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Scoundrel Time: The Purges Have Begun

(Photo by Pasquale Senatore/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The figurative black mariahs of the woke commissariat are pulling up outside faculty buildings, ready to haul off the victims of these neo-Stalinist purges. A professor friend at a major US university told me just now, “Anyone who does not join the mob will be targeted.” He’s battening down the hatches.

A reader who is an emigre scientist and an academic raised in a Soviet bloc country e-mails:

The communists permitted even the aberrant and nonconformists to study in the STEM fields. They felt (correctly) that building a bridge, a weapon system, etc. needed more than a quick course in Marxist dialectic. That’s how I secured access to higher education, btw. “Eggheads”, they reasoned, “what can they ever do to us?” They allowed rationality and logic to fester.

Fools. These guys, apparently, are not going to make the same fatal mistake.

Look at what’s happening to Harald Uhlig, a prominent University of Chicago economist, who posted:

Uhlig now faces a social media campaign, led by a prominent University of Michigan economist, to get him booted as editor of the Journal of Political Economy. Here is another leader of the professional lynch mob:

These are academics.

An older journalist at a major media outlet — broadcast or print, I won’t say — got in touch this morning to say that they want out, and hope to find an exist before the mob inside the building throws them out the window. Management is doing what the management at The New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer did last week: surrender professional journalism to the woke mob.

It’s really happening. Do not be so naive as to think they aren’t going to come for you. Here is what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says you should do:

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.

Very few people will escape this. Do not allow yourself to be gaslit by those who say it won’t happen to you. It will. You had better know what you are going to say, and not going to say, when you are asked to declare. The stuff I wrote about in The Benedict Option — it’s happening now. I’ve had two requests already today from readers eager to get Live Not By Lies in their hands sooner than its September 29 scheduled publication date. That book contains more direct actions that we need to be taking right now to resist. I’ve passed the requests along to my publisher, but publishers can’t turn on a dime. Please be patient.

You don’t need a book from me or anybody else to tell you to do what Solzhenitsyn recommends. There it is, right there. But we do need to find each other, and figure out how we can stand with and help each other when our jobs and businesses are threatened by the present and future soft totalitarianism. Look at this:

UPDATE: This is a Vanderbilt University immunologist:

And, FIRE is defending a UCLA professor who was suspended by the university for following university policy in turning down a black student’s request for special grading treatment because of George Floyd’s killing.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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