That is the question. To be precise, that is the $50,000 question, or whatever amount Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is making per hour.
To brin: a verb meaning to break under the torture of censorship and/or cancellation, or, as Hamlet put it, “to take arms against a sea of troubles /And by opposing end them.” Should we struggle against dorseynization and zuckerberging? Or should we comply with the ruling party orders and brin into submission?
We all know that “net neutrality” has nothing to do with the internet or neutrality. “LGBT” has nothing to do with sexual preferences. “Black Lives Matter” has nothing to do with Black people. “Climate change” has nothing to do with the climate whatsoever. “Saving the planet,” like any other environmental extremism, has nothing to do with the planet. “Political correctness” has nothing to do with correctness, and “social justice” has never assumed any justice.
To continue, “microaggressions” have nothing to do with any aggression. “Critical Race Theory” has nothing to do with race. “Safe space” has nothing to do with safety. “Feminism” has nothing to do with women, and “toxic masculinity” has nothing to do with men. “Minimum wage” has nothing to do with wages. “Antifa” has nothing to do with anti-fascism – the list goes on and on.
These terms could be easily substituted by just one simple word: control.
For political power, control is paramount. The Marxist dogmas of abolishing private ownership and the inevitable establishment of collective ownership did not age well beyond the 19th century. The original idea was realized in the Soviet Union and its satellites only by the use of unheard-of-before terror. Many Western Marxists and leftists rightly argued that forced wealth redistribution would lead to bloody civil war, citing the Soviet Union’s experiment as an obvious example.
That left leftists in search of some novel ideas to revitalize Marxism. They did so by (temporarily) dropping the involuntary wealth redistribution requirement. While possessing the same strategic goal as classical Marxists, they decided to introduce quite different tactics designed to smooth society’s transition to a Utopian worker’s paradise.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the leftists’ thought process looked like this: business owners controls all their businesses’ aspects. Why? Because they own it fair and square, de-jure and de-facto, as a matter of law and as a matter of fact.
Classical Marxism aims at dumping both de-jure and de-facto ownership, eliminating both the legality and tangible ownership components. However, what if we temporarily and reluctantly drop just one of them? If the de-facto ownership requirement is dropped, but de-jure stays? The resulting non-Marxist leftist ideology gets assigned a new term – Fascism. Fascism was designed as a significantly less bloodthirsty alternative to Communism. (By the way, if, on the contrary, the de-jure requirement is dropped, but the de-facto ownership stays, the resulting non-Marxist, leftist society would resemble a mafia enterprise on a state level, also known as a plutocracy.)
Practical implementation of the Fascist idea took many forms. It was implemented in Italy by a group of prominent Socialists with Mussolini, orthodox Marxist, at the helm. Mussolini’s mantra was “Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” In the 1930s, he managed to get all Italian industries and all Italian finances under state control while leaving the private ownership mostly intact. He called this state-run capitalism “true socialism.” The second, predetermined step – national government taking over all private ownership – was announced in due time but did not materialize thanks to the Allies’ invasion.
Another obvious example is the National Socialism of the Third Reich. However, from a purist’s point of view, real National Socialism was established not in Germany but in Italy. Mussolini, who was a famous statesman already when Hitler was just a nameless community organizer, was furious when he learned that Hitler “borrowed” – read “embezzled” – the term. “National Socialism” redefined “Fascism” by incorporating anti-Semitism and racism into it; the Third Reich’s real ideology could be described as Aryan Socialism.
Reforms along the lines of eliminating de-facto ownership while keeping de-jure ownership sprung in many counties on both sides of the Atlantic. The simplest version of the idea assumes near-total control of an enterprise by the government, while legal ownership still lies with the rightful owners and their heirs.
Did owners revolt? Did they protest? Anywhere? Anyone? Nope. Stripping owners from any control of their enterprises was mostly met with jubilation. Hitler never hid the eventual goal when he confronted German industry with the ultimatum: “Private enterprise cannot be maintained in a democracy.” The Third Reich never ran a nationalization program, with just a few notable exceptions (like the expropriation of Junkers airplane factory with more or less fair compensation to the owners.)
In return, captains of the German economy poured millions into Nazi party coffers. Why? Because the transfer of control to the government removes owners’ perpetual headaches. Owners no longer need to worry about competition, management, environment, labor law, strikes, profits, unions, taxes, and any other burden. Everything has been taken care of – just go to Davos, or Miami Beach, or Courchevel and enjoy your life while the government, thru its ideologically-purified agents, does the hard work.
China’s current state of affairs scrupulously follows the Fascist template. They do it under a different name, of course (Fascism got a bad reputation, you know). Their followers in the United States and other Western countries are trying to foist it under separate banners, too (and for the same reason).
In the United States, we have not reached a total control phase, but today we see suspensions, demonetizations, terminations, and other forms of cancellation methods and digital executions practiced by para-government agents. For the time being, these agents still own all these famous tech giants de-jure. However, de-facto, they carry a baton from 20th-century book burners into the 21st, enthusiastically enforcing the nomenklatura demands of the Post-Marxists.
The dirty little secret among the Post-Marxists is that they temporarily, at least during this transitional phase from capitalism to a leftist Utopia, ignore economic components entirely and care only about unrestricted political power and total societal control. Until the workers’ revolution is successful on a global scale and worldwide wealth redistribution is a done deal (this idea is known as globalism), comprehensive control – the de-facto part of ownership – is all that drives the would-be-revolutionaries.
The international cocktail of various leftist -isms genuinely believes that political censorship on a global scale is within reach. To achieve this goal, leftists outsourced the dirty task of censorship enforcement to private companies, an army of courtier journalists, and Academia.
During the previous millennium, universities were free speech oases and have suddenly turned into free speech arbiters and suppressors that coerce people to brin. Beginning with the present millennium, many colleges set the template for this dreadful and arrogant dismissal of opposing views. Cancel Culture and Comprehensive Control are two sides of the same coin, for if they cannot control you, they must cancel you. That’s why we are witnessing a pitiless pogrom of statues – leftists cannot assert control over the past, so the only course of action for them (following the example of their predecessor, Joseph Stalin) is to simply cancel and erase the past.
The Soviets had a program nicknamed “expulsion to the 101st kilometer,” referring to the forcible eviction of dissenting or otherwise “undesirable” citizens beyond Moscow’s 100 kilometers. Google manipulates internet search results analogously. It shows links to leftist political and news sites at the top of the search results, and links to sites with “undesirable” views are artificially moved beyond the first hundred links. Google knows that people, as a rule, glance at the first dozen or so links. Consequently, Google creates the impression that the whole world is full of leftist ideas only. Many people still don’t realize they are inside of a digital Gulag.
Let us emphasize that this is done by para-government agents at Big Tech legally, without brute violation of the law. With diabolical ingenuity, these post-Marxist leftists assumed the role of digital gods and utilize the existing laws that protect private ownership de-jure for asserting control de-facto over all aspects of social life to establish a post-American America. As Soviet communist Nikolay Bukharin put it, “We asked for freedom of the press…and civil liberties in the past because we were in the opposition and needed these liberties to conquer. Now that we have conquered, there is no longer any need for such civil liberties.”
Should we comply with their demands to follow the letter of the law while they deliberately violate the spirit of the law to pave the road for Pan-American serfdom? Per Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Not to act is to act.” It would be so un-American to comply with demands from, let’s say, YuanTube, even if it will result in adding one’s name into the government blacklist of dangerous subversives. It would be so un-American to submissively stay in a solitary compartment of a digital reeducation camp. It would be so un-American to go quietly into the night.
It would be so un-American to brin.
[Originally Published at Chronicle of Current Events]
P.S. The recently established in the United States Chronicle of Current Events takes its name from the journal Soviet dissidents compiled and circulated in typescript on human rights violations in their country in the mid-20th century. Many of those brave Russians, who risked more than social ostracism for exercising freedom of speech, were humanists and scientists, as their current American successors. Original Chronicle was more than a list: it became a platform for discussing and analyzing the workings and strategies of totalitarianism.