Gary Saul Morson’s “Suicide of the Liberals”

Suicide of the Liberals” discusses the parallels between today’s woke liberal/progressive culture and the era before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Excerpts:

Between 1900 and 1917, waves of unprecedented terror struck Russia. Several parties professing incompatible ideologies competed (and cooperated) in causing havoc. Between 1905 and 1907, nearly 4,500 government officials and about as many private individuals were killed or injured. Between 1908 and 1910, authorities recorded 19,957 terrorist acts and revolutionary robberies, doubtless omitting many from remote areas. As the foremost historian of Russian terrorism, Anna Geifman, observes, “Robbery, extortion, and murder became more common than traffic accidents.” …

Instead of the pendulum’s swinging back—a metaphor of inevitability that excuses people from taking a stand—the killing grew and grew, both in numbers and in cruelty. Sadism replaced simple killing. As Geifman explains, “The need to inflict pain was transformed from an abnormal irrational compulsion experienced only by unbalanced personalities into a formally verbalized obligation for all committed revolutionaries.” One group threw “traitors” into vats of boiling water. Others were still more inventive. Women torturers were especially admired.

How did educated, liberal society respond to such terrorism? What was the position of the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party and its deputies in the Duma (the parliament set up in 1905)? Though Kadets advocated democratic, constitutional procedures, and did not themselves engage in ­terrorism, they aided the terrorists in any way they could. Kadets collected money for terrorists, turned their homes into safe houses, and called for total amnesty for arrested terrorists who pledged to continue the mayhem. …

Not just lawyers, teachers, doctors, and engineers, but even industrialists and bank directors raised money for the terrorists. Doing so signaled advanced opinion and good manners. …

Revolutions never succeed without the support of wealthy, liberal, educated society. Yet revolutionaries seldom conceal that their success entails the seizure of all wealth, the suppression of dissenting opinion, and the murder of class enemies. …

In one memorable scene, the hero of ­Solzhenitsyn’s novel November 1916, Colonel Vorotyntsev, finds himself at a social gathering principally of Kadet adherents, where everyone repeats the same progressive pieties. He soon grasps that “each of them knew in advance what the others would say, but that it was imperative for them to meet and hear all over again what they collectively knew. They were all overwhelmingly certain that they were right, yet they needed these exchanges to reinforce their certainty.” To his surprise, Vorotyntsev, as if under a spell, finds himself joining in. It requires an effort to remind himself that what these progressives say about “the people,” whom they do not know at all, contradicts everything he has learned from his acquaintance with thousands of common soldiers. When Vorotyntsev ventures the slightest discordant observation, “just . . . one little thing . . . they were all on their guard. They fell silent, as they had been speaking, in unison, and their silence was aimed at the colonel.” He retreats and, as if hypnotized, repeats progressive pieties with the rest. …

At last, Vorotyntsev finds it in himself to resist. Soon after, he discusses the encounter with Professor Andozerskaya, who explains that she, like professors at many universities today, “must choose every word so carefully.”

In educated Russian society . . . by no means every view may be expressed. A whole school of thought . . . is morally forbidden, not merely in lectures but in private conversation. And the more “liberated” the company, the more heavily this tacit prohibition weighs on it.

One prominent Kadet, Peter Struve, did break with “liberated” opinion. He pointed out the absurdity of liberal intolerance and the suicidal insanity of backing bloodthirsty revolutionaries. After the Bolshevik takeover, he blamed liberals for the disastrous consequences they might have prevented. …

Most important, and of greatest concern, was how intelligents thought. An intelligent signed on to a set of beliefs regarded as totally certain, scientifically proven, and absolutely obligatory for any moral person. A strict intelligent had to subscribe to some ideology—whether populist, Marxist, or anarchist—that was committed to the total destruction of the existing order and its replacement by a utopia that would, at a stroke, eliminate every human ill. This aspiration was often described as chiliastic (or apocalyptic), and, as has been observed, it is no accident that many of the most influential intelligents, from Chernyshevsky to Stalin, came from clerical families or had studied in seminaries. …

In Solzhenitsyn’s August 1914, when young Veronika criticizes revolutionaries for doing just what they condemn, her intelligentsia aunts are shocked. Why,

the unfeeling girl was equating the oppressors of the people with its liberators, speaking as though they had the same moral rights! . . . Let him [the intelligent] kill. . . . The Party takes all the blame upon itself, so that terror is no longer murder, expropriation is no longer robbery.

As Dostoevsky had [warned] in The Possessed, … to the extent that a society’s educated class comes to resemble an intelligentsia in the Russian sense, it is headed for what we now call totalitarianism—unless others muster the strength to resist it.

One sometimes hears that “the pendulum is bound to swing back.” But how does one know there is a pendulum at all, rather than—let us say—a snowball accelerating downhill? It is unwise to comfort oneself with metaphors. When a party is willing to push its power as far as it can go, it will keep going until it meets sufficient opposition. In the French Revolution, terror was eventually stopped by “Thermidor,” and then by Napoleon. But in Russia, Stalin proclaimed “the intensification of the class struggle” after the Revolution, entailing an unending series of arrests, executions, and sentences to the Gulag. What meets no resistance does not stop.





13 replies
  1. Robert Henderson
    Robert Henderson says:

    Liberals of the excessively politically correct kind are engaged in a form masochism which is akin to that of medieval ascetics who boasted that they were the most unworthy of men (thus amusingly commuting the sin of pride ) . So do liberals compete to be the most politically correct of all however absurd the doctrines they espouse. .

    The problem for the politically correct (whether they realise it or not) is that the world has passed the point where being religiously politically correct carries no penalty. It is true that the institutions of political correctness – the mainstream media, academia, the upper, public bodies, large corporations and mainstream politicians, – are still mouthing the politically correct mantras and people who break the pc rules can find themselves sacked or even put in prison. But at the same time the numbers willing to speak out against political correctness or simply to express politically incorrect views is growing. is growing and a much larger number show what their real feelings and beliefs are simply by voting for politicians like Trump and Boris Johnson.,

    Political correctness is a totalitarian creed because (1) it says there is only one acceptable view (the politically correct one) and (2) reaches into all aspects of life, Like all totalitarian creeds it is vulnerable because it asks people to deny logic, human nature and reality. Its days are nearly done.

  2. Sophie Johnson
    Sophie Johnson says:

    Neat, constant-nod inducing explanations, Dr MacDonald. Thank you.
    Like the intelligents (the aunts of the ‘the unfeeling girl’) so our contemporary ‘woke’ types! They sever once-close friends and even their blood-relations who do not speak the right-speak, deeming the severed to be wanting in decent sensibilities. I confess that my first experience of being the severed one felt like a punch in the midriff. Yet I still do not understand how it is possible that an ‘intelligent’ can evolve.
    Then again, I certainly disdain those who voice their ‘woke’ sentiments. I suppose mine is the disjunctive sort of evolution, like the unfeeling girl’s. Also certainly, I think mine the superior mindset. So no doubt do they, not least because they have the cultural support of the majority of intelligents. (Ah, hang it. Why worry? They are duped thickheads.)

  3. Loren R.
    Loren R. says:

    I had friends for 30 plus years who were tradionalists, common sense Christian people. They have a complete and total blind spot to this. They won’t look back at history, they won’t believe the chsn ones are really atheistic killers (John 8:44) , and they would rather lose a 30 year friendship than discuss it with me.
    So I guess I need to find some new friends. I think it is high time we fought back, using the same tools they use.

  4. Barkingmad
    Barkingmad says:

    Re: Gary Saul Moron’s “Suicide of the Liberals”

    That should be Gary Saul MORSON. I know – I’m a fast typist, too. And I don’t look at the keys, either. Stuff happens when touch typing!

    I could barely make it through Morson’s article. The fires on the west coast – I think that’s about removing the bourgeois with their detached houses and their gardens to the city. Private property = badness.

  5. John
    John says:

    Today’s Democrats are neo-Bolsheviks in every way, if you get my drift.

    They should be careful what they wish for, however, because Bolsheviks eat their own.

  6. JRM
    JRM says:

    Don’t know if it’s a jest or a typo, but I will take the bait and point out that Gary Saul’s surname is Morson, not Moron, as the title would have it.

    Otherwise, a fine article. Due to the heavy presence of Jews in the Bolshevik Revolution, that era is particularly relevant to us for study today.

  7. Jody Vorhees
    Jody Vorhees says:

    There is no pendulum. The snowball analogy is vastly more accurate. When Leftists work to lower the voting age, to restore voting rights to criminals, and to import countless millions of Third Worlders who will invariably vote Democratic, these are an effort to grow their electorate and lock themselves into permanent power.

    And they are rapidly succeeding in achieving this goal. If we lose the upcoming election, it is entirely possible we will lose the House, the Senate, and the White House. The Left will then work more aggressively and openly to swell its voter base, and will succeed in doing so. After that occurs, there will be no remedy available to us through the political system. The bastards will have effectively stacked the deck.

  8. Edward Harris
    Edward Harris says:

    I believe the Eastern ( call me a Jew) Europeans were responsible for much of the cruelty. A useful peasant the family used to contact me told me that the Bank of England funded Lenin. I supppose they funded Stalin.
    It is well known that trotsky was funded by Wall St.
    It is very easy for the East Europeans who control the USA and therefore most of the World to blame everything on Lenin and Stalin and the Russians when the ” Eastern Jews ” carried out most of the atrocities.
    There were no pogroms in the part of Russia some of my family came from, another overated lie. Some of my family knew Lenin and Stalin and I believe much of what is said about them is not true, in the same way that Hitler is lied about.

    • Pierre de Craon
      Pierre de Craon says:

      As what you suggest is not a zero-sum game, there is no need to think better of Lenin and Stalin in order to think worse of those Jews who happened to be parasitizing eastern Europe. Indeed, there is no known upper limit to the monstrous evil this vale of tears can contain.

  9. Gerry
    Gerry says:

    I heard a testimony of an exiled Romanian pastor in Montgomery, Alabama 1989 who under that murderous regime of Ceacescu had been severely tortured for his faith. It was a horrifying account one in which humbled me deeply and believe me not for the squeamish of heart or stomach. He was eventually released from the dungeon and exiled from his homeland to America and is now deceased. Of all he said to us however, one thing stood out. He told us about some fellow believer’s in Christ who had been taken to a box canyon and left there to die from exposure. Upon hearing of their plight he along with some family and friends gathered some supplies and proceeded to the canyon to save these individuals. Soldiers of Ceausescu however, had them under surveillance and upon learning of their attempt to save these condemned people proceeded to follow them and Dumitri knew that once they had arrived to these abandoned people they would all be shot. It was then that something very unusual took place. As they were nearing the persecuted in the canyon and the soldiers getting closer a light rain started to fall upon them all. Over the soldiers in their 2 jeeps with the hearing of their guns being cocked the rain turned to hail and the closer they were getting to them in the canyon the worse the hailstorm got until they couldn’t take it anymore. They turned around and sped off trying to get out from under being pelted with hailstones. Dimitri related to us all how remarkable the scene was. Over them in the canyon is remained a light rain but over the soldiers an intense burst of hailstones. He then said God knows how to save his people. lol.
    And the bible does explain this quite well to in Job38:22:

    “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses of the hail,
    which I reserve for times of trouble,
    for days of war and battle?

    And now look if this doesn’t explain what is occurring globally in so many ways? I guess though the more important question is where is it going to end?

    As for this quote:

    and, as has been observed, it is no accident that many of the most influential intelligents, from Chernyshevsky to Stalin, came from clerical families or had studied in seminaries. …

    I remember well Ravi Zacharias shocking a full house in Abbotsford many moons ago now by saying how Stalin was a candidate for the ministry having been enrolled in a seminary which blew my mind and still does. The crowd just gasped at that news! Ravi ended by saying how some of the worst crimes in history is not committed by the poor and the downtrodden but by those who have full stomachs.

    I’m a son of the Balkan people which I often unfortunately refer to as Christian pagans. It is certainly strange to see people who are baptized and such but are totally and completely oblivious to what a Christian life is actually supposed to be. When an Emperor turned an entire empire Christian overnight by a political decree is not the way to Christ and baptism if that is all you have doesn’t make one a Christian. Indeed remember well I do the PTL Scandal and how jimmy boy confessed to not only never reading the bible but he actually didn’t know what these words of Christ meant:

    Depart from me you workers of iniquity I never knew you. Matt. 7:23

    Upon reading this I was astounded at how someone can be in such a position as his and know nothing about what this means. A word which is the very foundation of a believers life. And what does it mean? Simple and by way of a question no less.

    Does Jesus know what sin He had to die for in your life and do you know that He knows it!

    This is the sum and substance of a Christians life. The very foundation upon which to build ones life on as taught in 1 Corinthians. For some inexplicable reason however, this was replaced by water baptism? Water baptism is just an outward sign of an inward work. For some strange reason however, people seems to think all you need is to be baptized. Nonsense! Again you cannot turn an entire empire overnight Christian by just a political decree and have them all baptized in water. You hardly end up with the sincere and genuine hence CHRISTIAN PAGANS!!! O God the whole world is full of it? Alas the need for the book of Job!
    Or look Daniel talks about it to when he prophesied to make them more white and holy! to purify. Chapter 12

    You can also listen to this wonderful testimony…

  10. Pierre de Craon
    Pierre de Craon says:

    … the foremost historian of Russian terrorism, Anna Geifman …

    Anna Geifman (1962–) is a Russian-born Jew who came to the USA with her parents when she was a teenager and was quickly accorded all the percs that go with Jewish privilege. She has been living and working in Israel for more than a decade.

    I wonder whether any other TOO habitués are familiar with her writings; I am not. I suppose it is theoretically conceivable that her work is superior to, say, Robert Conquest’s, but unless someone trustworthy is prepared to step forward and say as much, I shall assume that Gary Morson is simply logrolling for a fellow Jew in the course of selling us a bill of goods.

  11. Barkingmad
    Barkingmad says:

    From your last paragraph:

    “One sometimes hears that “the pendulum is bound to swing back.” But how does one know there is a pendulum at all, rather than—let us say—a snowball accelerating downhill? It is unwise to comfort oneself with metaphors. When a party is willing to push its power as far as it can go, it will keep going until it meets sufficient opposition…What meets no resistance does not stop.”

    I saw this at an anti-corona-19 measures protest:

    “Creation hates cowardice because the universe wants to evolve, and cowardice stagnates evolution.”

    It applies nicely.

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