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Revisiting Orwell’s 1984 in 2010: US Parallels, Mind-Control in Oceania

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 02:11 AM
Original message
Revisiting Orwell’s 1984 in 2010: US Parallels, Mind-Control in Oceania
Edited on Sat Jun-12-10 03:01 AM by Hannah Bell
The novel’s police state bore an obvious resemblance to Stalin’s USSR. Coming from Orwell— a self-described democratic socialist who was deeply hostile to Stalinism— this was unsurprising. But while Orwell was too clear-sighted to conflate Stalinism with socialism (writing, for example, “My recent novel <‘1984’> is NOT intended as an attack on socialism…but as a show-up of the perversions...which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism.…”), his Cold War-era readership was often blind to this distinction...

Yet Nineteen Eighty-Four was no endorsement of the West. It posits only an unaccountable elite that rules in its own interests and maintains power by taking state-run mind control to its logical extreme. It examines what’s operationally involved in compelling a population to submit to exploitative rule— without regard to the nominal form of economic organization. Put a bit differently, the book considers the psycho-social machinery of unaccountable state power in general—regardless whether it originates from a ruling bureaucracy or from finance capital. It explores the general problem of maintaining social stability in a highly unequal society, which can be done only through some combination of repression, and controlling the population’s consciousness...

Crude tyrannies rely primarily on repression. Sophisticated tyrannies find subtler means of controlling consciousness. Consciousness, in turn, is deeply intertwined with a society’s public use of language. Oceania and America are sophisticated shapers of consciousness. This is why the two societies increasingly share core characteristics, and why Nineteen Eighty-Four has arguably even more relevance for readers in 2010 than it did during the Cold War— when it was already recognized for its keen insights into the connections between language, consciousness, conformity and power.

In Orwell’s fictional Oceania, the psychosocial machinery worked roughly like this: all power was held by The Party. Perpetual war was the mainspring of state policy. The media was a simple conduit for state propaganda. The population was held in check by constant surveillance...The state devised rituals, such as public hangings of prisoners and the Two Minutes Hate, to generate enthusiasm for crude nationalism and bellicose chauvinism. The “proles”—85 percent of the population—were flooded with mind-numbing media diversions (focused mainly on sports, crime, the Lottery, and sex)...

Sketched below are some of the parallels underscoring how far we’ve come in the few decades since Orwell’s vision was considered a futuristic fantasy...

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jun2010/1984-j12.shtm...



***Summary***


•Perpetual War:

•The One-Party State:

•Media as a Conduit for State Propaganda:

•Surveillance:

•Elite-Driven Cultural Crippling of Mass Political Consciousness:

•The Cult of the Leader:

•“Who Controls the Present Controls the Past….”:

•Public Rituals for Demonizing State Enemies:

•Bombing Civilian “Enemies” as Entertainment:

•Police Intimidation of Citizens:

•Depravity and Dehumanization as State Policy:

- Training the population in “doublethink”

- “War is Peace”
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 02:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. Doublethink: "Every major event since Bush's appointment by the supreme court
Edited on Sat Jun-12-10 02:50 AM by Hannah Bell
was presented to the public on the basis of doublethink."

The full definition of doublethink is:

“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.… 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. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”

"Virtually every major event since that time was presented to the public on the basis of doublethink."


The article gives the example of the "weapons of mass destruction" that were the basis for the invasion of iraq.

Rather soon after the invasion, the media acknowledged, more or less, that there were no such weapons. "But this was presented as though devoid of meaning or consequence...a matter of 'flawed intelligence'".

"Acknowledging the non-existence of WMD while defending the war" = doublethink, since if the stated reason for the war is false, the war itself can't be justified.

"One can hold both beliefs simultaneously only by juggling them—momentarily banishing one belief to oblivion while discussing the other."
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 03:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. “Crimestop"
Edited on Sat Jun-12-10 03:08 AM by Hannah Bell
“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short…at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc <“English Socialism,” the official ideology of the totalitarian regime in Oceania>, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”

The article says the principle applies quite well to media discussions US policy, in which US military aggression, coups, torture, civilian deaths, etc. are called by different names than the same acts when committed by other countries.

Ours = stabilization, peace-keeping, liberation, democracy movement, color revolution, enhanced interrogation techniques, collateral damage, etc.

Such perversions of language aren't mere euphemisms, but part of a near-ubiquitous thought-control system which trains people in an "athleticism of the mind," the ability "at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors.”

Such as Obama's rationale for not appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the previous administration's use of torture:

"I believe we need to look forward, not back."

A principle which would preclude the prosecution of any crime if extended as a general rule, but which "will be invoked only for crimes committed by the US state, or by the financial oligarchy whose interests that state represents."
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 06:10 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. The United States exists in a state of perpetual war -- accepted as "normal"
Cheney tells us the war on terror will never end, & you can hardly get anyone in the media to comment on it.
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
19. Peacekeeping troops.
Trained in killing, not peacemaking.
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
3. This is why I find the "state capitalism" analysis very interesting. "Proles" exploited by Stalin
for a wealth that benefits the bureaucratic manager-class... not surprisingly crafted from the petty bourgeois and Nepman class leftover from the revolution (the working class almost entirely killed off by WWI and capitalist invasion of 14 national armies to destroy the Revolution.) Stalin was truly a disaster for the word "socialism." In that he is the bogeyman used by free market pimps to keep the global capitalist regime kicking, he has undoubtedly killed more people than Nazism. What we have now is some sort of global totalitarian merger of capitalist game-masters, ex-royalty, and Igor-like lackeys.

For one half of the working class, it's totalitarianism plus video games, movies, vibrating lounge chairs, plus toxic food, toddlers with fatty liver, and slow death from lack of health care in general. For the other half, it's no video games or movies, too little toxic food, and quick death from lack of health care in general.

They don't have to play bad cop because there's Farmville and Twilight. But if you try to rattle the invisible cage, bad cop comes out to play. The biggest difference is that there isn't much to escape to, except where people aren't afraid to do what's necessary: Greece, etc.

Anyway, thanks for your posts.
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amborin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #3
16.  Marcuse's "passive totalitarianism"
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 03:23 AM
Response to Original message
4. I went to an conference meeting in Dec. for academics "concerned about peace"
the panel was entirely Department of Defense and U.S. military academy professors trying to recruit ethicists and anthropologists to help "bring peace" to Afghanistan. You know. War is Peace, and all that. Oops. I just think I engaged in crimethink. (And when I was there, believe me, I engaged in some crimespeak...)
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 03:36 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. :>)
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Gravel Democrat Donating Member (598 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 03:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. Many consider 1984 to be a training manual rather than a warning
and they are becoming more obvious every day

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable,
and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
George Orwell

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_orwe...





http://newamericancentury.org/balkans.htm
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 04:03 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. it's certainly a remarkably prescient novel.
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:32 AM
Response to Reply #6
24. Than they've learned more from Stalin than they want to admit.
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stillwaiting Donating Member (591 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 06:40 AM
Response to Original message
9. Just started reading 1984 again yesterday.
Chilling and funny.

I laughed at the absurdity of "The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one" (regarding the physical appearance and imposition of the building compared to other buildings in the city).

The novel is brilliant and indeed seems like a playbook for our rulers in America. Has it always been this way, I wonder?

I have to think it's possible. Maybe the advent of the internet and the formation of communities such as DU (and others) has allowed the reality of the situation we're facing to crystallize and penetrate consciousness.

Thanks for the article Hannah.

K&R
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Birthmark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 07:23 AM
Response to Original message
10. That might be the best thing you posted...
...that I saw, anyway. Thanks.
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 07:53 AM
Response to Original message
11. Here's the operating manual:


k&r
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. +1 freud's nephew...
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Jeffersons Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 12:22 PM
Response to Original message
13. K&R
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 12:32 PM
Response to Original message
14. And, just like in "1984" most of the population willingly embrace their chains. K&R
Edited on Sat Jun-12-10 12:35 PM by Tierra_y_Libertad
"Freedom is the absolute right of all adult men and women to seek permission for their actions only from their own conscience and reason, and to be determined in their actions only by their own will, and consequently to be responsible only to themselves, and then to the society to which they belong, but only insofar as they have made a free decision to belong to it." Mikhail Bakunin
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HughMoran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
15. Good observation
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
17. K&R. Nice to see that we are not the only people to have read his work.
I hope this gets some play.

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
18. Why have overt repression when you have the Media to control people's minds?
Edited on Sat Jun-12-10 02:13 PM by Odin2005
It's much more effective and makes it look like society is "free", superficially.

This is also why Libertarianism cannot work, people ( a few master meditators excepted) are slaves to the conceptual framing we carry in our heads. There is no such thing as "freely-made choices".
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profile this Donating Member (96 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
20. Thank You
I'm forwarding this article to my 15 year old. I'm having her read this as part of her summer reading.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 01:20 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. i hope she's reading 1984 concurrently?
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 01:22 AM
Response to Original message
22. Sorry, I don't take anything from wsws seriously.
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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:31 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Yes, a literary analysis from socialists is HIGHLY SUSPECT. BACK AWAY CAREFULLY.
Nice red-baiting.

Hey, if you don't like WSWS, try socialistworker.org. There are more PhDs writing on that site and its affiliated sites than inside Obama's cabinet. You might learn something. Plus, the website's writers live in reality.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. lol. back away, back away! all information must come from approved sources like the nyt,
which kissed bush's butt on weapons of mass destruction --

oh, until we were safely mired in iraq, at which time it became permissible to question the admin-approved fairy tale.



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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #23
30. So having a PhD makes you right every time?
:rofl:
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #22
26. i don't care.
Edited on Sun Jun-13-10 02:38 AM by Hannah Bell
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. Yet you responded.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:51 AM
Response to Reply #22
27. And yet you are seemingly compelled to write that same statement time after time...
It's almost as if you have some personal stake in it.
:rofl:

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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. I've written it before?
News to me.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #28
32. lol. one of many:
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #32
36. One other time?
Wow, I've a got a vendetta.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. So how many should we dig up to confirm that which only you deny?
Not that there's any need to bother, we could find 10 and you'd want 15.
:eyes: :rofl:
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. I'm not denying them.
I just don't remember them.

wsws isn't exactly memorable.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #36
38. Did you learn nothing from spanking that Nonsense received?
:spank:

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WeDidIt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #22
31. +1,000,000,000,000,000,000
:thumbsup:

It's a bullshit site no more credible than Freerepublic or Redstate.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #31
33. it's more credible than the new york times on weapons of mass destruction &
real estate bubbles.
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WeDidIt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. Only in the dreams of wild eyed radicals
WSWS has NO credibility.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-13-10 02:10 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. wsws was contradicting the wmd story when the times was hyping it.
sorry, you're plain wrong.
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