The Three Slogans of the Party: 1984 in Real Life
By: The Fresh Philosopher
-December 4, 2012
In George Orwell’s classic and prophetic novel “1984”, the state runs society and dictates to everyone (either explicitly through coercion or implicitly through clever propaganda) how to act every minute of the day. The main character, Winston, works at a government agency called “The Ministry of Truth” where it is his job to redact or change old newspaper articles which contradict the state’s current, official story. If the state had said something in the past which is out of line with what it is saying in the present, it’s Winston’s job to change the old information so that it corresponds to the new story.
Winston does his job at The Ministry of Truth faithfully, and yet he feels empty inside. He is only doing what he does because it gives him a livelihood and because he fears the state and its leader, Big Brother. Big Brother is always watching; that’s what the people say. His face is even plastered up on huge posters and billboards around the city with the subtext, “Big Brother is watching you.” Televisions are required to be turned on an tuned into the official government propaganda channel, people’s conversations are recorded, and even having a thought that differs from what the state tells people to think is labeled with the treasonous branding: Thoughtcrime. There are even Thought Police who come and intimidate or imprison those few individuals who dare go against anything the state says or tells them to do.
In 1984, the Party which runs the state has three slogans: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength. These three slogans adorn the building that Winston works in, The Ministry of Truth. The more one begins to compare the Party slogans in 1984 to the state of affairs in the world today (and especially the United States), one begins to realize that while George Orwell’s prophetic vision of the future is almost 30 years late, it may be upon us.
War is Peace
Ever since WWII, the United States has been involved in a plethora of undeclared wars against nations that have never launched an attack of any kind against the United States of America. The USA began fighting ideological wars instead of wars of national security. For a long time, it was the war against communism. Now, it is the war against terror. From Korea, to Vietnam, to Bosnia, to Kosovo, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, and beyond, the United States continues to either launch full scale wars against entire nations or selectively bomb “strategic targets” (oftentimes resulting in mass civilian casualties) within particular nations. With the advent of drone warfare and its video-game like ability to launch assaults from thousands of miles away, all it takes now is the click of a button and a Predator missile rains down from above onto a selected target. Oftentimes, children and young adults are hit. But here is the catch: the United States often includes anyone over the age of 16 (no matter who they are or what they are doing in the vicinity) as an enemy combatant, thereby justifying the killing.
We are told that these wars are in the name of “national security”, but the question has finally be raised as to whether or not the activities of the last 60 years have made America any safer, or are we less safe as a result of the meanderings of the United States government? If it isn’t bombs, it’s spies. Does the game ever end? And we wonder why the hate us.
But the biggest issue here is how the slogan “war is peace” has permeated American culture to the point where people accept it, just as they did in the book 1984. President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office, warned the American people of a dangerous trend that he saw looming on the horizon. He called it the “military-industrial complex”, which basically means that military endeavors become a lucrative industry for the nation. When this happens, the money raked in by war and military operations is often hard to turn away. So wars are often fabricated and the citizens are convinced through massive war propaganda (sometimes taking years to unfold) to support wars, even wars of aggression against nations who have never attacked the United States. But the government constantly chants the mantra, “War is Peace”, and the people go right along with it. And while people die, others make billions of dollars by profiting through death and destruction. All of this is to the detriment of the citizens who often blindly support the state and their two Parties, the Republicans and Democrats. No matter who is in office, the trend always continues.
Freedom is Slavery
It is odd indeed when you can get arrested in the “most free nation in the world” for shooting a deer out of season, whatever it means to be “out of season” (says who?). Who says what is in season or out of season? Or you can be arrested for collecting rainwater on your own property. After all, the government owns the sky. Or you can get detained by federal agents for making an anti-government Facebook post. What if you’re a terrorist? Or, upon trying to board a plane, federal agents grope your private areas all in the name of “national security”. You know, you might be a terrorist and could possibly be hiding a box cutter in those briefs of yours. Why don’t you let me have a grab down there, just for good measure…
Over the past few years, there have been over twenty cases of “terrorist attacks” thwarted in the United States. Two have been stopped by the citizens themselves, who sprang to action after seeing mysterious behavior on the part of a shady character. All of the other cases have been stopped by federal agents, but here is the catch. In every one of those cases, the government actually approached the would-be terrorist and started the charade in the first place. They befriended him and encouraged him to attack the United States. Federal agents actually tell certain individuals, who could possibly be convinced otherwise, to attack the United States as a form of Islamic jihad. Often, the individuals who are approached for the terror-setup have voiced some concerns and made rants online. But it is only after being approached and encouraged by federal agents does the individual decide to take part in a contrived plot. The federal agents give the person a fake bomb, tell them to detonate it at a certain place, and then swoop in at the last moment and “stop the terrorist attack” from occurring. Then the individual is charged with having a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to attack the United States; they are usually imprisoned for decades or for life.
But the individuals who are “caught” never had a bomb. They had a fake bomb. How could they be charged? And what about the federal agents who gave the person the fake bomb, shouldn’t they be charged too, by the same logic? You see, this is how the state works now. They prosecute people on the basis of Thoughtcrime and even setup individuals to make it seem as though there are terrorists out there, ready at a moment’s notice to launch full-scale war against the United States. The federal government uses these cases as excuses for expanding state power, taking away individual liberties, monitoring phone calls and emails, and much more. But is it not clear what’s really going on here? The state is trying, bit by bit, to convince people that “Freedom is Slavery” and that the only way to remain safe is for otherwise free citizens to allow the government to monitor nearly all private communications. It’s only a matter of time before all of this blows up in the face of the people of the United States.
Ignorance is Strength
Michel Foucault, in the mid 20th century, detailed the intricate balance between knowledge and power and how the powerful usually control the definition of what the rest of the population calls “knowledge”. If you haven’t already noticed, the government controls a lot of the dissemination of knowledge in the United States. From the age of 6 onward, most schools are run by the state and children are taught an official narrative from childhood until adulthood. They even make kids pledge allegiance to a flag every morning. Even if you choose not to send your child to public school, there are still guidelines that the government gives in order to ensure a “proper education” for your child. Proper according to whom, I might ask?
The sad part is that most of the teachers are not even aware that they are teaching children only half-truths. We were taught as children that Thanksgiving was about Indians (oops, now it’s Native Americans) and the colonists getting together in a quaint little festival and sharing food with each other. The real story of the Natives and the colonists is quite different. Likewise, we are taught about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree (which is pure fiction) and “honest Abe” who freed the slaves. No one mentions, however, that for nearly Abraham Lincoln’s entire life he was a die-hard racist who staunchly believed in segregation and that the white man was intrinsically superior to the black man. His racism was one of the talking points that he used in order to rise up to political power. With the internet and the dissemination of knowledge, we now understand that the histories we were taught growing up in public school are not only false, but purposely dishonest as well.
Whenever someone comes along and questions the “official” narrative that has been programmed into the population from childhood, that person is deemed crazy, insane, or even dangerous. However, it is usually the insane person that cannot explain why he or she believes what they believe. When someone is able to tell a narrative and back it up with actual historical evidence (complete evidence, I might add), how can we deny the plain truth?
But since the government in power controls what is knowledge and what is not, complete histories (which you actually get to learn in graduate school and beyond, they are not secret) that go against the official government narrative are deemed subversive and dangerous. It does not matter whether or not the story is true; if the story goes against what people have been raised to think is true, it amounts to a kind of psychological earthquake that causes depression, anxiety, and even hatred on the part of the one experiencing the mental trauma of seeing their worldview fall apart.
The government advocates ignorance and calls it strength. For example, anyone wishing to know why al-Qaeda hates the United States needs only to listen to their reasoning. In fact, Osama Bin-Laden even released a list of reasons why he declared war on the United States. Much of it has to do with the humiliation the United States continually deals out to Arabs by divvying up their Arabic land as the West sees fit. Other parts of his diatribe deal with the mass atrocities and mass civilian deaths caused by the West’s occupation and constant belligerent behavior in the Middle East. And yet the government’s official narrative is something like, “They hate us because of our freedoms” or “Their religion is a religion of hate.” Don’t read history or go to the “enemy” for the truth; that’s what the state tells us. Ignorance is Strength! We’re told that if we just bomb them bad enough, or long enough, they won’t hate us anymore. Kind of like spanking a child until they bleed; that’ll teach them to disobey!
David and Goliath: The People versus the State
In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, the Israelite population is terrified of the Philistines who are bigger and stronger than they are. Goliath is the biggest of the Philistine warriors and he even goes out and challenges Israelites to individual battle. Winner takes all. No one will fight Goliath because he is too big, his weapons too large, and he is very well trained in the ways of war. He stands across from the Israelite camp and yells and beats his chest, yet not a single person challenges him to combat. They are afraid. They would almost rather be conquered.
David is a shepherd boy. Not a wimpy shepherd boy, but an actual shepherd. He’s defended his father’s flock against wild animals. He uses a sling and a staff. He is very proficient with his sling; after all, he has to be. It means life or death to him and the flock. For years, David has honed the skill of slinging a rock with immense speed toward a threatening target. So one day David sneaks his way toward the battlefield, and this to the disdain of his older brothers who think David is just there to put his nose in where it doesn’t belong. David asks why no one will fight the Philistine who yells insults to the Israelites and their god. The people are too afraid.
When David volunteers to fight Goliath, the King obliges and tries to dress David in his own armor. David refuses; he isn’t used to the bulky armor. He says his sling and his staff are just fine. He’s been using them for years to defend his flock from lions and bears. He says, “This Philistine will be like one of those animals.”
David goes out to fight Goliath and the Philistine laughs at the boy. He says, “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks and stones?” But Goliath cannot fathom, in all of his arrogance, that a single well-thrown stone from the hand of a well-trained shepherd boy could fell a grown man. After all, David has scared off lions and bears with the same weapon; David is unafraid of a mere man. He takes a stone and slings it at the giant; the stone sinks into his forehead. David runs over and grabs the Philistine’s sword and cuts his head off and carries it back to the King of Israel. David in his humility had succeeded while Goliath, with all of his strength and arrogance, had been made to look like a fool.
The people of the United States are like David and our intellectual abilities are like the sling and the stone. The State is like Goliath, conquering with strength, power, and arrogance. But with the internet age upon us, the State could never conceive that even the smallest person could defeat them by intellectual capabilities alone. No weapons, just a sharp mind and the courage to enter into the battle. While many people run and flee and would rather be conquered, there are many Davids among us, using the mind rather than the sword to promote intellectual revolution and turn the country back from the chasm of 1984.
War is NOT Peace
Freedom is NOT Slavery
Ignorance is NOT Strength
-The Fresh Philosopher
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