“Fear Society” is Natan Sharansky’s term for a socio-political order that flunks the “town square” test: People are too frightened to speak their mind in public spaces because they fear retribution. A victim of Soviet tyranny before emigrating to Israel, for Sharansky the consequences of free expression could be arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death. For us, the regime of political correctness, “cancel culture,” “microaggressions,” and “woke” commissars reinforces a similar repression, a “softer” one, as Tocqueville called it, but effective nonetheless in silencing dissent and promoting an illiberal progressive ideology.
Sharansky goes on to describe the consequences of living in a fear society, which typically comprises three groups: “true believers,” those who sincerely believe in the regime’s ideology; “dissidents,” those who oppose the regime and speak out against it; and “doublethinkers,” the majority who oppose the regime yet do not publicly express their opposition, particularly to outsiders.
Donald Trump’s political success has emboldened the conservative and Republican “doublethinkers” to express their opinions in the “town square” and challenge the domination that for several decades the progressives have enjoyed over political speech.
In Europe, hate speech laws and the absence of the legally recognized natural right to free speech that we enjoy allow the state to legally sanction or punish speech the EU doesn’t like. In contrast, here in the U.S. indirect methods of enforcement are more typically used. One method is to discredit and ostracize any alternative to progressive doctrine: “The most successful tyranny,” Harold Bloom wrote, “is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable.”
That is the point of political correctness: to demonize alternatives to the dominant ideology by attributing them to mental disorders like racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and “white privilege.” Violence will sometimes be used, as in the mobs shouting down conservative speakers, or the Antifa goons physically attacking opponents. But more effective is the self-censorship of the “doublethinkers” who know that political correctness is illiberal and compromises political freedom, but will not publicly challenge its doctrines. Over time, the assumptions and vocabulary of political correctness become reflexive positions people express in public spaces.
We have seen this process at work in establishment Republicans who accept the Left’s degradation of language. “Racism” in particular has been a powerful verbal weapon for bludgeoning opponents into conformity. These “doublethinking” Republicans seldom contest the Left’s Orwellian distortion of the word “racism,” whose only legitimate meaning is the belief that all members of one group are by nature inferior to all members of another. Instead, these so-called conservatives accept the ideologically loaded meaning that “racism” denotes any speech that disagrees with or challenges dubious progressive shibboleths like “white privilege,” endemic “white racism,” “implicit bias,” “disparate impact,” or even the mentioning of established facts, such as police killings of unarmed black males are rare, while 90% of black deaths come at the hands of other blacks. Indeed, mere criticism, no matter how justified or unrelated to race, of a “person of color” is prima facie racism.
Moreover, this progressive revision of language has now become joined to notions of decorum, civility, “principles,” or manners, which always have been instruments of social-class identification and elite gate-keeping. Now ideologically skewed terms like “racism” or “homophobia” define public decorum. The “right” people––those with university credentials and a self-proclaimed superiority of intellect, taste, and knowledge––distance themselves from the semiliterate rubes and “bitter clingers to guns and religion” by conspicuously condemning and decrying “racism” and other thought-crimes. Self-censorship has evolved into good manners that sacrifice truth and coherence of argument to one’s class identity.
Donald Trump has challenged this whole regime of doublethink, and encouraged the “dissidents” who for decades now have been frustrated by alleged conservatives ceding so much moral and linguistic high-ground to the illiberal Left. Trump’s blunt, sometimes crude manner and style relentlessly attack the tyrannical regime of political correctness, and its abettors among NeverTrump Republicans who mask their irrational bitterness and wounded professional and personal self-love in cries of violated “principles” and “decorum.” Most important, he has exposed the hypocrisy of both cohorts: The affluent progressives who compensate for their privilege by endorsing the illiberal tenets of identity politics and political correctness, and the NeverTrump careerists and elitists angry that their political country club has been crashed by a brash vulgarian.
The sorry spectacle of Mitt Romney’s moral preening last week during the Senate impeachment vote is a good example. Romney voted to convict Trump of the fantasy crime of “abuse of power,” the first time in history that a Senator has voted against a president from his own party without any proven “high crimes or misdemeanors.” Romney’s rationale was typical NeverTrump bluster about “principle” seasoned with Pharasaism: “I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice,” he said. “I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.” The president was “grievously wrong” and “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
This is the same Mitt Romney who solicited and received Trump’s endorsement when he ran for president in 2012, a time when Trump’s personality and demeanor were well known. Yet when Trump began his presidential run in 2015, Romney called him “childish” and later a “phony, a fraud” who is “playing members of the American public for suckers.” He then claimed that if “Trump had said what he said about “the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled,” he would “NOT have accepted his endorsement” in 2012. There’s the typical Republican NeverTrumper’s validation of the Left’s question-begging smears about Trump’s “racism” and affinity for “white supremacists” and other forms of intolerance. Yet despite all this sanctimonious dudgeon, Romney trekked to the White House in a failed, and humiliating, bid to become Trump’s Secretary of State.
After that, in 2017 Romney joined the duplicitous chorus of Dems and Donk NeverTrumpers who claimed that Trump said that the marginal white supremacists protesting at Charlottesville were “fine people,” a canard exploded numerous times. Yet he continued to speak with the president occasionally, and in 2018 secured Trump’s endorsement for his Senate bid. Despite Trump’s kind remarks at that time, Romney continued to snipe at Trump, once again parroting the bipartisan NeverTrumpers in saying of Trump’s comments about Russian interference in the election––which we now know has been overblown by the same intelligence agencies that would go on to undermine Trump’s administration––“President Trump’s decision to side with Putin over American intelligence agencies is disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles.”
No, Senator, what’s “disgraceful” is that our intelligence agencies did not examine the DNC server Russia allegedly hacked, but took the word of a private enterprise bought and paid for by the DNC. We still don’t know the truth about the origins of the hack, which hasn’t kept Trump’s enemies from continually asserting a suspicion as a fact.
You can read here more of Romney’s attacks on Trump, such as his response to the Mueller report that he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection” of Trump and his administration. How about the “dishonesty and misdirection” of the intelligence agency functionaries who violated the Constitution by weaponizing the surveillance and enforcement powers of the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and State Department in order to advance their political and professional interests?
Given Romney’s self-interested behavior, can we blame people for seeing all this principled dudgeon as instead sour grapes over a political tyro doing what Romney, with his gilt-edged political curriculum vitae, couldn’t do? And doesn’t it suggest elastic principles in the service of careerism that Romney, despite his estimation of Trump as a “threat to democracy,” would offer himself up as a candidate for Secretary of State, and then solicit Trump’s endorsement when he ran for the Senate? And isn’t he embarrassed by the effusive encomia he has received from MSNBC, CNN, and other progressive mouthpieces? Romney should heed the wisdom of the philosopher Antisthenes: When bad men praise you, you should be horribly afraid that you’ve done something wrong.
We don’t know if Romney, or any NeverTrumper, is a “doublethinker,” or if he is conscious of his hypocrisy and careerism. Many NeverTrumpers might be like Holly Golightly, a “real phony” who “really believes all the crap” they claim to believe. The main point is that by endorsing the Orwellian lexicon of politically correct abuse, and taking their stand on “principles” they are willing to violate or selectively apply, they give aid and comfort to the progressive “true believers” whose long hegemony over our political life and culture that Trump has challenged.
By emboldening the “dissidents” against the illiberal regime, Trump has struck a blow against an aggressive progressivism that seeks to dismantle our Constitutional safeguards against tyranny, and has begun to dismantle their “fear society,” and return us to what America was created to be: a free society where anyone can “bawl out his freedom,” as Aeschylus put it, in the town square.
State of the Disunion: High Women’s Employment Is Nothing To Cheer About
Written by Selwyn Duke
At the recent State of the Union Address, Republicans cheered President Trump’s announcement that women “filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year” and that “Americans can be proud” of how females are now the workforce’s majority. But far from being something to cheer about, studies have shown that this phenomenon reflects a declining civilization.
After all, high female and relatively low male employment numbers are strongly associated with below-replacement-level fertility rates, and as commentator Mark Steyn so pithily put it, “The future belongs to those who show up for it.”
With Westerners not replacing themselves, we’re poised to be a no-show. Of course, it’s not politically correct to talk about women staying at home — even though this is most women’s preference. According to a 2015 Gallup poll of women, for example, “56%, who have a child younger than 18 would ideally like to stay home and care for their house and family,” if given the choice.
But this choice is increasingly being frustrated. On top of the high taxation already compelling wives to seek a second income to supplement what’s stolen from their husband’s first one, now Democrat presidential candidates are touting child-care plans that would further incentivize two-income households.
The media and even the occasional foreign leader abet this. Critiquing the president’s SOTU assertions and claiming that the “United States has fallen to ninth place, behind Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan and others” in female labor participation (FLP), the Washington Post wrote last week that “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently took a swipe at Trump”: Abe boasted that his nation’s FLP of 67 percent is well above our 57.5 percent.
Not coincidentally, Japan’s fertility rate (1.44 children per woman) is also well below ours (1.80), and both are below replacement level, 2.1. Is Abe oblivious to how FLP contributes to Japan’s demographic death spiral? Probably not. He has addressed the birth dearth with policies designed to increase fecundity, after all, and politically correct chest-pounding is a thing among world leaders.
What the Japanese haven’t done, to their credit, is what Germany has: use their baby bust as an excuse to import millions of unassimilable immigrants. But that is the Western formula: Increase FLP (among other things), collapse birthrates, and then replace your disappearing population with a foreign one. And people cheer.
Commentator Suzanne Venker recently addressed excessive FLP’s downside in a piece entitled, “Men need work in a way women don’t.” She wrote:
When men dominate the workforce, there’s no negative effect on marriage and family formation. But unemployed and underemployed men have 0% chance of finding a wife.
We envision ourselves progressive when it comes to women and work, but women are still (and always will be) the sex that gets pregnant. As such, they know that if they want to have children, and if they want the option of taking care of those children, if only for a few years, they need a competent working husband on whom they can rely. Women also aren’t attracted to men who lack ambition or drive. A man doesn’t need to be rich, but he needs to know where he’s going and how he’s going to get there.
We cannot reverse the sexes in this scenario and end up with the same result. A woman’s employment status determines zero of her physical attractiveness. The average man isn’t looking for a woman who can support him (nor is his desire for her related to her level of ambition), so his attachment to work is very different from a woman’s. Work is a man’s identity, his means of being useful.
This relates to the cynical sounding criticism that men view women as sex objects and the corresponding, though less voiced one that women consider men success objects. A gentler way of putting it is that, generally speaking, men are attracted to pulchritude and women to prosperity.
The reason is simple: Beauty is generally a quality of younger women of childbearing age, and men’s having resources enables them to take care of wives and children. So what the sexes instinctively seek in each other facilitates the species’ perpetuation.
(This doesn’t mean that, ideally, people shouldn’t also look for deeper qualities in a mate. But not much would get done if we relied on deeper motives to actuate man. This is one reason socialism doesn’t work: Basic incentives are necessary to motivate those [most people] not animated by higher ones.)
Then there’s careerism. The fine documentary Demographic Winter (video below), citing sociological research, explains that the greatest predictor of family size is the number of children women say they want. It also points out that when women are imbued with careerism, they postpone childbearing and often have only one or even no offspring.
It’s a vicious circle, too. Men being less marriageable (successful) only encourages women to pursue careers while simultaneously causing the men to lose hope of ever being able to have and support a family.
One hallmark of leftism, starting with its French Revolution birth, is the belief that man’s nature is malleable and can be molded to fit the latest ideological fashions. But Venker reminds us that “men and women aren’t interchangeable,” they can’t be made so, and that “nothing good will come from men being displaced by women in the workforce.”
This is precisely what our society encourages, however. Yet far from the “girl power,” affirmative-action agenda we currently pursue that prioritizes female employment, “it makes more sense for men to have a leg up in the marketplace,” writes Venker. In other words, maybe our forefathers weren’t so dumb after all.
Thus, seeing conservatives cheer a symptom of our demise can bring to mind how the West has “two great types,” as G.K. Chesterton noted adressing the lib/con dichotomy — “the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.”
The Left’s destruction of the family deserves jeers, not cheers.
Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The New American for more than a decade. He has also written for The Hill, Observer, The American Conservative, WorldNetDaily, American Thinker, and many other print and online publications. In addition, he has contributed to college textbooks published by Gale-Cengage Learning, has appeared on television, and is a frequent guest on radio.