I’ve had this one sitting in an open tab for a couple days now, waiting for me to get around to posting on it. This is actually the one that got me poking around Eric’s place again after a longish absence, leading to the post below this ‘un. Can’t remember where I saw it linked, unfortunately.
…the Soviet espionage apparat actually ran two different kinds of network: one of spies, and one of agents of influence. The agents of influence had the minor function of recruiting spies (as, for example, when Kim Philby was brought in by one of his tutors at Cambridge), but their major function was to spread dezinformatsiya, to launch memetic weapons that would damage and weaken the West.
In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia.
The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the “leading elements” of society through their agents of influence. (See, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals; summary by Koch here) This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.
Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people — at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life.
Koch shows us that the worst-case scenario was, as it turns out now, the correct one; these ideas, like the “race bomb” rumor, really were instruments deliberately designed to destroy the American way of life. Another index of their success is that most members of the bicoastal elite can no longer speak of “the American way of life” without deprecation, irony, or an automatic and half-conscious genuflection towards the altar of political correctness. In this and other ways, the corrosive effects of Stalin’s meme war have come to utterly pervade our culture.
The most paranoid and xenophobic conservatives of the Cold War were, painful though this is to admit, the closest to the truth in estimating the magnitude and subtlety of Soviet subversion. Liberal anticommunists (like myself in the 1970s) thought we were being judicious and fair-minded when we dismissed half of the Right’s complaint as crude blather. We were wrong; the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss really were guilty, the Hollywood Ten really were Stalinist tools, and all of Joseph McCarthy’s rants about “Communists in the State Department” were essentially true. The Venona transcripts and other new material leave no room for reasonable doubt on this score.
This post is from 2006; I may even have excerpted it here back then, I dunno. Regardless, Raymond’s clear-eyed analysis—particularly in the way he ties this in with the West’s seemingly eternal struggle with predatory Islam—is almost shockingly prescient. His conclusion, too, seems even more perceptive now than it did then:
The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050. But if the Islamists achieve their dream of nuking “crusader” cities, they’ll make crusaders out of the U.S., too. And this time, a West with a chauvinized America at its head would smite the Saracen with weapons that would destroy entire populations and fuse Mecca into glass. The horror of our victory would echo for a thousand years.
I remain more optimistic than this. I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin’s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.
I don’t know that I can share Eric’s optimism, frankly. His fear of a hard Right willing and able to wreak total destruction on the Muslim world seems almost quaint now. From all the evidence I can see, it looks far more likely that we lack the national will to do what’s necessary to vanquish the jihadis and adequately defend our own culture and way of life, and are far more willing to go along with “absorbing” the routine bimonthly terrorist attack, having another of our teary, bleary “memorial” get-togethers that so dishonor our dead afterwards, and then plodding timidly on as before. Until the next time.
The Gramscian rot might well prove to be too deeply ingrained to allow for the vigorous, deadly response required of us; we would rather fence off entire cities behind concrete barriers, resign ourselves to constant and total surveillance, and endure an annoying and degrading mockery of “security” at our airports, it seems. Certainly it’s now obvious that the Muslim world’s unrelenting determination to subjugate us will require at least some of the brutal hard-war fighting at which Eric expresses his horror above if we’re to save ourselves from a fate too ignominious to contemplate. That’s a direct consequence of our squeamishness at facing certain truths unflinchingly, sure enough. But it hardly matters now.
All that aside, I have to say that Eric has had a larger and longer-lived impact on my own thinking than I realized until just now; the above passage is clearly where my oft-repeated statement that “before we defeat Islam, we will first have to defeat the Left” had its origins, for example. I used to correspond with him a good bit back in those days, to my great benefit; I really have to see to it that I don’t let so much time pass before looking in on him again.