by Victor Davis Hanson
What ultimately ended the nihilist Soviet system?
Was it not that Russians finally tired of the Kremlin’s lies and hypocrisies that permeated every facet of their falsified lives?
Here are 10 symptoms of Sovietism. Ask yourself whether we are headed down this same road to perdition.
1) There was no escape from ideological indoctrination—anywhere.
TV commercials, a job in the bureaucracy, or military assignment all hinged not so much on merit, expertise, or past achievement. What mattered was loud enthusiasm for the Soviet system.
Wokeness is becoming our new Soviet-like state religion. Careerists assert that America was always and still is a systemically racist country, without ever producing proof or a sustained argument.
2) The Soviets fused their press with the government. Pravda or “Truth” was the official megaphone of state-sanctioned lies. Journalists simply regurgitated the talking points of their Party partners.
In 2017, some university and independent media monitoring centers found that 93 percent of American network media coverage of the early Trump Administration was negative. The most inflammatory of the media’s political assertions—Trump-Russia collusion, Hunter Biden’s laptop was a product of “Russian disinformation,” and Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by a Trump rioter inside the Capitol—were all false.
3) The Soviet surveillance state enlisted apparatchiks and lackeys to ferret out ideological dissidents. Recently, we learned that the Department of Defense is reviewing its rosters to spot “insurrectionary” sentiments.
The Postal Service recently admitted it uses tracking programs to monitor the social media postings of Americans.
Left-wing CNN recently alleged that the Biden Administration’s Department of Homeland Security is considering partnering with private surveillance firms to get around government prohibitions on scrutinizing Americans’ expression. From 2015 to 2017, the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department engaged in efforts to monitor and injure the Trump campaign and then sabotage a presidential transition.
4) The Soviet educational system sought not to enlighten, but to indoctrinate young minds in proper government-approved thought. Currently, cash-strapped universities nationwide are hiring thousands of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” staffers and administrators. Their chief task is to scan admissions, hiring, curriculum, and administration of universities. Like good commissars, our diversity czars police compliance with the official narrative that a flawed America must confess, apologize, and renounce its evil foundations.
5) The official Soviet was run by a pampered elite, exempt from the ramifications of its own radical socialist ideologies. So too woke Silicon Valley billionaires talk socialistically but live royally. Coke and Delta Airlines CEOs who hector Americans on their illiberality respectively make over $16 million a year.
What unites current woke activists like Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Obamas are their huge estates and their multimillion-dollar wealth. Just as the select few of the old Soviet nomenklatura had their Black Sea dachas, so our loudest top-down revolutionaries prefer living in Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills, Montecito, and Malibu.
6) The Soviets mastered Trotskyization, or the rewriting and airbrushing away of history to fabricate present reality. Are Americans any different when they indulge in a frenzy of name changing, nighttime statue toppling, monument defacing, book banning, and “cancellation”?
7) The Soviets created a climate of fear and rewarded stool pigeons to root and rat out all potential enemies of the people. Since when did Americans encourage coworkers to turn in others for an ill-considered word in a private conversation? Why do thousands now scour the internet to find any past incorrect expression of a competitor, rival, or opponent? Why are there now new thought criminals supposedly guilty of climate racism, immigration racism, vaccination racism, and almost anything racism?
8) Soviet law, state prosecutors, and courts were weaponized according to ideology. In America, where and for what reason you riot determines whether you face any legal consequences. Politically correct sanctuary cities with impunity defy the law. Jury members are terrified of being doxxed and hunted down for an incorrect verdict. The CIA and FBI are becoming as ideological as the old KGB.
9) The Soviets doled out prizes on the basis of correct Soviet thought. In America now most concede that Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and Oscar awards or Pulitzer Prizes do not reflect the year’s best television show, song, play, movie, or book—rather than the most politically correct production from the most woke.
10) The Soviets offered no apologies for extinguishing freedom. Instead, they boasted they were advocates of equity, champions of the underclass, enemies of privilege, and therefore could terminate anyone or anything they pleased.
Our wokeists are similarly defending their thought-control efforts, forced reeducation sessions, scripted confessionals, mandatory apologies, Trotskyization of our past, and cancel culture on the pretense that we need long overdue “fundamental transformation.”
So if they destroy people in the name of equity, then their nihilism is justified.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.
Photo “Soviet States of America” by Oren. CC BY-SA 2.0.