Posted on November 8, 2020

In the Gulag of the Mind

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, September 2006

Frank Ellis, Marxism, Multiculturalism, and Free Speech, Council for Social and Economic Studies, 2005, 107 pp.

Frank Ellis is a rare gift to the cause of race realism: a man who combines an undeceived understanding of the crisis we face with a thorough mastery of a relevant academic discipline. His field, the Soviet Union and Marxist-Leninist ideology, affords him the perfect vantage point from which to trace the ideological roots of the suicidal orthodoxy that paralyzes whites everywhere.

Maoist Propaganda

Prof. Ellis was recently suspended from teaching duties at the University of Leeds in England because of statements about racial differences, and the chilling effect on free speech of Britain’s multicultural orthodoxy. Hounded by fanatics who insisted he be fired, he found himself reliving today’s version of the communist purges he once believed had been consigned to history. This collection of essays, all of which first appeared in the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, is an excellent introduction to his thinking.

Political Correctness

In one essay, Prof. Ellis explains the origins of political correctness, noting that it long predates the 1990s, when it became known in the West. He traces the concept back to Lenin himself, who used it and similar terms in the 1920s. Like most revolutionaries, Lenin was obsessed with the need for a single, pure party line that applied to all situations and settled all questions. His positions, decked out in the garb of scientific socialism, were to be impregnable. As early as 1918, he wrote about “the renegade Kautsky,” a phrase that reveals his rigid mentality and unwillingness to accept dissent.

The party line need not be objectively true. Like today’s fanatics, Lenin was more interested in victory than in truth. Politics shaped reality, not vice versa, and a lie in the name of socialism was just another blow in the battle for power. Socialist-realist art, for example, showed life as it should be rather than as it is, with handsome, well-fed workers and peasants marching into a communist sunrise. Prof. Ellis notes that we see the same thing in today’s movies and textbooks, filled as they are with black computer geniuses and female petroleum engineers.

For the true believer, censorship is a worthy tool for defending the truth. Once it has been sanctioned by the party, socialist truth — like anti-racist truth — must be protected against even the mildest reappraisal. What the party sanctions is so obviously and necessarily correct that in the latter days of the Soviet Union, communists treated political deviants as mental patients. Who but the unhinged could fail to accept the party line? The Soviets’ spiritual heirs do the same thing today: “racism,” “xenophobia,” “sexism,” and all the other invented conditions said to afflict the white man treat dissent as if it were disease.

The Chinese went even further after the Sino-Soviet split left them as the sole guardians of true Marxism. They harangued mental patients with doses of Mao Tse-Tung thought, convinced that enough of The Great Helmsman’s wisdom would cure all kinds of “incorrect” thought.

And what of those who cannot be cured? A document from the Cultural Revolution (now known in China more realistically as “the ten-year calamity”) asserts that “Not to have a correct political orientation is like not having a soul.” This easily justifies the next step. As Prof. Ellis explains, “the theoretical struggle now gives way to physical extermination of class enemies.” Apostles of equality and brotherhood piled up mountains of victims because, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn explained in The Gulag Archipelago, they had a vision that brooked no dissent:

“The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology — that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.”

Although today’s left does not have Stalin’s means, it has Stalin’s mentality: the blindness of fanaticism, the conviction that disagreement is a moral flaw, devotion to the “truth that ought to be” rather than to reality, and lust for total power. And just as the pioneers of brotherhood-or-else had demon figures — capitalists, imperialists, class enemies — their followers today have a demon: the white heterosexual who is never a “man” but always a “male.” Communism’s demons exploited the proletariat; today’s demons exploit women, homosexuals, and dark-skinned people.

Prof. Ellis closes his essay on political correctness by noting that it has become common to decry Communist excesses, but no one dares hint at today’s ugly parallels.

In another essay, Prof. Ellis analyzes those parallels from a different perspective. He notes that the old left wanted to seize the means of production but the current left has seized the means of expression. The resulting assault on free speech is one of the most serious threats we face.

After it lost the battle over capitalist exploitation, the left shifted blame for all of mankind’s travails to the alleged sins of the white man, especially “racism.” Because “racism” is everywhere, the entire structure of Western society must be revamped. Like their communist prototypes, the anti-racists stamp out dissent and force their ideology into every corner of life, but cannot change reality. As Prof. Ellis points out:

“People do not become favourably disposed to one another because of hate crime legislation. Public displays of tolerance are not enough to hold a multicultural society together . . . The more governments coerce public opinion, the bigger will be the divide between the private and public spheres.”

The West does not today enforce totalitarianism through mass execution but through softer methods of control: shaming, ostracism, name-calling and, ultimately, loss of livelihood. This campaign has been so pervasive that orthodoxy needs no official censorship apparatus — every man is his own commissar, careful never to say the wrong thing.

“But what happens when a whole society cannot express itself for fear of incurring accusations of racism and hate crime?” asks Prof. Ellis. “Does this really promote better race relations, understanding and good will? On the contrary, it promotes mutual suspicion and resentment . . .”

Prof. Ellis offers a striking example: “Fifty years of compelling people to act and to believe that Yugoslavia was a model of multiethnic harmony was blown to pieces in the 1990s when resentments and festering hatreds suppressed by the communists erupted in an orgy of genocide.” Could today’s obligatory but artificial assertions of racial comity produce the same result?

Because anti-racism denies science and human nature — just as communism did — it can prevail only by suppressing truth. It can do this only by ripping out and destroying what Prof. Ellis says may be the very heart of the West: “So important has free speech been in the intellectual and moral evolution of the West that one is tempted to assert that the West is inconceivable and unsustainable without it.”

He points out that “There is no Islamist, fascist, Marxist-Leninist, Nazi, feminist, heterophobic or multiculturalist discourse on free speech, just a series of bitter, ideological tirades all of which reflect the real fear that none of these illiberal ‘perspectives’ can withstand full, open and critical examination.”

Most of today’s lefties deny they want to suppress speech. They are not open like the scruffier element, whose motto is “no free speech for fascists.” But while they profess their theoretical love for free inquiry, they promote every aspect of the soft totalitarianism that silences dissent.

In a particularly chilling essay, Prof. Ellis describes the systematic way Europeans have gone about fighting “racism:” Unlike Americans who claim to support free speech but make it impossible, Europeans have frankly outlawed it.

From the outset, The European Union’s International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights specified that free speech had to be curbed to “respect the rights or reputations of others,” and protect “public health and morals.” Something called a Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, which became effective on March 26, 2002, takes it for granted that “racism and xenophobia” are so frightful they fall automatically into the category of speech that can be criminalized. They are defined as follows: “the belief in race, colour, descent, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin as a factor determining aversion to individuals or groups.” Whatever that definition actually means, as Prof. Ellis points out, the European Union has forbidden a belief. Actions based on this forbidden belief are called “propaganda” offenses. “Propaganda offenses,” as Prof. Ellis points out, are exactly the sort of purely political crimes Stalinists and Maoists invented to silence their enemies. Moreover, the “framework decision” covers all media: “The [European] Commission’s approach on this issue is to ensure that racist and xenophobic content on the Internet is criminalized in all Member States.”

Another reason the EU must criminalize speech is that it has embraced another communist goal that cannot withstand scrutiny: equal outcomes. For the reds, it was equality of classes, now it is equality of races. “We are, it seems, slow to learn,” notes Prof. Ellis.

There is yet another EU directive for “implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin” that went into effect on July 19, 2000. It begins, without evidence, with the assertion that “European societies are multicultural and multi-ethnic, and their diversity is a positive and enriching factor.” It goes on to order the abolition of anything that conflicts with the “principle of equal treatment,” and requires member states to stamp out deviation with punishments that are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.”

At one stroke, the directive sets out legal contradictions American courts took decades to establish. After much bombast about “equal treatment,” the directive assures worried anti-racists that “the principle of equal treatment shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or adopting specific measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to racial or ethnic origin.”

Although the directive never uses the phrase “equal outcomes” and its drafters would probably recoil from it in public, this is clearly the intent. One of the directive’s favorite targets is something it calls “indirect discrimination,” or policies that are race-neutral but produce unequal outcomes. Requiring that police officers have an honorable discharge from the military, for example, is “indirect discrimination” because blacks are more likely than whites to be dishonorably discharged. This sort of thing is to be rooted out, and the directive makes it very clear that “indirect discrimination” requires no discriminatory intent; it can “be established by any [emphasis added] means including on the basis of statistical evidence.” Any means? This is a potentially fatal departure from European standards of determining guilt and innocence that took centuries to develop, but will force companies to hire and promote non-whites. By definition, there can be no racial differences in ability, so unequal outcomes can be the result only of direct or indirect discrimination, which can be shown, by any means, to have been the casue.

The directive further promotes equal outcomes by shamelessly biasing the courts. When a non-white goes to court claiming unequal treatment, the burden of proof is to be on the defendant. A white person or institution must demonstrate innocence rather than be proven guilty, a harrowing reversal of the ancient rule of “innocent until proven guilty.” The directive stacks the deck even further by urging (but not requiring) member states to introduce “rules of evidence which are more favourable to plaintiffs.” In other words, disallow hearsay or potentially prejudicial evidence that favors the white defendant but permit it for the non-white plaintiff. Here, the Europeans have managed to steal a march on the Americans.

The people who drafted the directive must have worried about how much it prattles on about race. Slaves of fashion to the end, they added: “The European Union rejects theories which attempt to determine the existence of separate human races. The use of the term ‘racial origin’ in the Directive does not imply an acceptance of such theories.” In the midst of what purports to be a criminal law, the European Union endorses quack science — and yet drafts the law on the basis of the very categories quack science tries to deny.

Prof. Ellis is right: Whoever tries to build a society on lies must suppress, distort, censor and ultimately criminalize the truth. This book puts today’s rigid orthodoxies in a rich historic perspective, and shows where yesterday’s orthodoxies led. In spirit, the crowds baying for Prof. Ellis’ dismissal are no different from those who ran the gulag. That they cannot see this shows only how thoroughly they have blinded themselves and how little they have learned from history.