“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” –George Orwell
George Orwell was a British writer and journalist. Born in Bengal, India in 1903, he graduated from Eton, a leading school in England in 1921, and then served five years as a British Imperial Police Officer in Burma, India. With the intent of becoming a writer, on New Years Day, 1928, he resigned from the Imperial Service in shame over Britain’s treatment of the Burmese people. “Donning ragged clothes …” he sought to sedate his guilt by giving up the standard of living he associated with British authority, and set out to write about poverty by living among the poor and destitute of Paris and London.i His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published in 1933, the year Hitler took power, and over the next few years other books followed. Then in 1937 he went to report on the Spanish Civil War (the beginning of WWII), and what he experienced came to dominate his point of view and his writing for the rest of his life.
He went there to report on the war, but took up arms and joined one of many militia groups defending the Soviet and US supported Spanish government against the German and Italian invaders, and survived a gunshot wound to the throat. Shortly after defeating the invaders, however, the Spanish government proceeded to hunt down members of those groups that had been fighting to defend Spain, now publicly declared traitors and allies of the invaders. While many of the men he knew were imprisoned, murdered, or simply vanished, he spent many days hiding from the police who were hunting him like an animal, until he finally made it out of the country.ii
What came to disturb him the most was not simply the lies and betrayal by the very government he fought to defend, but the fact that the media back in England eagerly picked up and spread those same lies. This experience revealed to him that “belief” in a group was something that could not only be influenced, but could actually be “controlled.” In Looking Back on the Spanish War, Orwell recalled the twisted Siamese world of reality and fantasy portrayed by the mass media in both Spain and England:
… in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retelling these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various “party lines.” This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.iii
This experience—his personal discovery that what a group believes can actually be controlled and man-ipulated—became the basis of his two final and most famous books: Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty Four (1949). Both are serious political documents exposing the growing threat of modern power addiction.
He died in 1950 bedridden from tuberculosis.
Animal Farm is a fable of the Russian Revolution, the central event of the 20th century. It’s considered central because it epitomized western civilization’s long-held romantic quest to create a classless Utopian society. The story is very simple, with farm animals representing the main participants of the revolution: Farm animals gradually grow so sick and tired of the abuse and neglect of the farmer that they revolt against him, take over the farm, and set up their own government. Because pigs are very intelligent they become the “managers” of the farm. Eventually they enshrine seven commandments on the wall of the Great Barn. The animals are to live by those seven commandments from that point forward to preserve the precious fruits of all their hard work and sacrifice. However, as the pigs gain more and more power and control, the treatment of the animals gradually grows even more horrific than it was under the farmer. What’s more, the very history of their revolt itself is gradually rewritten into something completely different from what really happened. (The third stage, or “purge,” of this re-writing of Russian history took place during the Spanish War.) Each rule is gradually amended. For example: “No animal shall drink alcohol” becomes “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess,” as the pigs begin to drink. Step by step, the animals would react to seeing the pigs doing what had been forbidden with surprise. Then they would compare what they remembered had initially been written with what they currently found on the wall, and each time the writing contradicted their memory. Eventually, robbed of the ability to discern what really happened in the past, they were robbed of the ability to deal with what was happening in the present. Eventually all the rules were abandoned except the seventh slogan amended:
All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.
The lessen of the fable is twofold: 1) to warn that in overthrowing tyranny, the product of one’s efforts can become the very basis of something worse than what was overthrown; and 2) that language-control means belief- or consciousness-control, and therefore history-control. While most people could see the obvious danger of Hitler, Orwell was afraid that the English, being pro-Russia at that time, were less likely to see the danger of Stalin’s brand of tyranny. For example, Hitler burned books (obvious/overt), while Stalin had books (dictionaries?) gradually rewritten over time (sneaky/covert). So Orwell wrote Animal Farm to illustrate the danger that lies right in front of everyone’s noses.
But how far can such ideas be carried out? How many times can tyrannical authorities be overthrown and replaced by something that, little by little, gradually grows even worse? What would such a society be like? Many people argue that tyranny doesn’t actually get worse as time passes, and that in every age people just believe things are getting worse. Such people ignore that such distinct changes in human behavior as the emergence of male domination, for example, can be pinpointed (roughly) in time and space (@ 7000 years before present, in the Volga basin, what is now South Russia). We can also pinpoint (again roughly) the more recent emergence of collective sadistic brutality (@ 3000 years before present, in Assyria, what is now Iraq). They also must ignore the fact that the means of waging human conflict itself has “progressed” from sticks, stones, and simple metals thousands of years ago, to wielding the very power of the sun itself today. There is plenty of irrefutable evidence that the human drive to use, control, and destroy one another is “progressing” in power and complexity.
Orwell understood this, so he ran this dual lesson of Animal Farm through a feedback loop in his imagination, over and over, and the product was Nineteen Eighty Four (1949). 1984 is a frightening portrait of Oceania, a three-faced (secular, religious, and insane) society as seen through the eyes of notorious thought criminal Winston Smith. Reality, as Winston is expected to know it, is whatever the Inner Party of the Ingsoc religion says it is in the present moment. With a silly-putty-like past, life under surveillance 24\7 by the Thought Police, and individuality forbidden under silent threat of torture and death, the “normalized” citizen is reduced to a fear-ridden, shape-shifting reflection of those ever changing, contradictory words of authoritative truth. It’s a world in which the ability to “discriminate” is forbidden, so vital distinctions between things such as laws, norms, and even medical diseases has faded out. History as we understand it, as something “objective” to be discovered out there in the world, does not exist in Oceania; like warfare and the average citizen’s identity, history is something to be created, destroyed, and re-created again and again, forever in “… an endless present in which the Party is always right.”iv
It is vital to keep in mind that Orwell did not intend for 1984 to be taken literally. In a letter to Francis A. Henson, he wrote: “My … novel is … intended … as a show-up of the perversions to which a centralized economy is liable and which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. I do not believe that the kind of society I describe will arrive, but I believe (allowing that the book is a satire) that something resembling it could arrive. I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences. The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere.”v
The reason 1984 is so convincing to so many is that Orwell cast features of the real world in a work of “polemic” fiction. He selected key features of society as he saw them (features most others want to ignore) and exaggerated them to make them vivid and easy for us to see. A primary point is that a society must develop these fundamentals prior to becoming a nightmare. They are a prerequisite.
In 1946, a couple of years before writing 1984, Orwell put it this way:
… I do suggest that we shall get nowhere unless we start by recognizing that political behavior is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured…. It is not easy to find a direct economic explanation of the behavior of the people who now rule the world. The desire for pure power seems to be much more dominant than the desire for wealth. … And if it has reached new levels of lunacy in our own age, as I think it has, then the question becomes: What is the special quality in modem life that makes a major human motive out of the impulse to bully others?vi
In his imaginary land of Oceania there is one insane, secular, religious party with two primary goals, three sacred principles, and four official slogans. The Party’s two main goals are “… to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.”vii To simplify, let’s focus on just one of the goals: To extinguish forbidden or unorthodox thought. To accomplish this goal, every citizen must practice the three sacred principles of the Ingsoc religion: Newspeak, Doublethink, and the mutability of the past, a.k.a. the Memory Hole.viii And to help perfect the practice of these principles there are four official slogans. Let’s briefly review Orwell’s sacred principles one by one and make a brief comparison with America, the epitome of what is “modern.”
1. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, and the Ingsoc religion. Newspeakers (members of Ingsoc) are necessarily ruled through constant surveillance, runaway emotions, and Party controlled language. Its grammar is specifically designed to contradict the grammar of Basic English (BE) and to gradually alter and replace Oldspeak (BE). The purpose of Newspeak is to narrow down the very range of thoughts a citizen can have, and to completely eliminate a citizen’s capacity to think clearly on selected “forbidden” subjects. (Like “allopathy” being absent from the dictionary?) There’s one official slogan that is never written—only spoken—between Inner Party members and specialists involved in the workings of Newspeak:
Newspeak is Ingsoc. Ingsoc is Newspeak.
This means that the official secular religion and its official language are one and the same thing. The name “Ing-soc,” for example, is a Newspeak term for the Oldspeak phrase “English Socialism,” and illustrates one principle of Newspeak: a reduction of spoken syllables, while changing the E to the next vowel “I” helps us forget the Oldspeak word “English.” (See Figure A, page 91, for an entertaining illustration.) The same slogan expressed in long form or BE looks more like this:
Who controls information in the present controls society’s view of the past; who controls society’s view of the past controls the way society changes into the future.
In modern America we essentially have one monolithic Party hiding behind its two distinct person-alities, which only appear to be struggling with one another over control of the National Body. The new way to speak is called “Political Correctness,” and the secular religion that pushes it, “American Socialism,” can be shortened to “Am-soc,” while changing the A to the next vowel gives us:
PC is Emsoc/Emsoc is PC.
I will continue to use the “A”, however, to remind us what it stands for.
2. Doublethink is the official state of mind of the Oceanic orthodoxy. Doublethink “… means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”ix In a number of earlier essays Orwell referred to this mental behavior by its common term “schizophre-nia,” which is widely and mistakenly believed to be a medical condition. In 1984 he described it a few times, even going into great detail:
Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary.x
This peculiar linking-together of opposites … is one of the chief distinguishing marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds with contradictions even where there is no practical reason for them…. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are the deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. … If equality is to be forever averted—if the High … are to keep their places permanently—then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.xi
To help Party members perfect their doublethinking there are three public slogans written on the shiny white face of the Ministry of Truth:
War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
We can easily find paradoxical behavior in modern America today. Simply open your eyes and look around, or type the terms “doublethink,” “newspeak,” and the popular American “doublespeak” into different search engines to find a wealth of interesting reading on the internet. Here, I’ll just introduce you to three of America’s most important paradoxes: politics, violence, and religion.
For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. … If equality is to be forever averted … then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.
First, According to historian and former Librarian of Congress, Daniel Boorstin, in his book Hidden History (1987): “No nation has ever believed so firmly that its political life was based on a perfect theory. And yet no nation has ever been less interested in political philosophy or produced less in the way of theory. If we can explain this paradox, we shall have a key to much that is characteristic … in our institutions.”xii We Americans hold a solid belief in the superiority of our political theory, while in reality, we possess no such theory. Boorstin summarizes his explanation in a word: “givenness.” He says it’s some how just given to us. It just appears. (And that’s precisely how it works in Oceania.)xiii
Second, according to Professor of History, Hugh Davis Graham, in his paper The Paradox of American Violence (1976), “Any paradox must contain two ostensibly contradictory assertions—in this case, that the American past has been filled with violence, and that the stability and continuity of America’s vital public institutions have been extraordinary.”xiv He then asks, “How can we account for this?” In trying to explain how America could have more “internal” or “social” violence than most other developed societies while having the most stable institutions, Professor Graham made reference to Boorstin’s explanation of America’s political paradox. In doing so he implies that they are inseparable, and therefore just like Boostin, fails to explain it.
Third, according to historian and political writer Garry Wills, in his book Under God: Religion and American Politics (1990): “The secular state came from the zeal of religion itself.”xv That is, the state not founded on a specific religious denomination was actually the product of overwhelming wide-spread religious enthusiasm (the concept of separation of Church and State emerged later). It made religion stronger. Politics and religion have never been sep-arate. Secular is religious; it’s just inverted, as concave is to convex. (And again, just like in 1984.)
If the American paradoxes of politics and violence are inseparable, and the paradox of religion is in-separable from politics, then couldn’t we consider all three as different faces of a single underlying state of contradiction? Either way, what can this possibly mean for American “freedom”?
3. The Memory Hole refers to two different but related things: First, it is the nick-name given to metal tubes that suck away written material to be incinerated in basement furnaces. Second, it is the consequence of the collective practice of strategic acts of amnesia while doublethinking. While it is certainly possible to forget without doublethinking, it’s abso-lutely impossible to effectively doublethink without great skill in manipulating one’s own memory. The memory hole is indispensably necessary to keep Oceania’s “central secret”:
… [There] is one question … It is: why should human equality be averted? … Here we reach the central secret … the original motive, the never-questioned instinct that first led to the seizure of power and brought doublethink, the Thought Police, continuous warfare, and all the other necessary paraphernalia into existence afterwards. This motive really consists…xvi
And that is where Winston Smith stopped reading The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, startled, because there was an unexpected knock at his door. I can’t help but wonder: Did Orwell have something in mind when writing about the central secret of Oceania? Or is that just part of the fiction? We’ll come back to this in the last chapter.
Thoughtcrime is the anti-principle. It is forever silent and hidden beneath the sacred principles, and is semantically similar to biblical leprosy, medieval sin, and modern mental illness. It is all forbidden thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—not forbidden by law, for there were no laws in Oceania—but silently forbidden (by the rule of norm). Thoughtcrime is essentially any botch up, however slight, in practicing the three sacred principles (The Trinity) of the Ingsoc religion.
Americans have recently sanctioned increased punishments for emotioncrime. If you commit a violent crime, you get punished if you’re caught. If you commit this crime while feeling “hate,” then your punishment becomes more severe. (Exactly who decides, and just how do they decide, what you’re really feeling?) Think for a moment. What kind of people have emotions and thoughts wedged apart from one another? They’re called psychotic—usually “schizo-phrenic” or “split-minded.” In average healthy people emotions and thoughts are quite integrated and inseparable. If Americans are willing to punish forbidden emotions, then Americans are willing to punish forbidden thinking. Emotioncrime is thoughtcrime.
The purpose of these combined principles and the secular religion they compose is to actually freeze the course of history, to engineer a permanent state of emergency by 2050.xvii And this is made possible by reconciling contradictions, just like the American paradoxes of politics, violence, and religion. It is to be a world in which the Good Party is forever locked in never-ending warfare with the Evil terrorist network known as The Brotherhood, led by arch terrorist Emanuel Goldstein. This appears to be strikingly to our current situation, in which Good America is officially (since 09-11-2001) in a perpetual War on Terror with the Evil terrorist network known as Al Qaeda, led by arch terrorist Osama bin Laden.xviii And both sides of The Great Oceanic War are pitted against each other by the same background authorities of The Party—like a puppet master playing with two puppets.
The kind of society that Orwell feared was looming on the future’s horizon was secular and religious, as well as insane. It is a portrait painted from a specific point of view: an Oceanic lunatic/thoughtcriminal. In America, Winston Smith would be called a paranoid “schizophrenic.”
What, then, does it really mean to be schizo- (split-) phrenic (minded)?
i EB, Vol. 8, 1020.
ii Oxley, 68.
iii Orwell, 1981, 197.
iv Orwell, 1949, 128.
v Orwell, 1968, Vol. 4, 502.
vi Ibid, 249, italics added.
vii Orwell, 1949, 159.
viii Ibid, 25.
ix Ibid, 176.
x Ibid, 176-77.
xi Ibid, 178.
xii P. 76, italics added.
xiii Boorstin describes American political ideas as having “magical elusiveness and flexibility.” (p.79) Orwell portrays the Oceanic mind practicing control over itself “as complete as that of a contortionist over his body.” (p. 175)
xiv P. 76.
xv P. 352, italics added.
xvi Orwell, 1949, 178-79.
xvii This is the plan as revealed to Winston Smith in The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein (a.k.a. “The Book”), given to him by O’Brien, a secret agent of the Thought Police. The target year for the great freeze, 2050, is mentioned in the appendix to 1984: The Principles of Newspeak.
xviii Usama bin Laden, The Most Wanted Terrorist, is wanted by the FBI (since 1999) for 200 deaths by two bombings in East Africa. Osama bin Laden is wanted (in mass media programming) in connection with 3000 deaths inside the USA. Osama is not listed on the FBI’s website, and there is no mention of 911 in Usama’s bio. Making things more interesting, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stated in a Congressional Testimony on March 4, 2003 (available on the FBI website): “While Osama Bin Ladin maintains worldwide name recognition as the leader of Al-Qaeda, KSM [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] is the operational mastermind.” KSM, who was educated in North Carolina, was arrested three days before this testimony. His wording is important: Osama maintains name recognition as the leader, but KSM is the mastermind behind Al-Qaeda. “Name recognition” is a reference to the effect of mass media programming. If Osama is connected to the 911 massacre, then where is his bio in the Most Wanted list? If Osama is Usama then why is 911 not mentioned in Usama’s bio?
I recommend approaching the duality USAma vs. Osama the same as approaching USA vs. US. There are two different bin Ladens in the same way there are two different Constitutions and two different citizenships. The original Constitution of The United States of America, and the Bill of Rights, protect the freedoms of capital “C” Citizens (1: Freedom of Speech, 2: The Right to Bear Arms, etc.). When Citizens accept a Social Servitude Number (SSN), they forfeit their Citizenship (and all associated freedoms) in favor of small “c” citizenship under the Federal US Constitution. Small “c” citizens have no rights, they have privileges. Privileges can be granted or taken away on a Federal whim. Most importantly, citizens are always encouraged to believe they are still Citizens with “freedom” and “rights.” Failing to perceive and understand the differences between USAma vs. Osama, and USA vs. US, is to be firmly embedded in The System (a.k.a. The Matrix). Osama bin Laden is to Amsoc what Emmanuel Goldstein is to Ingsoc—invented to be fought.
Visit www.USAvsUS.info Also see The U.S. of A. v. U.S. The Loss of Legal Memory of the American State (2006) by Richard Dwight Kegley, T. J. Henderson, & Ed Wahler. You can find it at: www.USofAvUS.com