On the Agency Merry-go-Round

We're creating a generation of damaged subjects.

Recently I found myself on a beach carousel, enjoying a bright sunshiny day filled with covid-destroying UV radiation.

Of course, that didn't prevent the local governing Karens from demanding face diapers for all, but at least the carousel was open for business.

Not without oppressive reminders of the ruling regime, alas.  Plastered everywhere were posters citing the governor's diktats on mask-wearing, hand-washing, and so on - though, to their credit, they place the blame on the appropriate head, should you be minded to view things that way.

Come the time to board, though, and a quite unexpected imposition reared its ugly head.  The queue hoardings invited eager children to ponder "Which animal will you choose?"  Indeed, the carousel was equipped with far more than the usual ponies - elephants, donkeys, tigers, sea-dragons, American eagles, even a hummingbird, which I've never before seen, so, as the sign said, that's what I chose.

But no!  Covid rules strike again!  The operator had to usher each guest to their assigned spot, with no choice whatsoever.  The sign, like nearly everything uttered by Dr. Fauci, was a bald-faced lie.

Drawing Extreme Comparisons

Now, let's face it - riding a standard-issue carousel pony versus an exotic hummingbird is hardly the same as boarding a train to Auschwitz.  Indeed, it ranks pretty high as a trivial "First World Problem" that's barely worthy of a moment's thought, much less an entire article.

And yet...

It's a well-known tactic of totalitarian governments to force people to spout nonsense they know to be false, and to participate in rituals they know to be absolute garbage.  Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia, respectively, expected people to thank Hitler and Stalin for their food in much the same way that the devout thank God, despite neither Hitler nor Stalin (unlike God) having lifted a finger to get the food to the table - indeed quite the contrary.

Furthermore, a key aspect of totalitarianism is the terror of the unexpected and unpredictable knock on the door that can happen to anyone at any time.  This is distinctly different from the rule of law as Western countries have celebrated until recently.

In America, if you are a criminal, you should fear the flashing blue lights, or a banging on the door in the middle of the night - you know what crimes you've committed that the cops could have figured out.  But if you are an ordinary law-abiding citizen, you should have no need to fear any of these things - the worst that would come of being pulled over is an annoying speeding ticket, and the knock on the door should be almost impossible due to our centuries-old requirement for warrants.  The fact that many innocent Americans really do fear the police, for good reason, is a legitimate cause for serious concern - though not a justification for rioting.

What's more, the laws are expected to make sense, or at least be predictable, and be understandable to a normal person.  We may not agree with speed limits but we understand how they work.  The concept of not stealing other people's stuff is similarly straightforward.  An important fundamental part of our traditional legal system is the concept that a reasonable person would understand and know that they were violating a law, and at what level of severity.

In a dictatorship, though, what you are and aren't allowed to do makes no logical sense, can change at any time without warning, and with unpredictable consequences totally unrelated to what you actually did.  There may be some relationship to who you are - obviously, Jews in Germany realized pretty quickly they were on the naughty list simply by virtue of their genes - but not necessarily even that.

There's a story from the early years of Soviet Russia about a town where the secret police had swept through arresting dissidents during the day.  At the end of the day, the kids all came home from school to find their parents vanished.  A kindly neighbor took them in, then went down to the local police station to ask what arrangements should be made for the newly minted orphans.

It turned out that the secret police were one under quota - and, how convenient, in the door walks a warm body!  The good Samaritan was promptly whisked off to the gulag with the rest.  Nobody even accused her of any wrongdoing - it didn't matter.  The terror was the purpose, and that purpose was even more served by disappearing a random person than a known refusenik.

It didn't take long before Russians realized that the police were no longer there to help.  Nor were the rules, laws, courts, or any other part of the government apparatus.  If you were in the government, the apparatus was there to crush your enemies, and if you weren't, you wanted to stay as far away from it as possible at all times.

Of course, in a modern world that's simply not possible; your life will intersect with the government's on a weekly if not daily basis.  That's bad enough in an America where, even today, there's still some residual concept of answering to We the People.  We are in the midst of the final departure of this ethos, as our masters realize, revel in, and proudly proclaim that they now answer to nobody and what you think matters not one whit.

New Soviet-American Man

Raising a child is a difficult challenge at the best of times.  We've all seen children who were so browbeaten by overbearing parents that they have no independent willpower, no desires or dreams of their own.  And we've seen the opposite, spoiled princesses whose every whim was law and who don't understand the meaning of No.

Either mistake leads to a crippled adult; much of the rioting and insanity we see today comes from childish adults who've never been forced to recognize that the world is imperfect, so are they, and we don't live in Utopia and never will.

Yet, thanks to the insanities of covid-era tyranny, the next generation is living life with a strong smell of Soviet - rules that make no rational sense, unpredictable contradictions and changes, promises made and broken on no discernible rational grounds.  It doesn't matter if a child can choose their own carousel seat - but it matters a great deal if promises like that are regularly made, then blithely cast aside.

The unavoidable message is, "You don't matter.  Your desires don't count.  Your wishes are worthless."

What children need to learn, slowly over time, is the concept of personal agency - that their own actions and choices do matter, both for good and for ill.  If they choose to do wrong, punishment should be as swift and sure as possible - but if they choose to do right, punishments should not be applied "just because."  If a choice is offered to them, it should be honored, along with any consequences that may arise from that choice.

Otherwise, how will children learn to make the right choices in life, if they aren't allowed to make them, and if any choices they do attempt to make don't affect anything in the real world?

Only two sorts of people will result from such an upbringing - sheeple, and revolutionaries.  Don't we already have more than enough of both?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

"It didn't take long before Russians realized that the police were no longer there to help."
actually, Petrarch, here i must differ with U. if memory serves at my advanced age, russia was ruled by a dictatorship (OK, monarchy, but that's usually the same thing) before the bolsheviks seized power. as many in russia knew before 1918, the police were already *not* there to help, and it paid to steer clear of them. i will grant that they probably enforced rational laws (don't steal, don't kill, etc.), but there were secret police, and as usual, jews were at greater risk of injury due simply to their genetic heritage (via pogroms). the only thing that really changed was that laws became totally opaque, and, as U say, came with totally unpredictable consequences for their violation.

overall, *EXCELLENT* article.

April 28, 2021 5:46 PM

After so many years, the Russian and Chinese police are still feared by citizens; Germany had to lose a world war to lose its gestapo...
The most discouraging aspect of our situation is that half our citizenry; mostly the future half, actually likes the future they see.
The path to the preservation of our freedom is getting dimmer.

April 30, 2021 1:15 PM
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