Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin would be so envious. Totalitarian government might be so much easier to pull off today of computer was back in their days in Russia. Nowadays it wouldn’t take much; nearly all the pieces are in place here now. They had to do it the hard way: guns and gulags, KGB and secret police; black police vans carting pastors and dissidents off at midnight, to disappear where guards and fences and dogs would have them in line and out of sight.
It was all so complicated, making dissenters disappear this way. Tyrants today need only send them to Twitter jail. Or shadow-ban them. Or perhaps let algorithms do the dirty work, so they can claim a clean and respectable distance from it all. And that’s just the beginning of all they can do, easily, cleanly, with a mere nod of the head along with a click of the mouse.
What we’ve seen so far is just a taste of totalitarianism, yet enough to exhibit how easy it might be. Someone – or some computer – flips a switch or two, and you’ve been disappeared, as surely as though you’d been shoved on a train and sent to Siberia.
And we’d be defenseless. There is no safety from it, not even inside supposedly free and open apps like Parler or MeWe. Apple or Google could hit a kill switch at any time, and the apps would vanish. Poof! Web-based communication is no less vulnerable. It wouldn't have a night visit from the Stasi to disconnect you against the internet, both home and make contact with; just the click of some bureaucrat’s obedient mouse.
Social Support for Censorship
Technology does wonderful things for all of us. But it’s also made us dependent, which makes us vulnerable. Where great power exists, someone not-so-great will invariably want to use it. What prevents them, and protects us, is really a combination of social pressure, market forces and governmental restraint. Those forces are weakening. Google , Twitter and facebook have market support behind their anti-conservative policies. Corporate America itself appears to think the market supports its sponsoring censorship.
I don’t understand how far this trend will go. I do know it’s heading the incorrect direction. At this point I can't see, say, Verizon, unilaterally reducing any anyone's phone usage due to their political views. But then there was also a time after i couldn’t imagine American colleges turning hostile toward freedom of speech. Just ten years ago I couldn’t have pictured the NCAA campaigning for men’s rights to use women’s locker rooms. I wouldn’t rule anything out for the future: Too many unimaginable things have happened lately.
The Left Controls An excessive amount of to Let Them Control Any More
But no, none of the just “happened,” did it? The Left has worked patiently, steadily, for decades, to determine its intolerantly “tolerant” viewpoint as the only approved morality. They now control nearly all higher education, almost all news media, and many of the deep state. When they don't control all of social networking, they do have the portions with the greatest audience. In their most stunning feat of, they've won over such formerly staunch conservative strongholds as corporate corner offices and the world of athletics.
So let's take a hypothetical case now, one that is fully imaginable though morally unthinkable. Picture the Left controlling all of this plus the White House and each house of Congress. Imagine them feeling liberated to run with their hubris, having all that technology at their fingertips, and unrestrained by human powers or any fear of God.
It's a chilling scenario: All that social, political, and technological power, underneath the control of one totalizing ideology. Checks and balances would be gone. Gone from Washington, gone from everywhere, a minimum of at the national level.
Meanwhile conservatives, having been kicked out of Congress, the White House, and many every other power center, would be badly hamstrung in doing our part to carry them back. Some conservatives talk about arming against a dictatorial government. That's one line of defense, granted, but it’s a terrible one at best. I own a weapon; I don’t ever want to use it. And I especially wouldn’t want to try using it alone, cut off from all lines of communication, as I fully expect would happen if things found that.
This Is Not Just Some Dark Fantasy
This is no mere dark fantasy. We stand on the brink. Mere weeks from now we could be under the unrestricted dominance of a Leftist government, unopposed from within, and in virtual charge of all other major power centers. They will claim benevolence. They will even practice it, but they will decide that which means and doesn’t mean. Most likely it will mean more and more squashing of dissent.
No one individual, group, or ideology should ever hold much power. It can only go wrong, no matter which party is in that position.
That’s why I plead with liberals today, meaning particularly those for whom “liberal” means “freedom loving.” You most likely don’t agree with much that Republicans say. This week, this year, you must pull for them anyway. They are your last protection in Washington from the tyranny of unrestrained power. They are your safeguard against a future America where free speech means freedom only to agree; where freedom of religion means only freedom from religion; where dissent means cancellation carried out in far purer teams than we've seen to date; and where my old-fashioned Bill Clinton-voting liberalism might soon become qualified as the dissent that would earn that sentence of cancellation.
The stakes are up to they could be, and the time is equally as urgent. Today my worst-case scenarios are mostly thought experiments. If the federal government falls to the Left, though, they've got the major pieces in place for a smooth slide into easy totalitarianism. We dare not allow it to happen.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the writer or editor of six books, such as the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.