aggravates me to the core. If this is such an important issue to you, write out your last manifesto and put paid to it. Put your money where your mouth is. Off yourself post haste. (Oh, and be sure that it is done is a sustainable, green friendly way. Mother Gaia thanks you.) But that is never the case. They would rather have Henry Himmler do it for them out of sight and mind. But once you start THAT machinery, it runs until there is nothing left to murder. Who makes the decision? What are the criteria for life vs death? We seem to have the idea that everyone is interchangeable. Yet, I wonder, if the doctor that was to find the cure to cancer was aborted in 1977. Or maybe the inventor of the next generation of even safer atomic power was murdered in a terrorist attack in the 90's. We have seen just how competent our .gov is in securing the lives and treasure of it's citizens recently. Only a fool would think the .gov could run a population control facility (death camp anyone?) without a compounding disaster occurring. (Read the Gulag Archipelago)

    .gov interference in biz has become unsustainable. Regulatory agencies that the congress has delegated their authority to, make rules that inhibit our ability to grow food, make products and support ourselves. Why do we need to offload citizens, when it's the rule makers causing the grief? Scale back the regulatory bureaucracy and lets us get back to work! Please see 2017 through 2020 for notes on how this is done.

    Our air is cleaner than ever. Technology exists to keep it that way, even while using coal, gas, and atoms to make energy. The energy density in a gallon of gasoline is unparalleled, why disable that? Why enslave children to strip mine lithium when we don't have the power generation ability to support the load we have now? Why are we okay with china enslaving millions to produce our gadgets and cheap junk, while killing thousands of their own with the pollution they just let flow on by?

    It irritates the fire out of me, when I see the absolute gold standard of freedom neglected or outright abused. Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence with an eye to applying it. The consent of the governed is what counts. Nothing else. And very rapidly that is waning in enough citizens to make a difference. 30% of the colonists supported the revolution. 3% were actually involved in the fighting. Those numbers are pretty small.

    Didn't mean to rant. But when I hear ideas of industrial murder of people to make things better, I fear for our nation. God didn't put up with His chosen people when they did that. What makes us think He won't hold us to the same standard? I think we are seeing that play out even now.

    Feel free to not post this, if you think it is too strident.

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    1. STxAR - I believe what Ed was suggesting and responding to is the fact that given our current resource use - which is a matter of record - we cannot continue to expect things to drive on forever as they have always been. I do not think he was suggesting a forced population reduction as a result. Even natural systems end up with a homeostasis of population and resources if left to themselves (Earth: The Great Recycler and Closed System).

      Does that disabuse the developments of technology? Not at all. We have cleaner fuel and cleaner skies and cleaner water, partially due to government regulations requiring it and partially due to technological advances. That said, we also have incredibly destructive fires right now because of those very same government regulations and a complete lack of technological innovation in wood products. So it is not always a given that it is an improvement.

      What I do wish is that we gave more attention to our idea of technology and its labor saving aspects - we may have high technology, but if virtually no-one has work, we have created yet another problem.

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    2. Funny Ed mentions human-initiated "population control." Nature's #1 agent of population control across the board is disease, followed closely by famine. Everyone's screaming about "climate change," too many people, and not enough food! Then along comes COVID. All of a sudden .gov is mandating we get a "vaccine" to keep us from dying, along with all kinds of other abridgements of our freedoms in order to "flatten the curve." Funny; all these people were saying there were are too many people on Earth. Along comes Earth's answer to the problem though, and no on wants to be the first to get out of the gene pool. In fact the biggest whiners are the first in line to be "vaccinated." 'Just sayin'... I'm with STxAR on this one, TB...

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    3. It it certainly okay to have an opinion Pete. I would just ask that it with respect. If we do not have respectful conversations, we end up with an echo chamber which actually does precisely nothing to advance the conversation or get to an actual solution.

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  4. Hi TB :) Interesting read! I love how you put it: voracious need to control everything at all times. I guess that's why the pull of off-grid self-sufficiency is so strong in people like you and me!

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    1. Rain, I am inherently anti-authoritarian, albeit it in a very quiet, non-confrontational way (I think you are as well). I simply hate being told what to do. And totalitarianism, at least in my opinion, ultimately seeks to do that: tell people what to do in every instance and creating a system in which they effectively make their citizenry dependent upon them, thus increasing their power. Self-sufficiency - be it material, religious, philosophical, entertainment, literally anything one does for themselves - breaks that power.

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  5. Anonymous6:25 AM

    TB wrote, "And totalitarianism, at least in my opinion, ultimately seeks to do that: tell people what to do in every instance and creating a system in which they effectively make their citizenry dependent upon them, thus increasing their power. Self-sufficiency - be it material, religious, philosophical, entertainment, literally anything one does for themselves - breaks that power."

    Achieving the last three -- religious, philosophical and entertainment self-sufficiency -- can be done pretty quietly, just by thinking independently. - Keith

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    1. Keith - Indeed they can. And they are a practice and a skill, like everything else. I am okay at the religious and philosophical, but not so much at the entertainment. I used to be much better, but allowed myself to get "hooked" by the ease of electronic entertainment. It has been a long walk back.

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    2. Anonymous6:44 PM

      TB: "but not so much at the entertainment."
      Keith: Challenge accepted.

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    3. Excellent Keith! We shall endeavor together then.

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