Thursday, June 01, 2023


After WWII Isaiah Berlin finally made it to Moscow. Following the cacophony of the United States, it was the silence he found there that was most disturbing. In November 1946 he wrote that the “slow humiliation of poets and musicians is more awful in a way than outright shooting”.

He was aware that Russia had always favoured authoritarian rule and that the Tsars had attempted to suppress creativity, yet in the nineteenth century this had had the effect of turning that nation into an almost unprecedented creative and intellectual hothouse. 
Something was different under the Soviets, he speculated, something that permitted him to conclude that not all authoritarianisms are equal in this respect, be they political or religious, and the defining factor had to be the ideological component. 
This ties back to my observations yesterday about the suppression of free discourse at places like the Oxford Union. Those whose point of view is backed up by a rigid, take-no-prisoners ideology usually don’t even wait to hear what potential opponents have to say before silencing them.
For it is one of the key assumptions held by those under the sway of Marxism, for example, that you can tell if someone deserves to be heard just by noting what sort of person they are — their socioeconomic (these days also identitarian)...and therefore historical status is the very gist of their winning/silencing argument.



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