Authored by Roger Kimball via American Greatness,
“Because he can.”
That’s the answer one has to give to those who ask how Alvin Bragg, a local district attorney in office by the slimmest of margins – and then only because of a huge subsidy from the anti-American billionaire George Soros – can get away with antics like indicting Donald Trump, a former (and, possibly, future) president of the United States, and, now, with charging former Marine Daniel Penny with manslaughter because he (along with at least two others) intervened to stop Jordan Neely from attacking fellow passengers on a New York subway.
Because he can.
As a friend remarked when digesting the spectacle of Penny being led away in handcuffs, totalitarian movements often start slowly, almost timidly, but as they gain power, they become more brazen. After a certain point, they do outrageous things just to intimidate the public and demonstrate their power.
We now know that the FBI, the CIA, and other elements of America’s security apparatus intervened directly in the decision making of Twitter and other social media companies to influence the course of the 2020 election. One part of that intervention had to do with organizing 51 senior former intelligence figures to sign a letter declaring that Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation.”
That was a lie. They knew it was a lie. It didn’t matter. They did it because they knew they could get away with it.
The United States is on the verge of being inundated with thousands upon thousands of illegal aliens. Many are from South or Central America. Hundreds are from China, even though they are crossing that notional line we used to be able to call, without irony, our southern border. Why did the Biden Administration decide to enact a real-life Camp of the Saints invasion of the United States?
Because it could. There was no immediate price to pay.
In her classic study, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt makes several observations that bear on our current situation. “There is no doubt,” she observes,
that the elite was pleased whenever the underworld frightened respectable society into accepting it on an equal footing. The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it. They were not particularly outraged at the monstrous forgeries in historiography of which all totalitarian regimes are guilty and which announce themselves clearly enough and totalitarian propaganda.
It’s not only the compact between the elite and the underclass that is relevant to our experience in the United States today. There is also the incontinent deployment of the word “democracy,” not as a term describing a specific form of political organization but rather as a cognitively empty but talismanic vocable around which political animus can be nurtured and set to work. The latest variation is Our DemocracyTM, dragged out whenever the process of political demonization needs a boost.
“It has been frequently pointed out,” Arendt notes, “that totalitarian movements use and abuse democratic freedoms in order to abolish them.”
The reaction to the January 6, 2021 jamboree at the Capitol—an event egged on and at least in part organized by (alleged) state actors like Ray Epps—is a case in point. As he showed last week in his exchange with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Donald Trump began trying to diffuse the potential for violence at that protest the day before, on January 5, and he continued through the day on January 6. No matter. The script called for him to be the villain of the piece, so the villain he is publicly accounted to be.
So many things in our social and political life today seem surreal.
The prospect that “misgendering” someone might be against the law—i.e., a tort that did not even exist yesterday is now illegal; the whole phenomenon of so-called “transgenderism,” a revolt against reality if there ever was one; the bizarre obsession with race, involving the demonization of whites and the fabrication of an imaginary sin called “white supremacy,” on the one hand, and the groveling obeisance of phantasmagoric “reparations” to blacks, on the other. You can’t tune into the internet these days without being confronted with scenes of blacks rampaging through fast-food restaurants, school corridors, or shops like Target and Walmart. They smash and steal and smash and what happens to them? Nothing. All this and more is part of what Arendt called totalitarianism’s “experiment against reality.”
“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines,” she pointed out,
“totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations.”
“The shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings.” That is what our masters are pretending to insulate us from with their fantastic lies about human nature, economic reality, and empirical truth.
The only silver lining in this minatory storm cloud is the fact that such movements, though unconscionably cruel, arbitrary, and destructive, are also astonishingly fragile.
The last word goes to Arendt.
“Nothing is more characteristic of the totalitarian movements in general, and of the quality of fame of their leaders in particular than the startling swiftness with which they are forgotten and the startling ease with which they can be replaced.”