The Dissident Interviews: Michael Rectenwald on the Left, Totalitarianism and the Global Regime
Dr. Michael Rectenwald is the author of eleven books, including Thought Criminal (2020), Beyond Woke (2020), Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom (2019), Springtime for Snowflakes: “Social Justice” and Its Postmodern Parentage (an academic’s memoir, 2018) and others. He is also the Chief Academic Officer and co-founder of American Scholars, which YouTube’s channel was recently banned. He was a Professor of Liberal Studies and Global Liberal Studies at NYU from 2008 to 2019. He has appeared on numerous major network political talk shows, among which Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox & Friends, Fox & Friends First, Varney & Company, The Glenn Beck Show as well as on syndicated radio shows, such as Coast to Coast AM, and on The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders, among numerous podcasts and online shows.
After Dr. Rectenwald reached out to IM—1776, we decided to conduct an interview with him as part of a series which will see various ‘dissident’ thinkers featured on our pages. What follows is a written exchange between Michael and Daniel Miller, conducted shortly after Michel’s American Scholars’ channel was suspended by YouTube.
— The Editors
Daniel Miller: Your American Scholars channel was recently banned from YouTube. Why you do think YouTube wants to censor you, and how do you understand that mechanism?
Michael Rectenwald: I don’t think “censor” is the right word. ‘Cancel’, ‘delete’, and ‘disappear’ are more apt. Google, YouTube, and the whole panoply of Big Digital cartel members all are leftist and totalitarian. They are the leading edge, the communications and ideological apparatuses, the arbiters and enforcers of the corporate socialist regime that has taken power in the U.S. and the world over. American Scholars represents everything that they want to destroy. National sovereignty and pride, constitutional principles, conserving the nation-state, non-woke education — these are anathema to the globalist agenda of the Great Resetters. The U.S. and its patriots represent an impediment to their goal of a global, one-world state under corporate socialism — or techno-neo-feudalism, or ‘capitalism with Chinese characteristics’, or ‘communistic capitalism’ — corporate oligarchs and the state in ‘public-private partnership’ on top, with ‘actually existing socialism’ for the masses below.
Daniel Miller: How do you analyze the relationship between the leftist ideology and the political and corporate forces which are driving this global totalitarian movement. Are they sincere in their progressive beliefs, or do they hold their views more cynically?
Michael Rectenwald: Once one grasps the fact that the political and corporate forces are monopolists, then their socialist ideology makes perfect sense. Socialist ideology suits their aims perfectly because, like all socialist-communists, they aim to eliminate the free market and monopolize and control all production, distribution, and the population at large. Socialism-communism is nothing if not monopoly. That is precisely why it is totalitarian. So, they earnestly embrace the woke-socialist creed and shamelessly support (and fund) the left that has taken over every institution in the land. The academic left, the political left, the street left (Antifa and BLM), the media left, the corporate left, the military left, the intelligence community left–these are their assets, their ground, and air forces. There is a degree of cynicism, however, in the audacity with which they advance their aims, going so far as to install an utterly feeble, incoherent, and linguistically incontinent geriatric patient in the presidency by means of a color revolution. They use Biden largely to humiliate and utterly demoralize the opposition and to prove just how far they can and will go to stick their power in our faces. The Biden presidency proves that they own the political sphere and can install whatever defective candidate they wish, no matter how ludicrous. The extent to which they invert the truth, reverse the meaning of words, pre-edit news and history, and create a simulacrum to replace reality is owing to their use of such assets. Next, they mean to complete the fourth industrial revolution — to obviate the need for ideological brainwashing with the use of brain-cloud interfaces, wearable tracking technology, the Internet of Things and People, smart cities, the melding of experience with augmented and virtual reality, and so forth. So, yes, they are sincere — although ideology is always only a tool of the elites for duping the majority and disguising their own objectives. They wield it with aplomb.
Daniel Miller: How elite do you think are the current global elite, in terms of their competence and capacities? You identify the installation of Biden as a sign of their power, but the demonstration of power doesn’t mean it is being used wisely. The strategy you’re describing doesn’t seem judicious at all. Biden’s incompetence and the corruption of figures like Fauci is provoking increasing resistance. It is also not clear if the technological solutions they require are really available.
Michael Rectenwald: When I use the term “elite,” I do not mean to suggest that the elites possess any inherent superiority. I mean only that they hold superior power, influence, and control. The installation of Biden is precisely indicative of their control of the political sphere. It’s evidence that they can make a president of any buffoon they wish, whether we like it or not. As to the resistance that Biden, Fauci, and others are provoking, the degree of power that the elite possesses is in direct proportion with their ability to enforce their desiderata in spite of that resistance. Every such regime needs to test its strength against potential opposition. It thus becomes necessary to elicit that opposition so as to measure and adjust to it. They are likely provoking the opposition on purpose. Thus, they are able to identify the resistance, demonize it, isolate it, declare it de facto illegal, and so contain it, even physically. Already, resistance to the virus-vaccine regime has been declared a sign of domestic terrorism. Every totalitarian regime reveals its weaknesses and mendacity. No totalitarian system is ever completely impenetrable or utterly perfected. The resistance has meaning, but it will only succeed against these tyrants if it manages to act in time, before the circle is closed, as it were. The first step in doing so is identifying them as such, recognizing their aims, and potentially preempting their maneuvers. It is entirely possible that this regime lasts decades, if not longer. But it will end. The question is a matter of when, and how much suffering and distortion will be endured until it does. The vaccine mandate is one of several fronts on which we battle, although it is the most important one. But the war is being waged on many other fronts as well. These include the unfettered immigration, the inflationary tactics, the financial surveillance being floated, the assault on education, the destruction of small businesses, the increased dependence on the state, etc. These are all part of the attempt to eliminate the middle class, and moreover to level the economic status of the ‘average American’ to align it with that of those in less ‘privileged’ regions. This is the ‘fairness’ aspect of the Great Reset. And that is the function of woke ideology — to make the middle class feel unworthy of their lifestyles and consumption patterns, which the elite are in the process of resetting to a new (reduced and static) normal. This is to say nothing, for now, of the hijacking of the political process, of which the immigration issue is only one part. The vaccine mandates are the means by which our rights are being eroded. The technology of the vaccine passport may morph into a social credit scoring system like that used in China. China is the model for what is being imposed on the U.S. So, yes, the technologies are available. They are being introduced incrementally so that the population is habituated to them, a little at a time.
Daniel Miller: Who are the leaders of the global regime? What are their principal weapons and what are their weakspots?
Michael Rectenwald: The coordinating players are the WEF, the IMF, and the UN. But the WEF has enlisted many state and corporate partners, including Western governments, the banks, and most if not all major corporations worldwide. “Stakeholder capitalism,” as the WEF conceives of it, not only represents the privatization of formerly governmental functions as decried by the left, but more importantly, the obverse, or the governmentalization of private industry. Under stakeholder capitalism, governments form public-private partnerships with corporations. The state not only becomes increasingly privatized but also enhanced, extended, and given the unprecedented power of corporate assets. Where Big Digital is concerned, this means lending the state Big Data, smart city technologies, predictive algorithms, and much more. The potential surveillance capabilities are staggering in their range, precision, and penetration. Their principal weapons are ideology, cartelization, political assets, financial strangulation (the ESG index, etc.), and technology. Their primary weakness is their ideology, which is the formative element in their worldview. They are materialists at base and thus they grossly underestimate the human spirit, which they will never manage to subdue, notwithstanding the technologies that could do just that. They assume that human beings are mere material agents, and thus they do not grasp the extent to which humans will go to be free. They are physicalists, and as such they imagine that control can be obtained exclusively by physical and material means, inclusive of psychology, which they believe to be a mere function of the brain. But the transcendent nature of humanity is beyond their ken, which is why they will ultimately fail — like all attempts at totalitarian rule to date. Furthermore, and more proximately, their economic planning is flawed beyond redemption. They vest far too much wealth and power at the top, which will make the system top-heavy and imbalanced. The system they envision, which is already in formation, will collapse under its own weight. Without a thriving class of independent producers and consumers, innovation will come to a grinding halt, the state will become swollen and distended to an unsustainable degree, and the system will implode.
Daniel Miller: How would you define the mission of American Scholars, or independent educational projects generally, with respect to this reality?
Michael Rectenwald: I see American Scholars as a parallel structure of the kind that Soviet and Eastern bloc dissidents constructed in order to keep their sanity and express themselves as they refused to live in the lie, as Vaclav Havel wrote in The Power of the Powerless. Or, to put in pop culture terms, such parallel structures as American Scholars are analogous to the hovercraft the Nebuchadnezzar in the movie The Matrix. Here, we are unplugged from propaganda and the simulacrum produced by the system and are able to protect ourselves from the Agent Smiths of the world. We must continue to fight for the truth and dedicate ourselves to it in order to resist the many and constant lies with which we’re being buffeted by academia, or what Mencius Moldbug calls the Cathedral, which is responsible for the major narrative distortions and absolute mendacities.
Daniel Miller: How do you think we arrived to this reality and how is it sustained?
Michael Rectenwald: The mendacity of the earlier period — from the ’50s through 2001 — is probably owing to the activities of the CIA. But even the CIA, which once produced anti-communist propaganda and coups, now promotes their opposite. At some point, perhaps with the financial collapse of 2008, perhaps before, the oligarchy decided to take another path. The bailouts signaled that the state was not an impediment to capital but instead its best friend and partner. The left calls the period since the 1980s ‘neoliberalism’. By this, they mean the supposed dismantling of the welfare state and the privatization of public goods and services, of government. What it really represented was a very partial rollback of the growth of government, but only comparatively. The state grew at an alarming rate throughout this ‘neoliberal’ period. But neoliberalism, a weasel word if there ever was one, became the new nemesis, and soon even the corporations came to see it as such as well. The financial crisis and bailouts, plus the economic growth of China, suggested that the Chinese system of state-corporate ‘partnerships’ should be the new model for the West, including for the U.S. Academia had already laid the groundwork by proselytizing socialism to the educated classes, who soon took over the management of existing corporate structures, while founding new ones. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party infiltrated the state, the intelligence agencies, the corporate bodies, the NGOs, most of our major institutions, and now even the military. They did so with the lure of investments and the prospects of a gigantic market, seducing the West into an unholy union. The marriage yielded the corporate socialist progeny explained above. Thus, capitalism with Chinese characteristics came to America. The progeny bore the traits of its communist parent, including its penchant for tightly controlled propaganda, doublespeak, censorship, surveillance, and all the other characteristics of totalitarian rule. Big Digital leads the way in this Sinicization, because China represents the biggest prize for the expansion of digital technologies in particular — in terms of labor, materials, and markets. The Chinese model promised Big Digital the kind of state-supported monopolies that thrive in China. What these corporate leaders fail to grasp is that China’s success has depended on the open markets of the West, especially the U.S. Likewise, the system will fail, although the prospects for short-term gain and control apparently outweigh long-term considerations. We are all in China, at least for now. And, if China is any indication, we may eventually be patrolled by drones, policed by mobile robots, facially recognized and hunted like criminals for vaccine non-compliance, and sent to Covid camps. Much of this is already underway in Australia. The object of the Covid regime is not health. The object is tyranny itself. The means are the ends.
Daniel Miller: What is to be done?
Michael Rectenwald: The sooner that more people recognize what is happening, the greater our chances for resisting and overthrowing it. The Chinese system — including its economics and its totalitarian methods and objects of repression and control — is being rolled out on a planetary scale. The Western globalists and the CCP are apparently in league — or else they are involved in a friendly, collaborative competition to see who can establish global dominance first. In any case, the result would be the same. What’s to be done? Live in the truth and not by lies. Disseminate the truth. Try to carefully explain the circumstances to others. If they are beyond reach, shake the dust from your feet and move on. Conterminously, begin (or continue) to form networks of like-minded dissidents. Set up alternate means of communications. Locate and decide on sites for in-person meetings, reconnaissance, and alternate means of living. Network these networks to form super-networks of cooperation. In forming these networks however, it’s best to avoid political language and symbolics that may alienate people who have a common enemy, but who have a different politics in the narrower sense of the term. Ours is a pre-political resistance. We must understand ourselves primarily as dissidents and only secondarily, if at all, as members of a party.