Meet the New Barbarism, the same as the old.
Some think that the tortures of the Inquisition to expunge heresy are an artifact of history. Some think that burning suspected witches is a relic of ancient supernaturalism. Some think that the cruel Reign of Terror by “scientific elites” that followed the French Revolution will never be repeated. Some think that the Red Scare of McCarthyism is a vestige of a long-gone era. And some think that Orwell’s fictional Room 101 depicts irrational fear of tyrannical government.
A New Barbarism is upon us that contains elements of the above horrors. Fresh waves of barbarism always follow the rise of a New Orthodoxy in society, because the existing culture must die.
Today we are experiencing the ultimate irony in America, formerly the land of the free and the home of the brave. If someone dared to read aloud the Declaration of Independence in a public forum, they would risk being “cancelled” for spreading racist and incendiary information. This is because our founding documents are diametrically opposed to the New Orthodoxy.
Our freedom depends on our ability to persuade others in open and non-violent discussion and debate. Freedom requires reason, and reason requires freedom. But we have lost our ability to debate freely and civilly, so now violence is becoming the rhetoric of the day, and suppression is becoming the preferred method for resolving debates. When every faction shouts but does not listen, conflict rushes into the deafened void. Orthodoxy has replaced reason, so barbarism replaces civility. It is always thus.
Examples of the New Barbarism in America abound. Politicians have been shot. Our cities were on fire during the summer riots. Anarchists blocked roads and took over entire sections of cities. Mobs stormed the Capitol building in Washington, which is now surrounded by barbed wire and thousands of troops. The Speaker of the House tore up the President’s State of the Union address on live television. State capitals were swarmed by armed citizens. Racial animus pervades the public forum as an entire race is being ritually convicted of guilt by historical association. We’ve been locked down for nearly a year by near-dictatorial politicians. Church services are limited. Business have been forced to close. Our kids can’t go to school. Leaders are prosecuting ordinary people for infractions that they themselves don’t comply with. Our social media platforms are banning or de-monetizing those who challenge the New Orthodoxy. Entire social media platforms that challenge the New Orthodoxy are being shut down. A President was impeached twice, and perhaps his body will be exhumed after his death for a third impeachment. People are being fired from their jobs and having their careers ruined for comments made outside of work. “Unwoke” influencers and politicians are being assaulted in public and harassed in their homes. Corporations are kneeling to the New Orthodoxy to avoid the threat of harassment or boycott. Businesses are refusing to deal with other businesses. Customers are refusing to deal with certain businesses. There are calls to confiscate the wealth of living people to atone for the sins of dead people. The police are being attacked and defunded. Our statues are being torn down. Our history is being rewritten. Books and other media are being banned. School curriculums are being re-engineered. Social media content is being censored. All of our communications are being spied upon by the surveillance state and its Big Tech accomplices. Some radicals in the Cancel Culture are even suggesting that those who resist the New Orthodoxy be “re-educated” and “de-programmed”.
We are not far removed from the intellectual intolerance of the Inquisition, from the guillotines of the Reign of Terror, from the bonfires of the witch hunts, from the surveillance state of McCarthyism, nor from the dire literary warnings of Orwell.
What is this New Orthodoxy that is being enforced by the New Barbarism?
The New Orthodoxy is a One-Party rule, but not in the limited sense of Democrats over Republicans, because Republicans still manage to win their share of offices at the local level. Rather, it is the one-party rule of a dominant culture, in which the neo-Marxist social/economic/cultural religion of “woke supremacy” that undergirds the Democratic Party is enforced by the media, the bureaucracy, the schools, Big Tech, Big Finance, and other Big Businesses that wish to maintain market share by capitulating. It is a symphony of virtue signaling and extortion by the Elites at the expense of Everyone Else. It is a tyranny of authoritarian Elites telling everyone who exists outside of their purely imagined bubble how to live.
The New Orthodoxy is an unholy flashback to the oppressive feudalism of the Middle Ages, except instead of a class of barons and monarchs ruling over vassals, a class of political, intellectual, and financial Elites is ruling over Everyone Else. And just as in the Middle Ages, these Elites are using barbaric tactics to enforce their New Orthodoxy on the rest of us proles. The old feudalism was control over the property that everyone lived on. The new feudalism is control over the institutions of society that affect everyone. But as always, the control positions the Elites to enrich themselves and the rest of us to be fodder for their ambitions. We proles must bow our heads, pull our yokes, and refrain from upsetting the institutional apple carts from which our daily apples are dispensed.
Honest debate is taboo in the New Orthodoxy. The Elites are simply going to ram their culture, their politics, and their economics down the throats of everyone else, civility be damned. If you dissent, you will be doxed, you will be hounded out of your job, and you will be vilified in the public square. Truth has died, so our society is resorting to the barbarism of coercion. It is now the rulers versus the submissive, the order givers versus the order takers, the collusion of political and economic power versus those who have neither. Up next: Setting heretics on fire to intimidate the recalcitrant masses?
The barbarism is unavoidable, because our society is being rived in half by a death-match between two ideologies. One half of our society still orbits around the precepts of the classical liberalism that fueled our founding. The other half now orbits around the precepts of the worldwide neo-Marxist movement that is undermining all of western civilization. The two ideologies are irreconcilable, which makes barbarism inevitable, at least until one side wins out.
Classical liberalism embraces freedom from coercion at the expense of security; government as a protector of life, liberty, and property; self-responsibility and self-accountability; moral virtue in the form of owning the consequences of your actions; justice in the form of merit; wealth creation through effort, innovation, and investment; sovereignty of individuals protected by a Constitution; and freedom of thought, conscience, and speech.
Neo-Marxism embraces security at the expense of freedom; government as a tool for resolving class differences; responsibility for the collective rather than for the self; moral virtue in the form of self-sacrifice in favor of social interests; justice in the form of equity regardless of merit; wealth division through political allegiance rather than wealth creation; rights in the form of entitlements managed by a strong central government; and conformance of thought, conscience, and speech to the collective orthodoxy.
America is now two separate countries, and they are strangers to each other. They are combatants.
The neo-Marxists are crushing dissent against their New Orthodoxy for the simple reason that a lie fears debate, whereas the truth does not. The truth is that the classical liberalism that was ascendant in America for two hundred years fueled an unprecedented bounty of prosperity, health, and upward mobility. The lie is that neo-Marxism must now ascend to save everyone from the horrors of classical liberalism, whose successes are being culturally redefined as failures. The neo-Marxists package their lie in the warm and fuzzy coddling of the nanny state, swaddling us with suffocating myths called social justice, critical race theory, and economic equity.
The lie can’t stand forever, but it can stand long enough to ruin a nation. Neo-Marxism is the witch in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. It is an ideological confection that lures easily corrupted minds, then it cannibalizes entire societies, as it did in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Venezuela, for an abbreviated list. The tease of the delectable gingerbread house is the bait, the cage inside is the trap, and the loathsome witch is the statist tyrant waiting to gorge herself on her victims.
If a society decides to worship at the altar of statism, which is how America is now teetering, it should only do so with the understanding that the Elitists in charge will eventually demand human sacrifices. We are seeing the beginning of that kind of barbarism in America. Spoiler alert: The culmination of that barbarism looks a lot like German concentration camps, French guillotines, and Soviet gulags. Civilization is never far removed from a return to the primitive jungle of nihilistic barbarians who consider themselves “the enlightened”.
There is already a nascent revolt against this cultural oppression, as is always the case when reason and justice are beaten into submission, and when dissent is silenced. Under the heavy yoke of tyranny, first comes the murmuring, then the shouting, and finally the seismic revolution. I could refer to the revolution of 1776 as an example, but that would brand me as an extremist who must be watched carefully, which counts for tragic irony in a country that was born of that revolution.
Violence in a society is the failure of honest and open exchange of ideas. The violence is only the superficial aspect of barbarism; the true nature of barbarism is the collapse of free speech and the suppression of opinions and actions contrary to the Orthodoxy. When that happens, insults replace dialogue. Hatred replaces tolerance. The urge to disassociate replaces the urge to collaborate.
A poignant example of this is a recent discussion I had with a very bright and expressive young man who was on a different part of the political spectrum than I. Even though we disagreed on many things, the polite conversation ran for hours. We each spoke freely, so it was enlightening, entertaining, and challenging for both of us. It was an honest conversation, and so it was a powerful conversation. We connected on a human level rather than an ideological level. I was filled with so much hope that I invited the young man to join me in a series of podcasts to discuss a host of current issues. My hopes were crushed quickly. He confessed to me that he could never express opinions freely in a public forum where his views were being recorded. He feared that he would lose his friends and perhaps even his job. He declined my offer.
So that’s what we’ve come to, at least for now. Tolerance, courtesy, and reason are the hallmarks of civilization, but they are all being destroyed. The New Barbarism is intent on annihilating every opposing opinion and silencing every “heretic”. It appears to be succeeding, at least on the surface.
But in private, deep where resides the violated soul and where beats the angry heart, something powerful is stirring in millions of people of all ages. Every attempt to silence it, every attempt to batter it into submission, every attempt to erase it, and every attempt to deprogram it only makes the emotion and the resolve more powerful.
The New Barbarism looks a lot like the Old Barbarism. In the 17th Century, Galileo was imprisoned and threatened with torture if he refused to recant his “heresy” that the Earth revolves around the Sun. He recanted in public to avoid torture, but later told others in private the famous phrase, “Eppur si muevo,” which translates to “And yet it moves” (referring to the Earth revolving around the Sun).
Truth will eventually overwhelm orthodoxy. For every action there is a reaction. Coercion begets resistance, and resistance is the mother of rebellion. Like Jefferson told us, “A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”