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When we reflect on Zamyatin's letter of resignation from the Russian writer's union as the result of their censure during the controversy surrounding the publication of "We," his words are a timeless affirmation that history rhymes.

The entire letter is too long to post here, but this excerpt demonstrates a historical underpinning for cancel culture and today's long march through the institutions:

"The general meeting in Moscow, without waiting for my explanations, without even expressing a desire to hear them, adopted a resolution condemning my "act." The members of the Moscow branch also took the occasion to express their protest against the contents of the novel, written nine years ago and unknown to the majority of them. In our times nine years are, in essence, nine centuries. I have no intention here to defend a novel that is nine centuries old. I merely think that it would have been far more timely if the Moscow members of the union had protested against the novel We six years ago, when it was read at one of the union's literary evenings.

The general meeting of the Leningrad branch of the union was held on September 22, and I know of its results only from a newspaper report ( in Vechern Krasnaya of September 23). From this report it may be seen that in Leningrad my explanations had already been read and that opinion at the meeting was divided.

A number of the writers, after reading my explanations, considered the incident closed. Nevertheless, the majority found it more prudent to condemn my "act."

Such is the act of the All-Russian Writers' Union. And from this act I draw my own conclusion: I find it impossible to belong to a literary organization which, even if only indirectly, takes part in the persecution of a fellow member, and I hereby announce my resignation from the All-Russian Writers' Union."

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author

Excellent. Thank you for this.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

So sorry (not!) to hear about your unfortunate not-writing accident. It calls to mind Ron White's stand-up bit where he recounts an inebriated incident where he acknowledges that he DID have the right to remain silent, but not the ability...

Let's hear more, when you choose!

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One of Ron White's best lines. You may recall that in his fantasy world as Tater Salad he had an imaginary son he named Tater Tot.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

"Words have had meaning. They can again."

This made me laugh.

Best for Memorial Day.

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May 28, 2023·edited May 28, 2023

The Good Doctor’s piercing eye noticed the absence; he’s not presactly sanguine about the prospects of course reverse 🤔 I'd better stick with Chris' *can again* 😊

🗨 As is so often the way with impersonal messages emanating from giant and dictatorial bureaucracies, the words used have connotation but no denotation, that is to say no meaning can actually be pinned on them, though they have a penumbra of emotional blackmail. ~~Theodore Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

Ban is a word that gets inflated. Boycott's another--a bunch of people deciding not to buy something because they dislike its symbolism is not a boycott.

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I've tried to explain to people that school libraries cannot stock literally every book, so decisions have to be made about what to carry, and letting parents and school boards pick what's appropriate for kids seems like a reasonable way to do this. We have not banned books in the US in a very long time.

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May 28, 2023·edited May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

I don't blame you for breaking your writing fast. That was the kind of story that makes you want to find the nearest brick wall and just slam yourself into it. I know that was my reaction when I caught it on Twitter (the place where reality goes to die).

And you're giving her way too much credit calling her a midwit.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

I don’t know where you are, but it looks charming.

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author

It's awesome

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founding

I've stayed there. Old school. Perfect for fishing trip. 10-15 minutes south of Topaz?

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"tedious midwits", that made me cackle😂😂 I'm from Little Habana (Miami), the midwit is now the butt of many jokes. Most of us had never heard of her, she'll soon be forgotten.

Your vacation spot looks lovely. Enjoy, hope the weather is nice.

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A few years ago I bought an old dictionary. I decided to find something from the year I was born. There are more than a few words that have changed since 1968.

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Continue enjoying your break! We'll be waiting but take your time.

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I promised myself I wouldn’t start reading if I woke up early and could go back to sleep. (I have terrible insomnia.) But when I saw your article (which you weren’t supposed to write) I immediately started reading it at 5:00 am. Now I’m tired AND pissed. Thanks, Chris! Please take your break so I can pretend the world is okay just for a bit and get some shuteye.

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Please, by all means, continue writing. I needed to read your piece today. Thank you.

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Don’t know your age, Chris, but here’s the thing: They don’t even have to “burn” dictionaries, because dictionaries are no longer solid objects. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if half of our millennials have never thumbed through an actual paper dictionary.

Words can be memory-holed or their meanings twisted at the speed of clicks. Just like our “print journalists” now stealth edit their pieces three times in 48 hours if their initial grovelling or exaggerations didn’t work out right.

Printed books are themselves basically samizdat.

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This is my worry -- that it’s not just the media, but what should be staid and reliable publishers of dictionaries and other reference works being too quick to jump on the latest bandwagons.

And meanwhile that’s what ChatGPT gets trained on, whatever’s out there on the internet... wonder if anyone has yet asked it to define “woman”?

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May 28, 2023·edited May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

The problem is that anyone who was "staid and reliable" is inevitably being replaced by ideologues. Because ideologues are all we have coming out of our "universities". Unlike Chris and his commenters, the rising generations have no grounding in the print culture that still dominated in the last century. And given the other planks of their "education," they really, *literally* have no concept of either 1) logical argument or 2) the liberal order and how it's supposed to work.

But let's stick with their disconnect from 20th c. print culture. When Chris writes of Zamyatin and Soviet censorship, you and I and most of his readers respond, but I'm very confident that for nearly anyone now under 40, he might as well be writing of the Carolingian Empire. It's that distant to them, that irrelevant.

This is the register in which I interpret Chris' recent frustration with his writing. He keeps demonstrating that, yep, the new piece in WaPo is, once again, solid excrement. He lays out its painful lack of coherence, its almost gleefully unaware double-standards--*but to what end*? Indeed. There remains a solid cadre of people who recognize excrement when they see it, but we're defined largely by generation. And we're on our way out.

As for the rising generations, I'm convinced they're going to have to learn the hard way, by living in the world their idiocy is creating. Because they've neither any interest in nor capability of seeing what we see. They haven't been *educated*, in our sense of what that word means. And they're everywhere.

I do hope Chris continues with his dissections--really nobody does it better--but probably it's true he should in addition begin thinking of a different genre, or at least a different writerly angle of attack.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

This was an exemplary summation.

I'm equally awed and envious.

A personal anecdote: I've noticed that if you do get youngsters to read real books (i.e. written/published pre-PC thuggery really took off) they get really angry with the people that have censored their access to our literary history.

Like, /really/ angry.

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May 28, 2023·edited May 28, 2023

Thank you for the kind words, Rikard. And you point to what's probably the most important work any of us could be doing. Getting young people away from their devices long enough to get *real books* into their hands.

It must have been gratifying to see that anger. You helped some young people realize they'd been robbed. And they could now maybe start on getting back what was stolen.

If one can manage to make a few young people thus angry per year, life isn't wasted.

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Thank you right back!

I've "exposed" young'uns (meaning 20 to 30 year olds) to swedish movies they've never heard about, movies which are classics for my generation. What's been fun is telling them that the actors and makers largely were left-leaning liberals, secular humanists or outright communists/socialists, yet today they and their stories, jokes, and soon would be called "right-wing extremism", "triggering" and the rest of the pomo-fascist bullshit.

As one young woman, a lodger of ours some fivey ears back, said when watching a classic swedish movie (Ägget är löst/The egg is loose, the titlebeing a pun since a "löst ägg" means a soft-boiled egg but it can also beread as loose in the sense of running free; gah, puns just won't translate!):

"Were they allowed to make jokes like that back then?" (The1970s is "back then" to her of course.)

That was her, to her, fully normal reaction. To immediately feel that the filmmaker needed some authority's permission to make jokes. She had never even realised that or why she reacted like that. Her anger at feminists, greens, multikultis, et cetera - the whole lying midden calling itself the Good/Right Side - was almost physical.

Basically, she and others like her are furious that they have been raised on lies; they are often initially equally furious that there's no way back into the snug safety blanket of the Great Narrative Lie.

Personally, I'm forever grateful of my father and his mother, both of them being the kind of person who taught others to simply ask questions instead of just believing.

Old swedish saying: "Believe is what you do in church". (Implication: you can't believe [whatever the context is], you must know and to know you must check.)

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And even in church the Bible says we should have a reason for the hope that we have.

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Yes, this is the terrifying bit. An entire generation suffering from something analogous to Dunning-Kruger syndrome -- which by definition means they don’t even realize they have it!

I do worry that Chris, and most other Substackers, are just preaching to the choir. We, the readers and commenters, come on here and applaud ourselves and each other for seeing through the nonsense. But how do we get others to see?

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founding

Well said

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As you say, the revision of language goes hand in hand with the political revision of history. The Soviets do seem to be the role model for our Leftists. If you’re interested in fiction about how an everyman can keep his dignity and quietly work to subvert a totalitarian state, you may like Hans Fallada’s masterful work: Every Man Dies Alone, published in 1947. It deals with Nazi Germany. Have a great weekend.

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Great book! Worth a rereading for me. If I could only curtail the time I spend on such excellent Substack as this one.

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Can I just add, because I really want people to read it, that it is almost a documentary? It is fully based on real people and events.

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Fallada seemed to have a curse over him and ked a tragic life. He had much personal experience with the Nazi regime and institutions, including mental asylums. His book is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel.

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I wonder why it took so long for it to be translated into english?

Being described as "the best book about nazi-Germany and the germans who resisted" by Primo Levi is no small amount of praise.

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Who knows? Maybe just overlooked.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

According to the Amanda Gorman’s of the world certain books and ideas must be banned or neutered - Dr. Seuss or Mark Twain, for example. However, when the left beans or neuters a book, it is somehow good. However, when a conservative school district chooses not to buy a book or to move a book from one section to another, it is Nazi book banning. It is so stupid, but, Chris, it is well worth interrupting your holiday weekend to calm it out. It needs to be called out every single time.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

The library I work for recently made the curious (not really) decision to relegate Matt Walsh's toddler board book to adult 800's oblivion (poetry, etc) while books like "I am Jazz" and other trans nonsense for our smallest visitors remain front and center on display. 🙄

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

I've had a chuckle every time someone suggested I involve the union for assistance in my various struggles against mask, vaccine and pronoun mandates. As if any of them would even pretend to defend an apostate such as myself. 🥴

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The librarians have been radicalized as well. Maybe the fact that the majority of kids can’t read well is a blessing. ( sarcasm alert)

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May 28, 2023Liked by Chris Bray

The changing of the meanings of words and phrases is Marxist Leninism with Chinese characteristics. But all totalitarians do this, starting with the French Revolution, going forward through all the socialist iterations of the same.

Enjoy your time off while you recharge. Much, much more wood to chop, and it's never ending for all of us of a like mind.

Onward!

Danny Huckabee

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