CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Book Burnings, Statism and Corporatism

Jul 8, 2019

Ask any tyrant or dictator how best to set up shop, and one of the first answers will be this: totally control the flow of information. Determine what people can see or read – or even think. Ban all books, authors and even ideas which are deemed by the totalist state to be verboten. That should do the trick.

Recent history tells us all we need to know about this. The Nazis of course fully knew about the importance of banned books and banned ideas. Nazi Germany had a list of prohibited authors, which included the likes of Sigmund Freud, H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde.

Even earlier, in the 1930s, we had book burnings in Germany and Austria. Any books that appeared to oppose the Nazi ideology or were considered to be “subversive” were consigned to the flames. And much more worrying was the fact that many of these burnings were instigated by student groups which were beholden to Nazi views. On one day alone – May 10, 1933 – these university students had burned some 25,000 books considered to be “un-German”.

The Communists also excelled in censorship and book banning. Literature and film were both heavily censored. Libraries were ransacked, books and journals destroyed, and foreign radio stations were jammed. The Soviets took control over the media, printing presses and even copying machines. As Stalin put it, “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”

The Communists also had prohibited reading lists. These are just some of the books banned in the former Soviet Union: Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and of course Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.

Hardcore censorship is always the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. The consolidation of power must be maintained by a vice-like grip on the flow of all information and ideas. Allowing people to actually think for themselves and have access to differing points of view simply cannot be tolerated.

Thus whenever we find it occurring today in the West, we should ferociously resist it. And sadly this is just what we are now finding: modern forms of book burning. The censorship of ideas by the big boys in the West (Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) has been documented far too often already on my site. And when major bookstores get into the act, you know that things have spun out of control badly.

Consider just one recent example of this, with the biggest bookseller around: Amazon. They have decided to ban certain books which they obviously consider to be subversive and dangerous. Consider this frightening report:

Amazon has removed English-language books by a man largely considered “the father of conversion therapy” from its site following mounting pressure from LGBTQ activists. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the now-shuttered Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, as well as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), authored several how-to guides directed to parents of LGBTQ youth, including “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.” His books are some of the most well-known works about conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/amazon-removes-controversial-books-father-conversion-therapy-n1026446

Ignore the editorial bias of this “news” report. The fact is, there are many thousands of former homosexuals who have benefited from the counselling of people like Nicolosi. I happen to be personal friends with a number of them. They were once fully and heavily into the homosexual lifestyle, but have now moved on – many of them now in heterosexual marriage and with children.

But these are the invisible people. They are not supposed to exist. The mainstream media has completely suppressed the reality of their existence. Theirs are the stories we are not supposed to hear about. I have written about this often before, eg.: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/08/14/but-he-is-not-supposed-to-exist/

So while the MSM daily gives us emotive sob stories of how homosexuals are supposedly still being oppressed in the West, the actual oppression – the war on ex-gays – is not being covered at all, at least in a sympathetic manner. You just would not know that these people exist if you ran solely with the MSM.

The simple truth about reparative therapy is this: people who are unhappy with their same-sex attractions can find help and counsel to deal with it if they so choose. End of story. There is no coercion here. No one is being forced to do anything. That too I have discussed previously: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/12/11/the-war-against-conversion-therapy/

Those who want help should be able to get help. Yet media outlets and book giants like Amazon have decided that such people should NOT be able to get the help they so desperately desire. They have decided that such books and authors are “subversive” and must be censored and banned. Hmm, sound familiar?

Sure, this is a private business, as is Facebook and the others. But when they have near monopoly powers, then real choice is quickly being taken away from us. The enormous powers that these corporate giants have is now being brought to bear on those that they deem to be a threat.

Simply ask sacked rugby player and dedicated Christian Israel Folau about this. When you have entire banks and airlines and sporting bodies (heavily subsidised by taxpayers) all arrayed against you, this is just another case of Big Brother in action.

Speaking of which, Orwell was certainly prescient when he spoke to this. Thus in his 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four we find this perfectly laid out. The complete control of information, the manipulation of history, and the destruction of language are among the main focuses of Big Brother.

The Ministry of Truth and the creation of Newspeak are among the methods used to achieve complete subjugation of everyone and every thought. Consider this ominous passage from the book. A colleague of Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth, Syme, “who worked in the Research Department.” says this:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. . . . In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

Thoughtcrimes! Orwell precisely predicted today’s hate speech and hate crimes. When a star athlete like Folau simply quotes the Bible on his own time, the powers that be declare this to be a thoughtcrime, and he is punished accordingly.

If just one unaccountable body like Rugby Australia can declare the Bible to be a book of hate speech, just what will happen as Amazon and other corporate giants start doing the same? And how long before the government fully gets in on the act?

We have already seen this being played out with ugly statism. The Italian fascists coined the term “totalitarianism”. Mussolini defined it as follows: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Now we find massive corporations joining in on the action.

I have recently revisited Paul Johnson’s magisterial 1983 volume, Modern Times. In it he said this: “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”

Today he would also include in that the destructive capacity of secular left corporate behemoths and their war on unwelcome thought and ideas. Politically correct corporations are now vying with secular states to outdo each other in censorship and repression of unacceptable views.

Today they are banning books, and tomorrow…? We must never forget what the nineteenth century German poet Heinrich Heine who once said in this regard: “Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”

[1389 words]

19 Responses to Book Burnings, Statism and Corporatism

  • Hi BIll, this is only very tangentially related to your post, so please don’t publish it if you’d prefer.

    In The Australian today there is a story about the increase in suicide in Australia. The increase is particularly severe among veterans, Aborigines, and youth. PM Morrison has promised an inquiry in an effort to reverse the suicide rate, and even aim for a suicide rate of zero.

    What I’d like to know is whether there are any statistics comparing suicide rates in religious and non-religious communities, particularly comparing Christians and those who claim they have ‘no religion’. If there aren’t any such stats, then Morrison’s inquiry could compile some.
    It is significant, as the increase in suicide coincides with a decline in Christianity in Australia. It would seem naive not to at least look into a possible link between the two.

    I note that you touched on this topic in a 2010 article, which is somewhat related to the content of this post. https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/10/21/just-what-is-behind-these-suicides/

  • Great Article Bill.

    What a Warning to us all! I was on Facebook once a few years ago — for business purposes and stayed on for six months. God started working on me to leave and now I understand why. I’ve been off for quite a while but felt much better after I left. Facebook left me with a bad taste in my mouth — don’t know how else to describe it. Now all I do is email and use google a little.

    Thank you.

  • The growing use of euphemisms and obfuscation follows the same path.

    You referred to this issue in your article, ‘Euthanasia, Letting Die, and Pain Relief’
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/04/14/euthanasia-letting-die-and-pain-relief/

    The current state of ‘euphemisation’.
    https://www.conservapedia.com/Liberal_euphemisms

  • It is ironic that those libertarians and libertines who once decried censorship in the name of decency as a vicious tool of totalitarianism are now seeking to enforce a new censorship to shore up the foundations of their so-called New Morality!

    In this Internet age, we stand to fall prey to corporate censorship by transnational businesses whose reach far exceeds that of even the most aggressive government propaganda machines yet devised by our unhappy human race..

    To control what information we use to make our decisions with is a very grave responsibility.

  • Yes quite right John W.

  • How about where every thing is going on line. There is a day to come that there will be no paper books available. Everything will be online. Then the will have completed control over you.

  • Sure… I get your point about book burnings – totally agree. sad days. Man has through war decimated has repeatedly tried to extinguished entire cultures and systems, and through dictatorial censorship attempted to achieve similar results. Thank God that the most dangerous of all, His word, cannot be extinguished.

    This post is a little OT (off topic, not old testament) but I felt that it might clear things up for those who wonder about these things.

    Amazon isn’t actually a media company – is a book retailer it can determine (just like Koorong) what it sells or doesn’t sell.

    For those who can be bother reading further and didn’t say… TL;DR

    Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are companies (not exactly private companies as their shares are held publicly) but I get that your use of private is in the fact that they have the right to private methods of operation and details. However, this is not entirely the case, since they do operate in the pubic space of media – and our societies do have a specific set of rules (though sadly unenforced nowadays when it comes to the much of the media) which apply to “media” entities who have a burden of responsibility to the wider society in how they act.

    The problem is that the new digital media era and the behemoth companies that preside over this new industry have evolved far too fast for law makers to sufficiently grasp what they are let alone legislate their operations. That is part of what these appearances before Congress are about (though if one reads the transcripts, the level of ignorance indicated by the questions from those presiding over these hearings is mind-boggling), but eventually things will get there. However in the meantime, these companies can and do self-regulate according to their own biases.

    Even then, given that the current media companies such as CNN, MSNBC, CBC etc*. are so blatantly biased in their reporting, even making up news to fit – as they have been found out to have done repeatedly (by other news outlets – oh the irony) that it begs the question as to whether having the laws in place matters if the industry regulators themselves are staffed by people who have no desire to hold them in check.

    But when it comes to Amazon, it’s a bit more difficult.
    Amazon is an online wholesaler/retailer and digital services company – yes it is overly fat 2000+ pound gorilla that literally dwarfs everyone else, but it can’t be put into the same basket as the digital media behemoths when it comes to media regulations.

    *Of course closer to home these companies are represented by the media companies ABC, SMH, The Age, Channel 7 & 9 etc.

  • Sorry for being slightly off-topic, but then again it’s about resistance.
    Senator Concetta has a religious freedom petition going around. Print it out, get it signed and send it back to her.
    https://www.facebook.com/SenatorCFW/photos/p.2297173413869054/2297173413869054/?type=3&theater

  • Off topic:
    GoFundMe took my money in 14 seconds flat.
    GoFundMe said they would send it back, “within 3–7 working days”.
    14 days later – still nothing.

  • Marc Schmidt, it looks like suicide statistics do exist but you may have to do a little work to track them down. I spent a couple of minutes in Google Scholar and found these links:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26702298_Religion_and_Suicide

    http://www.journals.uio.no/index.php/suicidologi/article/viewFile/2330/2193

    The first piece looks at Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism in the US. It states that Protestants have the highest suicide rate followed by Roman Catholics whilst Muslims have the lowest rates. Within US Christianity evangelical Baptists and Roman Catholics have the lowest rates – this latter seems a trifle confusing. The piece does note that suicide rates in religious countries are lower than those of secular countries, though it doesn’t clarify which nations are which.

    The second piece has a section on “suicide and cultural factors: the case of religious denominations”. According to it Muslim nations have a 0.1 per 100,000 population suicide rate, Christian and Hindu rates are about 10 per 100,000. In Buddhist nations the rate is 17.9 per 100,000 and in Atheist nations the rate is 25.6 per 100,000.

    Note these pieces don’t seem to distinguish between cultural Christianity and actual (Biblical) Christianity, though the first piece does acknowledge religiosity can significantly impact suicide risks. It also notes that few Islamic nations track suicide rates, and that suicide attacks\martyrdom aren’t included as suicide. I also suspect that euthanasia rates in the likes of the Netherlands aren’t factored into suicide rates. In short these pieces are suggestive but not quantitative.

    Hope this helps.

  • What’s even more sad and frustrating is the fact that many supposedly Bible-believing churches today have also adopted the philosophy that people with unwanted same-sex attraction cannot overcome it and that the best, if not only, option is to remain celibate for life. These churches should be more encouraging and supportive of people who want to overcome their sinful thoughts and pursue marriage in the future.

  • A little OT but the flow of information in the mainstream media is totally manipulated when it comes to Christian matters. Just recently 3 million people marched in Brazil in the annual “March for Jesus”.
    https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/brazil-evangelicals-jesus-march-millions?fbclid=IwAR3S0pmFWH8WZ00MiublR6F75oH6wtk2Ord4rTuMTvn6OU9cHkBNxrKOw5s
    There was NO coverage on the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, DW etc. etc. Nor has there been coverage since 1994 of this annual event on the BBC. At least the Sydney Morning Herald gave it a mention.
    It’s not so much “fake news” as “news you mustn’t hear about Jesus”.

  • Yes John, very pertinent is the Australian media’s constant overlooking of both Christian persecution and equally notable displays of Christian solidarity and good works. I have had plenty of conversations about this with other Christians who sadly only feed at the polluted trough of mainstream media – so often the question to me is, “but where else do you go for news and information” !!?? SMH. I truly boggles my mind when the dual concepts of “doing your own research” and “critical thinking” has been lost by the majority in the West.

    My simple answer is – the Internet. Nowadays, if it is coming through the TV it is a safe bet that it is not going to represent light and truth.

    The problem is, people seem to be able to use Google to search for everything (and especially the latest gadgets, pop culture news, or their favourite shoes) but real news or Christian conversation. Not omitting this excellent site, it’s really not that hard to search for “Christian news sites” or “Conservative news sites” to get Christian perspectives and info from around the world.

  • Funny you should mention this, because recently I tried to order a book from Amazon titled “The Diversity Delusion” – how race and gender pandering corrupt the university and undermine our culture by Heather Mac Donald and got the reply that it was forbidden to be exported to Australia. I managed to get a copy via Book Depository in England without that problem. So are the restrictions only in Amazon or are there hidden restrictions elsewhere?

  • Burning books is also a good thing in some circumstances. It’s not only used by the evil dictatorships. Acts 19:19 shows when many books of witchcraft were burnt and the following verse states: So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

    I personally torched a decent sized pile of pornos as well when I became a follower of Christ. Better to burn them than throw them out and risk them corrupting some other mind.

  • Regarding ‘burning the books’, just remember the novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (in some ways an American equivalent to ‘1984’) doing that as a way of controlling information.
    The reports in the last couple of months about some Christians in China reading then memorising parts of the Bible is very similar to what takes place in ‘Fahrenheit 451’. I would recommend those who are interested and who haven’t read this novel to take a read through it and see how prophetic it has become,

    Regards,
    John

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