The temptation and crucial flaw of a totalitarian mind are that everyone must play a part in a superstructural battle between good and evil. Standing on the sidelines or taking a neutral position on present topics is not allowed; one may not merely observe or ignore the madness played out among the power hungry.
As a not-so-proud carrier of a Swedish passport, I last year lost track of how many times I was asked about Sweden’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the overreaching military alliance among Western nations. Apparently, there was a war going on somewhere. NATO countries were scrambling, and Finland and Sweden (thoroughly Western social democratic countries) were decades-old NATO holdouts. I did not know; I took pride in not knowing.
The chattering classes and the corporate press were full-on politicking. An insider-diplomacy battle raged between Stockholm, Helsinki, and Washington, DC. At some point even, Ankara, Turkey, was involved. I did not know; I had no opinion. My friends, my colleagues, my neighbor, my barber, my friends’ friends, and various other acquaintances all wanted in on the sordid business of political commentating.
I did not know. That was exactly it. I had no position to offer, which I quickly realized was a social mistake in this brave new world of symbolic wars for all that is “good.” I did not know anything about military matters, defense capabilities, international relations, or threat assessments regarding the var