Orwell describes a fascist, totalitarian government that spies on its own citizens, denies reality, and exploits a perpetual state of war. Orwell's Big Brother succeeds in re-writing History, reshaping thought by reshaping language, creating an alternate reality.
It is true that in a fascist state all is done in order to maintain the regime in absolute power. Nevertheless, the lesson of 1984 is less about the state than it is about the individual. When states are absolutely powerful, the individual ceases to exist. Individuals robbed of the ability to exercise free will are denied personhood. From a theological standpoint, individuals are robbed of their very souls.
In order to acknowledge the collapse of Soviet Communism and the failure of fascism to reemerge as a potent political force, I ditched Orwell's oppressive totalitarian state in favor of an entertainment-fueled nihilism in which dimwitted citizens frittered away their lives watching web TV and working at slightly overpaid jobs to buy worthless junk ... on web TV, natch. Where Orwell envisioned endless rows of soldiers marching in perfect unison to the strains of the Two-Minute Hate, I saw a world where nations had been replaced by trading blocs and the objects of hatred were the immigrants in our midst.Images of 1984 are seared into our memories --big brother, the telescreen, the grotty bedroom, the cubicle, the memory hole, the drab gray existence, the rat cage. But 1984 is as much about language. Not just sub-text, language is a major player. It is the means by which Big Brother creates an alternate reality, the source of "his" power. Language is how Big Brother gets inside your head.
--Ted Rall, Why Bush Is Addicted To Perpetual War
The "official language" is Newspeak, remembered for the slogans: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. From newspeak we derive doublespeak which most certainly describes how the Bush administration and a sycophantic news media has empowered Bush --Homeland Security for the unlawful and omnipresence of Big Brother itself; operation Iraqi freedom for what is, in fact, a war of naked aggression; war on terrorism for a perpetual war which, on its face and by definition, cannot be won.
Interestingly, the origin of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" gives the game away. It was originally called Operation Iraqi Liberation, or OIL.
When the GOP uses the term "war" it is done so for the emotional reaction that it is sure to provoke. Americans rallied to defeat real enemies in World War II, a lesson that the GOP has never forgotten. The GOP is altogether too eager to elicit the same response with phony wars waged on crime, porn, drugs, and illegal immigrants. Real wars, however, are fought between armies representing nations. The GOP has always envied FDR his real war.
The War on Terrorism is a GOP code word for global police state or police action. A very hardcore GOP base knows precisely what Bush is up to and supports it. Like Reagan's War on Drugs or the war on porn, some kind of war will always be waged so that the GOP might maintain themselves in power.
The most glaring use of Newspeak is the invention of what I have chosen to call "focus group phrases" as they are invented, full cloth, in focus groups. "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is just such a phrase, designed make a lazy populace forget that the war was begun upon a pack of blackhearted lies about WMD. The GOP use it because it tests well in focus groups. The media like it because it wraps up in three little words a long and complicated lie. It omits the obvious fact that al Qaeda had not been "in Iraq" until the US was "in Iraq". The US in Iraq is a threat to civilization, the world.
When WMD were not found, the history of the Bush administration became the list of equally absurd ex post facto rationales for a war of aggression. It is significant that Bush will never tell the nation his real reasons he bombed Afghanistan, his real reasons for attacking and invading Iraq. I will. Bush bombed Afghanistan so that Unocal might build a pipeline through that country to the Caspian Sea. The Taliban was targeted because they had apparently driven a hard bargain in a meeting they held with Unocal officials in Tom DeLay's old stomping grounds --Sugar Land, TX. Iraq was invaded because Saddam Hussein controlled the amount of oil exports and thus the world price of oil. Persian Gulf I had been fought for the same reasons. Bush Sr --as evil as Jr --was at least smart enough to know when to pull out.
Indeed, Orwell understood as few have the power of language and in, 1984 the "tool of power" is language. The institutions of state maintain power by exploiting the power of language to shape the nature of thought itself. In the novel, 1984, the state manipulation of language is the job of protagonist, Winston Smith. Smith's personal tragedy is symbolic of the tragedy of our civilization, if not our species.
Examples abound in the Bush administration. The Bush regime's use of the phrase "Total Information Awareness" very nearly gave the game away. In response to criticism, the regime stopped using the name "Total Information Awareness" to denote their program of widespread domestic surveillance. But that does not mean that Bush has stopped spying on you, invading your privacy, or violating your Constitutional right to be safe and secure in your own home. It does not mean that your email is not fair game. It does not mean that your phone is not tapped. It does not mean that you have nothing to fear from this venal administration. "Total Information Awareness" is no doubt called something else, a name designed not to attract the attention of the media, a less scary name to lull the "folk".
Orwell is most famous for 1984 but his great essay on politics should also be required reading. He explores how politicians explore language to accrue absolute power.
The White House saw September 11 as a golden opportunity. The first catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil sparked an unprecedented case of leadership projection: desperate for protection and answers (why do they hate us? can we kill them before they kill us?), Americans wishfully compared Bush to FDR and Churchill. Approval ratings hit 92 percent. But Bush's political advisors knew that peaking early wouldn't guarantee reelection in 2004. Bush's father had been turned out of office just 20 months after the Gulf War ratcheted his score up to 91.In fact, all who have read Orwell's essay on how easily politicians debase the language for nefarious purposes have recognized in the Bush administration the very techniques that Orwell warned us about.
The Bushies have lifted their reelection strategy straight out of "1984," and not just by creating ominous-sounding agencies like the Office of Homeland Security, the supposedly-closed Office of Strategic Information, and a "Shadow Government." As in "1984," the Bush regime tolerates zero dissent --a two-party system in name only has been distilled to one in which only Republicans express acceptable opinions. And an absence of follow-up attacks has been met by endless alerts, advisors and empty hysterics in the name of security, most recently culminating with Tom Ridge's much-mocked color-code warning system.
--Ted Rall, Why Bush Is Addicted To Perpetual War
To be fair, it is not only politicians but bullshit artists who have made us vulnerable to tyranny. This is done by dumbing down the language, dumbing down our ability to think critically.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier -- even quicker, once you have the habit -- to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.
--George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2 plus 2 equals 4"
“"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."”The characteristics of the fascist state so vividly described by both authors are to be found in abundance in Bush's fascist regime. That millions are in denial is merely evidence of the truth that is denied.
—Sinclair Lewis, author of "It Can't Happen here!
A quote from Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here":
"Senator Windrip has got an excellent chance to be elected President, next November, and if he is, probably his gang of buzzards will get us into some war, just to grease their insane vanity and show the world that we’re the huskiest nation going." – page Page 20, It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair LewisClearly —Orwell and Lewis not only warned us, they predicted very precisely how it would be done. As Shakespeare would have said: "All is true!"
So --why didn't we listen? Because this nation has a fierce anti-intellectual streak which at its best makes us independent but at its worst makes us stupid!
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By Michael E. Salla, M.A., Ph.D.09/13/07 "The Canadian" --- - Critically exploring whether or not there was a covert attempt to instigate a catastrophic nuclear war against Iran is illuminated through an introduction using the recent B-52 Incident. On August 30, a B-52 bomber armed with five nuclear-tipped Advanced Cruise missiles travelled from Minot Air Force base, North Dakota, to Barksdale Air Force base, Louisiana, in the United States. Each missile had an adjustable yield between five and 150 kilotons of TNT which is at the lower end of the destructive capacities of U.S. nuclear weapons. For example, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of 13 kilotons, while the Bravo Hydrogen bomb test of 1954 had a yield of 15,000 kilotons. The B-52 story was first covered in the Army Times on 5 September after the nuclear armed aircraft was discovered by Airmen. LINK
What made this a very significant event was that it was a violation of U.S. Air Force regulations concerning the transportation of nuclear weapons by air. Nuclear weapons are normally transported by air in specially constructed planes designed to prevent radioactive pollution in case of a crash. Such transport planes are not equipped to launch the nuclear weapons they routinely carry around the U.S. and the world for servicing or positioning.
The discovery of the nuclear armed B-52 was, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, the first time in 40 years that a nuclear armed plane had been allowed to fly in the U.S. LINK. Since 1968, after a SAC bomber crashed in Greenland, all nuclear armed aircraft have been grounded but were kept on a constant state of alert. After the end of the Cold War, President George H. Bush ordered in 1991 that nuclear weapons were to be removed from all aircraft and stored in nearby facilities. ...
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Brilliant Mark Morford Column: "Because the truth is, we are well past the point of salvaging anything noble or honest from Bush's massive, historic debacle. We have only this brutal reality: Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most extraordinary wastes in all of American history." A must read that puts the war as a symbol of America's tectonic plate of culture clash into perspective.Recent Articles
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