Even Whacky Ideas Have Serious Consequences


Quite some time ago, “Duly Noted” dedicated a posting to the topic “Why They Kill”. As an intended victim, programmed massacres fascinate the writer. Since dozens of millions have been butchered in our time, the background of this aberration deserves attention. It transcends the personal prejudice caused by involvement.

Inevitably, systems that had made mass murder into their trade-mark, find apologists. These excuse murder by claiming that it has not been inevitable but only an accidental result of the misapplication of a noble idea. To prevent the present from regressing to the standards of the past, such a plea should not be allowed to stand. This demands that the those causes of butchery be elaborated that are immanent to systems that claim to be mandated to redeem mankind.

Beyond the piles of cadavers achieved by hi-tech murder, -or by slower and cheaper low-tech starvation enhanced by overwork-, the unifying factor that sacrifices human life is not the technology nor the victims’ label. Terror as a system begins with a noble idea. Since “ideas have consequences” none may claim innocence in whose name crimes were committed. Guilt is created when an idea that advocates criminal acts is supported as a deed of virtue.

A characteristic of ultimately criminal thoughts is that they appear as ideologies. That means that they pretend to be concepts that explain the present’s turbulence and the terminal point of an otherwise unfathomable process. That, regardless of right and wrong, gives a meaning to what is confusing, thereby making a seemingly haphazard process comprehensible. In the resulting secular faith a class of “priests” will rise that interpret events so as to confirm their teachings. Additionally, an armed branch of the select to enforce correct thinking against apostates will emerge.

A “truth,” which is regarded as “The Truth” may not be allowed to flounder on the shoals of a reality that had been left behind by earlier systems of “sin”. Therefore, if a gap is discerned between reality and the theory, then the difference between the “is” and the “should” must be bridged. In the service of the “should”, which will legitimize violence, terror will be required. That terror will be justified because of the immaculate end it serves by using violence against its detractors. A way to put it is to use the phrase “the end justifies the means”. In this case not as a cynical excuse, but as a proof of commitment to the good of the confused crowd that is not cognizant of its interests. Conveniently, that means that violence that nudges those yet incapable to be aware of their benefit, is justified by the ignorance of those to be coerced.

The implication is that society is not seen as a community with shifting majorities avowing views that are legitimized by the number their backers. Here the community is divided into two classes. One is, due to its intellect, in possession of the truth. Elitist traits separate it from the mass and that deputizes it to fulfill a burden derived from its superiority. The implied duty is to redeem, against the resistance of the ignorant, the mass from its stupor in which it swallows contentedly.

Important in this depiction is that it denies democracy because, to paraphrase Lenin, not quantitative majorities but qualitatively superior minorities have the right to lead. The elite that rallies behind a redeeming prophet has, therefore, a duty in the “interest of the people”. However, that duty being independent of the “people’s” momentary will, attributes to the saviors a power that is not limited by having a majority. These assumptions make the elite into a ruling group that, being independent of the approval of those served, exercises dictatorial powers. Those that benefit from this tutelage will lack the ability to concede shortcomings and resists to admit that the mass it “educates” has attained the maturity to become self-governing.

Let us remember that organizations might come about because of a need for their service. It is unusual for such an organization to report “we are clearing our desks”, because the “job is completed”. Dictatorship, even if it claims to “educate” is, through its interests, permanent.

The bit about self-perpetuating bureaucracy is about the tendency of power-elites to resist their removal once the “job” for which they were created is completed. This could also be filed under “institutionalized dictatorship, is permanent” even if it had once justified itself with the task to upgrade society for the future.

Achieving the ideal society presupposes the emergence of a “New Man” of Soviet educational theory. This New Man may be a noble end but it is also unachievable, therefore a fiction made into the elite’s self-serving goal. If the New Man would stand at the end of a reeducated society, then with that, the institutions through which the “vanguard” had guided, would become superfluous. Of his own volition, the New Man acts “correctly” without terror’s guidance against “deviants”.

The foregoing tells why ideologycal dictatorship is incapable of reform and why, in a twisted way, Stalin was right that ,the closer one gets to the ideal, the more intensive the class struggle’s terror against society, must become.

Ignoring the evidence and the logic of the systems that produced it, democracies do not tire to further “their” liberal reformers within totalitarian power-elites. The hope is that those to whom the trait is attributed will rise within the system and redirect it to pursue limited goals. What this endeavor ignores is that the reform of totalitarian systems is only possible through their abolition. Let us add that these “liberals” exist only in the imagination of appeasers that hold that conflicts are avoided by giving in.

The claim has been made here that totalitarian dictatorship is not an accidental aberration of a backward society unqualified to pursue an idea that frees mankind from its chains. Totalitarian dictatorship is independent of the level of development and its location.

Totalitarian reality is an unavoidable consequence of an ideal fundament that sets unattainable goals. These justify, in the pursuit of the absolute good, the resort to total evil as an instrument. The wrong goal using a wicked tool results in total evil. Ignoring this will not make the phenomenon go away.

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