February 24, 2021
In a recent article on LewRockwell.com entitled “Imposing the Steal: America’s Great Struggle Session,” Vasko Kohlmaher explained how a tool of twentieth-century totalitarians was “public humiliation and torment” of those with “wrong thinking.” The targeted individuals were compelled to confess their wrongdoing, apologize to society, and repent for the error of their thinking.
The reason for this is that “To totalitarians truth is as the cross is to the devil.” Totalitarians “force their victims to give up that which is true and accept that which is false.” As F.A. Hayek wrote in the Road to Serfdom, in totalitarian societies “truth” is not discovered by research, education, discussion and debate, and the scientific method, but is merely announced by the authorities.
Kohlmaher uses as an illustration of these principles the current massive effort to censor all talk of how the presidential election was stolen and to try to ruin anyone who brings it up. “They want us to confess Joe Biden as a legitimate president even though there were no meaningful investigations into the many obvious and gross election irregularities . . . We are told we must accept the obvious sham or else. Those who refuse are subjected to psychological, social and financial torment . . . . If you only concede, they are told, the vilification and punishment will cease . . .” (I write this one day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it will not hear any of the dozens of cases having to do with vote fraud. The Supreme Ostriches with Heads in the Sand would be a more appropriate label).
Having just spent forty-one years as a university economics professor, I would suggest that the one place where such “struggle sessions” (minus threats of hanging or shooting the victim as under communism!) is America’s Stalinist universities, with very few exceptions. One thing that immediately came to mind upon reading Kohlmaher’s article is the many examples of the now-widespread, heavy-handed, totalitarian practice on university campuses of “students” demanding the disinviting of conservative or libertarian speakers. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a list of almost 500 conservative or libertarian speakers who have been disinvited or pressured to cancel in just the past couple of years. They then demand (not suggest) that the university apologize for the invitation or, God forbid, allowing the speaker to set foot on campus. Quite often there is also a demand that the shamed speaker himself apologize, or someone on the campus –perhaps the students who issued the invitation — apologize for him! It’s all about humiliating anyone with “the wrong ideas” and anyone who supports or is associated with him.