Right before the onset of the pandemic, I began to tackle one of the most formidable classics on my reading list; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. The historical 2000-page memoir is an exhaustive account of Solzhenitsyn's years in prison camps. He was arrested in 1945 for writing critical comments about Joseph Stalin in a private letter to a friend. He scolded Soviet leaders for "forgetting God" and for "substituting an ideology with atheism as its' chief inspirational and emotional hub.'" At the time, such thoughts were punishable as "Counterrevolutionary Activity." He was summarily sentenced to eight miserable years in the gulag labor camps, surrounded by armed guards. In 1953, he was exiled "for life" to the village of Kok-Terek, in the southeast part of Kazakhstan.
Solzhenitsyn wrote Gulag Archipelago later in Estonia between 1963 and 1967. His manuscript was seized in 1973 and published that year in Paris. In 1974, he was censored in the USSR because of the memoir. He was arrested, charged with treason, stripped of his citizenship, and expelled from the Soviet Union to Frankfurt, West Germany. Solzhenitsyn's accounts were based on his own detention and the brutal stories of the ideological and physical abuses of approximately 18 million people starting in the 1920s and ending after Stalin's death in 1953. The camps were not officially abolished until 1960. It took my breath away to realize how some were living in faraway lands while citizens languished in tranquility here in the U.S.
While it is natural to focus on the unimaginable acts of human torture depicted in excruciating detail, his passages on the pernicious influence of a societal focus on ideology struck me most profoundly at the time. Maybe it was the synchronicity of my choice of reading material during the early months of the pandemic that made those passages all the more impactful and prescient.
During the years of the gulags, the ideology of the tyrants drove the terrifying evils carried out in those camps. Solzhenitsyn explains that the attachment to that ideology justifies and solidifies the evil acts, all serving the collective good. Under such regimes, people begin to believe they are doing the right thing even when objective truths tell them otherwise.
It is not a stretch to perceive the significant parallels between the ideological underpinnings of the gulag and those of the pandemic. Influential figures emerged early on during the pandemic, Fauci and Birx being the most prominent ideological leaders. By mid-March, cautionary messaging from the government pushed—first masks,—then quarantines and lockdowns. The elderly died alone. The country descended into what became destructive levels of isolation and fear. Well-informed doctors warned that early treatment not only worked but saved lives. Few listened. Even now, there are pockets of society that continue to harp on the benefits of masks or the vaccine—even when data proves the risks outweigh the benefits. The Liberal feminist writer Naomi Wolf comments on how damaging these ideological semiotics have been,
"We know now that it was and is a giant propaganda mechanism, where these talking points are focused, grouped in detail. Psychologists give input about what's going to work, testing and reiterating the message. They know my tribe really well. They really do. It's so evil and cynical because the people I know and love on the Left—if you are told that if you don't wear a mask, you're a racist, or you know wearing a mask is a sign of solidarity with a hard hit Native American communities, communities of color. You have no choice. You have to put the mask up on, and you can't even engage in critical thinking or debate, or discussion. It is not even related to objective fact or utility."
Listen carefully to this woman's assertions referencing the "right-wing anti-mask, anti-mask ideology" in the Sept. 6 discussion below. Sadly, there are many more "discussions" like this on social media platforms.
The pandemic was arguably an accelerating event in our nation's history. It was used to push social constructs that kicked many into survival mode. So many were and still are unable to see how badly deceived they were. Neither data nor rational discourse will convince them of their individual power to discern what might be best for themselves and their loved ones. Legacy media, the CDC, the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and even President Trump himself, with his flawed Operation Warpspeed, set the country on an uncharted path of ideological warfare. The 2020 election was handily and lawlessly hijacked. Social media became a gulag for many whose ideas were counter to the prevailing narratives. Censorship became commonplace, resulting in many, including the President, being expeditiously silenced with the stroke of a button on a keyboard. Clandestine coordination between Big Tech and Big Government weaponized information against every citizen in the land. The media carried water for these tyrants with "steadfastness and determination, making "acts seem good instead of bad in their and others' eyes." It was and still is a psychological and ideological gulag.
On Thursday, Journalist Glen Greenwald posted a chilling thread on the scourge of censorship. It lays out in poignant detail the ways the screws are being tightened with the "regime of censorship."
"A series of "crises" have been cynically and aggressively exploited to inexorably restrict the range of permitted views and expand pretexts for online silencing and de-platforming. Trump's election, Russiagate, J6, COVID, and war in Ukraine all fostered new methods of repression."
He then goes on to state that there is "an entire new industry, aligned with Dems, to pressure Big Tech to censor. Think tanks and self-proclaimed "disinformation experts" funded by Omidyar, Soros and the US/UK Security State use benign-sounding names to glorify ideological censorship as neutral expertise."
Greenwald explains that those in power have mobilized "posturing as opponents of fascism"—while their main goal is to unite state and corporate power to censor their critics and degrade the internet into an increasingly repressive weapon of information control." This, my friends, is the very definition of fascistic ideology. Control the narrative. Make it look benign. Turn up the heat slowly. Weaponize information and the financial system to favor the favored. Make sure the unwashed masses understand it is for their own good.
In the interest of those with shorter attention spans, I will refrain from spelling out every instance of how deeply this collectivist ideology has taken root. However, it is important to name a few in case their insidious plan has managed to vaporize the last whiff of your ability to achieve perspective on where we now are.
Critical Race Theory controls our educational system in the name of equity. The military is being enfeebled by woke politics in service of equal opportunity. Not a single federal agency is untouched by propaganda. General Flynn was removed and persecuted because he threatened their plans. Doctors have been jailed because they refused to speak the party line. Independent journalists have been financially de-platformed and relegated to the far corners of the internet in the name of societal safety. FBI raids of Mar-a-Lago and Trump's allies— the targeting of political enemies of the state. To question elections is to propagate the Big Lie. Medical freedom has been stripped to serve the masses. The Constitution is seen as antiquated and quaint. Gun-free zones allegedly save lives even though criminals leverage them to kill. All are driven by an ideology of collectivism. The ideological programming is alarmingly metastatic, and it continues to spread. These are the kinds of signals that always precede more dire actions to squash the human spirit. Solzhenitsyn wrote, "Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty."
Make no mistake, Biden's horrific Sept. 1 speech was but the next logical step in the march toward full fascistic tyranny. Speeches like that only occur when the foundational ideological roots are already institutionalized. Biden's speech drew a confident line in the sand. Its message was meant to objectify detractors of the regime. His speech redefined patriotism in the most sinister of ways, but he framed it to make you think he was being benevolent.
This is a dark topic, but it is one we must entertain. There are signs of awakening. We are standing on a precipice but still hold some meaningful reins to redirect our destiny. The first step in recovery is always a sober assessment of where things stand. I pray we can mobilize each other to make our way out of the fog.
"And the lie has, in fact, led us so far away from a normal society that you cannot even orient yourself any longer; in its dense, gray fog not even one pillar can be seen." ~Alexandr Solzhenitsyn