Totalitarianism: we have become comfortably numb - Part 8
Arbitrary control is the conditio sine qua non of totalitarianism. All you need to do is point your finger, utter “Islamophobia”, and it is done. When we agreed to create “hate speech,” we conceded that our thoughts and emotions must be policed. This has always been the business of totalitarianism.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
Seven years after the Yuri Bezmenov interview, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own internal contradictions. In the West, capitalism remained as real as ever. It was an event that free market ideologues, Western conservatives and “Kremlinologists” took as historic vindication of their positions and the superiority of capitalism and democracy over all other forms of political economy and social organisation. Some even went so far as to claim that history had come to an end. Does the passing of two decades since then mean that Bezmenov was wrong in predicting that the United States would descend into totalitarianism if it did not take actions of the kind urged by both Karl Popper and himself, albeit that he put it somewhat more bluntly than Popper?
To answer this question, let us approach it from a different angle. Consider a Muslim suicide bomber’s act of blowing himself up in a crowded place. Two points to keep in mind: firstly, the suicide bomber’s act and its consequences are, for all intents and purposes, simultaneous; and secondly, the perpetrator and his victims die at the same instant. In the subversion that Bezmenov was a part of, the act takes place over fifteen to twenty years, their consequences unfolding over the subsequent twenty years before destabilisation eventually sets in. Once the point of no return has been reached, the subversion will run its own course, as it no longer matters whether the subverter lives or dies. His work is done. He does not have to be alive to see you die.
Where Bezmenov goes wrong is in proposing faith as both the vaccine against and antidote to demoralisation, apparently not seeing that faith is precisely the active ingredient in creating the demoralisation he so vividly describes. He rather self-defeatingly points out that no one will willingly die for scientific truth (the example he gives is “2x2 = 4”), but multitudes are ready to die for “the truth of God”. On the one hand, multitudes are also ready to die for the truth of the Party, while on the other, the multitudes ready to die for “the truth of God” today, are Muslims. Faith, a form of irrationality, is Bezmenov’s solution to the irrationality that is the outcome of his KGB activities:
A person who was demoralised is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I show him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures, even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him a concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it.
“He will refuse to believe it,” because to believe it, is to believe something other than that which he already believes. In the twenty years and three months since 9/11, Muslims have murdered almost 41,000 people. When someone responds to information like this with, "but not all Muslims," then it doesn't matter whether you tell him about one murder or 100,000 murders, "the facts tell nothing to him." Whether you go from God to Communism, or from Communism to God, either way you are committing blasphemy. It does not matter whether the believer’s mental world is framed by a religion or not, the point is that the objective world is the unreal world, while the world he has constructed inside his head is the real world. The one demoralised by the KGB is in the same condition as the one demoralised by the priest, the imam, the rabbi, or the teacher. It is only a matter of whether such demoralisation occurs in adult life or takes place in early childhood.
Irrationality appears in oppression first as arbitrariness, and, then in response to its form as arbitrariness, it becomes faith. Irrationality as arbitrariness is the domain of oppressors of all kinds, be they natural or supernatural. Gods have always been arbitrary. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” “Allah has struck a bargain with the believers, …Allah is the best of deceivers.” The gods will tally your good deeds against your bad deeds after you’re dead, but while you are alive, no god gives you a statement on how your account stands. On the Day of Judgement, God can tell you absolutely anything he wants regardless of your deeds.
Arbitrariness is the key to oppression. It keeps the oppressed permanently on their toes. The gods, all of them, whether they fancy themselves with a capital G or a small one, through all the forces of nature that remain mysterious to humans, bestow bounty or impose calamity by absolute caprice. The first gods were unfathomable, hence supernatural; while human gods do everything to render themselves unfathomable, hence the cult of personality. Some assert that one can never know what God is, only what he is not. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Yes, and so does Xi Jinping.
Formulations such as “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” are the oppressed person’s attempt to impose rationality onto his god’s arbitrariness, failing to see that his god’s arbitrary behaviour is rooted in his own irrational act of positing a god in the first place. When he rationalises his god’s conduct as, “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” he tries to make the arbitrariness of his god predictable. But the best prediction he can come up with is that his god will always be unpredictable. And for what that rational toehold in the irrational world is worth, he can now proceed to construct a marvellously rational corpus of knowledge of his unfathomable god. Thus do they develop irrationality beyond arbitrariness. They give it the appearance of reason, and call it faith. “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
Faith is the means by which the oppressed, the hopeless, the dependent and the demoralised manage to cling to the hope of reconciling the certainty of death with the uncertainty of what comes after it. Faith is the ideology by which the oppressed navigate the arbitrariness of their own oppression, by which they stay afloat in their despair. If they do these things and avoid doing those other things, if they seek out these people and shun those people, if they make this sacrifice and forego that gratification, then they might influence their god’s arbitrariness. He might look favourably upon them after death, and bestow on them “ultimate justice,” as they call it. However unbearable or baffling their lives might be, in faith they can look forward to justice after death, and, according to learned sheikhs, to having all their questions answered. Arbitrariness overcome, caprice vanquished, all in good time; at the end of time.
It is remarkable how people of faith, even highly learned ones, expose their vulnerability at this point. In a classic case of putting the effect before the cause, they argue that God exists, for if he did not, there would be no ultimate justice, and that would just be terrible, so unfair. In other words, God was kind enough to pop into existence just so the faithful can feel better about their lot. God exists because the faithful need him to exist.
Muslims pull a similar stunt on themselves regarding the Qur'an: anyone coming after the “final prophet”, Muhammad, could claim to be a prophet, if the speech of Allah as revealed to Muhammad in the Qur'an were not distinguishable from human speech. “There has to be something within revelation, which distinguishes it from human speech so it still acts as evidence [of divine provenance,]” in the tortured logic of slapstick Muslim proselytiser Mohammed Hijab. The book that was "revealed" to Muhammad, the Qur’an, has to be the perfect book free of all contradiction, not because Allah wrote it, but because Muslims need it to be, so as to underpin their prophet's claim to "the seal of the prophets." Muslims actually believe that no human can write a book free of contradictions. Anyone who can produce "anything like it" will have to be a prophet, too. But now that God has spoken to Muslims, "the best of people raised up for mankind," and "perfected your religion for you," he will never speak again. His creation is complete. His job is done. It is an arrogance of cosmic measure that will rein supreme down the aeons, slapping down even such conceited upstarts as "Communism is the highest form of society."
Consequently, Muslims, in effect, lay down conditions that the Qur’an must fulfil so they can claim it as the speech of Allah. In other words, they are continually creating the Qur’an and telling Allah how to write it. There's just one minor problem with this: their own hallowed ignorance of the world and anything non-Muslim causes them to make claims about the Qur'an that impress Muslims, but are quite ridiculous to anyone who understand the world.
Taking the “ultimate justice” idea to its logical conclusion means that injustice precedes God, hence evil precedes God, and hence Satan precedes God. God exists because Satan exists.. He springs forth from the loins of Satan, so to speak. To the mind of the faithful, this process appears exactly reversed. By this reversal of the relationship between God and evil, the faithful, despite themselves, prove their ethics innate, rather than originating from God, who comes into existence to serve their pre-existing outrage at injustice and evil. The faithful themselves prove, when their upside down logic is turned right way up, that first we know good from bad, then we create our gods to teach us what we already know. Faith itself proves that to know good from bad, no faith is required. Or, in the words of the much maligned and wilfully misunderstood Karl Marx,
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Totalitarian dictators pull a very simple trick. They abolish the supernatural god and in its place they put themselves. Little more is required, since the psychological infrastructure of faith takes care of the rest. Arbitrary behaviour is mysterious behaviour, especially if the dictator triggers a famine and then saves you from it with a few grains of wheat. In other words, “The Lord taketh away, and the Lord giveth,” and not the other way round. If something really bad happens to a believer, and the believer survives. Invariably, his first words are to thank God for his survival, rather than to condemn God for the disaster that God had visited on him in the first place. Every torturer operates on exactly the same principle.
To the oppressed under earthly totalitarianism, the dictator is God in every meaningful sense. The dictator creates new crimes for the oppressed to commit, without ever defining the crimes, meaning that you never know whether you’ve fallen foul them, displeased the dictator, and are in line for his wrath. The Christian God tells you that you are guilty of a sin you could not possibly have committed; you are "born in sin," is the phrase. Islam keeps that option open so you would be willing to kill yourself for Allah to be absolutely sure that your good deeds outweigh your bad, always keeping in mind that Allah remains the best of deceivers.
Under the totalitarian dictator, you are guilty by virtue of your arrest alone. Your default state is to be a suspect. Crime has no meaning under totalitarian dictatorship, just as sin has no meaning when you are born in sin. Any non-crime can at any moment become a crime, and you can be arrested for such a crime at any moment, or for no crime at all, and just as arbitrarily released from custody, never knowing whether you’ve committed a crime, or whether you’ve been released because you have not committed a crime, or because you have committed a crime and your oppressor has bestowed his mercy on you. Crime becomes disconnected from what you do or do not do. It becomes purely an instrument of totalitarian oppression. “Islamophobia” is such a totalitarian instrument.
When the police in Britain asked the public to be on the lookout for and to report “hate crime” even if they have no evidence and even if no crime has been committed, we see put in place the infrastructure within which “Islamophobia” makes perfect sense: it does not have to be a crime and as such it needs no definition. Other such slippery crimes are “original sin”, “bourgeois revisionism”, "blasphemy", "insulting Turkishness", “being in league with the Devil”, or, nowadays, “hurting China’s feelings”. It makes no sense to argue that "Islamophobia" makes no sense. Seen in the light of totalitarianism, "Islamophobia" makes 100% sense.
Once the reality of undefined crimes takes hold, it becomes the standard for all crimes, defined or not. A crime might be meticulously defined, but by the time you are accused of it, the totalitarian conditions "even if they have no evidence," and "even if no crime has been committed" have become dragnets. Control is now completely arbitrary and the citizen is left with no choice but to become his or her own tyrant, curtailing his or her own freedom. This can go so far that people turn themselves in to the authorities, just in case they've committed a crime, and hope they might be spared the worst because they had come forward to confess to whatever they are about to be told they are guilty of. Thus total control.
Arbitrary control is the conditio sine qua non of totalitarianism: anybody, for no reason at all, can be done away with at any moment, for the punishment, too, becomes arbitrary. All you need to do is point your finger, utter “Islamophobia”, and it is done. When we agreed to create “hate speech,” we conceded that our thoughts and emotions must be policed. This has always been the business of totalitarianism, whether Islam, Nazism, Communism, Catholicism, or multiculturalism. What could be more reasonable than limits on free speech? And now an "Islamophobia" bill has passed though the US Congress, at the instigation of Ilhan Omar, whom the Americans, if they had any notion of what they were looking at, would not have let her set foot on their shores. Each day that she remains on American soil mean that more drastic measures will be needed to rid the country of her later.
The totalitarian dictator, whether individual or collective, thrives on depriving the oppressed of the means of life, taking away and giving, entirely arbitrarily, thereby ensuring that hunger is never far from the oppressed, but relief from it can always be hoped for, strived for, begged for, prayed for, obeyed for, kowtowed for, and legs opened for, especially if the dictator suddenly turns up in a destitute place and starts handing out banknotes to random people on the street. Please the oppressor and he might look kindly upon you. The odds are lousy, but it’s your best bet. You commit your entire being, the sum total of your existence, to your oppressor.
He'd entered the people's flesh and blood to such an extent that, well, it was as if he had become part of them, like a cancer growing inside the body. I had an eight-month-old daughter, and when I heard Stalin was dead, I cried. I held her in my arms and I cried, because I was thinking, "Oh my God, she'll never see Stalin alive now," and I was sorry about that.
When your god is a flesh-and-blood human, you obey not because you look forward, even if happily, to your life after death, when things will be put right, as supernatural gods promise, no; you obey because you fear, because you never know when it might be you. It is as simple as that.
Khomeini once protested the shah's enfranchisement of women, and then encouraged women to participate in his revolution and vote for his government when he needed their numbers. He once promised that clerics would hold only temporary positions in government and then allowed them to hold the most senior positions. He pledged to continue the war against Iraq until its defeat and then abruptly made peace. He once said that the fact that “I have said something does not mean that I should be bound by my word.
Whether natural or supernatural, gods’ truths are at once both permanent and fleeting, and the best that the faithful can hope for is to hope for the best. At least human gods promise no Afterlife; let us grant them that. The miserable life you have on earth is the only life you’re going to get, and your totalitarian oppressors do leave you with one way out: death. No such luck if your god is not one of flesh and blood. Your torment will never end. In this one dismal respect, at least, natural gods are less negating of the human than supernatural ones. In religions not neutered under the influence of secularism, such as Islam, this negation remains on full display in the thoughts, utterances and conduct of their votaries.
The other defining difference between earthly dictatorships and “celestial dictatorships,” to borrow Christopher Hitchens’s phrase, is that the former fancied their worldly Paradise existing for a thousand years, meaning eternally, while the adherents of the latter cannot wait for this world to end, so the real point of this life, preparation for the Afterlife, can finally be attained, and the real life, the life of ultimate justice, begin. The proponents and supporters of earthly totalitarianisms might indulge in mass killing by the tens of millions, but they have no appetite for self-annihilation; religious totalitarianism, by contrast, is nihilistic and strives with fervour to end it all for everyone. Winston Churchill observed of the USSR in 1939, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” and to understand it, “perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”
The Soviet Union had enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on earth several times over, but they would never do it, for to do so would be to destroy themselves. Iran needs just one nuclear bomb, and they will use it to maximum effect. They will not be able to destroy all life on earth, but they will at least have the unique honour of having tried. Such devoutness must count for something in the Afterlife, surely. That they will cease to exist in the process bothers them as little as it bothers the suicide bomber strapping on the vest that will obliterate him. And on a somewhat grander scale, Ayatollah Khomeini assured us that:
We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.
Islam being scattered over many rival aspiring caliphates does not in any way diminish its nihilistic zeal. A baffled world looked on aghast at the day-by-day unfolding of Erdognomics. "They say we are lowering interest rates. Expect nothing else from me. As a Muslim, I will do everything required by me under Islamic law. I will continue to do that. This is the Islamic law," declared Erdoğan with strong iman behind him. Or, as Ayatollah Khomeini famously said, "Economics is for donkeys." In this respect, China sits somewhere between the USSR and Islam. Whereas the Soviet Union will preserve itself and its people, and Iran will destroy both itself and its people, the Chinese Communist Party will quite happily destroy the entire Chinese population to preserve itself. Martyrdom, if they had such a concept, would be for the People, not for the Party.
The Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to bully, oppress and enslave us. Whoever nurses delusions of doing that, on a Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese, they will crack their heads and spill blood.
The modesty of the Palestinians in this regard is almost endearing, "Allah willing, the children of Palestine will sacrifice their blood and their body parts."
To Muslims, “martyrdom” is the most highly valued form of death, so much so that in 1984, the Iranian regime issued a special commemorative stamp in honour of Sayyid Qutb’s “martyrdom”. If only Western observers, who all but gouge out their own eyes to not see what Muslims really are, would undertake the journey of intellectual honesty that Laurent Murawiec undertook, they might back themselves out of the conceptual and moral cul-de-sac in which they are stuck, and get closer to making sense of why Muslims continue to do what they do:
I realized in the action of the jihadis the exceptional prevalence of a cult of violence, of a glee to inflict suffering, in short, of a bloodlust that had little if any counterpart. This led to an investigation of an underlying “theology of death,” which soon turned out to be the kernel of the jihadi outlook. Chapter 1, “We Love Death,” accounts for this discovery. The next surprise occurred as I sought to find comparable events, conceptions and practices in history. It turned out that the closest peers of the contemporary jihadis were the medieval millenarians of Europe with their Gnostic world-outlook and their own bloodlust. Across the divide of vastly different cultural idioms and religious beliefs, a striking similarity pointed to the etiology of utopia: Sectarian eschatological movements tend to breed behaviors of a similar nature. The conviction that one knows God’s will is heady stuff that often leads to shedding torrents of blood in the name of one’s mission. Living in a “second reality” deemed superior to the “real” reality shared by the rest of mankind is a recipe for mass murder.
It is not clear to me whether Muslims had specifically targeted American society already from its founding in the eighteenth century when the Barbary pirates of the Ottoman Empire attacked the new nation’s ships and enslaved its crews—that might just have been regular, broad-spectrum jihad—or whether such specific jihad targeting of the United States started with Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood early in the twentieth century. Either way, Islam remains deeply ingrained in the Muslim psyche. Muhammad lives on while Muslims, to this day, die for him. This is a condition far worse than that afflicting the Soviet people when Stalin died. They at least recognise that Stalin is dead, he can no longer be insulted, a fact about Muhammad that Muslims are yet to grasp.
If a nation wants to go forward it must know its own history. So of course, it's a difficult operation. It is hard for many people to remember everything that happened, because people lived then. They believed in something. They had work to do. They believed in Stalin, and many were in the army. So it's all very difficult and they did not put up resistance against Stalin, against the Terror. They did not protect the innocent, and it's hard to remember that, but without it, we cannot go forward. We must free ourselves from Stalin's legacy.
Stalin died, and people discovered that his legacy still enslaved them. They were able, over time, to escape that enslavement, because they could distinguish between the false history that totalitarianism had constructed for them and their own history. With Islam it is the other way round. People must first free themselves from the legacy of Islam, only then will Islam die. Muslims do not see any distinction between the history that their "scholars" have concocted for them that they have themselves absorbed as sacrosanct, and their own, very different, real history.
Even most ex-Muslims cannot see that the tsunami of apostasy they've set off is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end, that end being freedom. The difficult operation of freeing themselves from Islam's legacy has yet to start. Their thoughts and behaviours are not yet those of free people, but those of people who still hanker for submitting to the tribe. Many Western murtadds re-create their little ummah in an identity politics trap, their ex-Muslim "community," complete with its kafir equivalent, the "far-Right" or anti-Muslim bigots, whom they must at all times avoid sounding like, let alone associate with. The distinction is best assured if they all sound the same, think the same and act the same, or face censure for deviating from correct speech, correct thought and correct conduct. This they call unity. They are yet to see the problem that the peoples of the Soviet Union saw immediately: "We must free ourselves from Stalin's legacy." The whole point of leaving Islam is to be free, and not to replace one totalitarianism, Islam, with another, multiculturalism. The break for freedom, real freedom, is what this website, Murtadd to Human, is all about.
- Karl Marx, Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. https://users.manchester.edu/Facstaff/SSNaragon/Online/texts/320/Marx, HegelTheoryofRight.pdf
- Engelsina Cheshkova, interviewed in Major Esterhazy, Bukharin and the Terror, YouTube, 24 July 2020. https://youtu.be/0-txuA6WgXI?t=2194
- Elaine Sciolino, Review of The People's Shah, by Baqer Moin, NYT, 17 August 2000.
- Good Reads, Ruhollah Khomeini > Quotes, https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/17303799.Ruhollah_Khomeini
- CGTN, Xi Jinping: Chinese people will never allow foreign bullying, oppressing or subjugating, YouTube, 1 July 2021. https://youtu.be/oS5QqS9C_xw
- MEMRI TV, Islamic Jihad Gaza Summer Camp, 29 June 2021. https://www.memri.org/tv/islamic-jihad-summer-camp-not-enjoy-play-sacrifice-tear-jews-bodies-rockets
- Laurent Murawiec, Introduction to The Mind of Jihad, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
- I would say ‘Muslims on jihad’, rather than ‘jihadis’. 'Jihadi' is just another cowardly way to avoid calling a spade a spade. 'Islamist' is obviously wearing a bit thin, the Muslim underneath it beginning to show through, necessitating another obfuscation boost.
- Major Esterhazy, Bukharin and the Terror, YouTube, 24 July 2020. https://youtu.be/0-txuA6WgXI?t=2734
- Muslims do not persist in doing what they do just because the Qur'an commands it, an argument that, quite reasonably, meets with skepticism. There is something about the Muslim psyche that makes them especially receptive to the Qur'anic commandments. Without understanding this, the picture remains incomplete.