Recently, on Twitter an economist was praising Stalin as someone who “might have done some bad things” but he was a “great leader” for the idea of Marxism. That was what Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin believed. They believed that the massive amount of suffering and bloodshed during the Russian Revolution was less important than the idea of Marxism, or Communism. What Americans knew back then, however, what they knew for the next several decades, is that idea was the biggest threat to the American idea since its founding.
Most on the left, I know because I was raised inside this ideology, didn’t really understand the fear of Communism. We took from that story only that Joseph McCarthy was a fanatic who needlessly persecuted innocent Americans to root out Communists. We also weren’t exactly opposed to Communism itself. After all, that was kind of what the cool kids believed was the righteous path. Communists and communism were preferable to Capitalism because human beings mattered more than material wealth, consumerism, income inequality that left so many living in poverty while others end up as the richest people in the world.
I spent most of my life believing that too. The heroes to me were Arthur Miller who wrote The Crucible. Those who were blacklisted and accused of being Communist sympathizers were heroes. I didn’t understand why Communism was something to fear until 2020. I used to think: we just fear anything that will stop “rich white men” from making more money and polluting the planet with exploitation and greed. But that was because I never really understood what was required to achieve a Marxist Utopia. Or rather, what it took away.
But after 2020, where we got a front-row seat to the phony Marxist revolution here in the United States, I finally get it. I get the fear. I get the Cold War. I understand why we fought it for so long and why it created so much hysteria in our country.
Now I know. Now I know why George Orwell wrote 1984. He wrote it because he understood that it was a system put in place where happiness and ideological alignment had to be forced. It was a system that demands obedience - devotion of mind, body, soul and heart. Happiness is only allowed if the rules are obeyed. You as an individual no longer matter. Art can’t exist in such a system. Only propaganda can.
I did not understand what freedom actually meant until this past year, as we watched these massive tech giants swallow it up. Capitalism help birth them, to give us all of the toys that now rule our lives. Sci-fi authors saw the rise of the machines coming from a mile away but somehow we believed ourselves to be mightier. That can’t happen here, I always believed. But indeed it can, and it has. Algorithms don’t care about human beings. They don’t have to. They just need your time and attention.
We put our faith in them. We willingly handed over our privacy, our friendships, our desires, our tastes, our beliefs. The business model completely changed such that most of us rely on these companies to survive. The entertainment business depends almost exclusively on these massive online hives. If you want to work you have to go along with what has become a new kind of Marxist threat.
No one can escape what Bo Burnham calls “All Eyes on Me” and how everybody knows everybody.
True, the pandemic brought us inside and online. True, Trump ignited mass hysteria, with the help of the Twitter algorithms. But we dove into the deep end. Now we realized we never learned how to swim and its threatening everything that America stands for, what it symbolizes to the rest of the world. While the media are still obsessed with Trump, they are completely ignoring that our freedom vanished almost overnight. And by freedom, I mean: freedom of thought, speech, expression, art. If these things must align to a singular ideology then they do not exist anymore.
In Orwell’s novel, and in the Soviet Union, it was the state mandating compliance. In our country, still a free country, it isn’t the state - at least not yet - it is the pressure from social media wherein all of us become Big Brother. We are the watchers. We are the prison guards. We are the KGB. We are the word and thought police. We go along with the silly word games and the media gaslighting. It is somehow okay that people’s histories are investigated and “problematic” things are dragged out and exposed. Everyone just goes along with it. It all happened so fast.
I was thinking about that economist on Twitter, and his love of Marxism that was strong enough it was not only worth dying for, but worth the murder of millions. Nothing mattered but the ideology. Then I thought about the American Revolution, a cause enough people believed was worth dying for. I thought about the 1619 Project at the New York Times, that teaches the idea that America was corrupt from the outset because it was rooted in slavery. But that isn’t America. America is not the people who sailed here, set up colonies here, built a country here. America is an idea. America is founded on the principles of a citizen-run government, a republic. It is an idea that was and remains an idea worth fighting for and yes, worth dying for.
The idea is not its history. It isn’t even its people. Marxism is an idea too and where it takes you by the end might be where you believe mankind can flourish. I don’t. I know that this country is, to me, the greatest country in the world because the idea is the best idea. It might not serve everyone equally. It might mean that some get rich and others stay poor. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best idea.
I saw Joe Biden calling America an idea worth fighting for in the election of 2020. I saw the Lincoln Project fighting for it now. But they were following a false notion that America was about to be overrun by fascists. It isn’t easy to crawl out of that feedback loop to realize that the fascists are not on the right, but on the left. It is a hard thing to communicate to people because the fear of racism is on par with the fear of communists during the two red scares in our history. And indeed, it might function much the same way the red scare did. It might mean everything is destroyed and we live in a climate of fear, worried that anything we might say or do or like or build or write or create is “racist.”
The way you figure out who the fascists are, who the totalitarians are, who the authoritarians are is simply to ask the basic question - which side is going along with banning books? Which side is destorying and erasing history? Which side is policing speech? Policing art? Demanding conformity or else? Which side is advocating for people losing their jobs if they have a “wrong” opinion? Which side is silencing dissent?
We cannot stand for the silencing of dissent. We cannot stand for the erasing of history, the obliteration of words, the policing of thought and art.
It’s time to fight back. It is time to speak up. It’s time to show Big Tech what we got under the hood. It’s time to bring the flip-flop tyrants to heel. If they believe they can function as their own government authority and if that authority runs counter to the founding principles of this country? They must be regulated and taught a lesson that no corporation in this country is bigger than the idea this country was founded on. No corporation in this country should have more power than its government.
Now I know for sure that I love the idea of America. It is an idea worth fighting for, and indeed, worth dying for. For that reason, I celebrate the 4th of July as America’s birthday. She’s a young country, with many lessons still to be learned. But if we hold fast and true to the foundational principles we can’t go wrong. If we deviate from them, this country becomes something else.
Happy Independence Day, my friends.