"Free societies are societies in which the right of dissent is protected. In contrast, fear societies are societies in which dissent is banned," says former Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky in a FrontPage interview with Jamie Glazov [via Powerline]. In his new book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, Sharansky explains "why I believe in the power of freedom to transform our world" and dissects the "mechanics of tyranny that sustain such a society":
Fear societies are inevitably composed of three separate groups: True believers, dissidents and doublethinkers. True believers are those who believe in the ideology of the regime. Dissidents are those who disagree with that ideology and are prepared to say so openly. Doublethinkers are those who disagree with the ideology but who are scared to openly confront the regime.
While Sharansky bases his compelling argument on having lived under one of the most murderous tyrannies in history, his "doublethinkers" called to mind the words of Jeffrey Gedmin -- director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin -- in a recent interview on "Experiencing European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Israelism," where he explains why some Europeans who don't necessarily buy into "the double standards, bias and moral relativism of the continent's 'intellectual elite'" nevertheless don't speak up [via Davids Medienkritik]:
"Sometimes people even say to me, 'Many more believe in what you said than you think.' I reply, 'Where are they? Let them come out of the closet and join the party.' They remain silent because they are cowards, and they want to be liked and to see what the group thinks."
Democratic Europe's go-along-to-get-along types in turn call to mind those members of academia who go along with politically correct groupthink they may not agree with in order to protect their careers. Call it "Fear Society Lite." Sharansky's "mechanics of tyranny that sustain such a society" are at work in those lofty intellectual bubbles just as surely as they were in the old Soviet Union and are today in the Arab tyrannies. A repressive society is a repressive society, wherever it may fall on a continuum of brutality and thought control. The crushing of dissent brutalizes the human spirit. Sharansky's optimism encourages the human spirit to soar:
Once the life of doublethink and self-censorship is shed, once the brainwashing stops, once freedom is tasted, no people will ever choose to live in fear again.