The New Stalinism
We’ve seen it in the extreme and nearly perfect party discipline that allowed the GOP to stage more filibusters over the past year and a half than any political party in American history. We’ve seen it in David Frum’s firing from the American Enterprise Institute for expressing ideas that were critical, not of the party’s ideology, but rather, of its methods. We’ve seen it in the savaging that Red State’s editor Erick Erickson received when (falling out of character for a brief moment) he dared criticize Teabagger darling and money minting machine Sarah Palin.
Now, scanning an item on the website Politifact.com that examined the kinship between the Democratic Health Care Reform legislation and long running policy proposals of the conservative Heritage Foundation, I ran across this remarkable aside:
…we heard from nine people affiliated with conservative policy organizations other than Heritage who thought that the president’s statement was reasonably accurate.
Seven of them declined to publicly express their differences with Heritage for fear of making waves within the tight-knit conservative policy world.
There’s a word for this sort of iron-fisted intolerance of dissent that rewards honesty and “outside the box” ideological thinking with a pink-slip. Some are calling it epistemic closure. But really, there’s no need to coin a fancy new term to describe the phenomenon. The old one works just fine: Stalinism.