US More and More Like USSR

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow (like the British Embassy) recently hung a rainbow flag to celebrate Pride month, and John Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, issued a message in support of LGBT ideology — an ideology which increasingly occupies the same place in the West that Marxism-Leninism occupied in the USSR.

In general, the similarities between the present day U.S. and the former USSR are striking. In the USSR, in order to have a career, you had to be (or at least zealously pretend to be) a true Marxist-Leninist. In the U.S., you have to express the very same ardent faith in the ideals of the LGBT and related movements, like Black Lives Matter, which openly seek to destroy the patriarchal family. As with Marxism-Leninism in the USSR, this ideology lends itself not only to mandatory imposition within the country but also to aggressive promotion abroad.

One may note that the hanging of the flag took place against the backdrop of the Russian vote on constitutional amendments which, in particular, define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If the embassy employees made it their aim to convince Russians to vote against the amendments, then it was counterproductive. The number of voters inclined to look to the U.S. Embassy is extremely small, and they’re a rather closed and tight-knit group that would vote “against” without any reminders. If anything, it will anger and mobilize those who vote in favor.

But, as we can assume, Russians are not the main targets here. The rainbow flag is a sign of loyalty, intended for its own. It is an expression of allegiance to a mandatory ideology. We former Soviet people know how it works. Many of us remember how it was. When I was in school, we lined up and angrily branded the racist American judicial system as infamous, a system which prosecuted the heroic fighters Angela Davis and Leonard Peltier; we even cut pre-printed letters out of Komsomolskaya Pravda with portraits of these wonderful people and sent them to America. I seriously doubt that the American judicial system paid attention to them — even if these letters were received.

Actually, the aim was not to somehow influence the Peltier or Davis proceedings. The aim was to raise up young people (and adults) in the right ideological spirit, to prompt people not only to passively heed the party propaganda thundering from every media outlet but to personally and actively express their fiery devotion to its ideas — to angrily condemn when told, and eagerly support and approve when told.

In political science, the distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes is drawn precisely according to whether citizens are forced to profess a certain ideology. Under an authoritarian regime, the authorities demand that citizens not get into politics, letting them believe in or not believe in whatever they want to in private. Under a totalitarian regime, the authorities, on the contrary, demand that everyone take an active political position, to have ardent faith in what is prescribed. Being “apolitical” isn’t allowed; you must clearly and publicly express your faith in the right ideology.

The onslaught of an exclusively true, politically correct worldview occurring in the U.S. and in the Western world as a whole, is so poignantly reminiscent of events in the USSR or China that it’s been discussed for a long time. Take, for example, the well-known philosopher and psychologist Jordan Peterson, who in one interview compared what’s taking place to China’s Cultural Revolution. His interviewer became indignant, and asked how one could compare clear-eyed, Western fighters for all that’s good — love, tolerance and humanism — to a regime that killed millions of people.

I suppose there’s some truth in this remark. There aren’t any mass bloody repressions with millions of victims, as under Joseph Stalin or Mao, in today’s Western world. For now, anyway. So long as progressive forces don’t seize power once and for all, there’s serious conservative resistance. For the time being, Trump is still president. However, ideological totalitarianism doesn’t have to be bloody. There were no mass repressions or mass graves in the USSR under Leonid Brezhnev either. Dear Leonid Ilyich could hardly have been called a bloody tyrant, and at the time, we weren’t living in fear of a late-night ring of the doorbell. But we all understood perfectly what it was to “spoil one’s index.”

For those who weren’t around then, an “index” was a piece of paper on which your personality and character were described from the perspective of Communism. It was needed when when you entered a university or started a job. If the index mentioned you were “ideologically unstable,” “indulged in anti-Soviet statements,” or, say, “showed interest in religion,” that automatically meant you were deprived of your rights. Your chances of being admitted to a university or getting a good job almost disappeared. That’s why it was best not to show off and to execrate American imperialism and the Israeli military. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be shot — it wasn’t 1937 — but your life might be badly ruined. Of course, this led to mass cynicism — and, in the end, to the collapse of the entire system.

It is precisely this late Soviet type of totalitarianism that we are seeing in the United States today. The pages of completely nonpolitical, English-speaking communities on my feed dedicated to art, travel or coding express ardent support for the Black Lives Matter movement and celebrate LGBT Pride month. Corporations rush to affirm that they, too, ardently support and approve. Communities of scientists admit that the scientific papers by members of minorities are underrepresented in their scientific journals. The state, as represented by its embassies, also considers it necessary to state clearly its ideological position.

If a person begins to express disagreement, he’ll lose his job, his career will collapse, and he’ll lose contracts — of which there are plenty of examples. The famous writer J. K. Rowling dared to note that the current fight for transgender rights — that is, for the right of men who consider themselves women to use women’s showers and toilets — strikes at the rights of ordinary, biological women. Even actors who starred in film adaptations of her books hastened, in horror, to dissociate themselves from her. But Rowling is very rich, and she can afford it.

Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was less fortunate. He had to resign after it turned out that years ago he had donated $1,000 to a political campaign in defense of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And ordinary people who have to tightly hold onto their jobs are forced to learn the rules of the game and, as in the former USSR, angrily condemn on command, and upon another command, they support and approve. Not only insufficient declarations of opposition but even insufficient zeal can be dangerous.

As the participants in the ongoing actions proclaim, silence is violence. That is, anyone who doesn’t loudly and audibly express unconditional support for the Black Lives Matter movement is by default a racist. Excuses like, “Of course, I’m against racism, but I can’t support some of the points of the Black Lives Matter movement’s program” or “Believe me, I don’t harbor hatred against anyone, but I have doubts about some aspects of LGBT ideology” are unacceptable. Either you are in favor unconditionally and with enormous enthusiasm, or you are a racist and homophobic bastard with all that implies.

Of course, there are also noticeable differences. The Democratic Party, unlike the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, doesn’t yet have a monopoly on power. The U.S. president can even demand that the LGBT flag not be hung at embassies — though the embassies ignore him. Those Americans who look upon America’s fast-moving Sovietization with disapproval still have some capability to act, some political representation. It’s still impossible to say that this totalitarian movement has swallowed America completely. The fight is still underway, and it’s far from over.

The ideology that’s becoming increasingly more mandatory differs from Soviet ideology, though it intersects with it in many ways. However, ideology is an instrument, not the goal; exactly what you’re forced to believe isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the power itself to program other people’s brains. But the fact that corporate and, to a large extent, media America has been swallowed up by a totalitarian movement that fancies that its duty is to prescribe both to Americans and to the entire world what they should believe in, what to approve, and what to condemn is, alas, all too conspicuous. And the rainbow flag at the embassy is one of the signs of that.

The America whose hymn sings of being “the land of the free and the home of the brave” has not yet been devoured completely. And in this totalitarian America, which demands faith in ever wilder, stranger and more perverted ideological phantasms, there’s nothing appealing. It’s no longer the city on a hill of which the Puritans, who arrived in the New World from England, dreamed. It is, to use a Biblical allusion, something more akin to Babylon — a great city that plies all the nations with the virulent wine of its fornication.

But the fight between the city on a hill and Babylon isn’t over yet. Let’s hope that the forces of Christian civilization and elementary good sense prevail.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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