Vol: 24 Issue: 23 Friday, June 23, 2017
In that seminal year of 1948, the year that Israel declared independence, the year the UN GATT Treaty created a global economy, the year the Benelux Treaty set the EU in motion, George Orwell made literary history with his novel, ”1984”.
Orwell’s novel revolved around Winston Smith, an intellectual employed by the Ministry of Truth in a totalitarian dictatorship on the fictional country of Oceania.
Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” was an instrument of propaganda charged with rewriting history to support Oceania’s dictator, “Big Brother.”
Orwell’s novel gave society the phrase “Doublespeak” as exemplified in Big Brother’s Three Slogans; “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; and, Ignorance is Strength.”
(Orwell actually coined the words “doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ — words that, once released from the world of fiction, entered reality as ‘doublespeak’).
The novel’s impact also introduced the adjective, “Orwellian” into the English language as a modifier for the word, ‘propaganda’ and “Orwellian Doublespeak” became part of America’s political lexicon.
An example of Orwellian Doublespeak as it would apply to modern politics is found in the mantra of the American Left; “We Support the Troops, But Oppose the War.”
What made Orwell’s book so fascinating was the premise that the citizens of Oceania fully understood and accepted the concepts of doublethink and newspeak for what they were; lies that became truth based on who was speaking them.
Throughout the novel, Oceania is at war with one of the other two existing superpowers,Eastasia and Eurasia.
At one point, Oceania switches alliances without notice, as a public speaker changes the names of the enemy and ally mid-sentence.
In 1948, Orwell’s novel was a disturbing work of fiction. By 1984, it had earned a reputation as a ‘cautionary tale’.
In 2015, we still don’t have a Big Brother. But ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ are not just part of our lexicon in 2015.
They are part of our daily information processing apparatus.
Advertising is a prime example of ‘doublespeak’ in action. George Orwell comes to mind every time a drug commercial airs that promises to cure some minor condition.
Provided, of course, that you aren’t worried about blurred vision, heart palpitations, anal leakage, male pattern baldness, uneven tire wear, sudden heart attack, uncontrolled bleeding or perhaps, death.
(Or that unmentionable (but evidently not) condition that, if it lasts more than four hours, requires emergency medical treatment.)
People are driving their doctors crazy asking them if some drug represented by old people wearing body suits while surrounded by long, flowing blue curtains, or standing alone on top of a mountain, or, even more baffling, wearing outfits that make them look like a suicide cult about to jump into an angry, rocky surf, is “right for them”.
Another, and much more relevant example is in American politics. The politicians provide the doublespeak and the electorate willingly learns newthink.
But in 2015, we call doublespeak ‘spin’ and the newthink emerges as a consequence of failing to wait until the spin cycle stops before attempting to interpret it all.
Hillary Clinton’s ‘spontaneous show of emotion’ in 2008 was widely credited with her victory in the New Hampshire primaries, for example.
It dominated the news. “Hillary Shows Emotion” was the headline of the day.
It made news because Hillary famously hides any emotion (except anger) — and has never welled up in public, or even discussed welling up in public, and there she was, in an ‘unguarded moment’ on the campaign trail, showing herself to be human.
What made less news was the fact that Hillary gave an interview to Access Hollywood defending her ‘spontaneous emotional moment’ the day before it happened!
So, if she won New Hampshire based on a contrived emotional event, as is the widely-acceptedconventional wisdom, why doesn’t anybody care?
Fox News called the pre-sob interview about the post-sob moment an ‘interesting coincidence.’ (I call it an Orwellian moment).
There was another Orwellian moment in Jerusalem in 2008 when President Bush announced his intention to push a Mideast treaty between Israel and the Palestinians even as he admitted that the Palestinian side has not met a single one of its prior obligations under the ‘Road Map’!
While standing side-by-side with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Bush acknowledged that Hamas was dedicated to Israel’s destruction, that Hamas was in control of Gaza, and that Hamas was elected in a democratic election.
The next day, while standing beside Mahmoud Abbas, who has no control over Gaza, no control over Hamas, has made no effort to disarm Hamas, as Palestinian rockets still rain down on Israel Bush called on Israel to fulfill it’s obligations under the Road Map, suggesting that tacticmight “encourage the Palestinians to do the same.”
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, quickly dismissed Bush and Abbas’ hopeful comments.
“This meeting was for public relations only, it was an empty meeting without results, only more dreams and waste of time,” the Hamas spokesman said.
“The meeting focused on the so-called security topics which mean to act against the interests of the Palestinian majority and the resistance.”
Bush also openly admitted that he doesn’t know whether Abbas’ government can resolve the Palestinian division before the end of the year.
But that minor detail was swept under the rug in his next breath, in which he promised the Palestinians a state by year’s end, anyway.
In Orwell’s world in 1984, truth was whatever Big Brother and the Thought Police said it was.
In the real world in 2015, truth seems to be whatever people prefer to hear, facts notwithstanding.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. ” (Luke 21:28)
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 10, 2008
Featured Commentary: They Will Mourn for Him ~Alf Cengia