“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis
What price would you pay for comfort? Would you turn over your savings to the treasury to have your debts erased? Would you sign your home over to the Dept. of Housing for the promise of rent-free accommodations? Install a GPS tracker on your person for unfettered movement? As of late, I’ve been diving into ‘Live Not By Lies’ by NYTimes bestselling author Rob Dreher. It is the authors’ assertion that we’re in the death throes of a free society and wading into soft totalitarian waters. His thesis is built on the warnings of a generation of Eastern European immigrants who offer insights into the creeping totalitarianism we’re experiencing in the United States. Unlike the totalitarianism of the Soviet Bloc, this variety is closer to that of the Chinese Communist Party. It is one built on creature comforts and a reward system that invites authorities into the intricacies of your life so that your behavior might be shaped in a way that conforms to the dictates of the omnipotent state.
The impetus of Dreher’s soft totalitarianism is a life of placating the flesh in pursuit of comfort. Like Pavlov’s dog, the public is trained to respond to positive and negative stimuli. Adopt the ethos of the state and have your comforting desires satiated accordingly. Oppose the state and be canceled in life. The prototype for this is the CCP social credit system. At home, the anti-racist movement of the neo-Marxists demonstrates the infiltration of soft totalitarianism into American civic life. It is not enough to merely oppose bigotry; adopt the activism of the anti-racists or lose your favorite brands, entertainment, pastimes, etc. Under these systems, life exists as a hedonistic vessel to transport you from cradle to grave and the purpose of life is the experience itself. As the philosopher, Miley Cyrus declared, “It’s the climb.”
Covid-19 management in the United States provides a glimpse into two opposing philosophies within. In the progressive corner, every lever of control has been engaged with the stated intent of minimizing the human toll of the pandemic. A captive audience adorned in double masks clings to the flesh and hangs on every word of scientists who appear to be guessing at a best-practice response. Given the outcomes in hindsight, one is left questioning whether or not the intent was to usurp as much authority as possible from the start? In the conservative corner, we find a brand of management that reflects a more hands-off approach. Under this brand, more risk is taken to respect the autonomy of citizens within. An argument could be made that in these conservative-Christian regions, a fundamental belief in the afterlife bolsters this assumption of risk.
It is not coincidental that this discussion of clinging to the flesh happens simultaneously as transhumanist campaigns to incorporate technology and artificial intelligence into the human body in the pursuit of immortality. The pursuit of immortality is not new to mankind and lines the pages of history from the search for the Holy Grail to Ponce De Leon’s explorations of the Caribbean. Like those pursuits, this one will end the same. From policy to social movements and technology, humans are increasingly enslaved to failing bodies. What price would you pay for freedom from this bondage? Would you change your consumption patterns? Would you tolerate unpopular ideas for the freedom to hold your own? Would you permit the autonomy of the soul that yours might be free?
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry
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