- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Softcore Stalinism & Kompromat

We are officially the stupidest civilization in all of human history: [1]

Adidas has pulled a sneaker it was selling in honor of Black History Month after the all-white running shoe was slammed on Twitter.

The shoe, part of the company’s Ultraboost line, was included in a broader collection of clothing and sneakers inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, but critics said the sneaker’s color, and even the material apparently used to create it, made for a tone-deaf tribute.

First of all, can we all snort derisively at a global corporation for making a Black History Month sneaker? Did George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass live and die so Adidas could sell more shoes?

Second, what in the hell is that? People are so offended by whiteness that they hate white shoes now?

While we are pondering the threat to humanity posed by a white Black History Month sneaker, let us ponder the final part of my too-long Woke Menace post: [2]

Here’s Yale Daily News column by Isis Davis-Marks, [3] a black woman and, more importantly, a Yale undergraduate, which makes her one of the most privileged persons walking the planet. She is already part of the ruling class. In the piece, she talks about the necessity to be a spy and an informant for Wokeness. Excerpts:

Everyone knows a white boy with shiny brown hair and a saccharine smile that conceals his great ambitions. He could be in Grand Strategy or the Yale Political Union. Maybe he’s the editor-in-chief of the News. He takes his classes. He networks. And, when it comes time for graduation, he wins all the awards.

One day, I’ll turn on the television — or, who knows, maybe televisions will be obsolete by this point — and I’ll see him sitting down for his Senate confirmation hearing. Yes, he’ll be a bit older, with tiny wrinkles sprouting at the corners of his eyes and a couple of gray hairs jutting out of the top of his widow’s peak. But that smile, that characteristic saccharine smile, will remain the same.

When I’m watching the white boy — who is now a white man by this point — on CNN, I’ll remember a racist remark that he said, an unintentional utterance that he made when he had one drink too many at a frat party during sophomore year. I’ll recall a message that he accidentally left open on a computer when he forgot to log out of iMessage, where he likened a woman’s body to a particularly large animal. I’ll kick myself for forgetting to screenshot the evidence.

And, when I’m watching him smile that smile, I’ll think that I could have stopped it.


To be honest, I’m not sure what the solution is. This expands beyond vocalizing problems about sexual assault: The core of this problem has to do with our values. The problem isn’t just the Yale administration; it’s Yale students. We allow things to skate by. We forget. We say, “No, he couldn’t have done that,” or, “But he’s so nice.” No questions are asked when our friends accept job offers from companies that manufacture weapons or contribute to gentrification in cities. We merely smile at them and wave as we walk across our residential college courtyards and do nothing. Thirty years later, we kick ourselves when it’s too late.

But I can’t do that anymore — I can’t let things slip by. I’m watching you, white boy. And this time, I’m taking the screenshot.

Here’s Ryszard Legutko, on something liberal democracy shares with socialism:

It happens that both systems never suffered from a shortage of people willing — often without being asked — to survey the political purity in communities, institutions, groups, and all types of social behavior.

The atmosphere the systems produce is particularly conducive to engendering a certain type of mentality: that of a moralist, a commissar, and an informer rolled into one. In one sense, this person may think that he performs something particularly valuable to humanity; in another, the situation helps him to develop a sense of power otherwise unavailable to him; and in a third, he often cannot resist the temptation to indulge in a low desire to harm others with impunity. For this reason tracking opposition and defending orthodoxy turned out to be so attractive that more and more people fail to resist it.

If you are white and male, you would be well advised to stay far away from Isis Davis-Marx, I mean, Davis-Marks. She’s watching you, white boy. Whiteness and maleness are evil.

The fact that in the Yale Daily News, she is able to publish a column with these actual words, whereas a white guy who wrote a column about, say, disproportionate black male crime rates, and ended by saying that, “I’m watching you, black boy,” would be thrown out of school and the campus shut down in a paroxysm of social-justice agony — well, that tells you a lot about the nature of the Woke Menace. It’s anti-human moralists, commissars, and informants all the way down.

Let’s ponder a world in which a multinational corporation can be persuaded to pull a sneaker from stores because some Twitter idiots decided that white shoes are offensive to black people, while a student at one of the world’s leading universities can publish straight-up racist invective against white men, and nobody blinks.

Spare me the, “Oh, come on, it’s a college newspaper.” We all know perfectly well that if a columnist for the Yale Daily News had as much as published a column as much as questioning, say, whether or not people were overreacting to the blackface thing, the entire campus would have convulsed. We know this is true. When Erica Christakis suggested a few years back that the university had better things to do than to manage the Halloween costumes of its students, everybody there went berserk. Christakis left the university under pressure.

People: this is the ruling class. This is how they think. Isis Davis-Marks came to Yale from the Bronx High School of Science [4], one of the most selective and elite high schools in the United States. She is going to graduate with a Yale degree, and be able to ride that racist wokeness as far as it can take her in the ruling class’s institutions. The ideology of this class views people like these white Applachians who live in West Virginia’s poorest county, and who voted for Donald Trump [5], as Deplorable bearers of White Privilege. They are today’s kulaks [6], the “class enemies” of the order that progressives are trying to bring into existence.

As the (black) linguist John McWhorter wrote four years ago, antiracism is a religion among progressives of all races. [7] Davis-Marks’s racist remarks are not perceived as such by the culture at Yale and more than a claim that people who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior are going to hell would be controversial at an Alabama Bible college. But here’s the thing: a graduate of an Alabama Bible college has a microscopic chance of entering into one of the institutions of the American ruling class. Not so a graduate of Yale.

This matters. This really matters. In his 1951 classic The Captive Mind [8], the exiled Polish dissident Czeslaw Milosz addressed this point:

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention.

You keep on telling yourself that what Ivy League intellectuals and those who teach and administer universities have to say about intersectionality, gender fluidity, white fragility, and the rest of it is nonsense that only eggheads care about.

And then you’ll wake up one day and find that a senior judge has upheld a state education policy forcing your children to be taught that there is no such thing as males and females, and that anybody who says so is a bigot. You’ll find out that you will not be considered for a position because of your race, and that objecting to this injustice is seen as a pathology. You will find yourself or your husband accused of sexual assault, and judged by the media and the court of public opinion as a rapist without a shred of concrete evidence. You will see your kids photographed in Washington DC minding their own business, then turned into international objects of hatred, declared “punchable” by national progressive media figures, condemned even by their own bishops, and your home addresses blasted all over the Internet by activists urging people to assault you as enemies of the people.

This is really happening. Isis Davis-Marks is an undergraduate at one of the most prestigious and influential colleges in the world, but still, only an undergraduate. If that’s how you see it, you are completely missing the point. Ask yourself what would happen if  white male undergraduates at Yale organized any kind of protest, however peaceful, against Davis-Marks’s racist column. More to the point, ask yourself what kind of culture produces, even valorizes, people who say openly that they view all people around them who are of a particular race, or sex, as enemies, and that they are going to be watching them for ideological deviation, and recording it, so in the future, they can ruin those people’s lives?

A reader named Clarissa, an American academic, who grew up under Communism writes about the meaning of Isis Davis-Marks. [9]Excerpt:

The vigilance that this student proposes to exercise isn’t based on the waning power of the neutered state. The surveillance apparatus she wants to use is corporate. And the ultimate goal is to ensure that corporate interests are never opposed.

The wall-to-wall propaganda that characterizes this new totalitarianism isn’t state-sponsored either. It’s disseminated solely through corporate channels. Traditional politicians are squeezed out by TV and social media stars who represent this new form of power. The complete dependence of their popularity on Twitter and Instagram means they will do absolutely anything to avoid being deplatformed. It’s no longer about courting rich donors to donate to your campaign. Now it’s all about being a funny enough clown that attracts hits and likes to enrich the owners of these platforms.

Every day, the power of these giant corporations to unearth a tweet or a like on a tweet that can sink absolutely anybody grows. There is no need for a state to keep a dossier of kompromat (compromising material) on each citizen. This process has been completely corporatized. And the worst part is that people who are wielding this sort of coercive power honestly see themselves as powerless victims who have to defend themselves from coercion.

Read the whole thing.  [9]

Clarissa makes a point that I’ve tried to emphasize here before, most recently in the Amelie Wen Zhao controversy (she’s the YA author who withdrew her unpublished book and apologized to the public after withering Twitter shaming): people are wrong to think that totalitarian repression comes only from the State. It is coming from corporations, from institutions, and from self-appointed commissars who weaponize their softcore Stalinism with social media. When you see a multinational corporation doing what Adidas did, it’s right to laugh at it, but you had better take seriously the force that motivated its decision.

People like Clarissa, who grew up under Socialism, know what’s happening. They’ve lived this before. One of them, a college professor, recently told me about the “terror” (their word) they have about voicing any objection to identity-politics wokeness within their institution, because they know it can and will be used against them, and they don’t know who, if anybody, will defend them.

You think it can’t happen here? It can — and it already is. The column Davis-Marks wrote is headlined: “Evil Is Banal.” [3] Yeah, you think?

UPDATE: A reader points to this column from Leda Fisher, an undergraduate writing in the student newspaper at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn. [10] Excerpt:

I am so g****mned tired of listening to white boys. I cannot describe to you how frustrating it is to be forced to listen to a white boy explain his take on the Black experience in the Obama-era. Hey Brian, I’m an actual Black woman alive right now with a brain. In what world would your understanding of my life carry more weight than my understanding? Unfortunately, it is this world, where white men debate the pain of other people for fun and then take away their rights. The second thing most white boys seem not to understand is that they do not exist separate from the rest of the world. You do not speak alone, you speak with the weight of every other white man who has spoken over a woman, erased the contributions of queer people from history, or denigrated “broken English” as unintelligent.You speak with the weight of policies and laws meant to forever define intelligence by how it measures up to the bros of America.

So, should white boys still be allowed to share their “opinions”? Should we be forced to listen? In honor of Black History Month, I’m gonna go with a hell no.

As ever, what’s important about this is not that an undergraduate has an obnoxious opinion. It’s that within a university, an opinion that’s openly racist, and in fact calls for the silencing of others on the basis of race and sex, is considered mainstream discourse.


77 Comments (Open | Close)

77 Comments To "Softcore Stalinism & Kompromat"

#1 Comment By cka2nd On February 9, 2019 @ 1:59 am

In my activist days, I always enjoyed it when a person would turn around after I had asked a question at a forum that demonstrated that this white boy (or American, or man) actually knew something about THEIR community’s or nation’s history that maybe they didn’t know themselves, or that at least they were shocked a white boy (or American, or man) would know. “How the hell do you know who Mary J. Blige is?” “I’m surprised you know so much about the Egyptian Revolution.” “No, unfortunately I won’t be able to include the black artistic and musical diaspora in 20th Century Europe and Japan in my history of black American gays and lesbians” (actually, that was the speaker herself, who was a friend and a generation older than me; it was the audience, especially the younger folk in the audience, who were looking at me kind of squirrelly). “I had no idea you abortion supporters were aware of the police brutality suffered by members of Operation Rescue” (Hi, Kurt!).

It really is astounding the depth and breadth of the assumptions that people make about each other and themselves, of what “they” know or have experienced, and of what “I” know or have experienced.

Of course, as Ms. Isis Davis-Marks attended the Bronx High School of Science, I must assume that hers is a second-class intelligence because she did not instead attend Stuyvesant High School. Don’t know what Ms. Leda Fisher’s problem is, though.

#2 Comment By cka2nd On February 9, 2019 @ 2:10 am

“She is already part of the ruling class.”

No, Ms. Davis-Marks is probably not yet a member of the ruling class. She may have a better entree into the ruling class than 95% of the rest of us (97% if she was a white female Yale undergrad, 99% if she was a white male Yale undergrad, as race and sex still matter, even at the top), but unless Ms. Davis-Marks’ family is already part of the ruling class, she is not yet there herself. Who is to say that she will not become a bureaucrat or an academic or some cultural servant of the ruling class? Does she already have wealth? Stocks, bonds, real estate? Is she, or is her family, already capable of hiring enough lawyers to smother even a state’s Attorney General in motions and counter-motions? Can she already fight for control of the board of a Fortune 500 country?

Ms. Davis-Marks has an entree into that world, but she’s is likely not there yet, and said entree could still be yanked right out from under her. And she could also still be stopped by police on the vague suspicion that she really shouldn’t be where she is.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 9, 2019 @ 2:37 am

Hi Ludo,

Robert A. Heinlein was an atheist libertarian who outside his science fiction juvenalia was even woke to pederasty. Read all about his grokking Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband, who even went so far as to not just sexually abuse other people’s children, but their own. No biggie, was Heinlein’s take.

I say this as someone who enjoyed some of his works as an adolescent, but didn’t realize just what attitudes I was being groomed into at the time, that later caused problems in resisting being abused myself.

#4 Comment By Seoulite On February 9, 2019 @ 2:40 am

If I was a white male enrolled at Dickinson College and I read that letter in the student newspaper I would drop out the very same day. I would immediately begin to make concrete plans about my future prosperity in a country where this kind of racism is explicit and encouraged. I would also buy a gun and learn how to use it.

It’s bad enough when white SJWs try to speak for non-whites. It gets worse when the same white SJWs force these politically-correct progressive values on non-WASP countries such as Japan.

The grudging respect that still lingers among East Asians for whites and white civilization is fading rapidly. These kinds of ‘enlightened’ interventions will become less tolerated. The Japanese remember that once upon a time America was far away across the ocean, and they know that as diversity sufficiently destabilises the US it will retreat within itself once again. This will be welcomed.

#5 Comment By DGD On February 9, 2019 @ 8:37 am

Here’s a gem from my alma mater: WashU in St Louis


Apparently being conservative at a college campus is a fringe view these days. What amazes me is how sure of himself the author is. It reminds me of what Chesterton said (and I’m paraphrasing here): man has traditionally been sure of his ideas and unsure of himself. Modern man is unsure of his ideas (because he doesn’t really have any coherent ones) but completely certain of himself.

#6 Comment By Heath Boyles On February 9, 2019 @ 8:44 am

1936 Spain here we come…

?Cara al sol con la camisa nueva…?

#7 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On February 9, 2019 @ 10:00 am

“I am so g****mned tired of listening to white boys.”

And I, as white male, am similarly tired of listening to whiny, over-educated black women.

And I am by no means alone in my sentiments either.

#8 Comment By B On February 9, 2019 @ 10:28 am

A split will never work. The woke will pursue us like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and will never stop their stalking.

This is a mental disorder. The cure will come when we have our Soviet moment, the debt consumes society, and it all collapses. Not before.

#9 Comment By Mike S On February 9, 2019 @ 11:19 am

“It’s cold where I live, and we sometimes wear balaclavas. They are almost always black. There’s even a photo of me wearing one online that I cannot erase that will probably ruin my standing someday.”

I don’t consider myself a social justice warrior, but I do think you should take another look at the complaint about the sweater (and the pic in the link you posted). It’s not that the sweater covered the face in black cloth that was the problem. It was that it also surrounded the wearers own lips with thick red lips which you really do only see in old black face and ‘sambo’ caricatures.

You can rest easy that the pics of you in your plain black balaclava are safe.

It was probably the designer trying to be ‘edgy’ and getting the press they were looking for. (Also, the most offensive part of the sweater was probably its $800 price tag)

#10 Comment By kgasmart On February 9, 2019 @ 3:07 pm

Even at Yale, students of color are not truly accepted and they know it.

African-American students at Yale have left the comfortable and familiar world of their own culture in order to enter an unknown and often uncomfortable one.

All incoming freshmen at every college in America have left the familiar and entered an unknown and often uncomfortable world.

I suggest the campus of Yale University is one of the safest places in America for a young black student, and may well be significantly physically safer than the communities from which they come.

#11 Comment By cka2nd On February 9, 2019 @ 3:07 pm

Old West says: “All of the energy and passion on the left are the cultural, racial, identity politics, and especially, sexual libertinism stuff. Economic things are just a tool in service of their desired cultural transformation. Their economics is in practice negotiable, but culture isn’t. That’s what makes them scary to me.”

Did you completely miss the Bernie Sanders campaign for President? Have you not heard that Democratic Socialists of America has grown to 50,000 members? Are you utterly unaware of the campaigns for a $15 minimum wage, or to overturn “Right to Work” laws? Were the strikes by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Los Angeles somehow under your radar?

There is a cultural left and an economic left within the Democratic Party. There is some genuine overlap between them, mainly on the cultural side, although some on the cultural left genuinely also support liberal, New Deal, somewhat left-wing economics. I really do not understand how you can see “all of the energy and passion on the left” being on the cultural side, though.

#12 Comment By cka2nd On February 9, 2019 @ 3:24 pm

DGD says: “Here’s a gem from my alma mater: WashU in St Louis”

Thanks for the link. Some good pushback in the comments, and I just had to throw my two cents in.

#13 Comment By Rossbach On February 9, 2019 @ 3:25 pm

“Goal: Destroying brown-haired white men who surpass me professionally, as they inevitably will.” And: “Hobbies: Reporting white men who microaggressively smile in my presence to HR.”

This is the bitter philosophy of a born loser.

[NFR: If I were a potential employer examining her job application, and I googled her, and found this column, I would not hire her. Someone like that would be murder on office morale. — RD]

#14 Comment By Ms On February 9, 2019 @ 3:41 pm

Cka2, I enjoyed the Bx Sci/Stuy snark!

#15 Comment By MH – Guardian of 10^-21 Percent of the Galaxy On February 9, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

Re: Marion Zimmer Bradley

I am not a fan of her work, but knew of her. So it’s depressing to learn she was aware of her husband’s despicable sexual abuse of minors.

Re: Robert A. Heinlein

His writing hasn’t aged well, and definitely had creepy elements. But he does get credit for inventing the tropes of powered armor, hidden parasitic aliens, and space bugs.

So we probably wouldn’t have Tony Stark or the Alien xenomorphs without him.

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 9, 2019 @ 9:09 pm

Re: Robert A. Heinlein

I was never moved by Stranger in a Strange Land. That whole “grok” thing was just weird. But we are overdue for a revival of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, perhaps the best presentation of revolutionary process ever produced.

Of course, as Ms. Isis Davis-Marks attended the Bronx High School of Science, I must assume that hers is a second-class intelligence

Hold on a minute. My nephew graduated from Bronx High School of Science. 🙂

Let the SJWs have the coasts and enjoy the “benefits” of open borders.

OK, as long as we can have a People’s Republican of the Midwest. Deal?

When did all students ever think anything?


Did George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass live and die so Adidas could sell more shoes?

I’ve posted this in another venue — Rod could probably find it if he wanted to look — and several friends of both light and dark complexions have noted their appreciation.

#17 Comment By limboaz On February 10, 2019 @ 10:19 am

People with a radical agenda always need a scapegoat to stoke up resentment, and to take the focus off the weakness of their position. All we can hope for is a push back from the majority of Americans who are decent people, and that our constitution can withstand the inevitable onslaught from leftists.

#18 Comment By David J. White On February 10, 2019 @ 12:24 pm

Re: Robert A. Heinlein

His writing hasn’t aged well, and definitely had creepy elements. But he does get credit for inventing the tropes of powered armor, hidden parasitic aliens, and space bugs.

I’ve always thought that the best thing about Starship Troopers—and something the movie adaptation from about 20 years ago completely missed or fudged—is the insistence that citizenship has *responsibilities* and *duties* as well as rights. And I think that that has not only aged well, but that it’s more relevant now than ever.

#19 Comment By cka2nd On February 10, 2019 @ 2:27 pm

Ms says: “Cka2, I enjoyed the Bx Sci/Stuy snark!”

I mean, Bronx Science had a smokin’ Ultimate Frisbee team back in the early 80’s, I’ll give them that. But otherwise? Meh.

#20 Comment By cka2nd On February 10, 2019 @ 2:33 pm

Siarlys Jenkins says: “Hold on a minute. My nephew graduated from Bronx High School of Science. ?”

The poor dear. My condolences. How are the remedial education classes going?

#21 Comment By cka2nd On February 10, 2019 @ 2:40 pm

I thoroughly enjoy snarking on folks who went to Bronx Science, but I once knew a couple of guys who, it turned out, went to the two different Catholic high schools in a small town, maybe half a generation apart from each other. One went to the upper class one, and the other to the working class one. Eeeek! If you’ve never experienced it directly, friends, class resentment and bitterness is a real thing.

#22 Comment By Ms On February 10, 2019 @ 3:57 pm

Extra Stuy nullus salus set. So there.

#23 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 10, 2019 @ 10:21 pm

The poor dear. My condolences. How are the remedial education classes going?

He left a well respected four year liberal arts college where he had a substantial scholarship, because the math courses were not sufficiently advanced for him. But then he had a grandfather who could explain the laws of thermodynamics to a six year old.

#24 Comment By Some Guy On February 11, 2019 @ 2:56 am

kgasmart says: “Those who once opposed corporatism will protect it to the end so long as the corporations espouse their values – and prevent others from denigrating them.”

Still not getting it, this is not the same people, the people who opposed corporatism still do, but they were sidelined into irrelevance long ago.

The IDPOL people are a (relatively) new thing and are, as you rightly say, allied with the corporations.

Where once Socons and the 1%/corps allied together against (and generally defeated, especially in the U.S.) the radical socialistic/egalitarian left, now the 1%/corps have turned to (social but not economic) radicalism (see ‘Revolt of the Elites’ by Christoper Lasch) and are allied with the IDPOL movement, sidelining (even further) the old left, and leaving socons without any allies unless they (as so far only Donald Trump seems to get) in turn ally with their erstwhile enemies, the traditional left.

#25 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 11, 2019 @ 4:43 am

“But then he had a grandfather who could explain the laws of thermodynamics to a six year old.”

Universal cooling is a thing.

Ever get that run-down feeling? Time is speeding up, and the clock is running out.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 11, 2019 @ 2:06 pm

Ever get that run-down feeling? Time is speeding up, and the clock is running out.

No Fran. I think God knew what he was doing when he put enough hydrogen into the sun that it can stay at current output for another five billion years.

#27 Comment By Gerald Brennan On February 12, 2019 @ 7:55 am

“So, should white boys still be allowed to share their “opinions”?”
“Should we be forced to listen?”
Now. Was that so difficult?