From Samizdat To Memetics – What Is Similar And What Is Different Between Soviet And American Dissidents

Americans are late to come to terms with their loss of freedom and its consequences. Most choose to remain inside the Matrix.

Soviet Samizdat items of 1970’s vintage
Copyright: Nkrita [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Amazingly, I remember them still. Their fragile pages of carbon copy paper fraying at the edges from use by many hundreds if not thousands, use that should have shredded them to pieces a long time ago. The bindings, if you can call it that, pieces of black or green poster board sewn to the pages with simple needle and thread as if they were socks that needed darning. Inside, faint blue letters, copies of copies of copies, with the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Natan Sharansky or a few lines of Hebrew text with Russian transliterations.

They made furtive appearances in our small Kiev apartment, these fleeting guests, much admired, revered almost, hidden from view, only appearing on our living room coffee table at night when special guests like the lonely Jewish jazz musician who practiced his base playing late at night in his upstairs apartment came to visit. They were read out loud, if one can call “loud” barely audible whispering and each passage was endlessly pored over, discussed, passionately argued.

The existence of places “out there” in which any book could be printed, sold, bought, and read in the open was postulated, but never really fully believed. That these same places had blue jeans and winter coats made out of synthetic materials rather than cotton wool and canvas and could be closed using (GASP) zippers, was way too much to give any credence to.

You see, my friends, in the 1970’s USSR many books and other writings were forbidden to print, disseminate, and even possess. Among them were writings by those who exposed the brutality of the Soviet system and its utter incompetence in allowing the Germans to attack Russia in June of 1941 and in prosecuting the ensuing war for the first to years. There were pamphlets by prominent regime critics like Sakharov and Jewish community leaders who wished to leave the USSR and repatriate to Israel, like Sharansky and Edelshtein. For those who, like my parents, dreamed that such an impossible dream may one day become a reality and wished to be prepared, there were Hebrew language textbooks, also forbidden in the communist Russia.

The hunger for these illicit words was so large, the “market demand” as we might call it in the West, so strong, that an underground publishing network was born. This anti-regime, anti-communist network got a very communist name, a portmanteau, a word mashup: Samizdat. Made up from the words “sam” (myself) and “izdatyel’stvo” (publishing house), Samizdat was a loose network of brave souls who had access to carbon copy machines at their place of work and who, at much personal risk to their freedom and livelihoods spent nights copying copies of forbidden books that someone had dropped off for them. The copies would then be passed from user to user, never permanently given away let alone sold, lent for a short time before they had to move on.

Samizdat was riddled with KGB infiltrators and many of its producers and users were discovered. The producers, those nocturnal copiers and binders, got prison terms. The users, like my parents, would more typically get expelled from their universities, fired from their jobs, get notes in their ever-present permanent records that would make it impossible for them to find other employment or other places to study. Quite often, their “privileges” of living in large cities like Kiev or Moscow or Leningrad were revoked and they had to eke out a marginal existence in the periphery, in Central Asia or in Siberia.

This happened often; Samizdat people hardly well-trained operatives. They were just secretaries and lab assistants, and grad students, but the network grew until it won the war with the regime and earned its own redundancy. Alas, things did not turn out, in the most part, as the Samizdat people had thought they would. Many of the Jewish or pretend-Jewish folks left the USSR, some in the 1970’s when it was dangerous, others in the 1990’s when it was safe, some to settle in Israel, others in Brighton Beach. Non-Jews stayed on through the terrible deprivations of the 1990’s and on to Putin’s klepto-oligarchy of today.

But what about that magical place at the other end of the rainbow, the place of blue jeans and rock n’ roll, of freedom to print and read anything we want?

It did seem for a while that such a place had indeed existed, didn’t it? I well remember my father’s great sigh of relief when on a grey chilly morning in November of 1973 our train crossed the miles upon miles of razor wire that was the East German – Austrian border. This was the West! We were finally free.

Nearly half a century had passed since those giddy days and it was not kind to the original inhabitants of the Land of Freedom. They took for granted the freedom that so many in the USSR were willing to give their very lives for and they squandered it. They sold it for cheap drugs, cheap porn, cheap government handouts. They treated it like a crack whore, this precious gift of liberty that was handed down to them by the blood of generations upon generations of their ancestors. They flooded their countries with countless foreigners to whom the concept of freedom was as foreign as gay marriage would have been to the Founding Fathers.

Liberty is not a bird that long lives where it is not wanted, so it has long since departed the lands of the West, perhaps all the lands of Men and returned, Tolkien-like, to its abode somewhere far beyond the setting sun. The America of today, that erstwhile bastion of freedom, that shimmering mirage that glimmered over the western skies of my childhood and did battle with the Soviet jammers on short wave radio when I was a kid is no longer any more free than the USSR used to be, though it is still far more prosperous. Just like in the early days of the Bolshevik revolution, the American Bolsheviks are engaging in a frenzy of statue destruction and book banning. Just like in the old Soviet bloc or in today’s China, faceless apparatchiks are lording it over us every second of every day from their sinecures at the Deep State and its metastatic arms, the corporate HR departments.

Just like there, in the East, we in the West are forced to believe and publicly profess things that are obviously false, though here they are, perversely, of predominantly sexual nature. Things that were and should be abhorrent to every human throughout history like sodomy and the sexual exploitation of children are celebrated in the public square, any opposition to them earning you the Soviet treatment of losing your job, your university admissions, your livelihood, your career, your electronic platform.

Signs of resistance are appearing. American dissidents like Laura Loomer, brave souls who are willing to risk much are standing up to be counted. An American Samizdat of sorts, adjusted for the 21st century is being born in the shape of memetics, images and short video clips that cut through the chase with scathing humor and deadly accuracy. Because the creation of these communiques requires a free and even rebellious spirit, our grey masters suck at this medium. No one they can hire can do it well simply because the condition of hire is unquestioning allegiance to Loshanqua from HR and daily recital of “diversity is our strength” and “men can menstruate”. People like that cannot meme and will never be able to.

Pepe the Frog is a great symbol of freedom from the rule of the world elites, but let yourself not be fooled, he is more of a sanctioned safety valve variety than a true revolutionary. All totalitarian regimes have safety valves, means for the enslaved masses to express their discontent, to grumble, to have an illusion of agency, a mirage of freedom. It is simply cheaper to maintain these safety valves than to engage in Stalinist full-scale nonstop repression. A population that is, Matrix-like, manipulated to think that it is (or may one day be) free is a more peaceful, compliant, and productive population than one that has no hopes for a better life and has only experienced beatings. Plus, repeated beatings have a problem with diminished returns as populations subject to them develop an ever-higher threshold for pain.

Samizdat was to a large degree a safety valve. The KGB could have shut it down in a minute. The communist party simply didn’t want them to. They were ordered to play a cat and mouse game which convinced the Samizdat people that they were doing something exceptionally brave and that “things” were getting better because of them, but was never intended to shut them down.

The much more sophisticated totalitarian rulers of America have developed a system of two complimentary safety valves. First and foremost they have a stable of bought and paid for mainstream “resistance” leaders who go on Fox and some other media channels and utter strong words from behind fat contracts and daily briefings that set out in excruciating detail just how stunningly brave they are allowed to be. These are the Laura Ingraham’s, the Sean Hannity’s, the Tucker Carlson’s and the Ben Shapiro’s of the world. They could be called “controlled opposition”, if they were any kind of opposition rather than simply the loyal employees of the ruling technocracy. This safety valve is now operating at near 100% efficiency and its efficacy is unmatched.

Yet the highly advanced American ruling elites, having built themselves up on the shoulders of high technology, are not satisfied with this valve alone. To supplement it, they have allowed, on the margins, a Samizdat-like grassroots resistance movement that produces memes and wacko conspiracy theories and constantly pats itself on the shoulder for being so amazingly, so stunningly brave. Just like Samizdat, the folks in this movement, the likes of Jack Posobiec and many others do not work for the elites, but they might as well be because they provide Americans with an illusion of freedom, a simulacrum of it, and most regrettably with an excuse not to see the truth and start developing real strategies for coping with it.

Just like the KGB could shut Samizdat down at will, so can the the American techno-oligarchy shut down Pepe and his disciples within moments from being ordered to do so. Not a single 1 or 0, neither a solitary electron, nor a lonesome photon goes from one place to the next in America without express permission of the elites. Of that we can be certain. So the truth, my friends, is much worse than it appears to be. But wait! There is more! Not content with creating the best let-the-steam-out social safety valves that have ever existed, the American ruling classes have created history’s most powerful social control instrument: fiat money.

You see, money does not exist anymore. What exists are 1’s and 0’s that our rulers have made us believe to be money. And since they control everything about these 1’s and 0’s, they control everything about money. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself what would happen to your mortgage payments if interest rates go up by a couple of percent.

So here is the bottom line, folks. That glimmering, shimmering mirage that was the West, with its freedom and liberty and blue jeans did exist for a while, but it didn’t put up much of a fight and sold itself out for a few fake dollars. Now what remains to us is what the real dissidents in the USSR had: the freedom of the mind. Consuming, uncritically, the 1’s and 0’s that come at us from any source including this one does not make you free or brave. Think for yourself. Become an intellectual. Read old books before they are banned and destroyed. Watch old movies and try to get into the minds of Americans from decades past, Americans who really were free. Understand what has been lost. Mourn it. When repeating the mantras that our rulers demand of us, keep a strong mental reservation. Acknowledge to yourself that they are false, ridiculous even, but repeat them nonetheless. After all, you still have a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college.

Speaking of kids, have them. Have many kids and teach them that once there was freedom and maybe, if they are lucky they may yet experience it for themselves one day though that day may be far, far away.

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