A History of Totalitarian Surrealism

In a time when nuanced and intelligent reflection is in short supply, journalist David Satter is an indispensable voice of historical, political, and cultural analysis. University of Chicago and Oxford University educated, Satter became a correspondent for the Financial Times of London. From 1976 to 1982, he lived and worked in the Soviet Union, reporting on the political and social situation. 

Satter is unlike any other journalist. Along with delivering the facts about Russia and Communism, Satter’s work is imbued by philosophical and existential analysis of the events. He eschews a simplistic take on Communism that usually involves an “us versus them” mode of thought, and reports the daily reality of people who lived under the totalitarian regime for more than 70 years. 

This is not to say that Satter is a distant observer for whom morality doesn’t exist. On the contrary, in all of his work he clearly defines ideology and its inherent evil. By looking at personal stories of real people who were going through the horrors of Communism, Satter illuminates not only the history of the Soviet Union, but also the meaning and impact of ideology on people’s humanity.

It is precisely this emphasis on specific, human stories that is the focus of Satter’s documentary film, “Age of Delirium” (2011). Based on his 2001 book, Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, Satter weaves together many stories of those who survived Communism’s brutal treatment and dehumanization. Tracing his steps through his many trips around the Soviet Union in search for the truth, Satter revisits places he wrote about as a correspondent. 

David Satter’s vision is different, partly because he is American. He is an outsider with an intent to show the truth of the Soviet regime, yet his immersion in Russian language and culture has made him, paradoxically, one of the dissidents and truth seekers. When you live in something, it is difficult to have sufficient intellectual distance to evaluate the issues. The events are unfolding before your eyes, and the only thing that matters is survival. In addition, if you grow up in a culture that is strengthened on a daily basis by fear, anxiety, suspicion, and poverty, you are unable to see reality clearly at the time. Satter is joined by Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian film director, who is attempting to understand and define what exactly happened during the years of this totalitarian regime. 

Singling out a few aspects of totalitarianism, Satter and Nekrasov encounter survivors of the regime as well as those who remember the perished victims. A woman describes what it was like to smuggle adventure novels and recycle books by Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Even just three pages of Marx will choke you, she says, as she laughs at the secrecy of her acts.

We hear a tragically funny story of a man who had a stroke and died while repeatedly watching smuggled pornographic movies, while the Politburo had its own special cinemas that constantly screened pornography, which was officially illegal under the regime. 

Censorship became so embedded in people’s consciousness that they willingly engaged in self-censorship. Ideology was jammed down people’s throats while the bureaucratic ideologues greatly feared religion. One such case was of a young girl who became miraculously cured after she was visited by a priest. The authorities were so obsessed with proving that it wasn’t God who saved her that they engaged in persecution of this poor girl. Satter rightly points out the funny irony: the very obsession with proving that God doesn’t exist acknowledges that God is present in people’s lives. 

No matter how long ago persecutions happened, the memories make the sorrow new every time we engage in an act of remembrance. In one of the most poignant stories, we meet a woman who survived the 1933 famine. She painfully reflects how she watched her brother and mother starve to death. Haunted by the survivor’s guilt, tears stream down her old and wrinkled face, as if she is just a little girl, reliving the same moments of suffering. 

We also learn about a man and his brother who tried to escape to Finland by crossing the border. They were caught and sent to a psychiatric hospital where they were subjected to inhuman treatments, mainly involving psychotropic drugs that, in some cases, permanently altered their bodies and minds. Often, people spent years if not decades in such hospitals as well as the labor camps. After many years, this man confronts one of the nurses who participated in administering such “cures” and it yields nothing but emptiness. She denies the reality of the situation. 

Denial of reality and creation of surrealism was one of the hallmarks of Communism. On the surface, we may speak about political propaganda, but Satter goes further than that. The people were accustomed to the constant stream of lies, unaware of the truth about the Soviet system, as well as the world outside this “hermetically sealed” atmosphere. It affected their interior lives to the point that the entire culture began to morph into a static dream. Most people were willing players in this theater of the absurd, and courage to challenge the system was woefully lacking. The mental exhaustion also led to acquiescence to the system, and people became mere cogs in the powerful machine.

Satter concludes that at the center of it all was (and perhaps always is when it comes to totalitarian regimes) a moral crisis. Although it started with the promise of “brotherhood and unity,” Soviet Communism quickly devolved into a political nightmare. Nekrasov, too, admits that unless there is an acknowledgement that a country suffers from indifference to morality, then other totalitarian systems will emerge under the guise of freedom.

“Age of Delirium” is not just about the totalitarian surrealism of the Soviet Union but about the factors that contribute to building a totalitarian system and regime. Man ceases to be human once he accepts a metaphysical takeover by ideology, cleanses himself of moral responsibility, and quietly and indifferently accepts that he has allowed himself to turn into a beast, all in an effort to be God.Share on

About Emina Melonic

Emina Melonic is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, she immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National ReviewThe Imaginative ConservativeNew English ReviewThe New CriterionLaw and LibertyThe University BookmanClaremont Review of BooksThe American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.

Old School Thought Will Not Save Us from Slavery


A Fox News headline reads: “Major Vulnerability: Biden’s high-wire act with renewed gun control push could hurt Dems in 2022.”

This is Fox News, old school-think. If being rabidly totalitarian in their views did not hurt Democrats in 2020, then why will it hurt them in 2022? Either a plurality of the country wants this insanity, or the left is now effective enough at election fraud and other manipulation to pull this off. It’s dangerous to sit back, like it’s 1980 or 1994, or even 2010, and think they won’t do it.

As I posted on Facebook yesterday:

Liberty is for the INDIVIDUAL. It’s not for the group. Groups are toxic to individuals. The Bill of Rights was created to protect man from his fellow man. Not to enslave him to other men.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Wisdom

America’s Descent into Totalitarianism

Everyone knows that the 2020 presidential election was stolen along with the two Georgia US senatorial elections. Little doubt much more was stolen. But no one is allowed to state the fact.

Yes, fact it is. Many experts attested to the facts of the theft. They did so in testimony before state legislators in the states where the election was stolen. The hours of expert testimony were available online. I linked to some of it. A search of this website’s archives would provide it or else provide evidence that the evidence was taken down by Google, YouTube, and the other censors.

You need to ask yourself why information that is contrary to the official narrative is taken down. If the information is wrong, the facts won’t support it, so why bother to censor it? The answer is that the information is correct, and we are not allowed to hear it and make up our own minds. The bought-and-paid-presstitutes are hired to tell us what to believe. Far too many Americans permit the corrupt presstitutes to control their minds.

The Democrats know that they stole the election. That is why they go to court in efforts to block legitimate investigations as “racist” or “lack of standing.” Why would Biden’s US Attorney General be suing the State of Georgia for legislating electoral reforms that require an ID to vote if Democrats don’t intend to use the same election fraud to steal future elections? https://www.rt.com/usa/527635-doj-georgia-voting-laws/

An ID is required for all sorts of reasons. For example, to board an airplane, to purchase alcohol, to drive a car. Why is it “racist” to require an ID to vote?

Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “This lawsuit is the first step of many we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote.” But what determines an “eligible voter” in the absence of an ID?

Why does the US Attorney General take such open sides by announcing he will regard Georgia’s efforts to ensure that only registered voters in Georgia who are Georgia residents can vote “as a racially motivated purpose that has no place in America today.”

In other words, the position of the US Department of Justice is that it is racist to require only citizens to be eligible to vote, and it is racist to prevent citizens and non-citizens from voting multiple times if they are voting Democrat. According to the Biden US Department of Justice “all lawful votes” includes all votes that are cast for Democrats. States that try to prevent unlawful voting are designated as racist, white supremacy enclaves that must be eliminated. https://www.rt.com/usa/527635-doj-georgia-voting-laws/

The Biden Department of Justice (sic) goes further and insinuates that any effort to hold Democrat election officials accountable for fraud is “a threat to democracy” and will elicit DOJ protection of the corrupt Democrat election official.

Perhaps the red states will find themselves thankful that Washington militarized their police forces. The training and equipment give the red states some chance of resisting the Democrats’ decision to impose absolute tyranny on Americans.

Note that red, the communist color, is applied to the traditional conservative states, and that blue, which has no such association, is used for the anti-American, anti-Western Civilization states, the states that defund police so that rioters, looters, and violence can “remake society.”

The designation of Republicans as red aids the presstitutes work to convince Americans that it is the red states that are anti-American. They are red like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao. By implication of the word “red” the entire Cold War History is evoked against the red states,

Have you noticed that no matter what the social collapse in blue states, no matter the violence against white people, no matter the boarded up stores, the people fleeing to red states, no matter the swiftly rising crime rate in blue cities, there is still no complaint. The official position of the Democrats, white liberals, and presstitutes is that only blue states are free of white supremacy. Only blue states are morally fit for life. If so, why the massive flight from blue states?

The media knows the election was stolen. The evidence was too widespread and transparent, beginning with the amazing middle of the night sharp upturn in Biden votes in swing states. The presstitutes’ job was to demonize any assertion or suggestion that there were electoral irregularities. Prior to the presentation of evidence the presstitutes were already chanting with one voice: “there was no election fraud.”

Even Republicans like Mitch McConnell fell in line with the chant. Others were intimidated.

So the election was stolen despite the knowledge of all.

What does that tell you about democracy in America?

How can election fraud be prevented when the US Department of Justice brings lawsuits against legitimate election reform on the grounds that it is racist to limit voting to one vote by a US citizen with a valid ID?

Democratic Determination to Eliminate Filibuster is Highly Revealing

If you really believed you’d ever be out of power again, you would not support getting rid of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Clearly, the Democratic Communists intend to hold power forever once they get rid of the filibuster. Otherwise, they would not risk being the minority in future sessions of Congress without it. Right now, the filibuster is the only thing standing in the way of: stacking the Supreme Court; completely nationalizing and rigging elections in favor of one party; confiscating all guns; imposing all-out censorship; redistributing wealth; imposing a racist dictatorship; and all the rest. It takes a dictator to want to get rid of the filibuster. Just look at the legislation they’re trying to pass without it. We already know.

Republicans and lovers of liberty should not take too much comfort in that election bill losing. All it means is that we keep the status quo. The status quo means that President Trump wasn’t allowed to win reelection, regardless of what the votes said; and two Georgia Senate seats were going to the Democrats regardless of the voting outcome. We know there was fraud, and our entire government, right up to the Supreme Court, is too corrupt even to consider investigating the evidence we already have. THAT’S our biggest problem. We can’t go on like this, even if the Democrats fail to pass one piece of legislation. This isn’t your daddy’s republic. It’s not even a republic anymore. Get real, Republicans. We need to divorce from these totalitarians, once and for all. There is no working with them — not now, and not ever again.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason