By Wayne Allensworth
Nurse Ratched is not amused
I was talking to a friend recently about the madhouse that is life in the USA these days. I raised a question during our conversation: When was the last time either of us had felt we lived in a more-or-less sane country?
It’s been a while: We finally agreed that it may have been sometime in the 1990’s.
The 90’s were an “interglacial” period, as Peter Brimelow has described it, when topics that are now considered taboo — racial differences in crime rates and immigration levels among them — were the subjects of open discussion in mainstream media. True, the revolution that was “the 60’s” had already changed the country profoundly. Ominous clouds were on the horizon, and the limits of acceptable discourse were gradually being narrowed. But “political correctness” had not hardened into full blown “wokeism.”
Today, woke insanity — “democracy” means censoring unapproved opinions, a biological male can “identify” as a female, violent criminals are society’s victims, only whites can be “racist,” “silence is violence” (but whites speaking up can be, too), and the like — defines the bulk of what passes for mainstream public discourse.
It’s difficult to escape the woke propaganda line, as it permeates mass media, entertainment, the academy, and the workplace.
As in the old Soviet Union, our overseers treat dissent as a manifestation of dangerous mental illness (think “whiteness,” for example). It is not simply our actions that matter. It is what we believe and what we think that count most of all. Thus, we may describe woke ideology as “totalitarian.”
The woke want to police — and correct (or, as they see it, cure) — our inner lives as well as our behavior. That is the essence of woke therapeutic totalitarianism.
Middle America’s condition now is that of a patient undergoing forced treatment in a gigantic psych ward. And it is no accident, as Comrade Stalin used to say, that hosts of young, “educated” white women have flocked to the BLM banner, professing the tenets of the woke pseudo-religion.
The woke style, as the Z-man has noted, is feminized and passive-aggressive. The approach is that of a scolding schoolmarm, the “Karen” who is ever ready to denounce someone’s not “masking up” in public. Woke scolds enjoy lecturing us on “systemic racism” and “white privilege.” It’s all for our own good, after all.
On the mass psych ward that is the contemporary US of A, the face of therapeutic totalitarianism isn’t a jackbooted stormtrooper (though Antifa members and BLMers do a fair impersonation of bomb throwers of the past). And it isn’t Big Brother. That would be sexist, patriarchal, and misogynistic.
I therefore nominate Nurse Ratched as the face of woke totalitarian “therapy.” Some film aficionados consider the menacing caregiver of the Oscar-winning 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestto be among the top cinematic villains in film history. Nevertheless, by woke standards, her heart was in the right place. She was only trying to help her patients.
In the film, any psych ward patient who does not completely conform to Nurse Ratched’s routine is considered a troublemaker by her and her orderlies. The film’s sadistic matron of mayhem, too, views non-conformist behavior and thinking as manifestations of a dangerous mental illness.
Countering such deviants — and preserving the desert that is peace on the ward — is, by the good nurse’s lights, a therapeutic necessity. While on duty, she conducts group therapy sessions designed to achieve the results she desires. And in the ward’s stilted democracy, Nurse Ratched has the final say on any “vote.”
The jailbird McMurphy, Cuckoo’s congenital troublemaker, has wangled himself a stay in the ward, expecting that he will have an easier time in a hospital rather than in the hoosegow. Inevitably, McMurphy disrupts the ward’s routine, challenging Nurse Ratched’s authority. As it turns out, he is the sanest, most vital, and truly free human being, including Nurse Ratched, on the ward. McMurphy is more human — and humane — than the hidebound nurse. And in his chaotic way, he helps the other patients, stupefied by their daily meds, begin to recover their humanity. In Nurse Ratched’s book, that makes him doubly dangerous.
Nurse Ratched finally employs drastic means to deal with McMurphy. He must be mentally destroyed by shock therapy, and, ultimately, a lobotomy to be saved, and to preserve totalitarian tranquility on the ward.
The parallels to our present situation are clear enough.
We deplorables — the “patients” on the national “ward” — must not allow ourselves to be “gaslighted.” The MSM’s constant torrent of misinformation and propaganda is readily absorbed by millions of outwardly reasonable people. Lots of them have internalized the “anti-racist” narrative, and have, for example, duly acknowledged the supposed martyrdom of George Floyd. That’s to say nothing of our “conservative” representatives in Washington.
To have a chance of salvaging anything from our national train wreck, we cannot permit ourselves to become zombie-like drones, digesting our daily dose of “meds” in the form of MSM propaganda, then repeating banal woke platitudes on cue.
We need to keep our wits about us, think critically, and, like Cuckoo’s McMurphy, marshal the courage to talk back to Nurse Ratched and her orderlies.
It is the woke who are the crazy ones — in fact, posing the confrontation we face today as one of sanity vs. insanity has more explanatory utility than shopworn talk of opposing “Red” and “Blue” states. It is our job to find the faith and the fortitude to defend sanity, at risk of being treated as a dangerous McMurphy, a disturber of the ward’s peace.
“We who believe in patriotism once thought patriotism to be reasonable, and thought little more about it,” G.K. Chesterton once wrote. “Now we know it to be unreasonable, and know it to be right.” Indeed, as Chesterton noted, “swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.”
Let us draw our swords. We have nothing to lose but our woke-manufactured straitjackets.
Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.