Pushing the Pendulum

Image by Cloé Gérard from Pixabay

Many Americans have been puzzled in recent months, as solemn-faced newsmen and women minimize and even defend the burning and ransacking of homes and businesses, and other malicious assaults against law abiding citizens.

Meanwhile, a handful of weaponless rubes taking selfies in their crimson hats are said to constitute an insurrection, providing an honest-to-goodness justification for operations designed to make our beloved republic look and feel like a military dictatorship.

Though past history is not a perfect predictor of future performance, it remains an indicator that only the highly imprudent would choose to ignore.

On this note, Gary Saul Morson has sober advice for those reassuring themselves that “the pendulum is bound to swing back” toward sanity anytime soon.

Examining the politics of Russia just prior to the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, which paved the way for seven decades of totalitarianism, he notes several trends that cannot but remind us of America in the 2020s.

Then, as now, “educated, liberal society” operated by the rule that logic, ethics, and science are strictly subordinate to one’s “emotional identification with radicalism,” as defined by the self-proclaimed intelligentsia.

Cleaving to their ideological persona, Russian liberals professing the highest ideals were unwilling to condemn the most bloodthirsty acts of terrorism when committed by nihilistic leftists. On the other hand, anyone hinting that the commission of heinous crimes might be taking things a bit far was instantly shunned in polite circles.

As a consequence, “reasoned dialogue” was a nonstarter, and “suicidal insanity” reigned supreme.

Once they achieved sufficient control, the radicals rewarded their liberal allies just as anyone of sound mind could have foretold: by liquidating them, along with anyone else unfortunate enough to stand in their way.

The lesson Morson draws from history is simple: “When a party is willing to push its power as far as it can go, it will keep going until it meets sufficient opposition.”

For my part, I would urge concerned readers not to assume anything about our present political pendulum. Prudence teaches that we can expect a more salutary swing only if we are prepared to give it a sufficient push.

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