The Regime Cracks Down

I posted this squib on FB  in answer to a discussion of the origin of America's ongoing ideological crackdown via the media.

Every political regime (or tribal society) known to me imposes, whether consciously or not, its way of thinking on the populace. That is one of the reasons Ancient Rome had lictors with fasces, eagles, etc. But in traditional societies the means and materials of propaganda are assimilated slowly, consensually, unconsciously--the way my mother, if she spilled salt, always tossed a bit over her shoulder. No government or priest made her do it.

Even very hard pre-modern dictators and tyrants had to be careful about how much they tried to control the minds of the people. It is hard for us to understand the Spartans except, as V Ehrenburg did during WW II, a precursor of National Socialism, but it is very clear that Spartans did not feel oppressed and that Greek aristocrats admired them.

However, in revolutionary regimes, like Jacobin France, Nazi Germany, the USSR, and our own USSA, a political elite class, alienated from the religion and culture of the people, invent and imposes ideological substitutes for religion and custom, through education and various media of communication.

To take one small example, since the 1920's at least American public schools have carried out a mandate to transform traditional Anglo-American society and its people into the New Democratic Man. The media were mostly on board under FDR, though there was opposition, but today, most churches, most media, most even private schools and colleges are eager collaborators in the project, which has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of Lenin and Stalin. Stalinist Russia harbored the authors of From Under the Rubble, while Deweyite America can offer nothing but endless whining on FB.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Robert Reavis says:

    Dr Fleming,
    This is very matter of fact, obviously true and comprehensively compressed into a few paragraphs. Did you ever think the crackdown would become so open and notorious and so quickly as it is today? No doubt it has been going on for some time, as you have even personally experienced the purges of certain views from the public forums, but until recently they either denied it or surreptitiously accomplished their specific ends. Recently the theme is more “We know and we know that you know! But we don’t care and will continue the suppression because we can.” Or am I wrong in seeing these recent events as something different ?

  2. Dot says:

    A few years ago Dr. Fleming recommended the mystery novel The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett. It was written in the early 20th century, probably after the prohibition since some of the characters drank booze for breakfast and today’s homosexual was a queer. I couldn’t get over how much freedom they had that we have lost. The police weren’t called for every insult of fight.

    I wonder if January 6 would have happened in the time frame of the early 20th century. I wonder too how much did the radical left and their BLM, systemic racism and cancel culture had to do with this riot that influenced the actors on the right to revolt in the manner that they did at the Capital. Given the fact that so many demonstrations across the country were due to the leftists and BLM group and the destruction they caused across the country, I have to wonder if THEY and not the GOP rioters were the ones who stormed the Capital.

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Dot, thanks for there excellent and insightful comment. This is one of the things that literature and history teach is, that we are the oddballs.

  4. Sam Dickson says:

    Dr. Fleming is right. No society allows absolute freedom. In every society there are certain things that are off limits.

    Perhaps Americans have enjoyed more freedom of speech de jure than most other peoples for the reason that they make so little use of freedom of speech de facto. In France it used to be and maybe still is that the press and the political parties feature very different programs and ideas. In the US the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans in actuality have been relatively insignificant.

    The System in America has not needed to resort to yanking people’s fingernails out in dungeons. Slight pressure consistently applied has sufficed to snuff out debate, discipline thought criminals and keep the civic discourse “responsible.”

    The FBI has ALWAYS functioned as America’s political police even under J. Edgar Hoover, the one time poster boy of the “radical right.” Hoover was really always a System man and always our enemy.

    One very effective tactic has been investigations. To paraphrase John Marshall’s dictum in one of his early Supreme Court decisions (“the power to tax is the power to destroy”), the power to investigage is the power to silence.

    Just mentioning that an investigation is underway sends the messsage that something criminal has taken place.

    Routinely, the FBI announces that it’s “on the case” and is “investigating” when an article appears about “White supremacist” leaflets turning up somewhere.

    In Doraville, a northerly suburb in Atlanta, someone distributed such leaflets a few months ago. (No. I was not involved!)

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution headlined this shocking event and in the article calmed public fears by quoting the local police and the FBI’s Atlanta office as saying they had launched investigations.

    Since most Americans are frightened by debate over serious matters (as opposed to shadow-boxing “debates”), the majority of the readers were probably relieved to know that the country’s #1 police force sprang into action to deal with the threat posed by American citizens exercizing their right of freedom of speech by handing out some pamphlets.

    A friend of mine shared some copies of Carlton Putnam’s “Race and Reality” with some other kids in the 10th grade in N.E. Alabama back in the late 60s. 2 days later 2 FBI agents accompanied by the local Sheriff showed up at his house to have a “talk” with his parents about how “concerned” they were about what the high school boy was up to.

    This was at a time when the Weathermen were in full blossom, the SDS was rioting all over America and the Black Panthers were staging shoot-outs with cops. The FBI was far more concerned about a 16 year old boy reading and distributing the wrong book on race than relatively trivial matters like the New Left’s riots and bombings. One never heard of FBI agents visiting parents to intimidate some kid for handing out a book by someone like Herbert Aptheker, the Chief Theoretician of the US Communist Party (and father of New Left Madonna Betina Aptheker). No. Such harrassment was inflicted on people who were real dissidents…people who questioned America’s founding doctrine that all human beings are fungibles.

    My first experience being “investigated” by the FBI was when I was 19 years old and a sophomore at the University of Georgia. The reason for the ostentacious investigation (intended to scare me – which to some extent it did but not enough) was my being quoted in The NY Times criticizing the US embargo against Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

    Things like what my friend experience and what I experienced took place when the FBI was headed by Hoover. Hoover was a political pro and he knew what needed to be suppressed and what did not.

    Tucker Carlson amazingly enough reported one oddity. He alone has ever mentioned it. We should be grateful for even a scrap like this. Carlson observed that the Anti-Fa, an amalgam of violent marxists and violent anarchists, postures as being the enemy of the capitalist system and big business, the enemy of the System. Strangely, the Anti-Fa never attacks the FBI. It only attacks home town police departments. One would think that supposed enemies of big capitalism and the government would attack the national political police. But, no. That does not happen.

    And the FBI does not attack Anti-Fa.

    Bravo for Carlson!

    Another Fox journalist, odious Sean Hannity, has occasionally had to criticize the FBI during the 4 year Trump interregnum when the FBI’s political involvement on the side of the Democrats and against Trump became to blatant to ignore. However, Hannity was always careful to stress that only the top brass in the FBI are bad. The field agents are great! Real patriots!

    No. Every single one of these guys who waste the taxpayers’ money going around trying to bully 10th graders and 19 year old college students knows that this is a gross violation of the 1st Amendment. The First Amendment, after all, is the law of the land.

    Violation of the First Amendment by such “investigations” is breaking the law.

    One of the greatest benefits to come out of the Trump presidency is that for the first time the demographic core of the nation, the Anglo-Saxon founding stock and related White Christian Europeans, have come to see the FBI for what it is.

  5. Robert Reavis says:

    The System in America has not needed to resort to yanking people’s fingernails out in dungeons. Slight pressure consistently applied has sufficed to snuff out debate, discipline thought criminals and keep the civic discourse “responsible.”
    They use both torture and “slight pressure consistently applied” now days. But the dungeon is a symbol I am unsure of but have visited the palace in Venice as well as places in England where priests were tortured to say almost anything. Have not visited the prison in Iraq or Guantánamo Bay or black sites scattered here and there but the folks who carried out the intelligence operations knew about the various techniques of electricity, water ,nakedness etc that we’re available to them long before young Bush invaded the defenseless Iraqis for not actually harboring weapons of mass destruction. “We don’t use dungeons” is similar to saying only the top brass is culpable not the foot soldiers. Have used it for years but have also found the psychological aspects can be more productive than the physical stimulations.

  6. Vince Cornell says:

    Part of what frustrates me to no end is that many if not most of the so-called Conservatives continue to profess that “they may disagree with what you say but they will sacrifice their life to fight for the right for you to say it.” On one side are the Jacobin hordes whipping themselves into frenzies and gleefully de-platforming, banning, doxxing, arresting, harassing, assaulting, and trying to force folks into unemployment if they so much as peep a word against the Woke Decrees, but on the other side are a bunch of “conservatives” praising the recently deceased Larry Flint and insisting that all this Communist/Socialist/Woke talk must be allowed so that it can lose out in the Free Market of Ideas. As the saying goes, with friends like these . . .

  7. Robert Reavis says:

    Dear Mr Cornell,
    Yes what they really mean is freedom to
    lie, cheat, smear, calumniate, riot, burn, pillage and take in order to attain power at any cost. Once upon a time they were described as anarchists today they are the ungrateful children of misguided but earnest libertarians. Thomas Jefferson’s notion of freedom was much different and the conservatives you mention are probably quoting Voltaire or Pilate certainly not in the tradition of Aristotle or Plato.