August 29, 2014

#SJW alert: The new New Left and 20th-century literature

As a good skeptical left-liberal of sorts, one who knows that neoliberals are captives of an ever more rapacious Big Business world, with hypercapitalism, increasing income inequality, globalization and "free" trade and more, I've often said that "Brave New World" is the most prescient novel of the 20th century, ranking ahead of Orwell's "1984."

Not that Orwell is bad, by any means. Certainly, the ideas of "doublespeak" and "thought police" are quite true. But, I've always thought that, in the capitalist West, Big Business would be as much of a problem with this as Big Government and that, to the degree Big Government became a problem, it would be in part due to the connivance of Big Business. Edward Snowden, with most of his NSA work, and some of his CIA work, being done at private contractors, as well as Halliburton and the company formerly known as Blackwater in the Iraq War, are clear exemplars.

That said, the new New Left, the new identity politics Left, the world of Social Justice Warriors and nth-wave feminists, reminded me yesterday that I'd overlooked a novel that, if not as prescient as "Brave New World," might just deserve to go ahead of "1984."

I'm talking about Arthur Koestler's magnum opus, "Darkness at Noon." To its reality, "1984" and its quasi-sidekick, "Animal Farm," are but shadows on Plato's Republican cave. It's what Orwell might have written had he lived next door to the Soviet Union, or even lived through a brief but intense Red Terror, as Koestler did with Bela Kun's post-World War I Hungary, or even been in a Communist party, which Koestler was in late-Weimar Germany.

For those unfamiliar with it, the "protagonist," if we can call him that, is one Rubashov. Koestler wrote the book in 1940, and though he never uses the words "USSR" or "Stalin," or the phrase "show trial," it's clear that that's what it was about. Indeed, Wikipedia says that the "fellow travelers" of the 1930s-40s Hollywood Left feared its explosive movie potential and did all they could to squelch a product based on it.

The plot? After years and years of throwing small fry under the Stalinist wheels, Rubashov, an "Old Bolshevik," is now on the other end of the stick. From having not only informed on people or turned them in, but having helped with previous trials, he knows what's expected of him -- a confession -- and what's  going to happen to him -- an execution. The book has multiple interrogation sessions interspersed with Rubashov's "decompressions" in his solitary confinement cell.

And, eventually, worn down and worn out, he confesses.

Which is what the SJWs want. It doesn't matter the crime; it doesn't matter if you know what the alleged crime is in advance of the Internet (mainly social media) interrogation. It doesn't even matter if you clearly understand it after interrogation, or even after confession.

Indeed, rather like Gletkin dealing with Rubashov, there's an element of doublespeak. The fact that you can't understand is part of the proof of your guilt. That alleged guilt, in turn, is why things can't be explained to you more clearly.

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