Building an Imagined Community 4: Paranoia

As we’ve noted, universalism works well in a revolutionary situation, but the hate it generates — no matter how well “otherized” — tends to come back and bite you.  That’s because hate is not an abstract emotion.  It has to be released every now and again onto something tangible…. but every time you let it off the chain, the harder it is to leash it back up.  The end result is paranoia — a steep “purity spiral” that ends in chaos.

There are lots of examples.  To stick with Communists for a second, you’ve got the full catalog of Stalinist and especially Maoist paranoia.  Wreckers, capitalist-roaders, Right-deviationists, Left-deviationists, trade unionists, syndicalists, anarchists, Trotskyists, Bukharin, Plekhanov, Liu Shaoqi, Tito, the Gang of Four…. in short, Emmanuel Goldstein.*  There’s no coming back once you start down this road — it took a few decades, but the USSR was toast after Khruschhev’s “secret speech” in 1956; Maoism after the Cultural Revolution (which was, in part, a direct reaction to the secret speech).

In case you haven’t taken a Communist History course lately — a history of CommunismI mean, not history taught by Communists, which is every history class, K-thru-PhD — you can just look around at the local nuthouse, a.k.a. any campus in America.  They start with this stuff in elementary school now.  Privilege.  Making up your own pronouns.  Cis-anything.  No one is so #Woke that a rival can’t get #Woker at your expense.  Remember: The first guy to stop clapping after Dear Leader gets done speaking is hauled out back and shot.

The apotheosis of this is the “rape culture” that exists on American college campuses… and absolutely nowhere else.  Rotherham? Not a rape culture.  Hollywood?  Not a rape culture.  But some drunk college guy accidentally calls his professor “Miss” instead of “your wingless golden dragonkin-ness”?  That’s practically the Red Army in Prussia.  Women are more socially attuned than men; therefore, they are more paranoid than men.  A mostly male society (like the aforementioned Red Army) might eventually reach a weary compromise over not ratting each other out to the Authorities.  A mostly female society never will.  And since we’re all required to be chicks now wherever our schoolmarms have influence — which is pretty much everywhere — you get the steepening purity spiral we’re in now.  Our Cultural Revolution started about the same time as Mao’s… and, I fear, will have to get much bloodier than Mao’s before it stops.

But it will stop.  It has to.  Ask the Chinese.  Look at their solution — that’s at least part of the way to do “imagined community” right.


*Rotten Chestnuts will award the Order of Lenin, Third Class, to anyone who identifies the joke in this sentence.
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2 thoughts on “Building an Imagined Community 4: Paranoia

  1. Frip

    “A mostly male society might eventually reach a weary compromise over not ratting each other out to the Authorities. A mostly female society never will. And since we’re all required to be chicks now…you get the steepening purity spiral we’re in now. ”

    Great and funny.

    Yes, there’s the Left purity thing. And an offshoot of it has bled into the Right since PC culture came on strong some 30 years ago. With our bitter awareness and constant calling out of Leftists for getting away with things they’re “supposed” to be punished for. Which is right and can only be expected. But it’s sad that we were all once Americans and didn’t do this to each other. We’re all barking snitches now. The Left from self righteousness. The Right from humiliation and resentment. “Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me.”

  2. Tim of the North

    Ninth regular reader here. Finally had the time to read this excellent four part series. That we have a class of people with a deep need to impose tyranny seems pretty evident. Question…where does it go from here? What are these people going to do with themselves? They aren’t the sort to wake up at age 31, and say, Gee, what an idiot I’ve been. You seem to think that the left is going to go for straight up hard socialism, and end the identity gig.

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