Posted by: johnhourihan | August 31, 2012

The year after 2012 could be 1984


There are little-known and seldom-quoted passages from George Orwell’s 1984 that we choose not to remember because they are too close to reality, and getting closer. They have become even closer and more frightening since the lies and half-truths of the GOP convention. They are even closer to current reality and more unsettling than:
WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
And
GOD IS POWER
The first passage tells of how, in the book, an ultimate outcome was achieved by the Party, or in our case could be achieved, and the second tells of what that outcome was, or in our case what is coming dangerously close to what the outcome could be.
The first:
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.”
That was how the world in 1984 was manufactured, according to Orwell, with doublethink. That was what he expected to happen in his future. It may have taken longer, but we have just witnessed the infancy of “doublethink” in the obvious lies mouthed as truth in the RNC convention in Tampa.
In this current campaign, the blatant lies spewed over and over by people who know what they are saying are lies, but who seem to believe in them wholeheartedly, have so far covered our presidential campaign like a soothing balm for those who know they are wrong. All you have to do to feel better to is believe what you know is false.
It is frightening because of where this could lead, according to Orwell. And since we have over the years adopted much of what he said as an honest forewarning, I think we should read the second part of this. The part that explains how our lives could end up if we do that.
The second part:
“”… according to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules. In reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary to know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina. … They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through  a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them under control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations.”

There are hard times coming, says the Republican party, times that will need to administered to with “tough Love” (they will do the administrating and we will be administered to) and of course love of American might with anyone who defies our idea of how they should live.
God Bless America, they say
But I’m starting to hear whispers that sound more like:
WAR IS PEACE

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

GOD IS POWER
Before, in 1963 when I first read this book, I identified with Winston, a party member who worked a tedious job changing history.
Now I am understanding that Orwell meant we were not that high up on the food chain, what he meant was we were to become the proles.
If we believe lies because it is easier than to understand the truth, we are well on our way.

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Responses

  1. John , this is very astute column. Thank you.Pat


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