The Reality Spectrum v. The Soviet Reality
All gnostic sects erect the idea of an evil structure that must be escaped or conquered.
But there is no evil structure. As a result, any gnostic “reality” must instead become a competing reality that, in the end, loses, even if it destroys a culture and tens of millions of people in the process of losing.
Do you need proof?
Just watch Chernobyl and The Death of Stalin.
Structuralism and Marx
Karl Marx is often referred to as a “proto-structuralist” because he taught that all of society is controlled by its economic structure.
Marx said all human meaning doesn’t start “up there,” in transcendence, and proceed downward, but rather, starts "down here," in our world, with physical, material, economic forces (the “economic structure”), then bubbles its way upward into every sphere of society (the “superstructure”).
To the Marxist, religion, philosophy, politics, art, music, literature, etc. are not pure vehicles of higher truths but are merely products of underlying structures . . . which change, can be changed, and, indeed, must be forced to change in the name of the worker and social justice. If the structure is remade in the Marxist image, then the earthly utopia can arise. It was simply a matter of math and science: properly calculating how to build a structure that would result in an earthly paradise.
When the Communist Revolution succeeded and the Soviet Union was formed, the future had arrived. The old economic base was ruthlessly extirpated at the cost of many lives and the Soviet man emerged.
The problem is, the Soviet man and Soviet reality was a fake reality: an ersatz religion. The Reality Spectrum was still there.
The result? Two parallel realities that produced a panorama of drama, from the tragic (mass killings) to the comedic (jokes that rely on a juxtposition of the two realities) to a massive range of taboos designed (or whimsically and capriciously implemented) to make sure The Reality Spectrum couldn’t poke its head back into society.
The Biggest Taboo: Russian Orthodoxy
Russia had been a fervent, often fanatical, Christian nation for a thousand years. That, obviously, had to end once the Soviet society was established. After all, if society had been transformed on materialist economic lines, then no one needed such a strong transcendental symbol.
In 1918, legislation excluded the Orthodox Church from all participation in the educational system and confiscated all Church property — making the Church, from a legal perspective, a non-entity.
In the following years, huge numbers of bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and Orthodox laity were sent to prison or concentration camps and tens of thousands were martyred. The clergy was prohibited from engaging in charitable or social work. They were not permitted to hold catechism classes or Sunday school for children. Church youth groups were prohibited. Clergy and church-goers were watched, harassed, and persecuted. Churches were closed on a massive scale.
At the same time, the Communist Party carried out an elaborate anti-religion campaign, forming the “League of Militant Atheists,” holding offensive anti-religious processions in the streets (especially at Easter and Christmas), opening the Museums of Religion and Atheism, often in former churches such as Kazan Cathedral of St. Petersburg. The persecution continued into the late 1980s, possibly into the early 1990s.
The Soviet Union Became a Nation of Taboos
The Russian Orthodox Church was merely the biggest institution that needed to be degraded and, if possible, eliminated.
There were others.
Tons of others.
Private property was outlawed, of course. Speech that conflicted with Soviet reality was punished.
Because here's the thing: The gnostic is kinda right. Reality is a structure, of sorts.
Reality is a mosaic. Transcendent reality as it's discerned throughout the centuries informs society, giving us a thick weave of tradition, customs, and norms, but they're constantly shifting and flowing. The mosaic is solid but fluid, but it is a mosaic and, I suppose, it has a "structure-type" feel, with the result that the gnostic's perennial obsession with an evil structure intuitively makes sense to some people, especially the malcontents.
That rich, solid, but fluid mosaic conflicted with the Soviet reality at every level.
As a result, the Soviet authority had to try to stomp it out at every level.
The result: a relentless propaganda campaign. It's no coincidence that the Bolsheviks were the first masters of propaganda in the twentieth century.
Soviet propaganda wasn't just pervasive. It was weird . . . different.
Have you ever looked at those creepy Soviet propaganda posters (great selection on this Instagram site)? They were made in accordance with Soviet reality ("Socialist Realism"), so they didn’t use pre-Revolution painting styles. The logic: if Soviet society had been transformed, then its art wouldn’t look like anything that was done during the capitalist era, which was "decadent Bourgeois art."**
In other words, in the effort to stomp out The Reality Spectrum, Soviet artists couldn’t risk using techniques that arose under The Reality Spectrum.
The Soviet Union . . . proclaimed Socialist Realism as the only acceptable type of art in 1932 with Stalin’s proclamation “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organizations”. Socialist realism glorifies the proletariat class struggle, particularly in industrial contexts, and was embraced as a rejection of pre-Revolutionary decadent Bourgeois art. Link
If you have any doubt about the bizarre climate created when a fake reality is forced on a populace in an attempt to stomp out The Reality Spectrum, watch The Death of Stalin, which is a hilarious illustration.
If you think the society portrayed in that movie was simply a "Stalin thing," read Chapter Two of Paul Johnson's magisterial Modern Times, which shows that Lenin implemented the machinery that Stalin would continue, then watch Chernobyl, which shows the "dual-reality" in its gory over 30 years after Stalin died.
Historian and poet Robert Conquest (d. 2015) had been writing for years about Soviet mass murders, but the academic Left normally dismissed him or derided him.
Historians aren’t known for their robust humor, but Conquest slayed me back in the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed, the archives were open, and the truth about the millions (10,000,000+ ?) who the Soviets killed became undeniable.
When asked what he’d like to say to his (now totally discredited academic opponents), he said, “I told you so, you stupid m***er f***ers.”
How many died in the Soviet determination to implement its new reality? Historians still debate, but if you say "ten million," you won't be far off.
Jokes about Soviet society wafted throughout the old USSR, though they were told in hushed tones, like someone telling a politically-incorrect joke today or using the word "tranny."
The jokes were dark. They depict a dark, brutal, and oppressive society, but one that produced a lot of jokes because of the relentless collision of contrary realities. Jokes spring from the unexpected juxtaposition of opposites. Soviet reality constantly collided with "real reality." The situation created a "paradoxical" and "claustrophobic" culture that was primed to produce a lot of jokes.
You can find them all over the Internet, but here are a few:
An old lady sees a camel for the first time in her life and starts to cry.
‘Oh, poor horsey, what did Soviet power do to you…’
Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon are watching (as ghosts) the parade in Red Square in the 1940s.
“If I had Soviet tanks, I would have been invincible!” says Alexander.
“If I had Soviet airplanes, I would have conquered the whole world!” says Caesar.
“If I had Pravda [the main Soviet newspaper], the world would have never known about Waterloo!” says Napoleon.
A veteran zek (Gulag inmate) asked a new zek how long his sentence is.
“Ten years,” the new zek said.
“What did you do?”
“Nothing,” replied the new zek.
“That’s impossible,” said the veteran. “For nothing, you only get eight years.”
Two rabbits on a road during the Stalinist terror of 1937.
First rabbit: “Where are you going in such a hurry?”
Second rabbit: “Haven’t you heard? There’s a rumor going round that all camels are to be castrated.”
First rabbit: “But you’re not a camel.”
Second rabbit: “After they catch you and castrate you, try proving you’re not a camel.”
A man goes into a shop and asks “You don’t have any meat?” “No,” replies the sales lady. “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”
Little Boy: What will Communism be like when perfected?
His Father: Everyone will have what he needs.
Little Boy: But what if there is a shortage of meat?
His Father: There will be a sign in the butcher shop saying, "No one needs meat today."
**It's not just art. Every area of knowledge is suspect or downright rejected by the Marxist. Even basic science, like Mendelian genetics, is rejected by the Marxist in favor of Marxian genetics. Citation: 3:30 of this video: