I recently read an essay titled “Medicine Standing on its Head”: Snezhnevsky, Sluggish Schizophrenia and Soviet Political Abuse of Psychiatry that discussed the use of a fictional psychiatric diagnosis by the Soviet Union to “justify” their marginalization and interment of anyone who did not support their government overlords. The essay is from 2016 and authored by an individual named Sasha Shapiro, who has extensive studies in Russian history, culture, and philosophy. I was immediately struck by the similarity to the current language and attitude put forth by the United States Government as well as the “Mainstream Media” towards anyone who does not immediately fall in line and worship The State and their demands, especially regarding Covid lockdowns, mask mandates, and other restrictive measures. I will summarize some parts of Ms. Shapiro’s essay (which I would highly recommend reading in full at the link above) and discuss some general parallels with the current situation in the United States.
I. Marxist-Leninist Conceptions of Mental Health
The absorption of “psychiatry” and “mental health studies” (using the terms loosely) into the medical fields in Russia took their first major strides in the early 1900s. Psychiatrists of the era suggested that “mental illness and nervousness” were caused by “modernity” and the advancements of culture as a consequence of the Russian Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s. The psychiatrists stated that the “cure” for the mental illness “epidemic” was to further the advancement of modernization (in a government approved manner, of course) rather than attempt to stop or discourage it. As stated by Ms. Shapiro:
“… and thus medical science served as the protector of the public good. As part of this effort, psychiatrists were seen as representatives who were to act in the public interest to fashion ‘modern, rational, health-conscience citizens.’ Thus, psychiatry became a method of ‘holding citizens to scientifically imposed norms of behavior, medicalizing deviance, and shaping the modern sense of self.'”
Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin held a similar belief that human consciousness “not only reflects and affirms the object (i.e. social) world, but creates it as well.” Lenin believed that an individual’s behavior, including psychologically, was a reflection of reality, and should thus reflect the “social norms” that the government demanded of its citizens. In other words, a “mentally healthy” or “stable” person was one who believed in what the State told them and rejected others who did not share such enthusiasm for the Soviet leadership.
Similarly, the US Government immediately recognized that the general public may not be ready to trust them when it came to Covid-19 lockdowns, mask mandates, and other restrictions that would be seen as unreasonable in “normal times.” Instead, they paraded Dr. Anthony Fauci in front of everyone (and other countries did much the same with their own government appointed doctors) and said, “see, the top doctor says it so it must be true!” The mainstream media published an absolute onslaught of stories about the dangers of Covid and helped reinforce the idea that anyone who “questions the science” regarding any aspect whatsoever of the disease or the response is a selfish-SOB-grandma-killer. Constant updates of how many cases and deaths locally, nationally, and globally dominated the news cycle, each one with the purpose of inciting more fear among the masses. There were also things like this NYT Front Page that listed the names of the first 10,000 (alleged) Covid-associated deaths in the US.
Even early in the “pandemic,” one could type any three digit number into Google followed by “new cases” or “new deaths” and there was, without fail, an article with that number of individuals being diagnosed or dying.
At the same time, they made a big push for the “Heroes on the Front Lines” – the doctors, nurses, and responders who were dealing with the situation head-on [example: TIME: Meet the Heroes on the Front Line of Corona]. While I certainly make no argument against the importance of their work, the focus on elevating them to such heights was the media’s way of making them invincible and impervious to questions. If you were to even suggest that masks may not be the answer, then you were “questioning the heroes on the front lines” and “how dare you question them when they’re working so hard in this pandemic.” It wasn’t about actually appreciating what work they do on a daily basis, or else the media would recognize them for the other hundreds and thousands of situations in which they care for patients on a daily basis.
Now they are pushing the vaccination with a similar onslaught of stories. We are told how many people were vaccinated at local clinics, what percentages have been vaccinated at state and national levels, and reminded over-and-over that “more people need to get vaccinated” if we want to get some of our freedoms back.
II. Medicalizing Social Deviance
Quoting from Ms. Shapiro’s essay:
The Marxist-Leninist understanding of consciousness allowed Soviet psychiatry to adopt the view that a healthy citizen was one who lived according to Soviet society’s expectations and norms. Thus, if human consciousness is the affirmation and manifestation of social life (as Marx proposed) and simultaneously the reflection and creation of the objective world (as Lenin argued), then a political dissident is someone who rejects his objective social world and displays an incoherent understanding of his environment. Anti-Soviet behavior such as protesting Soviet laws and customs, attempting to travel abroad, and participating in human rights protests was taken to be symptomatic of mental illness.
She further states that instead of considering the possibility that social norms were causing people to break down mentally, they “viewed mental illness as a condition that could be cured through ideological reeducation, behavioral correction, and a reconstructed relationship with the state.” So-called “patients” were told that their problems come from their disdain of Soviet society, and that to heal themselves, they needed to “criticize and condemn their previous behavior” and “understand how their incorrect life positions influenced their mental illness” to have a chance of showing “recovery.” This often was not considered enough, however. Political dissidents were isolated in psychiatric hospitals (“psikushki“) for years, even after recanting their criticisms of the Soviet government.
The Media and the “leading doctors” in the United States were very quick to associate anyone who questioned the efficacy of things like wearing face masks and social distancing as “sociopaths” and/or some other type of mental illness. The government utilized psychologists and psychiatrists via the mainstream media to make the case for them: “if you don’t agree with us, you’re mentally ill and need to change.”
For example, anyone who disagrees with mask mandates must be a sociopath:
- Web MD: Study Finds Sociopaths Less Likely to Wear Masks
- Psy-Post: Sociopathic traits linked to non-compliance with mask guidelines and other Covid-19 containment measures.
- CNBC: Sociopathic traits linked to not wearing a mask or social distancing during pandemic: study
- Newsweek: Sociopaths Are More Likely to Refuse Wearing a Mask and Other Covid-19 Measures, Study Finds
- VICE: People Who Won’t Wear Face Masks Are More Likely to Be Sociopaths
- CTV Canada: People with sociopathic traits less likely to follow coronavirus guidelines, study finds
- Metro UK: People who won’t wear masks more likely to be sociopaths
… and they threw in a few other disorders to really sweeten the deal:
- Washington Post: Some Covid-19 rule-breakers could be narcissists, experts say. Here’s how to approach them. [And here is the archived link if you need to get around their pay-wall.]
- Independent UK: Not Wearing a Mask is Linked to Antisocial Traits, Study Finds
- Huffington Post: The Psychology Behind Why Some People Refuse to Wear Masks
… and even created new disorders. The Psychology Today crew is incredibly adamant that anyone who doesn’t think masks are the answer to all of life’s problems must be mentally ill:
- Psychology Today: Antisocial Masking Disorder
- Psychology Today: Why Some Americans Resist Masks
- Psychology Today: Why Isn’t Everybody Wearing a Mask? Continued Influence Effect, American Individualism, and Desirability Bias
- Psychology Today: Why Do Some People Still Oppose Facemasks?
- Psychology Today: If People Know What Works to Prevent COVID, Why Don’t They Do It?
- Psychology Today: Maskers Versus Anti-Maskers: Who Are the Bigger Sheep?
- Psychology Today: How Stories Spread Conflict: The Face Mask Culture Wars
- Psychology Today: The Complex Reasons Why Some Refuse to Wear a Mask
Finally, they encouraged people to push their friends and family into cooperating and falling in line:
- Psychology Today: Peer Pressure Promotes Prevention in Pandemic
- News Medical: Researchers find correlation between consistent mask-wearing and improved well-being
- Business Insider: Masks Work. A Psychologist Explains Why they Make You Feel Better, Too.
- Cleveland Clinic: How to Overcome Mask Anxiety: Reduce Stress with Helpful Tips from a Psychiatrist
- Stat News: A User’s Guide: How to Talk to Those Hesitant About the Covid-19 Vaccine
- Univ. of Missouri Health Care: How to Talk with Someone Hesitant to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine
Bonus round: When all else fails, blame white men:
This is only a small sampling of the types of stories that were quick to come out accusing anyone who disagrees with the “official narrative” of being mentally ill, unstable, and a danger to everyone else, much like the Soviets did.
III. Totalitarian Control of Psychiatry
Under Soviet rule, the role of psychiatrists and psychologists was to assist in the enforcement of the laws and demands of the government. By classifying anti-government statements and activities as mental illness, the inverse was also true: supporting the Communist regime meant that you were mentally healthy and fit for society. Psychiatrists had to swear upon the “Oath of the Soviet Doctor,” which placed their ultimate responsibility with obedience the government, not to truthfulness within the medical community.
The multitude of contradictory statements from Dr. Anthony Fauci in the US, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and other national and international entities and individuals around the world shows that the allegiance of the “scientists” and “doctors” has less to do with factual evidence than it does with supporting the narrative that the government needs at that moment to get people to comply with their demands.
From Ms. Shapiro’s essay:
Lower-ranking psychiatric institutions such as regional outpatient clinics never dared to overturn a diagnosis made by a large psychiatric hospital and thus, healthy dissidents locked up in psychiatric prisons had their false diagnosis reinforced for years.
Individual doctors who have spoken out against the mainstream narrative regarding Covid treatment have been silenced and threatened with termination. For example, the “Frontline Doctors” who recorded statements suggesting HCQ as a viable treatment for Covid were shut down immediately. Their videos were flagged as offensive on social media and deleted. Their web site was taken down. And yet, a few months later, HCQ was approved (conveniently right after the election) as a treatment method. The mainstream media, much like the medical community, once again proved that their allegiance was to the government narrative rather than the actual health and safety of Americans.
Even the psychiatrist the Soviets put in charge of creating the [fake] diagnosis of “sluggish schizophrenia” sounds a lot like Dr. Fauci:
Andrei Snezhnevsky, the creator of the false sluggish schizophrenia diagnosis, enjoyed 50 years’ worth of prestigious positions at the Soviet Union’s most influential research institutions. He, like other successful psychiatrists, worked closely with high-ranking Soviet officials such as KGB Chairman Yuri Adnropov and was awarded influential positions at large academic and research institutions where, in the Soviet hierarchical system of institutions, psychiatrists had more influence on developing officially accepted psychological theories and making final diagnoses.
Through a very successful career in which he pledged transparent loyalty to the Communist Party, Snezhnevsky served as director at influential Soviet hospitals and research centers, where he exerted significant power and influence over the development and practice of psychiatry. His views were adopted as official scientific positions and incorporated into major research publications and academic textbooks, thus serving as the foundation upon which Soviet psychiatrists trained and practiced.
Compare that to the Wikipedia Intro for Anthony Fauci:
Anthony Stephen Fauci is an American physician-scientist and immunologist who serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to the president.
As a physician with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Fauci has served American public health in various capacities for more than 50 years, and has been an advisor to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan. He became director of the NIAID in 1984 and has made contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiency diseases, both as a scientist and as the head of the NIAID. From 1983 to 2002, Fauci was one of the world’s most frequently-cited scientists across all scientific journals. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, for his work on the AIDS relief program PEPFAR.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci was one of the lead members of President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force. In the early stages of the pandemic, The New Yorker and The New York Times described Fauci as one of the most trusted medical figures in the United States. Fauci was appointed as Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden in 2021.
The two have quite a few similarities, and both were put in front of the public as the end-all-be-all of information regarding the issues they were assigned. Questioning their statements is treated as equivalent to being a conspiracy theorist, unpatriotic, or even treasonous.
IV. Psychiatry as a Tool for Political Repression
The essay references Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, where he argues mental illnesses are subject to the context of the society in which they are said to exist, and thus influenced by religion, culture, and environment. He says that the idea of “madness” in the mind comes from a fearful response to the unknown and different, where “this need to isolate others created the need for an asylum, where unreason could vegetate without ever spreading… where unreason would be entirely contained.”
In the era of social media, the Big Tech companies have censored anything and everything even marginally negative towards wearing masks, social distancing, and the Covid vaccinations. Facebook’s algorithm puts warnings, alerts, and/or links to the World Health Organization under every post about Covid. If it mentions the vaccine, they even add a note that they are “tested for safety.”
This is not an exaggeration. Check out this post I made last week:
Ms. Shapiro cites several examples in which “getting rid of undesirables by categorizing them as insane” took place in Russian history, including orders from Czar Nicholas I in the 1830s as well as more recent instances, such as sending a former Estonian president to the psych ward in 1943 for questioning the Soviets after they invaded his homeland. She states that in 1964 under the Leonid Brezhnev administration, psychiatry was “harnessed as a tool for censorship to suppress dissent.” The “official records” include more than 20,000 people thrown into psych wards for “anti-Soviet agitation” but as with most things from that era, the numbers are likely drastically understated.
With the Internet and social media, one would think that it would be harder to silence dissenters. However, due to the near-monopolization of social media “Big Tech,” and the algorithms they can employ to check for “controversial” content, it is easier than ever to silence people. They don’t have to be thrown into psych wards anymore (though I am sure some politicians on both sides would be all for that) – they just get deplatformed on YouTube, put in “Facebook Jail,” or suspended from Twitter (which I had happen even without having posted a tweet for months). Any resistance to Covid regulations, lockdowns, and vaccines is countered by Big Tech shutting down the users’ accounts.
A Russian state-edited newspaper called Pravda published a 1959 speech by Nikita Khrushchev about “mental health,” excerpted here:
“A crime is a deviation from generally recognized standards of behavior frequently caused by mental disorder. Can there be diseases, nervous disorders among certain people in a Communist society? Evidently yes. If that is so, then there will also be offenders, which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. Of those who might start calling for opposition to Communism on this basis, we can say that clearly their mental state is not normal.”
This was the foundation for the diagnoses handed out by Andrei Snezhnevsky and his team of psychiatrists from the 1950s through 1970s. “Individuals who did not comply with the prescribed behavior of a normal Soviet citizen” were labeled as political dissidents and diagnosed with “sluggish schizophrenia.” Shapiro asserts that “by politicizing mental illness, the Soviet system was able to use psychiatry as an effective tool to isolate and discredit political dissidents that the Soviet system deemed a threat to the security of the Soviet state and its ideology.”
The current atmosphere surrounding Covid vaccinations has similarities to this. Anyone who questions the safety, efficacy, or even the need for the vaccine is immediately criticized as “not trusting the science,” and by extension, as anti-government. The looming threat of “Vaccine Passports” paves the way for pushing anyone who refuses the vaccine into the back corners of society, banning them from travel and other activities. People don’t need to be shoved into psych wards anymore – they can have their access to society taken away from them in other ways with technology.
V. ANDREI SNEZHNEVSKY AND SLUGGISH SCHIZOPHRENIA
So what exactly was sluggish schizophrenia?
Most experts on the subject agree that it was created at the request of the Soviet Communist Party and the KGB. Snezhnevsky presented studies of over 5,000 psychiatric patients to make the case for this fabricated mental disorder. The premise was that sluggish schizophrenia attempted to describe “how a person could commit a crime such as protesting against the state” while knowing that such actions could “result in the actor’s loss of family, employment, and freedom.” The patient therefore must have lost reality of time and space, and unable to recognize himself temporally. Because of this, he would be unable to recognize future consequences for current actions.
Those of us who reject the Covid vaccination potentially face similar consequences for our actions: loss of family (who refuses to be around us while unvaccinated), employment (or education – many universities in the US have already stated vaccination will be mandatory for attendance this coming fall), and freedom (unable to attend sporting events, fly on airplanes, etc).
To ensure that the political dissidents had no chance of transgressing again in the future, the disorder was said to get progressively worse over time and have no cure. Therefore, anyone who was diagnosed with sluggish schizophrenia was required to sign his rights away and spend the remainder of his life in a psychiatric prison.
Sluggish schizophrenia also differed from other types of schizophrenia in that it only impacted the social behaviors of the person in question. Such individuals were described as, “quite normal most of the time but would break out with a severe case of ‘inflexibility of convictions,’ or ‘nervous exhaustion brought on by his or her search for justice,’ or ‘a tendency to litigation’ or ‘reformist delusions.'” They were also quick to assert that patients were completely incapable of recognizing their own “illness.”
Soviet Decree No. 345-209 allowed for “measures for preventing dangerous behavior on the part of mentally ill persons,” and anyone who did not bow down to the state was now considered a mentally ill person. Due to this allowance, psychiatrists were authorized to mandate therapy and psycho-pharmacological treatments onto anyone who dissented against the government.
As noted previously, those who oppose the draconian Covid restrictions in the United States have been labeled as mentally ill. This attitude has also been extended to anyone who does not support the Democratic Party, who of course is leading the charge for increased restrictions. A few examples:
- NY Post: Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez Has Plan to Keep a List of Pro Trump Supporters
- NY Post: Trump Administration ‘Blacklist’ Pushed by Ex-Obama Spokesman
- MSN: First AOC’s List, Now CNN Warns of Blacklisting Trump Team
- Fox News: AOC, Others Pushing for Blacklist of People Who Worked With Trump
- Fox News: John Cusack Claim Trump Supporters Voted for “Mentally Ill Virus Spreading Nazi”
Doubling down on their push to demonize anyone who was against Covid restrictions and/or supported Trump, Democratic National Committee member David Atkins suggested a process of “deprogramming” Trump supporters in a series of now-deleted tweets:
“How do you deprogram 75 million people who would literally die to stick to the domestic enemies the teevee and youtube conspiracy vids told them to hate?” [Archive]
“No seriously…. how do you deprogram 75 million people? … Where do you start? Fox? Facebook? We have to start thinking in terms of post-WWII Germany or Japan. Or the failures of Reconstruction in the South.” [Archive]
“This is not your standard partisan policy disagreement. This is a conspiracy-theory fueled belligerent death cult against reality and basic decency. The only actual policy debates of note are happening within the dem coalition between left and center left.” [Archive]
“I know conservatives are upset by some of the responses here. And yeah, many are out of line. But what do you expect people to do in self-preservation? The Right has been running 4 years on “fuck your feelings, my conspiracy theories are valid opinions, and we have more guns.” [Archive]
“You can’t run on a civil war footing hopped up on conspiracy theories hating everyone who lives in cities, mainlining Fox/Breitbart/QAnon, threatening to kidnap governors and shoot protesters, without people trying to figure out how to reverse the brainwashing.” [Archive]
“I mean, for chrissakes, conservatives are literally giving themselves COVID just to own the libs. They’re dying in COVID wards insisting they don’t have COVID because it must be a liberal plot. People are gonna try to figure out how to defend themselves.” [Archive]
“And no, of course I’m not advocating for “re-education camps” or anything like that. The point is that conservative infotainment is disinformation propaganda indistinguishable from cult programming, and social media algorithms enable it.” [Archive]
“And yes, it might be healthy to break the spell of the cult programming by showing COVID wards, the kids in cages and other victims and consequences of the conservative infotainment cult on the local news, the newspapers, social media, etc, so that people see what they have done.” [Archive]
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack there even beyond Covid, ranging from “re-programming” apparently not being the same as “re-education,” the fact that many of the Covid myths perpetrated by the “Left” were equally dangerous (looking at you, Cuomo), and that the “kids in cages” were built by the Obama/Biden administration and are at their all-time worst conditions right now under Biden.
To further stoke the divide amongst the population and marginalize (or perhaps even ridicule) those who do not choose to receive the Covid vaccination, mainstream news outlets have been reporting on what “groups” of people are “reluctant” to get the vaccine. This is to alert pro-Covid-vaccine individuals at whom their anger should be directed. The implication is that those “groups” who won’t get the vaccine are keeping the rest of the world from having their freedoms “gifted” back to them. For example:
- NPR: White, Rural Southerners Hesitant to Get COVID Vaccine
- NPR: Rural Americans, Who Doubted the Pandemic, Now Hesitant to Get Vaccinated
- Stat News: In the Covid-19 Vaccine Push, No One is Speaking Gen Z’s Language
- Washington Post: Meet the GOP Voters Who Could Decide Whether the U.S. Reaches Herd Immunity [Archive around pay-wall]
- Forbes: Who Is Getting the Vaccine? Who Isn’t? And Why? [Archive around pay-wall]
- The Economist: Why America’s White Evangelicals Shy Away from Covid Jabs – And What Can Be Done to Change Their Minds [Archive around pay-wall]
Then we had the White House Press Secretary state, regarding “vaccine confidence” amongst white conservatives, “We’ve run out of PSAs on the Deadliest Catch, we’re engaged with NASCAR and County Music TV.” See the video here.
But it isn’t just “Rural & Conservative White People” who they demand to fall in line and get the vaccine – they are persistent that black people need to obey their demands and get unwanted medical treatment, too. Considering there are literally hundreds of years of history regarding dangerous and unethical experiments performed on Black Americans against their knowledge and consent, they are beyond justified in being skeptical.
- Whyy/PBS: Who’s Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine, Who Isn’t, And Why?
- WebMD: Black Vaccine Hesitancy Rooted in Mistrust, Doubts
- The Conversation: Many Black Americans Aren’t Rushing to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine – a Long History of Medical Abuse Suggests Why.
- CNN: New Data Shows Many Black Americans Remain Hesitant to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine
- NPR: Little Difference In Vaccine Hesitancy Among White and Black Americans, Poll Finds
In the same breath, they blame white people for hogging all the vaccines away from black people and other racial minority groups:
- TIME: When a Texas County Tried to Ensure Racial Equality in Covid-19 Vaccinations, It Didn’t Go As Planned
- CNN: White people are getting vaccinated at higher rates than Black and Latino Americans
- New York Times: Pandemic’s Racial Disparities Persist in Vaccine Rollout [Archive around pay-wall]
- NPR: The Racial Disparities, Systemic Racism Behind Who Has Received Vaccines
- AARP: What’s Race Got to Do With Getting Your Covid-19 Vaccine?
- Associated Press: Racial Disparity Seen in US Vaccination Drive
- Politico: Just 5 Percent of Vaccinations Have Gone to Black Americans, Despite Equity Efforts
If the people who want to legislate and mandate the vaccines won’t get them, shouldn’t that be an indication that they know something we don’t?
- Vanity Fair: A Disturbing Number of Lawmakers Won’t Get Their Damn Covid Vaccines
- Axios: 25 of House of Representatives Remains Unvaccinated – Why?
- CNN: Inside Why All Lawmakers Still Aren’t Vaccinated After Months of Access to Shots on the Hill
- NBC News: One in Four House Members Has Opted Not to Receive Covid-19 Vaccine so Far
Another tactic used encourage obedience to the State’s demands lies with attempting to convince everyone that getting vaccinated should be a bipartisan issue – yet continues to perpetuate the belief that the only people halting the “return to normal” (or the new normal? which is it?) are Trump supporters. For example:
The mainstream media has began to recognize and counteract the attempts by people to get around their algorithms when it comes to posting about Covid restrictions and vaccines. For example, a lot of Americans have been using the British and Australian term “getting the jab” instead of “getting vaccinated” in their posts to avoid the disclaimers being added to their posts. NBC must have caught on – they very deliberately have used the word “jabs” in the heading of a story about how Trump supporters – even current military members – are horrible people who are halting progress by not agreeing with Covid restrictions and vaccinations:
- NBC News: In Secret Facebook Groups, American’s Best Warriors Share Racist Jabs, Lies About 2020, Even QAnon Theories
Now when people search for posts about “jabs,” this story will come up pushing the discrediting of anyone who rejects ideas like mask mandates and compulsory vaccinations. Not only that, the phrasing of the headline suggests that believing QAnon theories is even worse than saying racist things. Any diversity of thought or opinion is heavily discouraged.
All of this is a deliberate effort to marginalize, demonize, and “diagnose” anyone who challenges the restrictions and the vaccinations as anti-State, anti-Science, and a narcissistic sociopath who is causing grandmas to die (even though the Democratic state governments with nursing home mandates were responsible for the majority of elderly deaths). The ideas behind the coordinated efforts of the government and the mainstream media are no different from the Soviets labeling those who opposed their rule as mentally ill and incompetent enemies of society. The stories repeat the notion that anyone who doesn’t support the regulations must not be able to grasp the reality of the potential consequences of their actions, exactly the same as the diagnosis of the fictional sluggish schizophrenia by the Soviets.
Incremental steps are being taken to walk the same path as the Soviets towards official declarations of mental illness for nonconformists. We must all take a stand against these actions if we want to retain what few freedoms we have left.