The System Worked

Rod Dreher tells a story of a Soviet guy whose toilet bowl cracked and he had to go all the way from Ukraine to the Far East of Russia to get a new one:

How did he get the toilet home? He lugged it onto the Aeroflot flight, and sat on the toilet all the way back to Dnipro. Though a small man, Vladimir’s dad wrestled the toilet up into their apartment and installed it. There it remains to this day.

We all have a plethora of toilet stories from the USSR. My sister and I were swapping ours on our trip to Spain because there is no Soviet person who hasn’t been traumatized in some way (and I don’t use this word lightly) during an attempt to effectuate some regular bodily function. (Women had the additional burden of menstruation, which made one detest being a woman, the forced public gynecological exams, and the reduction of contraception options to easy, free and extremely painful abortion).

Rod concludes:

A system that makes a man have to fly 17 hours one way to get a new toilet through back channel connections, then ride all the way back home sitting on top of that commode — that’s not a system that works.

But he’s mistaken. The Soviet toilet issues were so ubiquitous precisely because the system worked. The man sitting on a commode during a transcontinental flight was evidence that the system worked. It worked the way it was supposed to. It fed on keeping people in a state of constant humiliation. It fed on destroying human dignity. This is why we never had doors on public toilets. Try using the toilet in full view of your co-workers for a couple of months and observe how your feelings about them and yourself change.

When the most basic functions of the human body open you up to humiliation, you live in a state of constant awareness that all your claims to dignity are pathetic. You are nothing but an animal, a sack of shit and piss. There’s nothing more to you than that. So you should aspire to nothing more than the animal comforts of keeping your physical body reasonably protected from harm.

The whole Soviet system was set up to keep reminding people that they are sad, confused, scared cattle. And once you believe that there’s nothing to existence than searching for a degree of bodily comfort, there’s no baseness you wouldn’t stoop to in order to scratch out a somewhat physically comfortable life for yourself.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Fighting the New Totalitarianism

Josh Hawley, a senator who made me very sad in November by beating Claire McCaskill, is proving to be actually pretty great. See here:

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would ban the “addictive” features of various social media platforms, which the freshman lawmaker believes have weaponized human psychology in service of an attention-for-profit model.

I believe that this is the most important issue for us to be discussing. And barely anybody is doing that. When did McCaskill ever do anything nearly as important? Hawley is trying to fight against the rise of new totalitarianism. And that’s extremely admirable.

The details and the text of the proposal are at the link.