by Lev Tsitrin
We act according to what we are — and what we are is what we think. Because humans think, they can — uniquely among living creatures — manipulate their fellow-humans and be manipulated by them, causing social mobility, directed downward or upward. This is not the case with animals — the way they are is set at birth and stays same until they die. Their social structure is immutable; a queen of an anthill or beehive needs not fear a democratic revolution — because worker ants and bees won’t think of participating in one. In the animal world, no one thinks, and everyone knows their rank in the pecking order.
Humans, on the other hand, are changeable — at times getting transformed, with a startling speed, into their polar opposites; one only need to recall what happened two millennia ago to a gentleman named Saul as he rode to Damascus. Nowadays, most conversions are less sudden and less dramatic, the constant droning (or drumbeat!) of political opinion altering what we think — hence, what we are — hence, how we act (and vote).
Often, we vote not so much for a particular politician, but for a cause this politician promises to chart. But while voting for the cause, we elect specific politicians — who, while they advance the cause, feather their nests, too. So, everyone gets something out of it — the public gets decent governance, the politicians, good life. This, in a nutshell, is how the human hive works — that is, how it works in places we call “free world.” There, each side appeals to facts, using logic to come up with conclusions — and claiming that their conclusions represents the “truth.” And “truth” is a magic word — it is something that we are hardwired to follow for a very good reason, since our very survival depends on having an adequate understanding of reality. We live in a world that is merciless to those who do not understand or respect its fabric. Truth has to be followed. Prove to us that something is true — and we will follow you.
In the “free world,” truth is perceived as a moving target, necessitating debate and the choice from several alternatives. But elsewhere, truth is a settled matter, and those who disagree are not the potential flag-bearers of progress who should be given a fair chance to speak up and prove the validity of their views, but enemies who seek to pervert the society by swaying it from its established rightful path, and so should be imprisoned — or worse — so as to protect the truth from their predation. Internationally, truth must be promoted both by propaganda and by political intrigue, since it is vital for humanity that truth be dominant the world over.
For instance, Karl Marx proved that humanity’s destiny is Communism — and therefore it must be so. Hence, insofar as China is concerned, for the sake of truth Hong Kong’s freedoms must be suppressed, Taiwan must be reunited with the mainland, and the rest of the world should be simply purchased, so Communism could triumph worldwide. (Towards the same end, the Soviets tried to create an “anti-imperialist front” and foster world-wide Communism by arming the third-world countries.)
Or how about this: Mohammed proved that Koran is the ultimate revelation of God’s will towards humanity, therefore unbelievers must be conquered and converted — or destroyed if they disobey. It is obvious that the world must be Islamic. Since showing hair is un-Islamic, ungodly and hence, perverse, young ladies in Iran and Afghanistan who do so must be punished. Where Islam is not dominant, it must be made so. To that end, the Shia Iran spreads its influence and weapons throughout the Middle East, creating and supporting proxy groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza, and trying to foster terrorism all over the world. To convince the West of the Sunni incarnation of Islamist truth, al Qaeda attacked targets around the globe — in France, Belgium, England, Indonesia, the most spectacular and deadly one being the 9/11 attack on the US.
For those in Kremlin, it is obvious that Russia is holy, and is the light unto the nations — but the diabolical, Satan-worshiping West seeks to extinguish this holy light. The threat must be pushed back — starting with reconquest of Ukraine. The domestic opponents who slander the truth with a nasty word “war” must be jailed, and the corrupt collective West that supports drug-addicted Ukrainian leadership which ignores Ukrainians’ wish to humbly return into the fold of Mother Russia must be defeated on the battlefield.
In short, while in the West we think of politics, domestic and international, as the battle of interests that manifests itself in the battle for hearts and minds, for countries like China, Iran, or Russia, it is the holy battle for the firmly established truth.
This is something that the West seems incapable of comprehending — to its huge detriment. When in the 90s the Clinton administration pushed hard the notion of globalization, turning China into the manufacturing center of the world, I was wondering, haven’t the people in the White House and Congress read the Communist Manifesto? Apparently not — or they were so blinded by the prospect of cheap Chinese labor that they did not care to internalize what it said. American political establishment thought they knew what they were doing — yet any ex-Soviet could cite to them a quote from Lenin, “the capitalist will sell us the very rope on which we will hang him.” Greed is, apparently, stronger than self-preservation — and brought us to the present juncture where China built up its manufacturing and military muscle at the expense of the US to the point where it is not at all certain that Taiwan, and the Indo-Pacific can be safe, and China entrenched itself throughout the world. The eventual “victory of Communism” touted in every Soviet textbook has not yet come to fruition — but is by now far too close for comfort.
Nor did the Obama administration understand how the truth-defending (or, in more common parlance, “ideological”) mind works. To Obama and his advisors, the “Iran deal” was a way of ensuring that the regime would moderate its behavior and abandon its expansionism. The logic went like this: JCPOA, as the “deal” was known, would lift sanctions on Iran; lifting the sanctions would increase Iran’s well-being; the increase of Iran’s well-being would cause the decrease in Iran’s aggressiveness. That the exact opposite could happen, the extra funds bolstering Iran’s aggressiveness (like what happened with China) did not occur to the Obamoids.
This belief that poverty causes aggressiveness, and that wealth moderates it, is an unshakable Western article of faith — even though it is demonstrably untrue, since there is simply no correlation between the two. Bin Laden was a multi-millionaire content to live in a cave for the sake of the cause. Nor was Marx dirt-poor (nor was his ideological twin and supporter Engels who owned a bunch of factories in England). Lenin and Trotsky could live comfortable middle-class lives if they chose to. Russia’s Putin is, by all accounts, fabulously wealthy — yet the certainty of economic sanctions that might diminish his wealth did not stop him from invading Ukraine. For a committed defender of truth, the question of wealth is simply not part of the equation. The triumph of truth is all that’s important — it is all in all.
Tragically, the West’s inability to understand what makes the truth-defenders tick causes us not only to do what is counter-productive (i.e. pumping more resources into the ilk of Iran and China), but also not doing what really needs to be done — debunking our adversaries’ “truths” by pointing to glaring holes in their reasoning. Instead, we play a nice, “politically correct,” “multi-cultural” game, not rubbing anyone the wrong way, not hurting anyone’s feelings.
Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If you want to be nice to Islamists and Communists, you will get Communism and Islamism at your doorstep. You simply cannot bring truth-defenders into the fold by buying them off, as Clinton and Obama tried to do with China and Iran, or as Germany tried to do with Russia. The only way to deal with them, is to defeat them. And the only way to defeat them, is to change them. Only once they stop thinking that Communism or Islam is the truth, will they stop acting like Communists or Islamists.
And luckily, their errors of reasoning are easily identifiable. Communism is based on the unspoken assumption that everyone is the same (which is why Communists disregard individual rights and liberties — to them, there is no such thing as an “individual” — they think in terms of “masses” and “classes”); hence according to them, society is driven by laws that are the same as the laws of inanimate nature. This causes Communists to tout their theorizing as “science” exactly on par with natural sciences — and therefore, as “truth.” But this premise is patiently wrong since only individuals exist — and, to boot, they are all different in what they want from life. “Classes” and “masses” which Communists treat as a reality do not exist at all, but are mere artificial constructs. Life of a society is chaotic, people grabbing what they can when an opportunity presents itself, and as their entrepreneurial talent and daring lets them. The Kim dynasty undoubtedly tells North Koreans that they live at the pinnacle of human progress and have reached the ultimate stage of human history. Is North Korea the paragon of bliss? Not really — but it is surely an excellent proof that human affairs are opportunistic and therefore chaotic, and Marxist theorizing is garbage.
Islamism likewise has a fatal flaw: it is based on a factually incorrect premise that we have the ability to know whether God talked to Mohammed. But any two-step communication between three parties is inherently unreliable, and Mohammed’s so-called “revelation” follows this, utterly unreliable, communications pattern. The result is that anyone who unequivocally insists that God talked to Mohammed, without adding “or not,” is an idol-worshiper: he uses his non-existing ability to know what actually transpired between God and Mohammed to build a human picture of God that he worships. What Islamists declare to be true, in fact merely may (or may not) be true. Idol-worship is anathema to Islam — yet Islamists are idolaters, and all they need to do to see the idol they worship, is look in the mirror.
And we Westerners should look into the mirror too, and admit that what we do — try to buy off with money and good manners those who hate us for perverting the “truth” — is doomed to failure. To effect real change in attitude, we need to change what they are. And to change what they are, we need to change what they think. And for that, we need to talk about, and debunk what they think is the truth. All else is futile. We must stop pivoting away from truth (as we do now, under the aegis of multiculturalism and political correctness) and pivot right towards it, “damning the torpedoes,” head-on.
Lev Tsitrin is the author of “The Pitfall of Truth: Holy War, its Rationale and Folly”