One of the best observations Orwell had about totalitarian society is had to have an opponent, against which everyone must rally. It was not just a practical opponent, like another country. The forever bad guy had to have a spiritual dimension. In opposing the bad guy, the members of the society established their commitment to the cause and thus their standing in society. Emmanuel Goldstein in the Novel 1984 and Snowball in the novella Animal Farm are his famous examples.
Of course, modern totalitarian states are almost always the result of some mass movement that swept to power. Their ascent was either based on their promise to reform or their ability to demolish the prevailing order. Eric Hoffer noted that “mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” The bogeymen in the Orwell novels were such devils. They were the center of the moral universe for the totalitarian society.
The important part of this bogeyman role is that the bad guy cannot simply be a man with whom you can reason or even conquer. The bad guy has to have supernatural abilities and maybe be unconquerable. In the 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein is powerful enough to cause all of the regimes troubles and smart enough to avoid getting caught by the party. The value of the supernatural enemy is that they can never truly be defeated, so they are a convenient scapegoat.
This is something to keep in mind with the bizarre obsession the ruling class has with Russian meddling. Like The Brotherhood in 1984, the concept of Russian election meddling was a fabrication by the inner party of America. Initially it was just part of the widespread seditious plot to overturn the 2016 election. It was the excuse to explain the criminal shenanigans. The media was tasked with spreading the concept and it became a part of the collective reality by the time Trump was in office.
Despite the fact that no one has every provided actual evidence the Russians or anyone other than the Israelis and Saudis have interfered in our elections, the Russian meddling meme persists. The Left is captivated by it. So much so the inner party feels they must persist in the charade. This story is a great example. In order to keep the true believers excited, the FBI squanders money in phony investigations into Russian election meddling. They would be better served hunting UFO’s.
Russia has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of current year America. Whenever things go wrong for the inner party, they blame Russia. If that’s not practical, they shift the focus to Russian in some other way. Maybe it is Russian meddling in the Middle East or South America. When a party member is struggling, as we see with Biden, then it must be the work of those evil Russians. You can be sure that is trump wins in 2020, we will get another round of “Russian hacking” allegations.
As with the Orwell figures, the Russian conspiracy stuff is not just about the practical things vexing the party. There is a moral dimension to it. “You are a Putin defender” has become one of the worst things a true believer can say to someone. Whenever the party member or even just a true believer is confronted with disconfirming facts, they instinctively suspect the person confronting them is allied with Russia. Just put the phrase “Tucker Carlson Russia” into Google.
This behavior would suggest we are in a soft version of the totalitarian states described by Orwell in the last century. There’s plenty of evidence to support that claim, but the lack of organization by the inner party suggests another possible explanation. That is, the inner party of the true believers operate like a school of fish. When one fish responds to something, the other fish respond. The beautiful ballet of the school of fish or flock of birds looks like design, but it is pure instinct.
The thing that holds the ruling class together is a shared morality that not only defines them, but gives purpose to their lives. The Judeo-Puritan morality of the American ruling class runs on shared believe, not central coordination. The Judeo side cannot not stop obsessing over their ancestral homelands in the Pale of Settlement. All of those old grudges remain fresh. The Puritan side is always in a life and death battle with Old Scratch, the forever tempter of the righteous.
Put the two together and the evolving those of the inner party has turned a relatively backward country between Europe and Asia into the great villain. It give purpose to their lives and justifies their actions. Whatever Russian does, they must oppose, but whatever they oppose, they assume Russia supports. This asynchronous relationship between themselves and the devil is the center of their moral universe. Literally, who they are is the opposition to Russian meddling.
Note: Some have asked why comments end up in moderation. This is the doings of the spam filter I’m using. It is often triggered by epithets, certain links and mysterious word combinations. These messages get flagged as possible spam. Now, in half a dozen years it has blocked over 3.5 million spam messages, so it is trade-off I accept. It means I check the moderation queue once an hour or so. I approve the real comments and trash the spam. Otherwise, there is no moderation.
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