In the gathering of dark clouds today, reread of Nineteen eighty four shows how prescient George Orwell is wrong to think that people will have to be tortured into submission. Half of America (still psychologically locked out, irritated and vaxed) wouldn’t have it any other way.
The world of Nineteen eighty four is grim in a way 2022 will understand. The people of Orwell’s future wanted to be controlled. They have come to like it. Freedom of choice makes them feel safe. People get monitored, and the media is censored. They think about it all with a sense of inevitability – the only way to stay safe is if they think about it. All-seeing telescreens in their homes and snitches and spies embedded in their lives for good, really. The language itself was changed not only to stifle dissent but to make it impossible.
in Nineteen eighty four, The government controls and modifies all the media, sending events from the past that no one politically corrects down the memory hole. Today, we have legacy media to do that for us. We can no longer read a newspaper or watch a documentary with the hope that any part of it is true. Americans love fake news. To take just one example, the truth is that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It’s all made up, the doublethink is embellished with “details” as gruesome as pee tapes so absurd they wouldn’t be a B-movie script. Michael Cohen once went to Prague. The FBI was forced to lie to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump associates. But a large number of Americans still believe that it is true, and look for the media to stick to the end of the story. 2 + 2 can equal 5, if you believe that.
To take another example, Hunter Biden benefited financially from the trade of his father’s office. He made millions from China and Ukraine selling influence. But the media acted with the full support of about half of Americans to make the story disappear and influence the 2020 election. Once pushed underwater, the story never came back in time, and maybe it won’t for the 2024 contest either.
When I Google Hunter’s name we find sympathetic stories about his battles with various addictions. Most Americans welcome the sleight of hand. They do not want another scandalous administration. They want the censors to clean it up. The government should not be the police; in America, journalists demand the suspension of the First Amendment rights of other journalists based on ideology if something goes out-of-message.
Orwell’s Two Minutes of Hate is when people are told to express their hatred towards the enemies of the state, whether it makes sense or not. The Brett Kavanaugh hearings was a broad version of this, using the confluence of mediagenic victims, politicians, and the MSM to whip up the crowd. Social media, especially Twitter, has a similar goal: we love Andrew Cuomo as anti-Trump until we talk about hating him as sexual harassment. Why Dr. Was Fauci the good guy or the bad guy this week? Your own family is also a target as white allies are told to “Text your relatives and loved ones telling them you will not visit them or answer the phone until they take significant action in support of black lives.”
in Nineteen eighty four, Criticism of the Party is a bad sin, punished by loss of status, loss of work, and loss of self (cancellation). Although America so far does not include the portion of physical torture (in Newspeak, enhanced interrogation) of Nineteen eighty four– cancellation style, the rest of the equipment is active. Party orthodoxy replaced by the sin of criticizing diversity and denounced as a racist. The whole industry – academia, media, entertainment – is controlled by issuing double plus good anti-racist badges. Most of the media we consume, and what our kids learn in school, is filtered, judged, and censored by ideological mobs.
If you want to keep your job in that field and more, you have to embrace Big Diverse Brother, and most of them are more than happy to do so. People who fall out of favor with the Party 1984 become “unpersons,” disappear and all evidence of their existence is destroyed. In 2022, they are deplatformed. Institutions do not punish dissenters so much as seek to make difference impossible.
Orwell imagines the need for a massive Ministry of Truth to exercise control over society when in fact it’s just a silly quip about why calling Covid-19 the “Chinese flu” is racism and a bunch of sky-scratching writing. Turn fear into a problem and strengthen your protector into a solution. The message is working: you have to give up for a safe society. If not, you are selfish; you have committed a crime against your neighbor.
When Orwell wrote Nineteen eighty four, he could not imagine a more powerful entity than a government, backed by a secret police and an army. He could not imagine the global media and companion dogs running, social media, filtering what we read and providing tools of cancellation. He does not expect the end point of global capitalism, a handful of people with almost all the money that can buy the laws and social changes they want.
Instead of adapting to this reality and pushing back, progressive Americans are pushing it. They roll like dogs in the mud at the idea that when the government can’t censor Dr. Seuss, the company can. They enjoy the stupidity of pretending censorship is not censorship because, for now at least, only things they don’t like are being censored. They like to pretend it doesn’t matter if it’s done by a private entity.
In 2022 America, we not only accept surveillance voluntarily, but we want more because it makes shopping easier. We spend thousands of dollars to buy and keep devices 24/7 on our people that track our location, record our communications, and learn and analyze our personal habits from porn preferences to fashion choices, all so that Amazon can recommend products to us. Tracking us was sold first as a way to protect us from terrorist attacks that never came, then to catalog our associations to keep us safe from the simmering Covid-19 crisis for as long as possible. We want Big Brother to know where we have been so he can warn us not to associate with “sick” people there. A vaccine passport to label and reward compliant? Yes, please, if it means we can go to ballgames.
We love surveillance technology when it helps catch the “right” people. We fetishize how cell phone data was used to place people onsite during the Capitol riots, coupled with facial recognition running against images pulled off social media, aided by snitching loved ones, to capture them. There is even a do-it-yourself version of facial recognition progressives used to help law enforcement rioters ID. The goal was to jail people if possible, but most loyalists seemed equally satisfied if they could cause others to lose their jobs.
As a young man, I visited Soviet Eastern Europe. I lived in China and in Taiwan under a dictatorship. I spoke to survivors of the Cultural Revolution and torture victims from the years of Seoul’s military control. I’m older now, and know when I’ve seen it before. Orwellian? Orwell was an amateur.