Sept 11TH 1984
[Response from el-presidente at bottom.]
Dear President Vogel,
I'm beginning to believe that, sometime in September, I went to bed in 2001 and woke up in 1984. To be precise, George Orwell's doomsday book, 1984. Being an intellectual fellow, you're undoubtedly more familiar with the book than I and probably know where I'm heading with this. However, the gob-smacked plebs need to be educated.
Written in 1948 and set in 1984, Orwell's novel is the story of Winston Smith's tragic run-in with the government of Oceania. His story is compelling and his fate will be mine someday. If you want Winston's story, read the book, rent the movie, or buy the Coles Notes because this rant relates to Oceania. To understand 1984's Oceania is to understand the world we now live in, or at least the nightmare world I can't wake up from.
Oceania is a mega-nation made up of America, Great Britain and their respective coattail riders and colonies. (ie. Canada) Curiously, Oceania is essentially the Alliance in The War on Terrorism TM.
Oceania operates just like today's America. It's run by an unelected government that rules over a bunch of mindless, gutless sheep. It's leader, Big Brother, is a simple, farmer/rancher who people identify with because "he's one of us." Oceania's Big Brother is considerably smarter than Jeb Bush's big brother and the lame-ass Reality TV show of the same name. Big Brother W is a man so stupid, he can't muster the synaptic firepower to eat pretzels without his nanny watching! Lucky for him, intelligence and capability aren't job requirements. Big Brother's only relevance is symbolic. The Party machine runs the show behind his affable interface.
Oceania's only political party, The Republicrats, run everything and does so in the best interests of Inner Party Members. This elite group has wealth and privileges others can only dream of. Nubile young interns, clad only in thongs, bring them morning blunts on silver trays. Outer Party Members (the middle class) toil for table scraps, fueled by the delusion that someday their hard work and obedience will be rewarded. The Proles (working class) live off the crumbs, yet don't seem to care about it or anything else. These Homer Simpsons are so stupid and gullible, they believe everything they see on their telescreens.
Telescreens are like televisions, except they're everywhere. They're all stuck on CNN and can't be turned off. (CNN: Now featuring sexy, zipper-dropper, Paula Zahn and Connie "Me So Horny" Chung) The telescreens constantly bombard one with government propaganda. Every success is loudly trumpeted and there's no opposing voice. But telescreens serve a dual function, you watch them and they watch you. They're like security cameras on public streets, the latest fad sweeping the nation. "Watching you for your own protection".
As totalitarian governments go, Oceania's has no real ideology. The Party believes in only one thing, maintaining utter domination over its citizens. We're talking about the kind of domination you never knew existed until the Internet brought it into your home. There are only 3 platforms in this party. All are disturbingly relevant to today's America.
1.WAR IS PEACE - In Both Oceania and America, the official version is that peace comes from the complete destruction of all those not actively supporting us. As George II says, "Yer either with us, or yer against us". We're the good guys. They're The Evil Ones. They live in Evil Caves, wear Evil Capes, slide down Evil Poles, jump on Evil Flying Carpets and spread evil around the world. They must be "hunted down" and "rooted out" like wascally wabbits hiding in burrows. We are to achieve a safer world through never-ending war against an idea, with no objective way of gauging success. Shadowboxing.
Like America, Oceania has been at war for as long as anyone can remember. Both had long-term conflicts with Eurasia (Russia) who "has always been our enemy". Along the way, Eurasia invaded Eastasia (Afghanistan). Oceania then became allies with Eastasia, who "has always been our friend". But somewhere during 1984, the government switches things around. Just as America has done, Oceania declares the War Against Evil is against Eastasia, who "has always been our enemy". Eurasia, suddenly becomes an ally that "has always been our friend".
Those pointing out this overnight flip-flop are subject to harsh penalties. In fact, anybody who differs with the official party line is branded a traitor. Minister of Love, John Ashcroft, and the Thought Police are called in.
In Oceania & America, war is a tool. Winning is good, but the real purpose is to eliminate opposition to their illegitimate rule and to create a distraction. The crisis atmosphere of war gives the government a blank cheque. Fuck the economy, healthcare and the environment. Fuck education, democracy and your civil liberties. Fuck you. We're at war dammit! Just be glad we haven't sent your sorry ass to the front in a neon orange uniform! This ends when we say so. Until then, we do what we damn well please.
One need only watch Minister of Peace, Donald Rumsfeld, and his daily televised propaganda sessions to realize this may never end. Everyday since the first bomb dropped, we've heard the same thing. "Everything we've done has been successful. Victory is imminent. We're really close, but we must remain vigilant."
It's just like watching Rosco P. Coaltrane at work. "Coo-coo-coo! We got 'em now Boss!" But Rosco never really catches the Dukes. If he did, there would be no more hot pursuits. He'd no longer be a hero chasing dangerous rebels, but an incompetent, corrupt, idiot who is only in power thanks to the election rigging of Justice of The Peace, Boss Hogg.
2. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY - In Oceania and America, the official version is that freedom is to blame. Freedoms make us weak and vulnerable to attack. This is why Oceania, despite being so strong, hasn't won the war yet. So, until the never-ending war ends, freedoms must be taken away in order to protect them. Forget free speech, jury trials, presumed innocence and a free press. We need phone taps, military tribunals, telescreens and Echelon. We need the Thought Police smashing down doors, snatching up Thought Criminals and taking them to the Ministry of Love.
As Minister of Truth, Ari Fleisher, said regarding the shit storm Bill Maher found himself in, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and that this is not a time for remarks like that * It never is." Luckily for Maher, he wasn't taken to the Ministry of Love. If so, he would be quickly -and humanely- tortured until proclaiming his love for Big Brother W.
Of course, blaming freedom is far easier and less embarrassing than examining decades of dubious foreign policies that question the intelligence and moral purity of the government.
Why should Boss Hogg re-evaluate his dangerously, over consumptive lifestyle when he's got them rotten Duke boys, al Qaida or Emmanuel Goldstein's Brotherhood to blame for ruining his get-richer-faster schemes? He can continue to project his own evils onto them and remain "good" by fighting them. But how could a couple of guys with bows, arrows and box cutters derail someone as powerful as Boss Hogg? Perhaps, his appetites for power and money and his unwillingness to change has made him dependant on harebrained micro-managing that can't possibly work. If you have that many hands in that many cookie jars, eventually some will get slapped.
3. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - Publicly, Ignorance is Strength means "We do our job, you do yours and everything runs smoothly." The real goal is to stop people from thinking for themselves or interfering with Party plans. Both Oceania and America try to make their citizens as stupid and passive as possible, yet their own daily operations get more complicated.
Newspeak combined both. Oceania was constantly revising and dumbing down English. It kept people occupied, always updating to the latest version. Newspeak remolded the language to help frame thought the way The Party wanted. Today, we're awash with Newspeak. Layoffs are called "downsizing, rightsizing or employment reallocation". Prisoners of War are called "unlawful combatants". (For more Newspeak: http://www.scn.org/news/newspeak/ )
Doublethink was similar. It's the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time. (ie. Compassionate Conservatism.) Doublethink is behind ads claiming leisure time is increased by buying products that hook you into the office 24-7. In the ad, the actor spends his Venice vacation on a bench, feeding the pigeons and yelling "buy" and "sell" into a tiny headset. Not only does it turn his vacation into work, it makes him indistinguishable from the schizophrenic on the next bench who also thinks he's on the NYSE floor.
In Oceania, ambiguity and paranoia was the order of the day. The legal system was the same. Few things were illegal, but many things were severely frowned upon. It made no difference. The Ministry of Love decided what was punished. To them, actions were just evidence. Bad thoughts were the real crimes. A Thought Criminal was anybody even mildly opposed to Party policy, even if they did nothing about it. The risk they might someday offend was enough.
If you're a harmless Prole or a loyal Inner Party Member, you're fine. If you're an Outer Party Member whose thinking differs from The Party, you're toast. The Inner Party Members at Enron steal & defraud billions from people and they walk, but a guy selling shrooms at a Fish concert faces 15 years. This is because drugs induce abstract thinking dangerous to The Party, but abusing positions of power for personal gain is what The Party is all about.
Because John Ashcroft and his Thought Police can snatch you up without warning, detain you forever, torture you, try you in secret and execute you in front of a cheering public, there's no margin for error. This is why Ignorance is Strength. Become a Friends watching moron who doesn't give a shit about anything and does what he's told. If not, your face will be on every telescreen confessing your sins while your balls are getting vapourized in Room 101.
You may ask yourself, what good is a nation full of Ernest Scared Stupids working for you? You may ask yourself, where is your beautiful wife, your beautiful house or your large automobile? You clearly don't get it. Look at Boss Hogg. Yes, the quality of work from his dipstick underlings was clearly substandard, but never once was his position threatened from within. As we can see from the mindless, patriot, meadow muffins who chant "USA USA", blind loyalty is a powerful, easily guided force that crushes anything in its way.
This is why Big Brother holds daily "Minutes of Hate", rallies featuring propaganda films. The faces of characters like Emmanuel Goldstein, Osama Bin Laden and yours truly are flashed upon the screen. (Curiously enough, both Osama and Goldstein once worked for The Party) They're barely allowed to speak, limited to a few anti-Party slogans. It doesn't matter. They -like Big Brother- are no longer humans, but symbols to be vilified or worshiped. The second their faces hit the screen, the audience becomes a rabid mob, booing, yelling, throwing tomatoes and foaming at the mouth like Cujo. Big Brother comes on, promises to stop this evil man and everyone cheers. It's clear to anyone present there's no choice but to go along. Opposition is fatal.
In closing, while Oceania and America have many things in common, there's one major difference. Orwell's Oceania was a mythical, nightmare society where evil, self serving manipulators use technology, propaganda and mindless mobs to intimidate, control and violate human rights. Unlike Oceania, America is real nightmare society where evil, self serving manipulators use technology, propaganda and mindless mobs to intimidate, control, and violate human rights.
The Scorched Earth Party is the only force that can stop it. We must act now. Ari Fleisher's bald head must be carefully -but humanely- rammed inside Donald Rumsfeld's ass until they either suffocate or bleed out. Jon Ashcroft, Tom Ridge, Dickhead Cheney, Dan Rather and all Enron execs should be tarred & Anthraxed, stuck on a 747 with a full tank and an American flag painted on the side and be flown into the FOX "News" World Headquarters! As for Big Brother W, he must be separated from his nannies, locked in a room and allowed to eat pretzels, run with scissors and stick forks in light sockets until he does himself in.
So take THAT Echelon!
About to go down the Memory Hole,
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever." -O'Brien to Winston Smith in George Orwell's 1984
Response from Jeff Vogel, presidential candidate for the Scorched Earth Party.
A sincerely meant piece, packed full of opinions and literary merit. Before I respond, however, I wish to highlight one particular quote:
"Unlike Oceania, America is real nightmare society where evil, self serving manipulators use technology, propaganda and mindless mobs to intimidate, control, and violate human rights."
This is probably due to my brain being addled by the constant barrage of sex and drugs that is the necessary advantage of being the leader of the Scorched Earth Party, but it sounds like you have a problem with things being this way.
The problem is not that our government is a special-interest grubbing, clumsy, violent whore-pit. It's that it's not OUR special-interest grubbing, clumsy, violent whore-pit. It should be OUR propaganda. OUR mindless mobs. And if anyone violates human rights, it should be US.
You seem upset. Do what I do. Go beat a puppy. You'll feel better. I promise.
Like computer games? A great fantasy adventure awaits you here.