Don’t Be the First to Stop Clapping

In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn tells the true story of a district party meeting near Moscow in the early 20th century. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, a newly installed party official—replacing one who had recently been whisked away to a labor camp—called for a moment of recognition for Premier Joseph Stalin. 

The hall erupted with manufactured enthusiasm and admiration for the Soviet leader. Applause so boisterous and spirited that it continued for several minutes—it raged on for seven, eight, nine, 10 minutes. 

State police were perched at the back of the room—the obligatory exercise had become an examination of obedience, a social experiment.  

Who would be the first to stop clapping? Who dared to expend an ounce of independent thought or muster a shiver of courage? Who would be the first to stop clapping? 

Understandably so, the presiding party official was more likely to applaud until collapse before he risked meeting a similar fate to that of his predecessor. 

Finally, a local paper factory owner bravely took his seat, prompting the assembly to follow suit. 

Shortly after the meeting adjourned, the businessman was arrested and sentenced to 10 years. 

It wasn’t that nearly 10 minutes of uninterrupted applause was insufficient reverence. It wasn’t even that he had stopped clapping—just that he had been the first. 

It was a display of independence and free expression—perhaps the thing most threatening to the grip of the Soviet regime. 

It couldn’t be tolerated. Not in moderation. Not at all. 

Nearly two weeks ago, Democrats enjoyed a thoroughly controlled coronation in Washington. They now control the House. They control the Senate. They control the White House. 

But perhaps more impressively, they command much more powerful means of authority. They own a corrupt media establishment. They are protected by Big Tech censors who wield more power than any politician or general. They have a much cozier and more unified relationship with the oligarchs of the American ruling class. 

So it’s actually quite unironic to hear the latest directive from the Democratic administration: unify

Their argument is much more intelligent and complex compared to arguments advanced by Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin. 

Yet their focus is the same—total control. 

Democrats don’t hide this—in fact, they proudly flaunt it. On balance, unity and common group identity are much more important to the Left than self-reliance and sovereignty. 

The single greatest threat to the Democratic united utopia is unsupervised discourse. It’s free thought. It’s courageous and bold action. 

It’s why it has become a liberal imperative to bastardize the largest voting block of conservatives as racist and hateful. 

It remains tragically true that the simplest road to installing any ideology is to eradicate dissent. 

In Stalin’s Soviet Union, arrests took place in the dead of night. The captives themselves would actually whisper and tiptoe their way into the custody of their captors. They believed their own innocence would prevail. That resistance was the only endangerment to their liberty. 

Democrats are going to keep swinging until they have compliance. Until they have obedience. Until dissent is eradicated. Until the undesirables are silenced or destroyed. 

And once that happens, we can glean a sage piece of advice offered also to that paper factory owner nearly a century ago: Don’t ever be the first to stop clapping. 

It’s not too late to save our Republic. There’s still time to think, time to speak, and time to fight. The very American creed that once delivered this nation from tyranny, can deliver us through the challenging times we currently inhabit. 

After all, Patrick Henry said it best: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

About Dylan Johnson

Dylan Johnson previously served in the administrations of President Donald Trump and Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

Photo: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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