1984 Revisited

by Jeff Costello, March 23, 2016

"Establishment" is now a meaningless word, with one faction of the establishment accusing another of being "establishment." Another co-opted term. In the 60's we knew all of it was the establishment - politics, business, military. The guys in suits and uniforms with the Stepford wives. One republican or democrat calling another "establishment" is absurd. It's too late, kids. If one republican is "establishment" but another is not, the term is really dead. Just as "progressive" is dead when every democrat claims it.

Reading 1984 again, realizing I was a bit young at 14 to really understand it the first time. Orwell was dead-spot-on, whether you see his nightmare society as right or left wing, the wings belonging to the same bird, to paraphrase the anonymous native American quote circulating on facebook. That bird is The Establishment, portrayed as 1984's "hierarchical society." Orwell predicted intrusive technology and mass media propaganda, but being British, he could not have imagined the American redneck "good ol' boy" thing that gave us George W Bush or the celebrity culture that gave us OJ Simpson, the Kardashians, the Super Bowl, Reagan and Schwarzengger, or "evangelical" mega-monster-churches.

It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run a hierarchical society was only possible on basis of poverty and ignorance.

Weren't the nazis the "National Socialist" party? Kind of a Doublethink thing, eh? Like "Citizens United" - sounds good, but which minority of "citizens" are united in that? In "1984" there is The Party, the Inner Party, the proles (proletarians, the lowest class of people - wage earners and such), and the Brotherhood - the resistance, including some inner Party members and managed by a shadowy figure named Goldstein - a Jew perhaps like Saul Alinsky, author of "Rules for Radicals" (1971), whose name is used by republicans to suggest the essence of evil in a world of free trade and market capitalism-as-God.

If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses,eighty-five per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within.... But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose, they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it. And yet... Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

The Big Lie - The expression coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

So here we are, folks. Right now.

2 Responses to 1984 Revisited

  1. Jeff Costello Reply

    March 24, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    “Right or left wing, the wings belonging to the same bird” attributed to Upton Sinclair, early 1900s. Depending on who you believed.

  2. izzy Reply

    March 30, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Indeed. Orwell and Huxley made a complimentary pair in prophetically describing where we are now. And the great irony is that we were assigned to read them as cautionary tales.

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