In his latest piece, the estimable Victor Davis Hanson asks the rhetorical question “Are Americans Becoming Sovietized?”
Without a doubt. And a key reason behind this, I have been thinking for a long time, is that the left and the semi-left, progressives and liberals, masses of them in our country from the corporate world to the media to the academy to entertainment, are the New Conformists.
Well, not completely new, but conformists beyond doubt. Hardly ever an original thought among them.
They are like the “Triplets” song from Vincente Minelli’s classical musical “The Band Wagon.” (“We do everything alike, we look alike, we dress alike. We walk alike, we talk alike.”)
With this mindset, becoming “Sovietized” scarcely takes an effort. You don’t have to learn a word of Russian beyond “nyet.”
Back in the Fifties, conservatives were accused of being the “organization men” or the “men in the grey flannel suit,” but these days it’s the other way around.
No one is more predictable, more conformist, than the so-called “woke.”
In his compelling new book—“Curiosity: And Its Twelve Rules for Life”—my friend law professor F.H. Buckley, under the heading “Don’t Be a Conformist,” warns us of where conformity can lead:
“Italian novelist Alberto Moravia tried to explain why so many of his countrymen became Fascists under Mussolini. It was because of their desire to fit in, to seem normal, to follow the crowd. He called the novel ‘The Conformist’.”
It is one thing to compete with China. I firmly believe we need to do that in every domain, from artificial intelligence to COVID vaccines. But the minute we start copying China, we are on the path to perdition.
Consider the way many western countries mistakenly concluded last year that strict Chinese-style lockdowns were the right way to cope with COVID, not realizing that no free society could possibly tolerate restrictions as draconian as the ones imposed all over China from late January last year, which relied on the vast network of Communist party members in every neighborhood to police citizens’ behavior. Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist, who was influential in the UK’s decision to lock down, has been quite open about his inspiration. ‘If China had not done it, the year would have been very different,’ he admitted in an interview in December. ‘“It’s a communist one-party state,” we said. “We couldn’t get away with it in Europe,” we thought. And then Italy did it. And we realized we could.’
In his 1976 article, “The Intelligent Co-Ed’s Guide to America,” Tom Wolfe wrote:
The publication of The Gulag Archipelago in 1973, however, was a wholly unexpected blow. No one was ready for the obscene horror and grotesque scale of what Solzhenitsyn called “Our Sewage Disposal System”—in which tens of millions were shipped in boxcars to concentration camps all over the country, in which tens of millions died, in which entire races and national groups were liquidated, insofar as they had existed in the Soviet Union. Moreover, said Solzhenitsyn, the system had not begun with Stalin but with Lenin, who had immediately exterminated non-Bolshevik opponents of the old regime and especially the student factions. It was impossible any longer to distinguish the Communist liquidation apparatus from the Nazi.
Yet Solzhenitsyn went still further. He said that not only Stalinism, not only Leninism, not only Communism — but socialism itself led to the concentration camps; and not only socialism, but Marxism; and not only Marxism but any ideology that sought to reorganize morality on an a priori basis. Sadder still, it was impossible to say that Soviet socialism was not “real socialism.” On the contrary — it was socialism done by experts!
Why are we surprised that the socialists running the increasingly corporatist business world take their cues from — and overlook the myriad horrors of — socialism done by today’s experts?