‘Live Not By Lies’
While many have pointed to the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade as an obvious historical analogue for the Obergefell decision, to my mind, the insistence that all must conform to the new, official definition of marriage that no civilization has ever endorsed until yesterday seems to be more aptly compared to life under Communism. The likening of “denial” of same-sex marriage to racial bigotry has proven to be a wildly successful tactic—but it is premised on a lie, the lie that the conjugal view of marriage has as little basis in reason or nature as denial of basic rights to people based upon the color of their skin. The analogy’s success has relied upon the loud and insistent demand that we not notice, nor regard as relevant or germane, the fact that men and women are different, and most importantly, that their sexual union is oriented toward reproduction.
The “monopoly of violence” possessed by the State is now a main weapon in perpetuating this lie, and will be used mercilessly and without cessation against those who persist on pointing out that it seeks to perpetuate a lie. But violence will serve as a last resort, merely backstopping the education system, the economic players, and even family members who will work to correct wayward thinkers (the divisions in families will make what is to come like a Cold Civil War). Like communism’s comprehensive efforts to root out dissent and “re-educate” people to regard all property as common and our care for all people of the world equal and without distinction, the very depth and extent of the lie requires that the lie be insistently repeated and dissent be comprehensively squelched.
“Lies can only persist by violence,” wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The bolder and falser the lie, the more insistent the calls to conformity, and the elimination of dissent. As during the years when the Gulag was the alternative (though the “Gulag” today is financial bankruptcy and professional suicide), the easy path was to go along, accept the order in spite of its absurdity, get ahead according to the rules established by those who ruled. But Solzhenitsyn said no—even to the point of arrest and exile. “Therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies!” Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!”
Here’s a link to “Live Not By Lies,” an essay Solzhenitsyn wrote in 1974, just before he was arrested and sent into exile. Excerpt:
So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.
And from that day onward he:
- Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
- Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
- Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
- Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
- Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
- Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
- Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
- Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.
No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.
But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.
And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.
UPDATE: I was wondering after I posted this how long it would take before some commenter said, “Ah ha! You’re saying that post-<i>Obergefell</i> America is JUST LIKE THE SOVIET UNION! Ha ha!”
Um, no, it’s not. But Solzhenitsyn’s strategy is going to become very useful for many of us, especially in academia, which is where Patrick Deneen works. If you spend any time talking to academics who dissent from the LGBT ideological line, you quickly grasp how precarious their position is. This is not going to be limited to academia. Wherever orthodox Christianity comes to be regarded as an ideology of bigotry, Christians will be required to live by lies, or put their livelihoods at risk. No, it’s not the Soviet Union, not even close. But the principle behind Solzhenitsyn’s advice on how to have a clean conscience and to maintain your dignity is still helpful.