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Home/Rod Dreher/The Left’s Reichstag Fire

The Left’s Reichstag Fire

Screengrab from Washington Post annotation of video in which rioter Ashli Babbitt was shot by a police officer as she tried to enter a room adjacent to House chamber (See the entire video here)

In 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler took power, a Dutch communist allegedly started a fire in the German Reichstag building. Hitler used this act as a pretext to begin seizing dictatorial powers. The term “Reichstag fire” in popular culture refers to an event, possibly a false flag (historians can’t agree on whether or not the Reichstag fire was started by a lone communist, a communist acting with others, or was a false flag by the Nazis) that serves as a pretext for repression.

If you are only just now coming to this blog via social media, you should know that I have been a sharp critic of the Stop The Steal movement from the beginning — you can look it up on this site — and that I am disgusted and appalled by what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday. Yesterday, I predicted that the Left and the liberal Establishment would use the failed Beer Belly Putsch as an opportunity to begin to implement the rudiments of a social credit system, and to otherwise marginalize and suppress right-of-center discourse and people.

Well, here we go. Here’s commentary by Oliver D’Arcy at CNN. Excerpt:

“Fox and Newsmax, both delivered to my home by your company, are complicit,” NJ state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty texted a Comcast executive on Thursday. “What are you going to do???”

“You feed this garbage, lies and all,” Moriarty added to the executive, according to a screen grab of the texts he provided me. Moriarty was referring to the fact that Comcast’s cable brand, Xfinity, provides a platform to right-wing cable networks that have for weeks been disseminating disinformation about the November election results to audiences of millions.

Moriarty has a point. We regularly discuss what the Big Tech companies have done to poison the public conversation by providing large platforms to bad-faith actors who lie, mislead, and promote conspiracy theories. But what about TV companies that provide platforms to networks such as Newsmax, One America News — and, yes, Fox News?

Somehow, these companies have escaped scrutiny and entirely dodged this conversation. That should not be the case anymore. After Wednesday’s incident of domestic terrorism on Capitol Hill, it is time TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories. After all, it was the very lies that Fox, Newsmax, and OAN spread that helped prime President Trump’s supporters into not believing the truth: that he lost an honest and fair election.

Yes, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin and others are responsible for the lies they peddle to their audiences. But the TV companies that beam them into millions of homes around the country also bear some responsibility. And yet we rarely, if ever, talk about them.

When Black Lives Matter protests turned into mass riots, where were the calls to suppress CNN, The New York Times, and other media that constantly repeated the BLM message, and the general message that America is a bastion of white supremacy, whose regime lacks legitimacy? They didn’t exist. They didn’t exist because this is a free country. I read the Times every day, and on some issues, it’s more or less a propaganda sheet (its Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project is clearly intended to delegitimize the American founding). But the state and any other authority had better keep its hands off the Times, and all other left-wing media.

The idea that a journalist, Oliver D’Arcy, is calling for a discussion on whether to deplatform and suppress other journalists — including a direct competitor — is chilling. But I am certain that it is a sign of things to come.

Yesterday Simon & Schuster cancelled a deal with Sen. Josh Hawley, who was under contract to pen a book about the tyranny of Big Tech. I was bothered by this, because I don’t like to see anybody lose a book deal, and because I think Big Tech deserves a hell of a lot of scrutiny by Congress. But then Hawley issued a statement calling it “Orwellian” and a violation of the First Amendment, and I decided not to participate in defending Hawley’s book deal. It is not “Orwellian” or a violation of the First Amendment. All publishers retain the right in their contracts with authors to cancel books pre-publication (trust me on this; I’ve written five books). Whether or not it is morally correct for a publisher to do so is a different question. I stood up for Woody Allen in his fight with his publisher last year over this issue. Hawley is free to shop his manuscript around, and any other publisher is free to buy it and publish it. To call this “Orwellian” and unconstitutional is cynical, manipulative hype. While I wish S&S had stuck by its commitment to publish what I expect will be an important book, the fact is that Josh Hawley, by his own actions post-Election Day, has made himself a uniquely controversial figure, one central to one of the most shameful events in American political history. What Simon & Schuster did was regrettable, from my point of view, but within the bounds of reason.

I bring this up to say that not every attempt to marginalize a dissident-right voice is unjustified. Take too the case of Paul Davis, a Texas corporate lawyer who Instagrammed a photo of himself on Capitol Hill, at the riot:

His company fired him. I can’t blame them. He is a lawyer, and he participated in a riot. To be fair, if he did not enter into the Capitol, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. But the fact that he was tear-gassed means he was at least very close to the action. The event itself was a shameful act, and I can’t blame a company for wanting to separate itself from one of its house lawyers, especially one stupid enough to put evidence of his participation in it on social media.

That said, will it stop with Paul Davis? I doubt it. I expect many companies to pink-slip employees who were photographed at the Trump event, even if they were nowhere near the invasion of the Capitol. If it happens, it will be extremely unjust, and dangerous. If photographic or other hard evidence existed of an employee participating in one of last year’s race riots existed, a company would be justified in firing that employee. But not everybody who marched in those protests intended to riot, or be at all tied to criminal activity. There would be no grounds to fire them.

Nevertheless, I expect corporate America, goosed by left-wing activists, to undertake a purge of any employees who publicly expressed sympathy, on their private social media channels or anywhere, with Trump, MAGA, or the election protest. This has already been happening in some hospitals over gender ideology. As I write in Live Not By Lies:

Beyond cancel culture, which is reactive, institutions are embedding within their systems ideological tests to weed out dissenters. At universities within the University of California system, for example, teachers who want to apply for tenure-track positions have to affirm their commitment to “equity, diversity, and inclusion”—and to have demonstrated it, even if it has nothing to do with their field. Similar politically correct loyalty oaths are required at leading public and private schools.

De facto loyalty tests to diversity ideology are common in corporate America. … A Soviet-born US physician told me—after I agreed not to use his name—that he never posts anything remotely controversial on social media, because he knows that the human resources department at his hospital monitors employee accounts for evidence of disloyalty to the progressive “diversity and inclusion” creed.

That same doctor disclosed that social justice ideology is forcing physicians like him to ignore their medical training and judgment when it comes to transgender health. He said it is not permissible within his institution to advise gender dysphoric patients against treatments they desire, even when a physician believes it is not in that particular patient’s health interest.

Do not think that your many years of service or your expertise will save you if your company or institution’s HR department finds evidence that you are now or ever were a sympathizer with MAGA. We are about to enter into a full-blown political and moral panic, led by the institutional power-holders. Glenn Greenwald is a man of the Left, but yesterday spoke out courageously against the coming repression. Excerpt:

There are other, more important historical lessons to draw not only from the 9/11 attack but subsequent terrorism on U.S. soil. One is the importance of resisting the coercive framework that demands everyone choose one of two extremes: that the incident is either (a) insignificant or even justifiable, or (b) is an earth-shattering, radically transformative event that demands radical, transformative state responses.

This reductive, binary framework is anti-intellectual and dangerous. One can condemn a particular act while resisting the attempt to inflate the dangers it poses. One can acknowledge the very real existence of a threat while also warning of the harms, often far greater, from proposed solutions. One can reject maximalist, inflammatory rhetoric about an attack (a War of Civilizations, an attempted coup, an insurrection, sedition) without being fairly accused of indifference toward or sympathy for the attackers.

Indeed, the primary focus of the first decade of my journalism was the U.S. War on Terror — in particular, the relentless erosions of civil liberties and the endless militarization of American society in the name of waging it. To make the case that those trends should be opposed, I frequently argued that the threat posed by Islamic radicalism to U.S. citizens was being deliberately exaggerated, inflated and melodramatized.

I argued that not because I believed the threat was nonexistent or trivial: I lived in New York City on 9/11 and remember to this day the excruciating horror from the smell and smoke emanating throughout Lower Manhattan and the haunting “missing” posters appended by desperate families, unwilling to accept the obvious reality of their loved ones’ deaths, to every lamp post on every street corner. I shared the same disgust and sadness as most other Americans from the Pulse massacre, the subway bombings in London and Madrid, the workplace mass shooting in San Bernardino.

My insistence that we look at the other side of the ledger — the costs and dangers not only from such attacks but also the “solutions” implemented in the name of the stopping them — did not come from indifference towards those deaths or a naive views of those responsible for them. It was instead driven by my simultaneous recognition of the dangers from rights-eroding, authoritarian reactions imposed by the state, particularly in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. One need not engage in denialism or minimization of a threat to rationally resist fear-driven fanaticism — as Barbara Lee so eloquently insisted on September 14, 2001.

I hope we listen to Greenwald, but I doubt we will. The disgusting assault on the US Capitol, and on the constitutional process of certifying an election, by Trump fanatics was a great gift to the authoritarian, repressive Left. After last year’s riots, the Establishment accelerated the implementation of race-radicalism as re-education within US schools, universities, and other institutions. And now, that same Establishment can be expected to accelerate even stronger ideological measures to suppress anything it regards as dissent — and that will eventually mean the expression of ordinary social, religious, and political conservatism, even by people who never liked Donald Trump.

This is what it means to live in a pre-totalitarian society.

But turning to the Right, you know what it also means to live in a pre-totalitarian society? Read Declan Leary’s TAC account of being at the MAGA rally on Capitol Hill when it went off on Wednesday. Excerpts:

Another chant begins, though I can’t tell if it’s the same woman. Whoever it is, she calls out, “Where we go one…”—more than a moment’s pause as she waits for a reply—”…we go all.” As the day goes on the chant becomes a staple, and as the crowd becomes familiar the pauses disappear. It’s a slogan closely associated with QAnon.

As I approach the Capitol I see a big man standing at an empty wheelchair, snapping pictures of the scene; I wonder if I narrowly missed a miracle. Just past him a young black man with a bullhorn and a carefully groomed Afro chants “Biden loves minors” over and over as the crowd streams by. A young redhead—with a nose ring, a mustache, and black clothes adorned with a subdued American flag—is the first person I see who looks ready for a fight.

There’s scaffolding set up for the planned inauguration, and protestors have already climbed it in one spot, a narrow stand facing the building in line with the police barricade. There’s a rainbow flag up there, and I wonder if it’s the same one I saw earlier, or if they’re scattered through the crowd. An old man is dressed as Uncle Sam; the climb up a chained ladder can’t have been easy for him.

The crowd is packed in tight, and a cacophony of competing shouts merges into a stereophonic roar. I pick out bits and pieces. To my left I hear “We don’t need Gitmo,” and I’m not quite sure what’s meant by it. From the same general area comes “I’ll donate a vaccination—.223 hollow point.” A little less ambiguous. Somebody with a megaphone is in the middle of a speech: “If you stand for nothing, you gotta stand for something.” Close enough. A young woman with a bullhorn of her own lets out a lone motherfucker. An older man looks at me with a smile and asks if she kisses her mother with that mouth. A few seconds later the same voice drones at nobody in particular: Pussy, pussyyyyy, pussy, pusssaaaaaaayyyyyy.

More:

While thousands leave, at least as many linger. Though Pence has been gone for quite a while—he evacuated when Congress did—one of those who stays is taunting him in a singsong voice: “Mikey, I’ve heard rumors about you.” Chatter in the crowd indicates it’s an accusation of pedophilia—a running theme among the gathered demonstrators.

On the train ride home—the car packed for the first time in months—one woman tells an attentive audience that she’s seen video online of John Roberts raping a young girl then shooting her in the head. Meanwhile, another—well-dressed, in her 60s, and sitting with her husband—reads aloud from Facebook on her phone. The rioters who invaded the Capitol building were not Trump supporters at all, she says. They were Antifa and BLM infiltrators, each and every one of them. Nothing violent or illegal was done by any of the thousands whose indignation was so clear, so forceful all around the building. This can’t have been us. We should not believe anything to the contrary.

Read it all.  Leary says that

When Congress reconvenes at night, the establishment will be openly hardened against the right-wing resistance that boiled over today. Some will declare it dead, banished from the GOP. But there is something here that will not go away.

He’s no doubt correct. I’ve been looking at the social and other media of some of the people involved in the fanatical Jericho March, and there is not the least contrition or second thoughts about what they have done. To take an especially sad case (for me, personally), here is a piece I did about the hysterical post-election rhetoric from Eric Metaxas. Excerpts:

“It’s like stealing the heart and soul of America. It’s like holding a rusty knife to the throat of Lady Liberty,” Eric says, of the election.”

“You might as well spit on the grave of George Washington,” he says.

“This is evil,” he says. And: “It’s like somebody has been raped or murdered. … This is like that times a thousand.”

This. Is. Hysterical. But there’s more.

“This is trying to kill the American people. This is everything.” And he says to believe otherwise is listening to “the voice of the Devil.”

Think about that. An Evangelical broadcaster is saying that Donald Trump’s election loss is a thousand times worse than rape and murder, equivalent to the murder of a nation. And if you don’t believe it? You are demonized.

And then this:

“Everybody who is not hopped up about this … you are the Germans that looked the other way when Hitler was preparing to do what he was preparing to do. Unfortunately, I don’t see how you can see it any other way.”

More from that December post of mine:

Eric Metaxas doesn’t care what the courts have said. In a clip that starts right here, he says,

“So who cares what I can prove in the courts? This is right. This happened, and I am going to do anything I can to uncover this horror, this evil.”

Evidence, or the lack of it, does not matter. He is declaring as a matter of faith that Donald Trump won the election. How can you argue with that? You can’t. It is a statement of faith.

So, when he talks about doing “anything” he can to fight this thing that is a thousand times worse than rape and murder, what does he mean? Quote:

“We need to fight to the death, to the last drop of blood, because it’s worth it.”

There is no way around it, and it grieves me to say it: Eric Metaxas is calling for violent bloodshed to defend Donald Trump’s presidency, and he doesn’t care that Trump’s lawyers have not been able to prove in court that Trump had the election stolen from him. He told Charlie Kirk that he is willing to kill or be killed for a political cause for which there is not enough evidence to advance a court case, even among friendly judges.

This is fanaticism. But according to Eric, to disagree with him is to be under the sway of the Devil. Actual quotes:

“This is sacred. … Every American should say I really don’t care what it takes, we will not let this happen in America.”

“The fact that Republicans would shrug, it’s just despicable, it’s very clarifying, and I just believe God is in this, what can I say?”

“I still feel that those of us who know this is massive fraud, we have no choice but to fight.”

He knows because … he just knows, is all. God is in it, after all. It’s holy war. He says too:

“Everything’s at stake. America’s at stake.”

“If we don’t get our people in … we go over the cliff, and we don’t come back.”

If you really believed that, then of course you would be willing to kill and be killed for the cause. My God.

You can hear and see Eric say all these things in this Charlie Kirk interview from December 9. 

Well, now five people are dead, including Trump fanatic Ashli Babbitt, who was as rabid about Trump as Eric Metaxas was. Here’s a link to a New York Post story about Babbitt, including a barking-mad video she posted about Kamala Harris. You should watch it, and consider whether you want this country to be ruled by people like that. I went back to read her Twitter feed from early December until now. It’s full of QAnon garbage, such as:

And so forth. Lots of this stuff. And, of course, this:

The Washington Post has published video from one of the protesters, showing the shooting of Ashli Babbitt. You really should watch this. She was at the forefront of an angry mob that had reached the doors of the Speakers Lobby, which, had they gotten in, would have given them access to the House Chamber. The WaPo has this map:

That’s how close the mob was to the Chamber. At the start of the video, you can see, behind the closed doors, members of Congress. Police are trying to keep the mob from going through the doors, but the mob chants, “F–k the blue! F–k the blue!”, and starts bashing the glass on the doors. Eventually the police move away, and the crowd keeps bashing. The doors begin to give way. An officer inside the door points a gun at the mob. Someone yells that he has a gun. The mob does nothing. Then the police officer fires. A bullet hits Ashli Babbitt, who later died.

The only person responsible for Ashli Babbitt’s death is Ashli Babbitt. The officer who shot her was doing his duty. But there is on MAGA media talk about how she is a martyr, and was assassinated by the Deep State, etc. Such rot.

See, though, Eric Metaxas spoke openly about how “we need to fight to the death, to the last drop of blood, because it’s worth it.” And now this lunatic woman, hopped up on this kind of rhetoric, died assaulting the US House of Representatives. For what? This is how her life ended. She alone is responsible for her death, but I wish that people like Eric, who juiced up their listeners with talk about the necessity to shed blood to defend Donald Trump, would feel even the slightest bit of remorse for their rash rhetoric.

Not gonna happen. Not yet, anyway. He’s doubling down on the MAGA-mob mentality:

He is not the only one. As I said, this is painful to me, because Eric is a longtime friend. He has given over his fine mind and sweet spirit to madness — madness that has now resulted in the same bloodshed that he was telling his listeners they needed to be prepared to submit to as recently as last month. Notice, though, in this tweet of his from Thursday, he is already deflecting blame for the event onto Antifa. This is all over MAGA social media, this idea. Nope, couldn’t be them. All this bad stuff was surely Antifa. Friends and readers report hearing this from their own social networks, and family members.

Listen, if you have been a regular reader of this blog for a while, you know that I have been hell on the ideological Left for pushing its fanatical theories. My book Live Not By Lies goes into detail about how the identity-politics Left is laying the groundwork for a form of totalitarianism. That has not changed one bit as the result of events this week — in fact, as I claim in this post, these events have almost certainly accelerated the Left’s plans.

But no honest person can deny that Donald Trump and his MAGA devotees have also accelerated it by their actions. And they too are going along the totalitarian path. In Live Not By Lies, I have a chapter on Hannah Arendt and her study of how Nazi and Communist totalitarianism came to power. A sign that totalitarianism is at hand is the willingness of large numbers of people to quit caring about the truth, and to prefer ideology. Excerpt:

Heda Margolius Kovály, a disillusioned Czech communist whose husband was executed after a 1952 show trial, reflects on the willingness of people to turn their backs on the truth for the sake of an ideological cause.

It is not hard for a totalitarian regime to keep people ignorant. Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of “understood necessity,” for Party discipline, for conformity with the regime, for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, or for any of the substitutes that are so convincingly offered, you cede your claim to the truth. Slowly, drop by drop, your life begins to ooze away just as surely as if you had slashed your wrists; you have voluntarily condemned yourself to helplessness.

You can surrender your moral responsibility to be honest out of misplaced idealism. You can also surrender it by hating others more than you love truth. In pre-totalitarian states, Arendt writes, hating “respectable society” was so narcotic, that elites were willing to accept “monstrous forgeries in historiography” for the sake of striking back at those who, in their view, had “excluded the underprivileged and oppressed from the memory of mankind.”

Add “for Donald Trump” and “for ‘Make America Great Again'” to Kovaly’s list. This is not a left-vs-right thing. This is about the power of ideological narrative to conquer hearts and minds — and nations. Ashli Babbitt’s road to her own violent death began when she opened her mind up to the lies of QAnon and Donald Trump.

As you watch that video on the Post’s site — the one of the events leading up to Babbitt’s shooting — think of this passage from Live Not By Lies:

The post-World War I generation of writers and artists were marked by their embrace and celebration of anti-cultural philosophies and acts as a way of demonstrating contempt for established hierarchies, institutions, and ways of thinking. Arendt said of some writers who glorified the will to power, “They read not Darwin but the Marquis de Sade.”

Her point was that these authors did not avail themselves of respectable intellectual theories to justify their transgressiveness. They immersed themselves in what is basest in human nature and regarded doing so as acts of liberation. Arendt’s judgment of the postwar elites who recklessly thumbed their noses at respectability could easily apply to those of our own day who shove aside liberal principles like fair play, race neutrality, free speech, and free association as obstacles to equality. Arendt wrote:

The members of the elite did not object at all to paying a price, the destruction of civilization, for the fun of seeing how those who had been excluded unjustly in the past forced their way into it.

Or maybe because they saw in these mobs a wave that they could surf to political power. This, I think, explains Sen. Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz. You read Declan Leary’s account of embedding himself in that MAGA mob on Wednesday, and you will see examples of baseness masquerading as liberation.

This has long been a facet of the Left. It is now undeniably a facet of the Right. I have long complained in this space that responsible liberals have allowed totalitarians to thrive on the Left because they lack the courage, the wisdom, or the conviction to stand up to them. It is now undeniably true on the Right as well.

The difference is this: Trump and his fanatics have been unmasked. We know where their brand of ideological madness leads: to a mob attacking the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the constitutionally mandated certification of an election. The Establishment will now use everything in its power to suppress anything related to Trumpism — including plain old conservatism. Because the left-wing extremists have honeycombed Establishment institutions with their sympathizers, the Left will now benefit from popular disgust with Trump’s legacy, and use this moment to consolidate power.

The social credit system is coming. Repression is coming. Guilt by association is coming. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I feel sure that any real opportunity the Right had to stop it was trampled underfoot by Donald Trump and his mob, who were willing to throw everything away to live by the lies of QAnon, Stop The Steal, and late-period MAGA. We on the Right who were not part of this movement are going to have to pay a steep price for what they have done. Don’t misread me: we have to fight it as hard as we can, and hope we can prevail.

To my Christian readers, I say again: read the signs of the times. We are in a Kolakovic Moment. Father Tomislav Kolakovic, the Croatian priest to whom I dedicate Live Not By Lies, escaped the Nazis and hid out in Slovakia, in 1943. He immediately set himself to preparing the Slovak church for the persecution he knew was coming. From my book:

By the time Father Kolaković reached Bratislava, it was clear that Czechoslovakia would eventually be liberated by the Red Army. In fact, in 1944, the Czech government in exile made a formal agreement with Stalin, guaranteeing that after driving the Nazis out, the Soviets would give the nation its freedom.

Because he knows how the Soviets thought, Father Kolaković knew this was a lie. He warned Slovak Catholics that when the war ended, Czechoslovakia would fall to the rule of a Soviet puppet government. He dedicated himself to preparing them for persecution.

Father Kolaković knew that the clericalism and passivity of traditional Slovak Catholicism would be no match for communism. For one thing, he correctly foresaw that the communists would try to control the church by subduing the clergy. For another, he understood that the spiritual trials awaiting believers under communism would put them to an extreme test. The charismatic pastor preached that only a total life commitment to Christ would enable them to withstand the coming trial.

“Give yourself totally to Christ, throw all your worries and desires on him, for he has a wide back, and you will witness miracles,” the priest said, in the recollection of one disciple.

Giving oneself totally to Christ was not an abstraction or a pious thought. It needed to be concrete, and it needed to be communal. … The refugee priest taught the young Slovak believers that every person must be accountable to God for his actions. Freedom is responsibility, he stressed; it is a means to live within the truth. The motto of the Jocists became the motto for what Father Kolaković called his “Family”: “See. Judge. Act.” See meant to be awake to realities around you. Judge was a command to discern soberly the meaning of those realities in light of what you know to be true, especially from the teachings of the Christian faith. After you reach a conclusion, then you are to act to resist evil.

Václav Vaško, a Kolaković follower, recalled late in his life that Father Kolaković’s ministry excited so many young Catholics because it energized the laity and gave them a sense of leadership responsibility.

“It is remarkable how Kolaković almost instantly succeeded in creating a community of trust and mutual friendship from a diverse grouping of people (priests, religious and lay people of different ages, education, or spiritual maturity),” Vaško wrote.

The Family groups came together at first for Bible study and prayer, but soon began listening to Father Kolaković lecture on philosophy, sociology, and intellectual topics. Father Kolaković also trained his young followers in how to work secretly, and to withstand the interrogation that he said would surely come.

The Family expanded its small groups quickly across the nation. “By the end of the school year 1944,” Vaško said, “it would have been difficult to find a faculty or secondary school in Bratislava or larger cities where our circles did not operate.”

In 1946, Czech authorities deported the activist priest. Two years later, communists seized total power, just as Father Kolaković had predicted. Within several years, almost all of the Family had been imprisoned and the Czechoslovak institutional church brutalized into submission. But when the Family members emerged from prison in the 1960s, they began to do as their spiritual father had taught them. Father Kolaković’s top two lieutenants—physician Silvester Krčméry and priest Vladimír Jukl—quietly set up Christian circles around the country and began to build the underground church.

The underground church, led by the visionary cleric’s spiritual children and grandchildren, became the principle means of anti-communist dissent for the next forty years. It was they who organized a mass 1988 public demonstration in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, demanding religious liberty. The Candle Demonstration was the first major protest against the state. It kicked off the Velvet Revolution, which brought down the communist regime a year later. Though Slovak Christians were among the most persecuted in the Soviet Bloc, the Catholic Church there thrived in resistance because one man saw what was coming and prepared his people.

Father Kolakovic’s bishops denounced him as an alarmist, but he did not listen. He understood what was happening, and what was going to happen. He taught the Christians who were willing to listen not to be passive, to assume that it couldn’t happen there. He knew that they wouldn’t be able to stand up to the might of the Red Army. He taught them how to use their freedom to prepare for what was coming.

This is what we have to do right now: use our freedom to prepare to resist. Do not listen to the lies of the MAGA diehards, whose fanaticism has been a blessing to the would-be totalitarians of the Left. Do not allow yourself to think that you will be protected because you never supported Trump, Stop The Steal, or any of it. The attack on the Capitol — which was unquestionably a MAGA affair — is the Left’s Reichstag fire: a pretext to begin the systematic oppression of all opposition.

If you thought the Left’s soft-totalitarian rhetoric of smashing rights and liberties for the sake of creating a “safe space” was bad before, oh baby, just you wait.

UPDATE: Since posting this, I learned that Twitter has permanently banned Donald Trump. I feel exactly as Denny Burk does. Trump deserves it — but this will not stop with Trump. Don’t you believe for a second that it will.

UPDATE.2: More:

Let me repeat, in case I was not clear enough: resisters and dissidents against the coming soft totalitarianism cannot afford to waste themselves listening to QAnon and MAGA lies. This is real, and this is serious. We need to think as clearly as we can.

UPDATE.3: This is true:

UPDATE.4: Five minutes ago, I thought that the problem is not really going to be Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer, but the faceless people in corporations and institutions. Then I read this new in the WSJ:

President-elect Joe Biden characterized the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as domestic terrorists, referring to the violence as “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.”

“Don’t dare call them protesters,” Mr. Biden said in remarks from Wilmington, Del. “They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple.”

More:

Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.

Well, here we go. Do we not have laws now capable of dealing with the thugs who invaded the Capitol? Do we need more laws? Of course we don’t — but we are going to get them, because we have to made America a Safe Space™.

UPDATE.5: A Catholic reader e-mails:

Big tech controls information. I have a pseudonymous Twitter account. The only information that comes up automatically is left wing ideology and anti-conservative views.

Lyotard predicted this in his Postmodern Condition, that information would become a commodity and in the postmodern world information, like everything else would be used for power. Perhaps this isn’t new, but when a small number of people control the information the power becomes centralized.

I used to think that money could stop these idealists from shutting down differing views, but I think they are going to go after everyone from Fox News to conservative radio. Even if they don’t shut them down, they will neuter them.

The Girardian mimetic snowballing is occurring and the Left now views almost half of Americans as the scapegoats.

Catholic bishops have been practically silenced. Many of them have already capitulated to Biden, most notably the Cardinal of Washington. Even within the USCCB there will be dichotomous distinctions between the “good” left and the “seditious” right.

Priests will be silenced by their bishops who will not allow them to speak out for fear of retribution. Or bishops will use the tactic of allowing priests to speak boldly until the mob comes for them, then the bishops will sacrifice the courageous priest and do a “Pontius Pilate.”

Keep writing for as long as you are allowed.

UPDATE.6: This really is astonishing footage. It is infuriating, what that MAGA mob did to this country. I hope every one of these people who can be positively identified are arrested and charged. They are no patriots.

UPDATE.7: Columnist Debra J. Saunders is correct, I’m sorry to say:

One thing the right always had claim to was the belief that — unlike Black Lives Matter and social justice protests — tea party and later MAGA rallies were peaceful, if at times profane, political speech.

There have been instances of violence from partisans on both sides, but it was left-wing protests that left cities torched, small businesses in ashes, police forces terrorized and once-vibrant city centers a dystopian mess.

That’s gone now.

When Trump supporters marched from The Ellipse in front of the White House to storm the U.S. Capitol, they went beyond where the black-mask anarchists have gone. President Donald Trump’s front-line troops assaulted Capitol Police.

UPDATE.8: This is important. This was always coming — we just didn’t know what would kick it off.

UPDATE.9: A reader just sent in a screenshot of a young woman outing the names of her mother, uncle, and other family members on social media, as Trump supporters. She claims that she is a lesbian, and that her family kicked her out for going to BLM marches. I’m not going to post the photo, but of course Twitter is thrilled that she’s turned her family over to the mob. I’m not going to add to the outing by posting the screenshot (my reader did not ask me to, note well). The reader writes:

It’s unfortunate (if true) that she’s been kicked out of her family over politics. But now she’s gone way overboard, outing her whole family to the world, to strangers who are literally out for blood right now. I have issues with some of my family members, irreconcilable ones. But I would never do this. If we’re not loyal to our family, who are we loyal to?

I came across this picture on social media and the person who posted it said:

If y’all ever looking for somebody GOOOO TO TWITTER Cause THEY GONE FIND THT ASS.

They then went on to say they were looking forward to finding out who was at the Capitol Hill protest.

It’s like every specter of Hell’s been unleashed. Combined with the very clear message from every corner of the left today that they intend to crack down on anyone they deem as problematic, it’s obvious where this is going. I hope this all stops soon, but I’m not optimistic at all. There’s going to be blood and it’s going to go both ways. I can’t believe we got to this point.

UPDATE.10: Reader Barlaam of Weimerica writes:

In a former online life, I used to write, from time to time, of the growing sense of dispossession and alienation felt by many Americans, a sense that could assume many forms, and did, many of them undesirable, twisted, and grotesque. Q is one of those forms, obviously. So is Antifa, the allegedly antifascist movement that has at least tacit corporate and foundation support, and supports policies, in many instances, that are at least proto-fascist, formally and substantively.

The contradiction between the ideal America and the reality of life in actually-existing America is the heart of this anomie. That ideal, and that contradiction, are parsed in different ways by different factions. But what the Establishment is doing now – and no, it’s not actually socialism, let alone communism; rather, it’s a technocratic feudalism having strong resemblances to fascism, in a postmodern mode – essentially says to many of these alienated and dispossessed, some on the Left, but mostly on the Right, is that they will never be permitted to resolve this tension, that the contradiction for them will never be lessened, that they will only ever experience a sort of mounting internal exile.

The Biblical metaphor is ‘by the Waters of Babylon’. We should avoid sacralizing the country. The country is not a repository for the deepest yearnings of the spirit. It should, though, at least not stand athwart those yearnings, nor those yearnings for a way of life that feels a bit like *home*.

There are really only two ways this ends: either the population is gradually subdued and torpified in a VR/UBI/social credit dystopia, the way the Japanese were broken after WWII and transformed into bland consumerists with bizarre anime porn fetishes, or some segment of the population revolts, on behalf of the whole. The problem with the former is that the technocrats win, at the cost of every higher value. The Spirit departs. The problem with the latter is at least threefold: you cannot dictate the forms the resistance will assume; most of the forms of resistance will be incommensurable; and most of those with memories of what once was will execrate the resistance, which will appear strange and horrifying to them, because they cannot admit that they failed, and that what they loved about what once was is no more.

I would that some of the good elements of liberalism survived. Civil liberties. Free Speech. I cannot see that they will. Not merely because the social consensus is shattered, but because liberalism was the frame of the Ideal America that died, the Ideal America that her elites killed with three generations of vicious self-dealing and neglect of the country and its people. Associated with what died, what failed, liberalism will probably die, too. Worse still, liberalism was the womb of the Promethean drive for progress, for the material mastery that begot our modern technologies, which are the instrumentalities of our domination by the social credit surveillance state; that drive for mastery was the quest to possess the Ring, and we shall suffer bitterly for it. The potentialities inherent in those technologies entail the death of liberal norms and rights. Power never goes unused. Either someone will use that power for whatever ends he deems fit, and liberal freedoms will be gone, or, somehow, those technologies will be destroyed; but in the latter case, the cataclysm and whatever remains afterwards will have no place for the elements of liberalism that made possible the specific drive for mastery that generated the crisis. At least for a good long while.

The Old Gods have been awakened. Not in the sense of pagan religion. Chthonic forces of darkness and chaos. Just listen to the insane utterances, as of shamans and oracles, of our tech elite, as they ramble on about their transhuman dreams of overcoming Man. They are a fusion of the occult and the highest levels of science. Whatever one thinks of all that, it cannot generate a human politics, a world that will be *home* to human beings. It’s not meant to provide that. And the world that begins with what the tech elite are doing *now*, censoring and canceling and controlling, is the first glimmer of that venereal dawn, the first death in the death of all *human* dreams yet to come.

Florid language, sure. But not without purpose: because if you don’t understand the trajectory of the technocratic elites’ world, or don’t want to see it, for whatever reason, you will never understand why those who resist it do so, and you will never understand why those who resist it resist it in the ways that they do – confused, incoherent, terrifying, often hopeless. You will never understand that you have to let the dead bury their own dead. That the world you loved is dying, or perhaps already dead and gone, and the Resurrection isn’t coming.

To come full circle, Q was a symptom. Antifa is a symptom. They are not the crisis. Last summer was not the crisis, Wednesday was not the crisis. The problem is the world the elites are building, a world that has no place for most of us, is profoundly antihuman, and must be imposed by force, and embodies the death of Spirit. To use the Platonic metaphor, it is a world in which the very thought of seeking to gaze at the Sun can no longer occur.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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