Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Why resist totalitarianism? (What is it?)

Totalitarianism aims to control thinking - by a system of maximum monitoring. 

George Orwell got us mixed-up about this; because of his emphasis on violent coercion and the  assumption that it was the violence which was bad about totalitarianism - and the atheist assumption that the infliction of suffering by violence is the worst possible thing.

The upshot is that when there is no violence - and especially when there is no violent infliction of suffering - modern people cannot perceive totalitarianism: they simply don't notice it, or even deny its presence.

Phrases like 'soft' totalitarianism implicitly suggest that totalitarianism without violence is not really so bad - and nobody fought hard to defend against the triumph of 'soft' totalitarianism, because that didn't sound so bad.

But the badness of totalitarianism is, of course, spiritual - not physical. Totalitarianism is evil because of its effect on our souls - not because of its effect on our bodies.

Totalitarianism aims to control thinking by a system of maximum monitoring - to monitor the people down to a level of detail so fine that the only possible compliance is to think in the approved way.

It is nothing necessarily to do with the infliction of suffering by violence - violence is just one possible means to an end.

Modern Western society is objectively very highly totalitarian - especially in the workplace, compared with fifty years ago - because thought is very highly controlled. Absence, presence, threat of violence has nothing to do with the fact.

But why is totalitarianism bad? - if it isn't violent? Why resist it?

The only reason is if you believe that Life is about something more. The only reason to resist having one's mind controlled is if you believe that there is something very important to do with your mind.

Modern people do not resist totalitarianism because they do not believe they have anything better to do with their lives than to think in the approved way.

Modern people believe that Life is merely about the balance between pleasure and pain (maximising the first, minimising the second) - and altruism merely means wanting the same for other people. If totalitarian thought control can be imposed in a way that does not inflict suffering with violence - modern people are quite happy to accept, indeed embrace, totalitarianism.

Only religious people who believe that Life is about something else than emotions, and something more than mortal existence, have any serious objections to their minds being comfortably colonised and directed by the linked bureaucracies of employers, the state and the mass media; and there are so few Western religious people; and they are so scattered and mutually mistrustful or hostile, that their resistance to totalitarianism has, so far, been apparently ineffectual.

Why resist totalitarianism? If you have something better to do with your life; and therefore if you wish to avoid self-chosen damnation (which is, ultimately, the only kind of damnation).

But if you deny any real, objective, vital purpose of your life, and if you deny the reality of damnation - then you will surely accept, embrace, joyously join-in with the work of totalitarianism.

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