Society by Castration

Revolutionaries can rule with guns or with medical procedures twisted to serve elite interests

In July, a grisly video made the evening news. The video—apparently real—shows a Ukrainian prisoner of war being tortured by Chechen soldiers fighting for the Russian military. The Chechens castrate the Ukrainian prisoner with a box cutter and then shoot him dead.

People in modern societies comfort themselves with the notion that they live under the rule of law. The denunciation of violence becomes a kind of mantra that moderns utter in public. The “democratic process,” and decision-making by dispassionate, non-partisan institutionalists, are believed by moderns to have replaced the old world of blood feuds and vigilante justice.

But what happens when this turns out to be a lie? What happens when violence breaks through the façade, and you are confronted with a dark and hideous visage behind the mask of “civilization”?

In 1930s Japan, a very modern and very reasonable people was startled to find that the platitudes they had all been chanting in the 1920s, about democracy and progress and internationalism, were empty phrases. While a metropolitan elite got rich, farmers in the countryside got poorer and poorer, sunk deeper and deeper into debt. A group of young army and navy officers, many of whom came from those impoverished country villages, took matters into their own hands. Self-styled liberals and other purveyors of silken words about abstract political ideals found themselves riddled with bullets from military-issued sidearms. The halcyon days of Taisho Democracy died in a paroxysm of murder and intrigue. Hugh Byas, an American journalist in Tokyo, saw this unfold. He later wrote about this in a now-classic 1942 book. Byas titled his account Government by Assassination ( That’s what it was, in truth. The assassins, hot-blooded youths jacked up on a lust for purity in government, changed the course of history. They governed the government, even though in the event their attempted coup failed. Their assassination campaign, poorly planned and haphazardly executed, nevertheless revealed the hollow center of the centralized state. Their violence exposed the government for what it really was—a powerless stage play meant to benefit the political class and their capitalist allies.

Many in the Japanese public hailed the officers as heroes. When a government loses legitimacy and slips under the shadow of hypocrisy, ordinary people understand perfectly well what has happened. Most of them go about their business and keep their opinions to themselves, but a rotting political arrangement gives off a cloying stench that nobody can fail to detect. “Sorry it had to come to this,” the average man in the street concluded. “But, about time.”

When I saw the news last month about the horrific torture and cold-blooded murder of the Ukrainian POW, my mind leaped to Byas’s book about Japan. Why? What’s the connection? Not to Japan in the 1930s, but to Washington in 2022. “Government by castration,” was the phrase that occurred to me in that moment. I shuddered—that assessment of our political class in the present is as right as Byas was about Tokyo elites from nearly a hundred years ago.

Like the Tokyo businessman opening his morning paper in, say, 1933, we modern Americans also have a very bad feeling about our political class. We wonder whether the government isn’t an empty shell. We look at the stock market figures, we read about the political parties and their debates. Things seem to go on pretty much as before. But underneath it all, somewhere, there’s violence. We know this, and it keeps us up at night. Just below the surface sheen of “rule of law” and “institutionalism,” there’s a palpable tinge of the inversion of order. In the back of the throat one tastes a metallic misgiving. The news is a lie. The government is a sham. The public face of the ruling elites is hiding something that we dare not try to see.

It is still normal for Americans to send their children to public schools. They watch them graduate from universities and go to work in big corporations. They pray for them as they join the military. The Dow and Nasdaq climb and climb.

But behind closed doors, guidance counselors daily decide that children are misgendered. Universities enable a four-year attempt to convince late-adolescents of this. Pre-schoolers are terrorized and abused—for the amusement and sick pleasure of adults—at Drag Queen Story Hours. The military promotes a different kind of “pride” than it did a generation ago.

The polarity of America has flipped. We went from Mom and Old Glory and apple pie to Harvey Milk, the rainbow flag, and sex-change operations. We sold our soul to the devil, and told ourselves that it was all a war against “bigotry” and “fear.” We’ve sacrificed our children on a satanic altar. And we congratulate ourselves for our forward thinking, our enlightened views.

But there, right under the surface, is the reality. The scalpel is in the drawer, always there when the revolutionaries need it. Castration of pre-pubescents, mastectomy of high school girls, genital mutilation of children—once the violent ruled with the barrel of a gun, now they rule with medical procedures twisted to serve the interests of a maniacal vanguard. And there’s nothing the government lets you do about it. The feds are on the revolutionaries’ side. In many cases, the revolutionaries are on the federal payroll. You will “celebrate” society by castration, or you will be marked and dealt with accordingly.

That video of the Ukrainian prisoner of war, that God-awful, blood-curdling scene. That’s no distant warzone. That’s right in your hometown. That’s your kindergartener, your middle schooler. That’s your democratic process, that’s your rule of law.


Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan.

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