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Of Orwell, Wikipedia and Guantánamo Bay

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antiimperialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:28 PM
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Of Orwell, Wikipedia and Guantánamo Bay
Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell’s “1984,” worked at a government job he hated, rewriting history to conform to current propaganda imperatives. This week, a group called Wikileaks asserted that the United States military appeared to have a Winston Smith of its own at the Guantánamo Bay naval base, mucking about with the way Wikipedia and news sites portray the base and, curiously, posting odd assertions about Fidel Castro.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks laid out evidence on the group’s web site Wednesday indicating that computers belonging to the base’s Joint Task Force-Guantánamo command were used for the suspicious online activity, including:

“deleting detainee ID numbers from Wikipedia last month, the systematic posting of unattributed ’self praise’ comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantánamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro’s encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as ‘an admitted transexual’ .”


Mr. Assange’s report caught the attention of, among other news outlets, The Daily News of New York, which wrote about the situation on Thursday.

Read more …
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sailor65 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:06 AM
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1. That's what happens when NYT writers try
to use Cliff Notes for their research.

In 1984, Orwell very specifically states that Smith's "Greatest Joy was in his work."

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Briar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 03:35 AM
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2. You should quote the whole paragraph:
"Winston's greatest pleasure in life was in his work. Most of it was a tedious routine, but included in it there were also jobs so difficult and intricate that you could lose yourself in them as in the depths of a mathematical problem -- delicate pieces of forgery in which you had nothing to guide you except your knowledge of the principles of Ingsoc and your estimate of what the Party wanted you to say. Winston was good at this kind of thing. On occasion he had even been entrusted with the rectification of The Times leading articles, which were written entirely in Newspeak..."

He can take refuge in his work because he doesn't feel responsible for safe-guarding something called the truth (which our news organisations still claim some connection with). He knows he isn't dealing with it in any form at all.

"But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry of Plenty's forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at one-hundred-and-forty-five million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than one-hundred-and-forty-five millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain."

If only Americans were as realistic about the claims made about Cuba (and Venezuala and any other country hostile to what the US perceives as its interests) as Winston Smith was about the claims made in Oceania.
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