Czeslaw Milosz on “The Captive Mind”


Czeslaw Milosz (pronounced roughly as Cheswav Miwosh) wrote The Captive Mind in 1950, when Stalin still had three years to live. He was an escapee from Communist Poland, where he had served in the post war Polish communist government for a time as a diplomat.

In the era of Wokeness, it is important to recall that we have been through this before,  albeit on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

I am reading it with great enjoyment.

One chapter of the book concerns a practice call “ketman”, which is taken from Islamic Persia. It was described by the French diplomat Arthur de Gobineau in the 1850s. Ketman is a term for the practice of total deception as regards one’s adherence to Islam. Ketman had to be practiced in the era of total control of thought by the Islamic mullahs (in which we have seen no change in Iran since the 1850s).

Milosz quoting Gobineau (at page 57)

“The people of the Mussulman East believe that “He who is in possession of truth must not expose his person, his relatives or his reputation to the blindness, the folly, the perversity of those whom it has pleased God to place and maintain in error”. One must . therefore. keep silent about one’s true convictions if possible.”

The Ketman of the 20th century was of course the degree of necessary deception regarding one’s adherence to Communist doctrine. Milosz writes “nevertheless, Ketman in its narrowest and severest forms is widely practiced in the people’s democracies. As in Islam, the feeling of superiority over those who are unworthy of attaining truth constitutes one of the chef joys of people whose lives in general do not abound in pleasures.” (p. 60)

[Ideological] “deviations… are not an illusion. They are cases of accidental unmasking of Ketman; and those who are most helpful in detecting deviations are those who practice a similar form of Ketman. Recognizing in other acrobats the tricks they themselves employ, they take advantage of the first occasion to down an opponent or friend. Thus they protect themselves; and the measure of dexterity is to anticipate by at least one day the similar accusations which could be levelled against them by they man they denounce. Since the number of varieties of Ketman is practically unlimited, the naming of deviations cannot keep pace with the weeding of a garden so full of unexpected specimens of heresy.”

Now apply this to contemporary universities in the grip of Wokeness and watch for the practice of systemic Ketman , and for it to be exposed by other practitioners of the same devious arts.