The Totalitarian Trajectory: And Man in American Interview

A further reason for my hatred of National Socialism and other ideologies is quite a primitive one. I have an aversion to killing people for the fun of it. What the fun is, I did not quite understand at the time, but in the intervening years the ample exploration of revolutionary consciousness has cast some light on this matter. The fun consists in gaining a pseudo-identity through asserting one’s power, optimally by killing somebody – a pseudo-identity that serves as a substitute for the human self that has been lost.

Eric Voegelin[i]

The pseudo-identity of a totalitarian dictator relies on pseudo-ideas. And what are pseudo-ideas? They are often ideas about the victim status of some group – based on sex, race, nation, or class. We hear these themes regularly; for example, that women or transgenders are oppressed, that non-whites are oppressed, that the poor are oppressed by the rich. Here is a victimology that promotes mass murder by encouraging despair. It is a despair that justifies “killing people for the fun of it.” The National Socialists said Germany was the victim and blamed the Jews. The neo-Marxists say people of color are victims and blame white racism. The old-line Marxists say the workers are victims and blame the bourgeoisie. The dictator states, who also see themselves as victims, blame America and/or NATO. In its current war against Ukraine, the Kremlin uses a confused mix of all-the-above, citing Ukraine as a U.S./NATO/Nazi conspiracy under Ukraine’s Jewish president, who is backed by Jewish oligarchs. Here we have an “all-the-above” goulash of popular resentments to justify Russia’s war of aggression. This justification differs markedly from the usual totalitarian demagogy. It partakes of an intellectual incoherency and rhetorical carelessness suggestive of mental disintegration. Who would have guessed? Russia’s regime of banal mediocrities cannot be bothered to make their lies credible. They no longer possess the intellectual wherewithal of the early Bolsheviks. The elder Soviet statesman laid out a long-range strategy. But now it seems, the post-Soviet generation cannot think for themselves. When the old strategy began to fail, they improvised. It was then, and only then, that the mediocrity of the nomenklatura showed itself. The Russian and Chinese governments are failing their people. Russian military setbacks in Ukraine and a financial meltdown in China follow.

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