Dictatorships are not all bad. At least dictatorships from the past.
For instance, few people know this, but Joseph Stalin cured malaria. While reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, I was shocked to learn that Stalin totally eradicated malaria from Russia. It wasn’t so much science as his power to make declarations. In the Book of Genesis, we see how God spoke, and the universe was created. Stalin operated with similar power in Russia. As Solzhenitsyn tells it, one day, Stalin announced that doctors were no longer allowed to diagnose anyone with malaria, and just like that, the next day, Russia was totally malaria-free.
Even though I was not aware of this medical breakthrough for many years, some people must have been aware of it and took a lesson from Stalin. Many of those people live in the United States.
In 1973, American psychiatrists cured hundreds of thousands of Americans of mental illness overnight. One morning in 1973, hundreds of thousands of mentally ill Americans ate breakfast while suffering from their mental illness, and by dinnertime that same day, they were totally normal, without any trace of mental illness. This is because prior to that day, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed homosexuality as a mental illness in the American Classification of Mental Disorders (DSM 2). At the APA’s annual convention that year, the psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from their list of mental illnesses. As with Stalin, the decision was not based in science. It was simply declared, but the result was exactly the same. A miracle cure had occurred.
See how easy it is? Why hasn’t anyone tried this with cancer?
Stalin was much better at such declarations than Americans. This may be due to our capitalistic ways. With Stalin’s cure of malaria, not only was the cure instant, but it received immediate recognition from doctors and patients alike. Any doctor who would have mistakenly written “malaria” as a diagnosis was well aware that he was probably signing his arrest warrant, complete with a slow and deadly relocation to the gulag.
With American psychologists and psychiatrists, the reaction to the 1973 “cure” of the theretofore mental illness of homosexuality was not as comprehensive. Only now are we finally seeing laws that force practitioners to accept the 1973 “cure.” Nineteen states have finally outlawed treatments aimed at helping a patient resist or overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. It is interesting to see that sometimes choice is not appropriate when it comes to health care. In fact, many of the same politicians who are fighting to eliminate a patient’s right to choose treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction are the most aggressive advocates for “cheap and legal abortion” up to the moment of birth.
There have been breakthroughs in other areas of medicine as well. Iceland is in a race with Denmark in an effort to cure Down syndrome. In recent years, the number of children born with Down syndrome in Iceland is one or two per year, whereas Denmark has about twice that many. The trick is to diagnose the possibility of Down syndrome prior to the child’s birth. A high percentage of women request the testing, and about 99% of them have an abortion if the testing shows that their child may be born with Down syndrome. The testing is only about 85% accurate, though, so a few Down syndrome babies sneak through. In order to truly eradicate Down syndrome, the state would have to legalize infanticide in order to catch the few children who sneak past the testing. That won’t happen anytime soon, right?
One has to wonder how many parents elect to abort their children when the children did not have Down syndrome. After all, the 85% accuracy goes both ways. For some people (such as a eugenicist), that is a small price to pay for the “cure” of a disease — especially if you can believe that the person paying the price does not even know it or feel it, or that the “tissue” isn’t even a person yet.
Over the past several years, our leaders have learned that some people are not on board with gender ideology. The problem seems to be exacerbated by the fact that gender dysphoria is still considered a mental illness on the DSM-5, yet we are encouraged to assist people who suffer from gender dysphoria by affirming their feelings. We are instructed to use the person’s preferred pronoun, which may not be “he” or “she,” but it may be “he” or “she.” If not “he” or “she,” the person may prefer “they,” “their,” “ze” (or “zie”), or “hir.”
For some people, the word “preferred” is a bit of an understatement. You may have seen past videos of people who flew into a rage because they felt they had been misgendered. Our political leaders have not been deaf to the pleas of such people (as few as they are). Several municipalities and states such as New York City and California have cured this problem by passing laws that make it a crime to misgender people. While the laws have not really cured the problems of misgendering, they have legally cured gender dysphoria. The laws do this by legally recognizing the person’s feeling of gender as determinative of the way society must see him and deal with him. This is in spite of the fact that no man can really know how a woman feels, nor can any woman know how it feels to be male.
Are we to follow the same rules regarding other mental illnesses such as anorexia, depression, schizophrenia? I doubt it. Instead, I suspect we are soon to see gender dysphoria completely removed from the DSM-5 list of mental disorders.
What we see in all of this is that sometimes people and reality loathe progressive changes and new ideas. Stalin’s cure was instant and lasted for the rest of his life, but in America, the progress is not as clear and conclusive. Where this stifles progress, the state or regulatory bodies can step in and declare things so, just as Stalin did.
However, such declarations do not change reality. As we know, Stalin didn’t really cure malaria, American psychiatrists did not cure mental illness, Iceland has not cured Down syndrome, and a law or regulation cannot cure gender dysphoria. The best man can do is require that we play along with fiction, even though we know better. Tyranny is difficult in this way.
However, that isn’t the best man can do. The best we can do is accept reality, cooperate with reality, and stand up for truth. This is true freedom, the ability to do what is right and good. In Stalinist Russia, that meant a one-way ticket to slavery and likely death in the gulag; today, it can mean losing your livelihood, fines, and social ostracism. This is what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI named the dictatorship of relativism.
Dictatorships are not all bad (unless you live under one), only because we can learn from them. We have plenty examples to learn from, so there is no need for any new dictatorships. Unfortunately, we are falling under the dictatorship of relativism a little more each day.
The way to remain free is to refuse to comply with the dictates of relativism. Some foolishly say that freedom is the right to do whatever you want. This comes from thinkers like Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, and others who brought us the Enlightenment. Relativism is a rotten fruit of the Enlightenment, especially moral and religious relativism.
“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.” —Immanuel Kant
Enlightenment thinkers believed that man could step out of an artificially created fog and prosper like never before. They believed that this “fog” was created by the Catholic Church through things such as Scripture, Christian morality, and the Church’s teachings on divine law.
Once man was out from under the tutelage of the Church, man would finally have the freedom to know, but it has evolved into the freedom to do whatever you want, which is really just a powerful form of slavery. It was all simply a new version of the Fall.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” —(Genesis 3:4–5) (emphasis added)
Relativism is every bit as cruel, insecure, and paranoid as Joseph Stalin was. These are characteristics of all brutal dictatorships. Is it possible that the dictatorship of relativism could become as ruthless and demented as Stalin did? I pray that the madness ends before we actually have camps and institutions where the state sends those of us who do not acquiesce to declarations of man which contradict reality.
Both freedom and relativism come with a price.
The price of relativism is relinquishing the freedom to live in reality while on Earth and the forfeiture of eternal salvation after your death. This means a frustrating life followed by an eternity of misery after death. It is not worth the cost.
The price of freedom may be martyrdom: the loss of friends, loss of reputation, loss of your ability to earn an income in your chosen field, and maybe even imprisonment. Yet the payoff is unimaginably abundant. The ability to follow God’s will and to engage in actions that glorify God and bring about the highest good cannot be traded for the fictional world where knowledge is supreme and God does not exist.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a living testament to this fact.
Mr. Sullivan resides in Hastings, Nebraska with his wife Carmen and their five daughters, where Bob practices law and serves on the Hastings Public School Board. Bob has been engaged in evangelization and apologetics for many years, with his literary pieces published by Catholic Answers Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Regina Magazine, Those Catholic Men, and The Catholic Gentleman, plus a regular column in the Southern Nebraska Register. He also blogs at www.bsullivan.org. You can follow him on Twitter (@BobSullivan87) and Facebook (bob.sullivan.10004).