Lets look at some instances of cancel culture in order to get an understanding of what we are seeing these days. It is not, as many Americans suppose, something new. Here is a YouTube video that opens the movie Judgment at Nuremberg: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTodK24KG6E).
It shows the swastika being blown up at the Zeppelinfeld grandstand. Clearly the de-nazification of Germany by the Allies, and particularly by the United States, must be seen as a kind of cancel culture. It was so thorough that ordinary people were afraid to talk about the Hitler years, and continued to be afraid for years after they were conquered.
Being afraid to talk is one of the marks and, indeed, objectives of the cancel culture. It brooks no disagreement, just as Americans in Germany brooked none.
In Japan, cancel culture took the form of an attack on the religious sensibilities of the Japanese people when the emperor was forced to state that the ties between him and the people of Japan are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine.
A more recent case could be seen in 2002. A group of Iraqis undertook to tear down a 39-foot statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square. A video (https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/mar/09/saddam-hussein-statue-toppled-bagdhad-april-2003-video) shows a bunch of Iraqis cheering the U.S. Marines when they bring the statue down, happy as a bunch of antifas tearing down a Lee statue.
What was done in Iraq in that year culminated first in the murder of Saddams sons in July and in his hanging about 3½ years later (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2urj1k) after a victors justice show trial. And in July 2005, the political party he headed, the Baathist Party, was outlawed by Iraqs 2005 Constitution, along with its symbols: This may not be part of the political pluralism in Iraq, it says.
In Ukraine in 2014, statues of Lenin were pulled down, again to cheers and dancing in the streets. And in 1980s, a statue of Cecil Rhodes was beaten after being toppled in Rhodesia. All these are efforts by a people to destroy images that celebrate a part of their history that they wish to forget or that they wish to erase.
During the French Revolution, the ruling Directoire were not content merely to kill as many symbols of the ruling class as they could find, but they went so far as to attempt to define a 10-day week, and to rename all the months. They ceased to address one another as Monsieur and Madame, and turned instead to Citoyen, French citizenship replacing French personhood during this dictatorship.
During the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell in England (16531658 he styled himself as Lord Protector of the Realm), churches were looted and vandalized. As under Henry VIII, the looting was not confined to churches that remain Catholic, but to those of the Church of England as well, but for different reasons. Cromwells Puritanism included a streak of iconoclasm that found beautiful stained glass windows and architecture offensive, and so destroyed them here and there. It was an echo of the Calvinism on the Continent, when Catholic churches were looted, sacked, and desecrated.
It is a general rule: When you conquer a people you take their land, their women, and their history. Even their language, if you can (in this, French-speaking Normans failed to completely conquer the Saxons, as Etruscans failed to completely conquer Italians). You attempt to destroy anything that has lingering sentimental value. At the end of the Trojan War, the Greeks killed all the baby boys, lest they grow to manhood and seek vengeance. Carthage conquered, Rome sowed the land where it had stood with salt, so that nothing would ever grow there again.
Mohammedans were notorious for changing the names of cities and countries they conquered, destroying (or stealing) all the art and treasures in churches before converting them to mosques. In ancient times, when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, the treasures of the temple were booty to be carried back to Babylon, and when Alexanders successor was put in charge of Judea, he desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig in it. These are all attempts to destroy a conquered peoples cultural memories.
In the years after Constantine made Christianity the legal religion of the Empire, the temples of the pagan gods were either destroyed or turned into Christian churches. When Julian the Apostate became emperor of Rome, he planned to reclaim the temples and restore the pagan worship. And when he died in Mesopotamia, the pagan worship was again overthrown.
In modern America, the cancel culture begins with placing a statue of a black athlete who died of AIDS on Monument Street in Richmond, Virginia. If Southerners thought that would appease people who felt there was something wrong with honoring Confederate stalwarts, it was not long before they were delivered from their delusion. By last July, all the statues of the Confederate stalwarts on Monument Avenue had been removed.
The image of at least one president is to be removed from American money, to be replaced by that of a woman who held no state office whatever, and who was not instrumental in the founding of the republic.
What should we understand, then, about the cancel culture? The Last Ditch answered that question with its first words: We are the dead. Our true life is in the future. Most Americans do not understand this. Those who oppose the cancel culture still think that all they have to do is elect the right people onto school boards, city councils, legislatures, the presidency, and they can take back their country.
They cannot. The matter has gone far, far beyond what winning an election can overturn. After all, the problem is not a few antifa or BLM goons. It is what those goons believe. And most of what they believe is rooted in ideas held by most Americans. Foremost among those beliefs is that discrimination is bad and must not be tolerated.
A close second is that democracy is a good, to be defended, to be desired, to be established whenever possible. It astounds me that even conservative Christians evangelicals hold this belief, for there is not one word in the Bible to endorse democracy as an ideal or even as a tolerable form of government.
Naturally, I will be called a defeatist. I prefer to think of myself as a realist. We who have been defeated, but who still live, cannot continue to oppose our enslavement as though the battle were still raging. But neither must we just give up.
A defeated people may still fight, but they must not fight as though the war had not been lost. They must adopt different tactics. They must adopt a different vision for themselves. They must understand that those who rule them are their conquerors and their enemies. And that their rulers do not rule only from political offices.
And they must fight as though fidelity to their beliefs, not victory for them, is their hope and their ideal. Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem the only hope for the vanquished is to fight without hope. Ω
April 12, 2021