Thought experiment

Imagine that you lived in a modern version of a country that had clung to a now-extinct ideology. For example, imagine yourself in still-Soviet[/Communist] Russia, still-Maoist[/Communist] China, or still-Japanese Japan.

Question: What would you believe about your country’s history?

Answer: You’d believe a lot of stuff that you currently believe to be wrong.

If the Germans and/or Japanese had won WWII, history would be very different.

If the Soviets had won the Cold War, history would be very different.

At least the official versions of history.

Even the official story of the Civil War changed dramatically during the 20th Century.

Now imagine you live in modern America. Keep in mind that perhaps no ideology has been more successful at extinguishing or assimilating its enemies than the ideology that governs modern America.

What should this chain of thoughts lead you to believe about modern, mainstream American history?

I think it would be surprising – very very surprising – if you were to conclude that modern American history is not full of lies. The official stories are – after all – part of the ideology’s success.

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18 Responses to Thought experiment

  1. Tschafer says:

    There’s no doubt that American history is full of lies, as is the history of any country, and it almost certaily has even more selective memory of facts – I mean, most of the mainstream media bias has to do with selective reporting, rather than just making stuff up. I doubt that our level of mendacity has reached Soviet or Fascist levels yet – we’re not actually a communist country, regardless of what MM thinks. But I’m now old enough to actually see some history that I lived through distorted, and it’s very disturbing indeed. I mean, most people under the age of thirty believe that liberals and conservatives stood together against the USSR during the Cold War, that the U.S. invaded Vietnam, that the 1970’s were a hotbed of racism (!), that homeless people didn’t exist prior to 1980, etc, etc. And it’s getting worse. As Jerry Pournelle always says, despair is a sin, but…

    • Anonymous says:

      If were not a communist country way does 80% of our extremely high taxes go to other people to help make them equal with you? Why does someone who makes 14k a year receive enough benefits from the government that they make 60k a year? Why do little girls get their lemonade stand shut down because they didn’t buy a government permit to run a business? Why can’t children work if they want to? Why can’t I drive down a city street without having to worry about the police stopping me and demanding my papers? The owner of “What black people don’t like” was recently fired for his political activity that had nothing to do with his job. Isn’t that thought control?

      What’s political correctness? We sensor almost every uttered thought in this nation to avoid being un PC and being fired for it. Why do papers censor reports of racist black mobs beating up white people? Why were 86 people murdered in Waco and many and more murdered during government swat raids without any officer involved in these raids being sent to jail for their crimes? And yet we don’t even dare to think about it. If that’s not communist thought control I don’t know what is.

      We don’t want to think of America as communist because we’ve been brought up to think as the commies are the bad guys and we are the good guys. We work very hard to convince ourselves that the fucked up things we see everyday is an aberration and not the symptoms of a fatal disease.

      • teageegeepea says:

        I hadn’t heard that 80% number before. I know the defense department is about 20%, and there are a number of other expenditures that aren’t redistribution (other law enforcement/national security agencies, infrastructure, shooting rockets into space for no good reason, etc).

        I don’t think America is a communist country because there have been actual communist countries and their inhabitants could very easily tell that western capitalist countries were quite different, and more desirable to live in. Communism involves state ownership of the means of production, Nazis had no problem with redistributive taxation.

    • red says:

      If were not a communist country way does 80% of our extremely high taxes go to other people to help make them equal with you? Why does someone who makes 14k a year receive enough benefits from the government that they make 60k a year? Why do little girls get their lemonade stand shut down because they didn’t buy a government permit to run a business? Why can’t children work if they want to? Why can’t I drive down a city street without having to worry about the police stopping me and demanding my papers? The owner of “What black people don’t like” was recently fired for his political activity that had nothing to do with his job. Isn’t that thought control?

      What’s political correctness? We sensor almost every uttered thought in this nation to avoid being un PC and being fired for it. Why do papers censor reports of racist black mobs beating up white people? Why were 86 people murdered in Waco and many and more murdered during government swat raids without any officer involved in these raids being sent to jail for their crimes? And yet we don’t even dare to think about it. If that’s not communist thought control I don’t know what is.

      We don’t want to think of America as communist because we’ve been brought up to think as the commies are the bad guys and we are the good guys. We work very hard to convince ourselves that the fucked up things we see everyday is an aberration and not the symptoms of a fatal disease.

  2. josh says:

    From “the news”: “A protest over the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man by police on Thursday that started peacefully suddenly turned violent. ” see before it was violent it was peaceful. then it (passive voice) turned.

    That ain’t Pravda?

  3. aretae says:

    And we know that the lies MUST be promoting the status quo and the interests of the government and other primary powergroups. We know that all the existing power groups would love the libertaian position to disappear…or the hard left anti-corporatist Glenn Greenwald/IOZ position…

    We know that fascist and communist ideologies were in practice almost identical… plus or minus a couple talking points. I say the big lie is that strong leadership CAN solve problems.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t see it this way at all. The libertarians in Washington are more welcome to any parties than someone like Michelle Bachman.

      Even your favored solutions ultimately require a dictator of some kind. Everyone isn’t going to vote in libertarianism . . .

      • aretae says:

        I’m far less interested in the parties, and more interested in the Policies. Bachman’s policies don’t seem likely to make a lick of difference to the current fascist (should I euphemize to corporatist?) state. Libertarian policies are actually opposed to the existing marriage of government and industry.

        Talk vs. do…and while proglodytes in DC may have issues with Bachman…her actual policy positions are pretty tame, and unlikely to hurt much of the existing power-structure.

        My favored solution is to allow secession, free cities, and/or seasteading. The current system is irrevocably broken…and the only path forward is to see alternate rule-systems that work better…and the ONLY path there is external to the existing system. Democracy can’t solve this without a re-invigoration of the 10th amendment, and a repeal of the 16th, which are crazy-unlikely. Dictators can’t solve this because it’s actually a power-group issue to get into a dictatorship position.

      • aretae says:

        And just as an observation…as far as I can tell, the left’s demon-of-the-week is the Koch brothers, a pair of libertarian folks who oppose police brutality, the drug war, corporate subsidies, and the integration of the government into everything. Bachman is a bit player.

  4. Tschafer says:

    I didn’t say that we lived in a truly free society, but “communism” actually means something very specific, and the word shouldn’t be thrown around loosely. Also, the very fact that we can be having this exchange proves that we have not yet sunk as deep as the USSR or Nazi Germany. But an argument can certainly be made that we are moving rapidly towards PC fascism, and may already be there. As I noted in my post above, I’m in my early 50’s, and I have seen a past I actually lived through re-written right before my eyes, and it’s scary. Saying that the US is not Communist (which it manifestly is not) is not an argument that what we have is in any way benign.

  5. josh says:

    We’re a communist country because we are ruled y communists, ie people who think of America as one big Brook Farm belonging to everyone. Private property and “markets” and property rights are just tools for maximizing the “size” of “the economy” which must be divided in a manner consistent with “justice”. To this end as well as to maximize the “efficiency” of “the economy” prices are manipulated in a million different ways to the point where it is impossible to say whether prices (which, of course, determines allocation of capital) is determined administratively vs. by supply and demand. Further, “we” even exercise communal ownership (a synonym for control) of industries via “regulation”. Regulation = management= control= ownership. Nobody thinks that “we” can’t outlaw or alter corporate charters that “we” granted in perpetuity for the “public good”. It’s amazing what I feel the need to put in scare quotes these days.

    That everyone essentially views the US this way should not surprise us as the conquering ideology of the world is a direct descendent of Brooke Farm. These people were communists before Lenin was born. Just because the Bolshevists lost doesn’t mean the communists lost.

  6. james wilson says:

    Communism takes the cake in blunt history inventions. As one former communist satellite official admitted, the problem with communism was that it was so hard to predict the past.

    The narrative is more sophisticated in the West. But at least history can be found.

  7. Handle says:

    Hey Foseti, been moving around a lot lately, but I’ll be in San Francisco the rest of the week if you’re taking another trip out here.

  8. […] – “Thought Experiment“, “The Official Narrative of the […]

  9. Will S. says:

    Winners write history. Twas always thus; is now, and evermore, shall be…

    And every nation writes its own version…

    The U.S. invaded British North America in 1812, and was successfully repelled from British territory, and furthermore, the Brits sailed to Washington, DC and burned down the presidential mansion (which led to the building of the White House that still stands today). But American history textbooks say America won the War of 1812…

    WWII began, for most of the countries on this planet, on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland; Britain immediately declared war, as did many other nations. But American history textbooks say the war didn’t begin till December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor… IOW, until America got involved, it wasn’t a war that was raging over in Europe? That’s the impression one would get…

    Twas always thus…

  10. […] the comments to my previous post, TGGP wrote: Communism involves state ownership of the means of production, Nazis had no problem with […]

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