We Live in the Era of the New Conformists

May 6, 2021 Updated: May 9, 2021

Commentary

In his latest piece, the estimable Victor Davis Hanson asks the rhetorical question “Are Americans Becoming Sovietized?”

Without a doubt. And a key reason behind this, I have been thinking for a long time, is that the left and the semi-left, progressives and liberals—masses of them in our country from the corporate world to the media to the academy to entertainment—are the new conformists.

Well, not completely new, but conformists beyond doubt. Hardly ever an original thought among them.

They are like the “Triplets” song from Vincente Minelli’s classical musical “The Band Wagon.” (“We do everything alike, we look alike, we dress alike. We walk alike, we talk alike.”)

With this mindset, becoming “Sovietized” scarcely takes an effort. You don’t have to learn a word of Russian beyond “nyet.”

Back in the ’50s, conservatives were accused of being the “organization men” or the “men in the grey flannel suit,” but these days, it’s the other way around.

No one is more predictable, more conformist, than the so-called “woke.”

In his compelling new book—“Curiosity: And Its Twelve Rules for Life”—my friend, law professor F.H. Buckley, under the heading “Don’t Be a Conformist,” warns us about where conformity can lead:

“Italian novelist Alberto Moravia tried to explain why so many of his countrymen became Fascists under Mussolini. It was because of their desire to fit in, to seem normal, to follow the crowd. He called the novel ‘The Conformist.’”

Sound familiar?

This desire to fit in and follow the crowd is leading our country in a terrifying direction.

(By the way, get Buckley’s book not just for his intriguing rules, which he says are meant to be disobeyed, but for his delightful portraits of extraordinary nonconformists such as Blaise Pascal and Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

Who is more conformist than our enemy du jour, Big Tech companies, which “do everything alike” as much as those Triplets? They blew Parler out of the water within minutes of each other, supposedly for lax supervision, but actually for the reverse, showing them up by being for free speech.

Twitter and Facebook are both banning Donald Trump to one degree or another. Google does it more subtly by SEO (search engine optimization). Amazon simply bans books by his supporters. (“We walk alike, we talk alike …”)

The Biden administration is a virtual machine for mass-producing conformity. Their so-called infrastructure bill does far less road and bridge building than it does establishing cradle-to-grave programs for social conformity. The jump to a Soviet lifestyle is negligible.

Nothing, however, is more ultimately conformist than woke-sponsored critical race theory. It dictates that your life and fate are determined by your race from birth!

(Speaking of which, I am pleased to say the legislature of my home state of Tennessee effectively banned CRT from its schools.)

That conservatives were considered the original conformists, referred to earlier, points to an interesting irony in our society’s evolution.

My boomer generation may have been—actually were, I’ll be honest—the ultimate conformists in their initial rebellion. A direct line from the anti-war movement of “Hey, hey, LBJ … How many kids did you kill today?” to the “woke” nonsense of our time can easily be drawn.

Father to son, mother to daughter, it’s all thoughtless generational conformity. I know because I participated in it.

It has only expanded today to all aspects of our society, a conformity epidemic more dangerous, because more lasting, than COVID.

Bringing back real nonconformity, not the phony kind that is often in evidence, should be on the top of our agendas for ourselves and our country.

Not everyone can be a Pascal or a Wittgenstein, it should be obvious. But we can all be ourselves. We are all individuals, endowed by our Creator, it should be remembered, with certain inalienable rights.

In a Soviet system, they don’t exist.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on Parler as @rogerlsimon

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.