What We Can Learn from Communist Eastern Europe About Contemporary American Life

Double Reality was the situation under Communist rule in which one knew that everything was terrible but was daily  assaulted with the message that everything was wonderful. An important difference between the West today and the Soviet bloc experience from the late 1940s up to 1989 is that we at least can complain without getting hauled off to a reeducation camp.

What we also have in the West, however, is the implementation of a left-wing idea that supposedly applied to democratic capitalist society. The Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse called it “repressive tolerance” while the extreme leftist philologist Noam Chomsky called the other side of the equation, “manufacturing consent.”

In short, for the far left today,which has more power in the United States than ever before and arguably the same point applies (at least in the intellectual sphere) to Western Europe, Marcuse’s concept covers the side of, Let them talk but keep people from listening. The dissenters are ridiculed, their ideas distorted, they are accused of thought crimes, and when possible are ignored completely

Chomsky got the part that says, We will control the schools, mass media, and other institutions so as to indoctrinate people into agreeing with us in order to “manufacture consent” for ideas that are ridiculous and which a few years earlier only a small fringe would have supported.

Double Reality means that the financial deficit is disastrous and the economy is bad month after month yet there are happy face talk everywhere saying that the first doesn’t matter and the second is doing well. The great leader has everything under control even while we know that he is handing out assets stolen from us to his cronies.

Double Reality means that political figures, cultural figures, teachers, and others don’t have to be fair because they know beyond question that they are right and that their rivals are primitive, evil, and don’t know what’s good for them.

And so for example we are told that the media is doing a terrific job (usually by that self-same media) and that universities are beacons of wisdom when both are falling down on their job of being watchdogs with only a few journalists and professors shouting warnings or evincing guilt.

Are we crazy to think that American foreign policy is in a terrible mess? Well, the goal is to make the masses think so or at least ignore what I and others say.

You can see these techniques in action in the museums devoted to the Communist era in places like Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.  Films showing happy peasants are displayed alongside texts describing how the state confiscated almost everything that farmers produced. Exhibits show how religious institutions were taken over by the party so that smooth-talking officials speaking about social justice forced out the most honest and dedicated clergy. Videos of show-trials portray the berating of real patriots and honest democracy advocates as the servants of vile forces of capitalism, Zionism, and other enemies of the people. The victims underwent “reeducation” and might tearfully confess their “crimes.”

Setbacks under the Communist regime were attributed to deliberate sabotage. An example from Hungary: when the supply of meat fell, meat-workers were rounded up and put on trial. Just like–as in the concept, not the degree of punishment–economic woes today are blamed on the evil, selfish enemies of the regime.

Reality becomes unimportant; evidence is irrelevant. Logical discourse is not need to reach the proper conclusions. Why give racists, fascists, and the greedy exploiters of the people fair treatment? We know they are guilty so anything is permissible.

Full article: What We Can Learn from Communist Eastern Europe About Contemporary American Life (GLORIA Center)

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