Thursday, February 28, 2013

Orwell Warned Us About Republicans

In George Orwell’s 1984, the classic novel of utterdark dystopia, three slogans are at the core of the “ruling party.” This party is an ironclad dictatorship that depends on strict mind control. These slogans are: War Is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength.

The bulk of the people in the novel embrace these contradictions as truth. They are so brainwashed that they deny they ever doubted these slogans, or had the ability to doubt them. The slogans are obviously true!

The people forgot the contradiction (and the pain of contradiction) and then forgot they forgot. Classic repression. Actually, Orwell’s concept of “doublethink” is even more elaborate:

“[Doublethink is] 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 as 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.”

To doublethink properly is to subordinate your conscious to your subconscious to the degree that illogical and deep wrongs seem completely right (at the conscious level). In tandem, the subconscious acts diligently to keep the conscious deluded. Sadly, the conscious originally gave permission for this, even demanded it, and then afterward became a slave to the initial instructions. It’s like someone saying to another, “Enslave me, take away my ability to think logically, and make me forget I asked for it. Never question this slavery and devote your existence to maintaining it."

There is a kind of sick freedom in this at the surface level, the freedom from feeling deep doubts or pangs of conscience. It is the freedom to lie without feeling the lie. The ignorance of the conscious, in this sense, could also be a kind of twisted strength.

Note, though, that the delusion perpetrated on the conscious by the subconscious was, in the beginning, disseminated and propagandized by a heart-stealing government, its purpose to degrade the mind’s resistance and gain totalitarian control. In other words, the ‘freedom’ granted by doublethink is in perverse and diametric relation to freedom in the sense of having an open and decent mind.

The Republican Party of the US Empire promotes a solid and dangerous form of doublethink. Let’s start with War is Peace. The Empire is currently muddling through the longest war of its history. And we also just finished another long ugly one, which took over a decade. Both these wars are insane. There is nothing substantial in them to brag about, and plenty to show in terms of horror, corruption, chaos, death, forced emigration, and atrocity. And yet Republicans, in lockstep, maintain that these long, nightmarish wars--tantamount to torturing a country--are essential. They are tools to combat some great concept of Evil.

Just as bizarre, these long wars are why we are Good.

It’s the same strategy laid out by Orwell. In the novel, there is always some capital E evil to attack; some great glorious fight that requires constant violence on a massive scale. Once you split the world into Them and Us, Evil and Good, you inculcate in your citizens an unthinking hatred for the “Enemy.” You get zombie patriotism at its finest worst.

On the home front, Republicans support massive gun ownership. Why? Lots of machines for killing means less killing takes place. How contradictory is that? The illogic is especially vivid given our epidemic of school shootings and other mass-murderings.

Or just look at the basic math: if every house in a neighborhood has guns, the chance of gun violence will be far greater than if only a few homes have a gun. In a country that worships gun violence in movies, games, and cinema--entertainment that often makes the villain look ‘cool’--this is especially true and disturbing.

None of this slows down the GOP. In fact, it makes them argue even more vociferously for an endless flourishing of guns. When doublethink is involved, the more obvious and logical the rebuttal, the more illogical the doublethinkers get. They raise a mental shield that surges in twisted sophistry to compensate for the onslaught of healthy truth.

Moving on. Freedom is Slavery. The GOP currently leads the charge to destroy tens of thousands of good subsidized jobs in America. Why? We have to destroy jobs to create jobs. To grow the economy, we must shrink it. Crazy enough yet? Another way to put it is this: To make our citizens happy, we must make them unhappy.”

Unemployment is stressful, so another corollary: To make citizens less stressed, increase their stress.

A defender of the GOP could say, “The immediate pain is necessary for happiness later. We must treat the wound, painful though it is, to cure the whole.” However, this kind of argument, “the end justifies the means,” can be trotted out by anyone to justify anything. Our country has used such consequentialist canards, actually, to justify its wars.

At bottom, the Republicans worship two things: a patriarchal white conservative God, and (b) a purist economic theory developed by Milton Friedman at the Chicago school, never successfully tested, which says, via abstruse mathematical equations, that markets beautifully regulate themselves if government is very small and unobtrusive in the market. Friedman tried to prove his “free market” theory by working with Augusto Pinochet, the vicious dictator of Chile. It was a dismal failure. Social welfare and government jobs were slashed and slashed. The cruel police state tortured any protesters. Welcome to Orwellian freedom.

By the way, Friedman’s whole calculation rests on a disproven premise. He assumes humans are completely self-interested and constantly seeking more material gratification. Both psychology and history show that (a) humans are not purely selfish and (b) we are not locked into an incessant need to buy stuff (unless it is trained into us by consumerist advertising culture. How many logos have you seen lately?).

At bottom, what I offer you today, in contrast to the GOP, is simple logic and, more importantly, your own common sense.

Another point: the wealthy have quadrupled their wealth over the past decade, while the rest of the US citizenry has stagnated or sunk. Does this fact slow the Republicans down? No, they are adamant that larding the rich will, someday, help the poor. Research shows otherwise. Trickle down does not work. Even a previous Republican President of the United States, George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) called it “voodoo economics.”

It does not matter to the Republicans. For them, the Rich are Good. It follows, on their polar model of thinking, that the poor are to blame for their own plight--even though we live in a country where 50 million folks cannot afford a doctor.

Not surprisingly, Republicans think that government programs to give food directly to the poor are bad. The GOP wants to cut social welfare that directly helps the suffering. At the same time, they are fanatic about transferring money to people who own yachts and private jets.

Starve the poor to feed them. Eliminate access to doctors to cure the sick. All in the name of a “free market system.” Because big corporations, through legalized bribery, have become corrupting influences on our democracy, we can add: freedom is corruption.

Lastly, we have Ignorance Is Strength. The Republicans are trying to tear down the educational system. They claim it is wasteful. Indeed, this is what they claim about any social or governmental organization in their cold iron sights. And so we get this doublethink slogan: We must cripple education to educate.

The real GOP motive--which they will never admit because it is buried in the doublethink corridors of their minds--is to remove learning as a threat to their Orwellian techniques.

Look what the Republican Party of Texas wrote as part of its 2012 platform, in the section on education:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Notice how they accuse educators of “behavior modification” when such a mechanistic term better applies to the irrational propaganda-driven tactics of GOP doublethink.

It is a classic defense mechanism of Orwellian autocrats to accuse others of what they themselves are doing. Not only accuse, but passionately believe these witch-hunts with fanatic blinkers.

Here is a summary of some of the GOP doublethink points:

We must destroy jobs to create jobs.
We must remove access to doctors to cure the suffering.
We must starve the starving to feed them.
More guns in every home is less violence.
We must torture countries and their citizens because we are Good.

Should you be afraid? Remember, the Republicans shut down the government last year by refusing to raise the debt ceiling on purchases already approved. They did this in service of their fanatical Orwellian beliefs, heedless of the consequences for the country. As a result, the credit rating of the US was downgraded by Moody’s. Once you accept doublethink, you are locked into the soul-crunching momentum of an illogical mind control, one far greater than you, one that demands complete obedience from both your surface and deep levels of being.

The battle against doublethink occurs in the minds of every citizen in American. It is taking place all around you, right now, through various media. It is taking place through conversation, innuendo and body language right there in your own community.

Fly well in the dark.


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