The Bubble Test
What post-Soviet progressives have gradually learned, and what anti-totalitarian observers from Tocqueville to Huxley understood long before them, is that oppression maintained with hard walls will be short-lived. For hard walls, precisely because they are so overtly rigid, are vulnerable. Men locked within those walls naturally convulse at restraint so bluntly asserted. They will not produce, thus gradually rotting the oppressive power structure from within. They will learn habits of quiet subversion and duplicity — necessary among those desperate for food or a chance to assert their own wills once or twice — which will make them unreliable and inefficient as slaves. Inevitably, hard walls will crumble.
The model of oppression for the modern era, then, for our progressive tyrants, always focused on an immortal future rather than merely on immediate and earthly gratification, has turned out to be not the hard wall, but the bubble.
Progressivism, wisely installed, requires not the construction of immovable blockades, but an endless series of seemingly minor, vaguely flexible limits, more like suggestions than orders, more in the manner of attitudinal shifts than governmental edicts. The governmental edicts will come, of course, but only when public attitudes are ready for them, or, better yet, begging for them. Power is prepared by promotions, enslavement by education. The public is repeatedly, continually put through tests of its character, its submissiveness, its adaptability to new and more extreme restrictions, which restrictions, if well-prepared and promoted, the people will absorb into their souls as though abject acquiescence were their very own idea.
Today, it seems, we have reached the final stage of testing for the completion of the progressive dream — the quiet, gentle sealing of a social constraint so perfectly, patiently prepared that it is not merely passively accepted, but actively craved, by the populations of the advanced world.
They have blown us all into a bubble, to see — in fact, they must have been quite confident of the result in order to initiate this test in the first place — how we will accept it. A bubble is delicate, and easily burst, like a brazen lie that everyone can recognize as a lie. The bubble is susceptible to destruction by the least sharp convulsion or pointed critique. It can therefore be sustained only by the willingness of those trapped within it to remain soft and dull, so as not to endanger the ethereal walls of their new, cocoon-like home. And the blowers of this bubble have calculated that the longer the bubble survives — which, again, it can do only by our collective will to be soft and dull — the longer it will survive. This is what they happily call “the new normal” today. This “new normal” is the oppressive bubble itself as it becomes fully adopted, and even defended, by the slaves held within, as the essential means of their comfort and safety.