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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Sowell

Some proposed measures of totalitarianism and their application to an existing situation

Like a lot of ideology and politics there are terms thrown around with gay abandon which, sooner or later, descend into fights about definitions.

One of the oldest such fights is around one of the original forms of totalitarianism, “communism”. Starting with whether we’re talking the Upper or Lower-case version. Of course the failures of Communism, starting as soon as people tried to put it into practice in the USSR in the 1920’s, effectively chewed away any respect one might have had for the theory, especially as all the apologists were steadily revealed as either liars or fools.

The final renunciation came in 1991 with the collapse of the originator of Communism In Practice, the USSR. Moreover, since it was the vaunted People themselves who did the renunciation, who promptly uncovered decades of lies about almost everything the regime had done, and who revealed just how abjectly useless, cruel, stupid and clownish the whole thing had been, the best possible emotion that appeared was not disgust and condemnation (although there was that), but laughter and ridicule.

As a result almost nobody calls themselves a communist nowadays. Almost. There’s still North Korea of course, but Real Communists denounce that as State Capitalism, even as the Hermit Kingdom also castigates its huge neighbour, China, as having lost the faith.

Meantime, the same sort of definitional fights are happening all over again with things like “Woke” (“nobody over 30 should use it”), Cancel Culture, Trans-issues and Critical Race Theory. The latter – now that pushback is happening – is being argued as merely another theory from the halls of academia: take no notice of what it has been turned into for US K-12 schools and corporate HR departments, where “White = Racist” is taught to little kids and senior managers alike.

Such things can’t be totalitarian, can they?

Rather than wasting time getting into definitional arguments framed by the people pushing all these theories and making excuses for them, the famous US economist Thomas Sowell, in his 1996 book, Knowledge And Decisions (which I strongly recommend be read) proposed seven features by which totalitarianism can be identifed. Note that most, but not all, of these can apply in bodies outside of the State.

  1. “the localization of evil in Jews, capitalists, or some other group – so that comprehensive political solutions to age-old human problems seem feasible within a reasonable time horizon by surgically removing the offending group, leaving a healthy body politic intact”.
  2. “the localization of wisdom, to explain why this miraculous cure has escaped so many minds for so many centuries, as well as explaining the necessity for superseding democratic institutions and beliefs”
  3. “a single scale of values by which priorities may arranged in every field of human endeavor, to be achieved ‘at all cost’”
  4. “the presupposition of sufficient knowledge to achieve whatever goal may be projected”
  5. “the urgency of the ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’ so that ruthlessness is the lesser of two evils”
  6. “a psychic identification with millions, whose opinions may nevertheless be disregarded and whose lives may be sacrificed in the cause, without feelings of guilt”
  7. the creation of “a self-enclosed system, to exclude alternative views and visions” and “convert questions of fact into questions of motive”

So let’s apply this to our current situation in New Zealand.

Looks like a good fit, and I didn’t even mention the $110 million of government-funded MSM support.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 24, 2021 at 5:25 pm