Chronicle of Current Events

Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater

Spring 1945: Red Army soldier addressing a Katyusha rocket “To the Reichstag”.

By Philalethes

Freedom of speech is nearly absolute, we learned in high school, but it does not extend to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The Supreme Court pundit neglected to add, however, that it is not only the exercise of the freedom of speech, but the fulfillment of a moral imperative, to yell Fire! when the theater really is burning.

For months and months, in a score of American cities, organized mobs of thugs vandalized, terrorized, looted, burned, and murdered. In nearly every major American city,  many people of good will and sincere convictions joined the BLM protests. At the outset some of the rallies and protests were peaceful,  but within hours countless turned violent. That violence was preplanned and just the beginning of a three-month-long insurgency that lasts, in places like Portland, to this day. Rioters were sent here and there by bus and plane, housed in hotels, and fed by wealthy patrons. Members of Congress and Democratic mayors urged them on and sometimes joined them. As their cameras captured burning buildings and people falling to the ground, reporters called what we were seeing “mostly peaceful demonstrations”.  We were asked to believe that the wanton destruction of the statue of an Abolitionist was a nonviolent act intended to right the wrongs of slavery.  It has been estimated that those riots were the most destructive in U.S. history.

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn wrote, “We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.”

On January 6th, demonstrators assembled across from the White House to support Trump. The President told them to march to the Capitol and to make their voices heard but to do so peacefully. Like the first BLM protests, it did start out peaceful and then, as though mimicking the tactics of this summer’s arsonists and extremists, some among the throng used the occasion to push a more radical agenda. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” Trump tweeted. (It doesn’t matter what he says or does. He’s an inciter. Guilty from the get go. Of everything. He’s a spy for Russia. No, for Ukraine. As the KGB used to boast, “Get the man and we’ll find the law to fix him.”) In spite of the President’s pleas, the violence escalated and turned deadly: a policeman was murdered. And the police murdered a young woman, an Air Force veteran. Her death is already forgotten, deleted, “canceled.”  Within six hours the entire affair was over.  

The Brooklyn hipsters are already saying 1/6 was another 9/11.  No, it was not. It was not terrorism and President Trump did not engage in incitement. He did forcefully question whether there was mischief in the general and runoff election, echoing the feelings of nearly two thirds of republicans and half of the electorate.  None of those sentiments mattered: that’s all a fait accompli now. Trump has just been impeached, for the second time, and there are calls in Congress for him to be tried for treason. This isn’t just your standard Soviet style “We know they are lying, they know they are lying, etc.” It is the Salem witch craze on speed. 

A conservative lawmaker who has served for years on the board of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University recently called attention to a few specific irregularities of procedure in the conduct of state elections. That’s all she did, but it was enough, in the Great Terror that American academia has become. Has become? No, became a long time ago, but everybody was too complacent, or too scared, to cry Fire in that theater. Nearly a thousand students signed a petition demanding her dismissal. The university, predictably, contemptibly, gave in to the mob. The other day, a woman described as a Harvard professor (it makes me want to die of shame) went online suggesting that Trump supporters— that’s all, not somebody who commits a crime or calls for violence, no, just Trump supporters— be considered through the prism of laws on domestic terrorism. A lawyer in the employ of the Public Broadcasting Service also just recommended, in print, that the children of people who voted for Trump be forcibly relocated to re-education camps. He has just been dismissed from his post, and the media are furious not at him, but at the folks who blew the whistle.

This is barefaced fascism. Not even the pretense of civility or even euphemism. It’s spread way beyond the ivied walls. The national theater is catching fire. It’s happening thick and fast, it’s dizzying, and that’s how they want it to be, in order to disorient you, to knock you off your feet. Let’s stop, not get dizzy, and look at the Nazi playbook. Hitler and his party, the NSDAP, took advantage of the Great Depression much as the radicalized Democratic party has taken advantage of the dislocations and privations wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. There was a closely-fought election, and the candidate with the toothbrush moustache gained a narrow majority with the help of big business (Krupp, Siemens, Thyssen, IG Farben, etc.) and came in on the coattails of the aged, staid Hindenburg. Read here, our amiable President-elect, Joe Biden. (“Hey man, my name’s Hindenburg, and I’m running for the Senate?”)

The Nazis are playing by parliamentary rules so far but champing at the bit, wanting to get down to their real, sanguinary agenda. Then a crazy young Dutchman sets fire to the Reichstag. No, it wasn’t a seditious insurrection, and no, the Communists didn’t incite it. The Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov turned his trial in Berlin into a mockery of the Nazi judiciary, an exposure of its intrinsic lies. President Trump could do worse than read the transcript before his own upcoming trial. Mr. President, take Solzhenitsyn’s advice: Don’t believe them. Don’t fear them. Don’t plead with them.

But so what, the burning Reichstag is a golden opportunity. Seize it. Brand it as sedition, as insurrection, as treason. It is the perfect occasion to declare a state of emergency, ban political parties, dismiss professionals from their posts, make mass arrests, and open Dachau and Mauthausen for business. Mister PBS attorney, are you listening? There may be trademark issues here for your re-education camps. Have you thought of a contractor? I hear the Chinese regime is doing a fine job in occupied Tibet and East Turkistan. The Democrats, scared Republicans who have gone over to the Democrats in a pathetic attempt to salvage their careers, and the hyenas of NPR, the NY Times, and the universities now have their Reichstag fire, and they’re ravening for joy. Do some of them know that they are lying? Maybe in the quiet of the night? Or has the doublethink of apologetics for BLM and Antifa numbed the moral faculty altogether? Ah, yes, but it’s all in a good cause, since Black Lives Matter. Black lives will be mattering a whole lot, after a fashion, “scientifically”, in the coming days.

For Biden is appointing as his Civil Rights chief a black woman who was at Harvard in the early 90s, where she told instructors in the African-American studies program to keep in mind that black people are intellectually and physically superior to white people, because black people have different sorts of brains with more melanin, or melatonin, or maybe it was milk of magnesia.

Never mind what the genetic elixir is, because it’s baloney no matter how you slice it, and her vile brand of pseudo-science would make even Trofim Lysenko blush. It’s too bad she hasn’t discovered the calipers her Nazi kindred spirits had used to measure proper (Aryan) and improper (Untermensch) head shapes and proportions. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy had an improper skull. Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin had a subhuman cranium. At last, Critical Race Theory will be getting off on a scientific basis. In the new administration. Just imagine the experiments that await human guinea pigs  in the biology departments of the Ivy League. Or in re-education camps. It’s a Brave New World. Doctor Mengele, the butcher of Auschwitz, must be salivating with envy, if the salivary glands work in the fires of Hell.

Why is this? Why is it that to the “left” and the “liberals” in America the idea of race, of labeling people by some category of identity that is not about WHO they are but about WHAT they are (transgender Person of Color, for instance), is the heart of their entire project, the sum of their ideology? What has any of it got to do with the Left or with liberalism? Nothing. It has nothing to do with those political viewpoints, because the “left” and the “liberals” in this year of grace are neither. Those are masks. Look at the grinning death’s head underneath. They are Nazis. Rassenkunde, racial science, was the dead zone, the void at the core of Hitler’s senseless, destructive program. It is the same now.

That’s the play book. Take advantage of mass disruption— the Depression, the pandemic. Finagle a mandate to rule. Manufacture a crisis and imagine a conspiracy— the Reichstag fire, the demonstration at the Capitol. Foist it upon the public through a mixture of threats and lies. Who’s footing the bill? The Reichsmarks from Krupp steel were a trickle compared to, well, to the Amazon of dollars that the plutocratic monopolies of Silicon Valley are pouring into the new order now. And the beauty part is that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, and their cronies control something immeasurably more powerful than the ordnance of a Panzer tank or a Stuka dive bomber. They own all our means of communication and most of our transport, and that at a time when most of us are isolated and immobilized. And unarmed.

I watched “The Young Marx” on Amazon Prime video last night and gave it five stars, with a comment about how ironic it is that Jeff Bezos is screening it. Compare his personal wealth of $170 billion to the assets of the average American worker. Then calculate the income of the owners of the smoky factories of Manchester that Friedrich Engels studied so minutely, and the robber barons seem almost human. (Amazon, understandably deleted the review. It is tactless to bite the hand that feeds you. But wait: I pay for Amazon Prime. I’m a consumer. But Amazon isn’t just a mail order bookstore anymore. It’s the media. And therefore what they did was censorship.) 

And so we come to the biggest lie of all. This social justice movement, with all its attendant, preposterous claptrap (queer theory, gender studies, toxic masculinity, intersectionality, safe spaces, trigger warnings), is… reactionary. It’s just the latest way for the bosses, the magnates who own this country’s biggest businesses, to co-opt culture (read your Veblen), divide and alienate labor (read your Marx, Engels, and Lenin), and subjugate mankind under the iron heel of fascism (read your Mein Kampf). It’s not socialism. It’s not anarcho-syndicalist. It’s just plain old monopoly capitalism! The Who sang long ago, “Meet the new boss/ Same as the old boss.” You just got fooled again. That’s right, boys and girls. You’ve been HAD.

And what’s ahead for all you seasoned political careerists, administration pen-pushers turned Torquemadas, young opportunists, hangers-on, “woke” folk, and other Parteigenossen of National Socialism 2.0? I’ll tell you what. Your inquisitions, your “cancel” culture, and your witch hunts will succeed for a while, but it’s all founded on a gigantic lie and it will eventually collapse. One cannot live by lies, Alexander Isayevich says. Why not? Because every lie incurs a debt to the truth, the debts mount, and one day they will be paid. There was hell to pay for NSDAP 1.0. One fine day in May of ’45, the Soviet artillery opened up on the capital of the Thousand-Year Reich. Berliners fled down to the subway stations for shelter, and their Führer, in his last days, determined that the nation designated by the most scientific methods of experimental and practical Critical Race Theory as the Master Race, was no longer worthy of life. The Nazis flooded the Berlin underground railway, and perhaps a hundred thousand drowned below the ruins of their homes. That’s what’s in it for you. And you deserve it. 

The great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote:

You who wronged a simple man 
Bursting into laughter at the crime, 
And kept a pack of fools around you 
To mix good and evil, to blur the line, 


Though everyone bowed down before you, 
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way, 
Striking gold medals in your honor, 
Glad to have survived another day, 


Do not feel safe. The poet remembers. 
You can kill one, but another is born. 
The words are written down, the deed, the date. 


And you’d have done better with a winter dawn, 
A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.

The Lie is not going to win. The Truth is. Not everyone is a politically correct, mealy mouthed, lying media mogul or academic or politician or conformist. Hitler consigned whatever was left of his empire to death— and make no mistake, universal death is the end of the line, the eschaton, the modus operandi and final goal of Nazism. While the great dictator played out his pathetic, contemptible Götterdämmerung, a few Red Army men clambered over the ruins, way up above the rooftops of defeated Berlin, and on the parapet of the burnt and shattered Reichstag, these ordinary working people who wanted to get home and get on with life, but first they had a job to do— these Russians, Armenians, Uzbeks, photographed by a Jew— unfurled a flag. It is red, because under whatever color your skin happens to be, all human blood is the same, it’s red. In the corner are a hammer, for people who work in manufacturing, and a sickle, for farmers. Not mystical sun symbols or stupid eagles with two heads, but the stuff people use every day, their tools. And above the Hammer and Sickle is a star. I don’t really know what the star means but let’s let it symbolize dreaming and looking up, realizing that this is one small planet we all have to take care of, and war and hatred are a waste of work and time, and there’s so much more to the universe, both out there and within the limitless creativity of the soul…

It’s the summer of 1969, and I’m camped out with a dozen high school boys and our drunk group leader late at night in a hotel room in Leningrad. I’m kind of in the dog house because I ran away from the school group the day we arrived in the Soviet Union to hang out with a gang of friendly war orphans, to whom this American kid who spoke Russian must have seemed like a visitor from the Moon. (American astronauts landed on it while we were in Yalta, a few weeks later, and Ukrainians cheered the TV set, bought us fizzy lemonade, and vowed we’d explore the cosmos together.) The gang and I drank from a bottle of astringent white Georgian wine, took turns riding a motorcycle, petted a sweet cat in the tunnel leading to the courtyard of an old apartment block, ate a tomato, drank vodka, and walked to the Neva to look at the bridges. I went unsteadily back to the hotel on Nevsky Prospect. “When we get back to the States,” slurred our group leader, “they’re gonna give me a list of all your names and ask me to put a check next to the ones who were kinda pink on this trip.” “Don’t put me down as pink,” I said. “I’m a fuckin’ Red.”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Since the times are deadly serious, it’s also time to be candid with each other.

Red how? Not Stalin’s Gay-Pay-Oo, surely, and certainly not Mao’s Great Leap Backward. But yes, the strikers in Vienna. Yes, Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker. Yes, Woody Guthrie. Allen Ginsberg. Martin Luther King. Bob Dylan. My Dad and my Grandpa. My Uncle Dick and the National Maritime Union he helped to found. Hands off Ethiopia! Free Tom Mooney! The Lincoln Battalion and the Thälmann Kolonne in the Spanish Civil War. The Warsaw Ghetto fighters. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom for black people. Women. Gays. Everybody. The dignity of labor and of the worker. Genuine human rights. 

Most of all, believing, knowing, that yes, black people have been mistreated and deserve better, as do many others, but no, there is no such damn thing as separate “races”. Not identity politics either, but the Internationale. There are just human beings, many shades, many languages, many faiths, all equal, all with the right to a home, to food, to health care, to education, to dignified, meaningful, and well paid work, to the fruits of human spiritual and material culture and thought. The enemy is these damn Nazis. We’ll have to get together, people who in normal times would not want to be together, because the common enemy is so very dangerous, so insidious, so destructive of all we know and of everyone we love. If you don’t go along with what I’m saying, it’s okay not to be a Commie— but don’t call yourself a Christian, either. Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

When the Soviet Union was founded, Churchill growled “This baby must be strangled in its cradle.” But after the Nazi invasion in June 1941, Churchill advocated unlimited aid to Russia. His colleagues asked whether that was not rather a contradiction of his earlier views, he said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I should be certain to make favorable mention of the Devil the next day in the House of Commons.” Politics makes strange bedfellows. But meanwhile, back to the theater. Quick, back to the theater. 

The enemy is well-organized and well-funded, has a carefully wrought script, and the villain already got the better of the hero in Act One. Act Two of the play has begun, but look! The swords are not props, the blood is real, and life itself is the stage. There are decent men and women crowded together in the audience. There are all kinds, and slowly they look at each other and realize that this is not fiction, it’s real and it’s now. We can die separately or win together. We are confessing Christians (remember Dietrich Bonhöffer!), American patriots (remember the Alamo!), classic liberals (remember to turn off the stove before you leave the house! Where are my reading glasses?), free-market libertarians, plain conservatives (remember the good old days!), religious Jews (remember Masada!), Muslims (Allahu Akbar!), and this old guy in the cheap seats with his yarmulke, Armenian poetry book, Bible, and Red flag, who starts yelling like an irritable Hebrew Prophet who makes even the good news sound like bad news, like another Jew named Jesus Christ tactlessly telling inconvenient truths to the smug Pharisee establishment, like Karl Marx stinking of cigar smoke and herring and growling “We disdain to conceal our aims,” nudging his annoyed neighbor, pointing at something. And by God, ladies and gentlemen, Comrades, we have to shout FIRE loud as hell, because look— the whole fucking theater is burning!  

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