Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Stalinist Bounceback

The extreme right perennially flirts with fascism, while the extreme left perennially flirts with Stalinism. Each side has reason to smear the other with these respective terms.

We've recently become exceptionally well-acquainted with the Right's end-stage affinity for fascism. Scary, but this current iteration - let's call it The Turd Reich - is way, way too stupid to successfully execute on its dark ambitions (not to say lots of shit won't get randomly broken).

I'm more worried about the bounceback (will we human beings ever learn to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism?). The angrier and more fearful the Left gets, the more it radicalizes, becoming increasingly brazen about indulging Stalinist instincts. Even out of power, the muscles flex.

The Twitter feed of the arrogant, spotty, opaque, maddening, and occasionally brilliant Nassim Taleb (here are some of his 2018 best-ofs) has nicely boiled down the Stalinist process into three stages (though I disapprove of his context, which is why I won't link to the tweet): "pathologize, punish, and then criminalize dissent."

That sequence could be our future. It would be helpful to drill it in now, so it feels less surprising later. Remember!

Consider, for example, the extreme Left's prescription for racism.

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