A Prescient Essay from 1978

I received an email from Gab founder Andrew Torba on creating a parallel society. In it, he quotes a 1978 essay by Vaclav Havel on political powerlessness. As it is almost 31,000 words, I am still reading it, but am already imbued with its eerie prescience and applicability to the erstwhile US today. In my opinion, it is worth the time investment.


I’m reading this focused by the lens of the Wokeness essay I posted yesterday. On campus, there are repeated paeans to the glories of Diversity. In Havel’s essay there is the example of the greengrocer in the Soviet satellite that places an officially approved sign in his window.

We have seen that the real meaning of the greengrocers slogan has nothing to do with what the text of the slogan actually says. Even so, this real meaning is quite clear and generally comprehensible because the code is so familiar: the greengrocer declares his loyalty (and he can do no other if his declaration is to be accepted) in the only way the regime is capable of hearing; that is, by accepting the prescribed ritual, by accepting appearances as reality, by accepting the given rules of the game. In doing so, however, he has himself become a player in the game, thus making it possible for the game to go on, for it to exist in the first place…


Why in fact did our greengrocer have to put his loyalty on display in the shop window? Had he not already displayed it sufficiently in various internal or semipublic ways?… It seems senseless to require the greengrocer to declare his loy- alty publicly. But it makes sense nevertheless. People ignore his slogan, but they do so because such slogans are also found in other shop windows, on lampposts, bulletin boards, in apartment win- dows, and on buildings; they are everywhere, in fact. They form part of the panorama of everyday life. Of course, while they ignore the details, people are very aware of that panorama as a whole.

I thought we won the Cold War against Soviet Communism. Then, while we were looking the other way…


This reminds me of this passage from “Theodore Dalrymple” (Anthony Daniels).

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

It’s about compliance and control, not convincing people to believe the slogans they’re forced to mouth.

What we’ve seen in the last two years brings this into stark focus.


Here is a gem of a quote which describes life today in the former USA:


The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is en- slaved in the name of the work ing class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of in formation is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbi- trary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repres- sion of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elec- tions become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occu- pation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to per- secute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.


In recent years I’ve noticed Americans repeatedly being asked to do or say ridiculous and wicked things, and to remain silent and passive concerning things true, evident, and benign. These, I conclude, are not intended for the furtherance of the topics or actions themselves; these are exercises for us - graduated exercises in obedience.


So resist. I claim to any who ask that there are three genders - male, female, and mental illness. That gets the Lefties all atwist.