<!–– ============================================================ ––>
Sat Dec 11 19:01:40 UTC 2021
Beginning of the end?
This was originally written sometime in 2017 or 2018, soon after the
witch-hunts against the new Trump administration began.
If you have never read Arthur Koestler's 'Darkness at Noon', or
if it has been a while, now would be a good time to read it. In
my case it was probably over 40 years - I read it as a teenager
and recently heard it being discussed on a radio talk show. I
was sufficiently intrigued that I dug it of my library and read
it a couple of times over a week or two.
The relevance of the book to current events didn't immediately
start me thinking along these lines until some time later when,
while driving to work, I found myself being annoyed by the condition
of the streets. That was nothing new - the roads and streets are
falling apart faster than they are being fixed, and every time the
legislature meets the priorities are new taxes, increases of existing
taxes, and regulations. The taxes are supposed to fix the roads,
and yet taxes increase regularly and the roads and other public
infrastructure continue to deteriorate.
But one day, after having just re-read the aforementioned book,
while driving to work, I found myself thinking of Rubahov's
comment as he is being driven to the prison, that the cars
imported at great expense are quickly destroyed by the awful roads.
That was the beginning, the thought that triggered my closer
examination of the similarities to today's world.
If you don't know what 'Darkness' is about, I'll explain shortly.
Just another observation or two.
Gletkin (one of Rubashov's interrogators) describes torturing
peasant farmers who have hidden their crops rather than surrender
them to the government to feed the people in the cities and to
sell abroad to finance the armed forces. He further complains
that they have small amounts of gold hidden away, and the
government needs it. How different is that, may I ask, from the
IRS putting people in prison for not paying enough in taxes. Or
having your house taken if you don't pay the property taxes for a
while. Aside from the fact that people are not yet being
summarily executed for these offenses, not much.
At the end, Rubashov confesses to a litany of non-existent crimes,
signs the confession, and then confesses again at a public trial.
He knows from the moment he is arrested that he will be executed
in the end, no matter how cooperative he is. And so he was.
In case you don't know what 'Darkness at Noon' is about: it is a
pseudo- fictional work (a term of my invention, perhaps) which is
to say it is about real people and events but the actual names of
people and places are not used. As the Russian names suggest, it
takes place in Russia. The main character is a man named Nikolai
Salmanovich Rubashov, one of the participants in the Russian
Revolution, after which many of them occupied positions in the
government. When Stalin assumed power he removed almost all of
them, and most were either sent to the Gulags or, in many cases,
coerced into confessing to various non-existent crimes, and then
having them confess publicly in a trial, after which they were
As I observed earlier, I was prompted to revisit this book during
the first year or so of the Trump administration. As time went
on the similarities of the Mueller 'investigation' to the Stalin's
purges began to become more apparent. Now, we are not yet at
the point where political enemies are being shot in the basements
of prisons (as far as anyone knows) but consider a few of the
victims of Robert Mueller's search for a crime. With, no doubt,
his chief lieutenant Andrew Weissmann playing the role of Gletkin.
Paul Manafort was arrested in a spectacular raid involving a
dozen FBI agents and went on for hours. All this to get an old
man, nearly seventy years old, from his home to prison. Stalin
held show trials for his enemies, but since people don't watch
trials so much, the government stages dramatic raids for public
consumption. He was eventually held without bail, in solitary
confinement, until his trial for charges long ago abandoned by
investigators as not worthy of prosecution. His eventual
punishment would amount to a death sentence, as a man of his age
and physical condition would be unlikely to survive its duration.
General Mike Flynn was a more literal version of Rubashov, as he
was coerced into pleading guilty to a non-existent crime, in part
through being impoverished by legal expenses (much of it paid to
a law firm that seems to have deliberately acted against his
interests) and eventually by threatening his son (a common
Communist practice). Stalin's prosecutors used a variety of
methods to extract confessions, including torture, threats (or
actual violence) against their families, and often wearing them
down through continued imprisonment and interrogations. And like
Stalin's victims, who confessed publicly at their trials, knowing
they would be shot with hours of the verdict, General Flynn
literally begged the judge to pronounce a sentence and let him
begin his prison sentence. The judge (a solidly credentialed
political operative himself) refused, seeking to continue the case,
which he does to this day, even after the prosecution has
requested the dismissal of the charges.
And while there are many victims in this case, let us not forget
Roger Stone. In this case, another elderly man was arrested on
dubious charges in another sensational operation - dozens of
armed personnel and armored vehicles, all to fetch one old man
off to prison. And, denials withal, tipping off one of the most
dishonest news outlets (if you can call what CNN, or for that
matter the other alphabet soup of broadcasters) does news) so
they could produce the television show. Afterwards, Mr. Stone
would be convicted of various crimes in what any intelligent and
observant person would regard as a rigged trial. Of course, for
anyone on the wrong side of the political spectrum, any trial in
that district is rigged against you. Even with the revelation
that the jury foreman was admittedly biased (and lied under oath
during jury selection) his request for a retrial was summarily
There are numerous others, not only in this case but going back
many years. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby (guilty of being Dick Cheney's
chief of staff), Ray Donovan (guilty of being Ronald Reagan's
Secretary of Labor - was fortunate enough to be acquitted but
then asked "Where do I go to get my reputation back?"). Since
the success of the Watergate affair in removing a president, the
enemies of the constitution and the rule of law will stop at
nothing to achieve their goals of remaking those things to the
state they desire.
The operatives of the Democrat party resemble the enforcement arm
of the Russian Communist Party. Their methodology is embodied in
the words of Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's chief enforcer, who said
"Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime." Democrats choose
a victim and them manufacture the crime.
If this is allowed to continue unchecked, we will share the
experience of Stalinist Russia soon enough. And if this nation
falls, it will most likely mean centuries of darkness for the
entire world. Our founders knew the republic they built was
dependent on the character of its citizens, and that if that was
allowed to deteriorate the republic would fall. And the abysmal
depravity of people who will engage in the vicious destruction of
the lives of people who have done nothing wrong is beyond the
ability of normal people to understand. However, in the end the
republic will be ruined not by the few truly evil characters such
as these, but by the millions who do nothing to prevent it.
The main character, Nikolai Rubashov, is based largely on Nikolai
Bukharin. Bukharin was a prominent Bolshevik, an associate of Lenin
and Trotsky, and part of the new communist government formed after
the revolution. He seems to have had misgivings about numerous
things, particularly the purges and genocide but supported the
party nonetheless and tried to make the new state a success.
Beginning to read 'Darkness at Noon' again, I sometimes found
myself feeling sympathy for Rubashov. This is not uncommon when
observing a person in such circumstances, and it is important to
remember that he was not a nice person. He was one of the
architects of the Russian Revolution, and was, through the
establishment of what became the Soviet Union, responsible for
the deaths of many people. On a personal level, he routinely
betrayed people when the interests of the Party were more important.
So it is with the victims of the current witch hunts. Manafort,
Stone, and even General Flynn (who after his retirement became a
lobbyist and worked with some unsavory clients) are not
especially likable characters. But to fabricate crimes in order
to prosecute them because of their political connections is much
more wicked than anything they might have done. To progress
much further down that road is to usher in a new dark age.