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1984

News

Classic Books

Recommended Links

Animal Farm

Brave New World

The True Believer

Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism

The Good Soldier Svejk Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass Inverted Totalitarism == Managed Democracy == Neoliberalism  Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Big Uncle is Watching You The Irony of American History The Power Elite

The Deep State

Winner-Take-All Politics

Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"

The Rise of the New Global Elite

Parkinson Law

The Peter Principle

Humor


Introduction

Adapted from Wikipedia articles Nineteen Eighty-Four and George Orwell 

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950),[1] who used the pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. George Orwell know something about propaganda. He participated in Spanish Civil War and during the Second World war worked at BBC.  That's why 1984 despite viewed typically as a depiction of the USSR and similar communist regimes is actually much deeper and is a novel that researched ultimate limits of propaganda (aka brainwashing). Orwell's work continues to influence popular and political culture, and The adjective Orwellian connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past.

Many of  his neologisms, such as cold war, Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, memory hole, doublethink, and thoughtcrime became common English words. Newspeak is a simplified and obfuscatory language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone. Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war, in his essay, "You and the Atom Bomb", published in Tribune, 19 October 1945. He wrote:

We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications;— this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbours.[122]

As a yong man George Orwell has first hand experience with the security apparatus of British empire and its intelligence agencies. Working as an imperial policeman In Birma  gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. When he was posted farther east in the Delta to Twante as a sub-divisional officer, he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924, he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, closer to Rangoon.  A colleague, Roger Beadon, recalled (in a 1969 recording for the BBC) that Blair was fast to learn the language and that before he left Burma, "was able to speak fluently with Burmese priests in 'very high-flown Burmese.'"[27]   Later, he wrote that he felt guilty about his role in the work of empire and he "began to look more closely at his own country and saw that England also had its oppressed ..." In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired (particularly The People of the Abyss), Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London.

In 1927 he  resigned from the Indian Imperial Police to become a writer. He drew on his experiences in the Burma police for the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays "A Hanging" (1931) and "Shooting an Elephant" (1936). At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell's wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. In August 1941, Orwell  obtained "war work" when he was taken on full-time by the BBC's Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links.  In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years. In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews[81] and on 3 December 1943 started his regular personal column, "As I Please", usually addressing three or four subjects in each. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the US, on 26 August 1946. In March 1949, while in sanatorium due to deteriorating health, he was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell's list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs.[95] In sanatorium Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim. Early on the morning of 21 January 1950, an artery burst in Orwell's lungs, killing him at age 46.[97]

As he wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,

When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens's photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry—in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.

George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.[106] Orwell's writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a the second classic dystopian novel by George Orwell (the first was Animal Farm). It was published in 1949 several month before his death.  Orwell managed to predict two negative development after WWII:  the emergence of the  National Security State and stratification of the society into several "parallel" strata with low upward mobility. With the upper strata ( top 0.01% ) possessing almost absolute power over the rest of society by controlling the governing party. He predicted 24x7 total survellance (see Snowden revelations) long before technical capabilities for this were available and only first steps toward it made in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and wartime Britain.  He essentially predicted the situation "Privacy is Dead – Get Over It" that exists today.

 

His second major achievement is that he predicted emergence of the states,  where the truth didn't exist as such, but is replaced by "artificial reality" created by propaganda picture and systemic, all encompassing brainwashing. The total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

Truth is what the "Big Brother" said. Rewriting of history is systematic amd all-encompassing, to fit the current political needs. Much like in most modern states. The state depicted is a totalitarian one and reminds more Nazi dictatorship, Latin American Junta with death squads, Stalinist Russia or Maoist China then modern Western states, as Orwell did not live to experience Inverted Totalitarism.

But the ideology of inverted totalitarism and its attempt to control the discourse via controlling the language and creation of artificial reality including artificial history was predicted brilliantly.

The book was written near the author death, and that probably partially explains the uncompromising stance that the author demonstrated in the book. Orwell wrote most of it in rather short period of time on the Scottish island of Jura, from 1947 to 1948.

The Last Man in Europe was one of the original titles for the novel, but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher Fredric Warburg, eight months before publication, Orwell wrote about hesitating between The Last Man in Europe and Nineteen Forty-Eight.[11] Warburg suggested changing the main title to a more commercial one. Throughout its publication history, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been either banned or legally challenged as subversive or ideologically corrupting, like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932); We (1924), by Yevgeny Zamyatin; Kallocain (1940), by Karin Boye; and Fahrenheit 451 (1951), by Ray Bradbury.

 It was published on 8 June 1949, six months before the author death (21 January 1950). By 1989, it had been translated into sixty-five languages, more than any other novel written in English at the time.

In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor's list, and 6 on the reader's list.[5] In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC's survey The Big Read. Literary scholars consider the Russian dystopian novel We, by Zamyatin, to have strongly influenced Nineteen Eighty-Four.[16][17]

The novel demonstrates stark predictions in several  aspects. In the novel England is now the province of Oceania called Airstrip One. Oceania with the center in the former USA is in perpetual war with other two global states and its alliances are constantly shifting. 

Total control of population

The title of the novel, its themes, the Newspeak language, and the author's surname are often invoked as a warning against excessive control and intrusion by the state,  made possible by modern technical means and computers.

The adjective Orwellian describes a totalitarian dystopia characterized by total surveillance that crashes any resistance, compete government control and subjugation of the 99% of the people in the interest  of the top 1% (the elite).

On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA  (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

Omnipresent government surveillance, public mind control, fake leaders

Surviving population is suffering from omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) which is run under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite (the term which instantly reminds me the term nomenclatura) that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.

With NSA washing our every step we can say that modern technology exceed the dystopian picture provided by the book. Surveillance in modern societies is really omnipresent due to the fact that most communications are now electronic. As for social system the only replacement that reality made to the book is that this new political system is called neoliberalism. See Henry Giroux On the Rise of Neoliberalism As a Political Ideology . Other then we can state that omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control rules the day.

After Prism program was revealed in June 2013, Nineteen Eighty-Four became a bestseller on Amazon. As of June 15, 2013 it was #87 in Fiction. As one Amazon reviewer put it:"Note to US Congress and house of representatives: This is a fictional book, not an instruction manual..."

In November 2011, the United States government argued before the US Supreme Court that it wants to continue utilizing GPS tracking of individuals without first seeking a warrant. In response, Justice Stephen Breyer questioned what this means for a democratic society by referencing Nineteen Eighty-Four. Justice Breyer asked

 "If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States. So if you win, you suddenly produce what sounds like 1984...."[59]

The tyranny described in the book is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Much like modern heads of states, who are essentially placeholders, actors hired for the ruling financial oligarchy clans. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good. We can say in the name of democracy ;-). 

In this respect too the reality provided to be amazingly close to the fiction. Obama is often described as " a pawn of the moneyed interests before he even took office.  He didn't sell out;  he was a well engineered product with a well targeted brand, selected and groomed for it. " Actually it is interesting to compare the picture of political system in the book with the picture of the political system provided in the post Why The Democrats Got Their Clocks Cleaned (Jesse's Café Américain, Nov 09, 2014)

The Democrats failed to make the most of a great moment in history because there was no Democrat brave enough, independent enough, to energize their party around the mandate for reform given to them overwhelmingly by the people in 2008.

Remember when everyone thought that the Republican party was dead, completely and utterly repudiated in 2008?  And how they have risen from the dead!

Obama was a pawn of the moneyed interests before he even took office.  He didn't sell out;  he was a well engineered product with a well targeted brand, selected and groomed for it.  

Less a politician than a thoroughly modern manager, Obama's primary objectives are to please his shareholders, whomever those may be.   And they were certainly not the people who voted for him.   He is not any kind of progressive or reformer once one scratches the surface.

That became clear in his first 100 days with his appointments.  And in his defense, the Democrats on the whole have been throwing their constituents under the bus for the sake of Wall Street money since 1992.  So Obama was not so much a betrayer as a fake, a member of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic party.  He is always fumbling, and making excuses, but at the end of the day, he did as he was told. 

The Democratic leadership has tried to bridge a gap between representing the people and fattening their wallets, and have ended up pleasing few.  They won't become the party of the moneyed interests because they cannot sell out more deeply than their counterparts.  And as for their traditional constituency in the working class, the only rejoinder is, 'the other guys are worse.'  And the other guys say the same thing to their base about them.  And no one is getting served, except the one percent.

I think that the 'other guys' are going to be worse, and people are just going to have to see how bad things can get, again, before they can get any better. 

From an FDR 1936 campaign speech in Madison Square Garden:
"For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."

The concept of Ministry of Truth and modern MSMs

The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.  His daily task is revising historical records to make the past conform to the ever-changing party line and deleting references to unpersons, people who have been "vaporised", i.e. not only killed by the state, but denied existence even in history or memory.

The picture of modern MSM and the level of brainwashing is less intrusive but no less effective, and journalists proved to be willing accomplices of the regime (Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few)

The smokescreen of propaganda is so think that it is impossible for common people of discern the reality.

They live in artificial reality.

Orwell's invented language, Newspeak, satirizes hypocrisy and evasion by the state. For example the names of the  the ministries became classic and nicely illustrate the concept: 

Many of its terms and concepts became common words in English and other languages. The effect of Nineteen Eighty-Four on the English language is so profound that there is a large set of works that were derived directly from the novel, but now entered common usage.

Among them the concepts of Big Brother, Room 101, the Thought Police, thoughtcrime, unperson, memory hole (oblivion), doublethink (simultaneously holding and believing contradictory beliefs) and Newspeak (ideological language) have become common phrases for denoting totalitarian authority. Doublespeak and groupthink are both deliberate elaborations of doublethink, while the adjective "Orwellian" denotes totalitarian state with omnipresent propaganda machine engaged in not stop brainwashing of citizens. It became apt depiction of official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a modern neoliberal state with the "Oceiania" as the most prominent of them.  The practice of ending words with "-speak" (e.g. corporate-speak) is also stems from the novel. For example Doublespeak.

The social  system

In describing the future social system George Orwell was strongly influence by the book The Managerial Revolution. This book  written in 1941 book in former Trotskyite James Burnham  described World War II as the first in a series of conflicts between managerial powers for control over three great industrial regions of the world—North America, Europe, and East Asia. The geographic scheme and condition of perpetual war are reflected in Orwell’s novel by the ceaseless struggles between Oceania (America with its Atlantic and Pacific outposts), Eurasia (Russian-dominated Europe), and Eastasia (the Orient). The Managerial Revolution itself appears in 1984 as Emmanuel Goldstein’s forbidden book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.

The Managerial Revolution, attempted to theorize about the future of world capitalism based upon observations of its development in the interwar period. Burnham argued  that capitalism was a temporary form of organization currently being transformed into some non-socialist but Totalitarian rule, strongly influenced by national socialism.

The events depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four are set in Oceania, one of three inter-continental super-states that divided the world among themselves after a global war. Most of the action takes place in London, the "chief city of Airstrip One", the Oceanic province that "had once been called England or Britain". Posters of the Party leader, Big Brother, bearing the caption "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU", dominate the city, while the ubiquitous telescreen (transceiving television set) monitors the private and public lives of the populace.

The social  system of Oceania consists of three classes:

As the government, the Party controls the population with four ministries: the Ministry of Peace (Minipax), which wages wars, the Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty), which deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love (Miniluv), which deals with law and order (torture), the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which deals with propaganda (news, entertainment, education and art)

The Plot

The story of Winston Smith begins on 4 April 1984:

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen"; yet he is uncertain of the true date, given the régime’s continual rewriting and manipulation of history. His memories and his reading of the proscribed book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, reveal that after the Second World War, the United Kingdom fell to civil war and then was absorbed into Oceania. Simultaneously, the USSR conquered mainland Europe and established the second superstate of Eurasia. The third superstate, Eastasia, comprises the regions of East Asia and Southeast Asia. The three superstates wage perpetual war for the remaining unconquered lands of the world, forming and breaking alliances as is convenient.

From his childhood (1949–53), Winston remembers the Atomic Wars fought in Europe, western Russia, and North America. It is unclear to him what occurred first: the Party's victory in the civil war, the US annexation of the British Empire, or the war in which Colchester was bombed. However, his strengthening memories and the story of his family's dissolution suggest that the atomic bombings occurred first (the Smiths took refuge in a tube station), followed by civil war featuring "confused street fighting in London itself", and the societal postwar reorganisation, which the Party retrospectively calls "the Revolution".

Oceanian society: Big Brother atop, the Party in middle, the Proles at bottom, in 1984. The story of Winston Smith presents the world in the year 1984, after a global atomic war, via his perception of life in Airstrip One (England or Britain), a province of Oceania, one of the world's three superstates; his intellectual rebellion against the Party and illicit romance with Julia; and his consequent imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and re-education by the Thinkpol in the Miniluv.

Principal characters in the book are inston Smith—the protagonist, is a phlegmatic everyman. Julia—Winston's lover, is a covert "rebel from the waist downwards" who publicly espouses Party doctrine as a member of the fanatical Junior Anti-Sex League. Big Brother—the dark-eyed, mustachioed embodiment of the Party who rule Oceania. O'Brien—a member of the Inner Party who poses as a member of The Brotherhood, the counter-revolutionary resistance, in order to deceive, trap, and capture Winston and Julia. Emmanuel Goldstein—a former leader of the Party, the counter-revolutionary author of The Book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, and leader of the Brotherhood. He is the symbolic Enemy of the State—the national nemesis who ideologically unites the people of Oceania with the Party, especially during the Two Minutes Hate, and other fearmongering by the Inner Party. It is unknown whether he is real or a fabrication of the Party itself for the purpose of propaganda.

Winston Smith

Winston Smith is an intellectual, a member of the Outer Party (middle class), who lives in the ruins of London, and who grew up in some long post-World War II England, during the revolution and the civil war after which the Party assumed power. At some point his parents and sister disappeared, and he was placed in an orphanage for training and subsequent employment as an Outer Party civil servant. He lives an austere existence in a one-room flat on a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals washed down with Victory-brand gin. He keeps a journal of negative thoughts and opinions about the Party and Big Brother, which, if uncovered by the Thought Police, would warrant death. The flat has an alcove, beside the telescreen, where he apparently cannot be seen, and thus believes he has some privacy, while writing in his journal: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death." The telescreens (in every public area, and the quarters of the Party's members), have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone and so identify anyone who might endanger the Party's régime; children, most of all, are indoctrinated to spy and inform on suspected thought-criminals – especially their parents.

At the Minitrue, Winston is an editor responsible for historical revisionism, concording the past to the Party's ever-changing official version of the past; thus making the government of Oceania seem omniscient. As such, he perpetually rewrites records and alters photographs, rendering the deleted people as "unpersons"; the original documents are incinerated in a "memory hole." Despite enjoying the intellectual challenges of historical revisionism, he becomes increasingly fascinated by the true past and tries to learn more about it.

Julia

One day, at the Minitrue, as Winston assists a woman who has fallen down, she surreptitiously hands him a folded paper note; later, at his desk he covertly reads the message: I LOVE YOU. The woman is "Julia," a young dark haired mechanic who repairs the Minitrue novel-writing machines. Before that occasion, Winston had loathed the sight of her, since women tended to be the most fanatical supporters of Ingsoc. He particularly loathed her because of her membership in the fanatical Junior Anti-Sex League. Winston fantasises about making love to her but he would want to kill her at the moment of climax. Additionally, Julia was the type of woman he believed he could not attract: young and puritanical. Nonetheless, his hostility towards her vanishes upon reading the message. As it turns out, Julia is a thoughtcriminal too, and hates the Party as much as he does.

Cautiously, Winston and Julia begin a love affair, at first meeting in the country, at a clearing in the woods, then at the belfry of a ruined church, and afterwards in a rented room atop an antiques shop in a proletarian neighbourhood of London. There, they think themselves safe and unobserved, because the rented bedroom has no apparent telescreen, but, unknown to Winston and Julia, the Thought Police were aware of their love affair.

Later, when the Inner Party member O'Brien approaches him, Winston believes he is an agent of the Brotherhood, a secret, counter-revolutionary organisation meant to destroy the Party. The approach opens a secret communication between them; and, on pretext of giving him a copy of the latest edition of the Dictionary of Newspeak, O'Brien gives Winston the Book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, the infamous and publicly reviled leader of the Brotherhood. The Book explains the concept of perpetual war, the true meanings of the slogans WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and how the régime of the Party can be overthrown by means of the political awareness of the Proles.

The Thought Police capture Winston and Julia in their bedroom and deliver them to the Ministry of Love for interrogation. Charrington, the shop keeper who rented the room to them, reveals himself as an officer of the Thought Police. O'Brien also reveals himself to be a Thought Police leader, and admits to luring Winston and Julia into a trap used by the Thought Police to root out suspected thoughtcriminals. After a prolonged regimen of systematic beatings and psychologically draining interrogation, O'Brien, now Smith's interrogator, tortures Winston with electroshock, showing him how, through controlled manipulation of perception (e.g. seeing whatever number of fingers held up that the Party demands one should see, whatever the apparent reality, i.e. 2+2=5), Winston can "cure" himself of his "insanity" – his manifest hatred for the Party. In long, complex conversations, he explains the Inner Party's motivation: complete and absolute power, mocking Winston's assumption that it was somehow altruistic and "for the greater good." Asked if the Brotherhood exists, O'Brien replies that this is something Winston will never know; it will remain an unsolvable quandary in his mind. During a torture session, his imprisonment in the Ministry of Love is explained: "There are three stages in your reintegration... There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance," i.e. of the Party's assertion of reality.

Confession and betrayal

In the first stage of political re-education, Winston Smith admits to and confesses to crimes he did and did not commit, implicating anyone and everyone, including Julia. In the second stage, O'Brien makes Winston understand that he is rotting away; by this time he is little more than skin and bones. Winston counters that: "I have not betrayed Julia"; O'Brien agrees, Winston had not betrayed Julia because he "had not stopped loving her; his feelings toward her had remained the same." One night, in his cell, Winston awakens, screaming: "Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!" O'Brien rushes into the cell and sends him to Room 101, the most feared room in the Ministry of Love, where resides each prisoner's worst fear, which is forced upon him or her. In Room 101 is Acceptance, the final stage of the political re-education of Winston Smith, whose primal fear of rats is invoked when a wire cage holding hungry rats is fitted onto his face. As the rats are about to reach Winston’s face, he shouts: "Do it to Julia!" thus betraying her, and relinquishing his love for her. At torture’s end, upon accepting the doctrine of the Party, Winston now loves Big Brother and is reintegrated into Oceania society.

Re-encountering Julia

Some time after being restored to orthodox thought, Winston encounters Julia in a park. It turns out that Julia has endured a similar ordeal to Winston, and has also been purged of rebellion. Each admits betraying the other:

"I betrayed you," she said baldly. "I betrayed you," he said. She gave him another quick look of dislike. "Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something – something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, 'Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself." "All you care about is yourself," he echoed. "And after that, you don't feel the same toward the other person any longer." "No," he said, "you don't feel the same."

Throughout, a song recurs in Winston's mind: Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me— The lyrics are an adaptation of ‘Go no more a-rushing’, a popular English campfire song from the 1920s, that was a popular success for Glenn Miller in 1939.

Conversion

An alcoholic Winston sits by himself in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, still troubled by false memories which he is convinced are indeed false. He tries to put them out of his mind when suddenly a news bulletin announces Oceania's decisive victory over Eurasia for control of Africa. A raucous celebration begins outside, and Winston imagines himself a part of it. As he looks up in admiration at a portrait of Big Brother, Winston realises that "the final, indispensable, healing change" within his own mind had only been completed at just that moment. He engages in a "blissful dream" in which he offers a full, public confession of his crimes and is executed. He feels that all is well now that he has at last achieved a victory over himself, ending his previous "stubborn, self-willed exile" from the love of Big Brother — a love Winston now happily returns.

Secondary characters

Aaronson, Jones, and Rutherford—Former members of the Inner Party whom Winston vaguely remembers as among the original leaders of the Revolution, long before he had heard of Big Brother. They confessed to treasonable conspiracies with foreign powers and were then executed in the political purges of the 1960s. In between their confessions and executions, Winston saw them drinking in the Chestnut Tree Café — with broken noses, suggesting that their confessions had been obtained by torture. Later, in the course of his editorial work, Winston sees newspaper evidence contradicting their confessions, but drops it into the waste disposal pipe. Eleven years later, he is confronted with the same photograph during his interrogation. Ampleforth—Winston's one-time Records Department colleague who was imprisoned for leaving the word "God" in a Kipling poem; Winston encounters him at the Miniluv. Ampleforth is a dreamer and an intellectual who takes pleasure in his work, and respects poetry and language, which traits and qualities cause him disfavour with the Party. Charrington—An officer of the Thought Police posing as a sympathetic antiques-shop keeper. Katharine—The emotionally indifferent wife whom Winston "can't get rid of". Despite disliking sexual intercourse, Katharine continued with Winston because it was their "duty to the Party". Although she was a "goodthinkful" ideologue, they separated because she could not bear children. Parsons—Winston's naïve neighbour, and an ideal member of the Outer Party: an uneducated, suggestible man who is utterly loyal to the Party, and fully believes in its perfect image. He is socially active and participates in the Party activities for his social class. Although friendly towards Smith, and despite his political conformity, he punishes his bully-boy son for firing a catapult at Winston. Later, as a prisoner, Winston sees Parsons is in the Ministry of Love, because his daughter had reported him to the Thought Police after overhearing him speak against the Party whilst he slept. Mrs. Parsons—Parsons's wife is a wan and hapless woman who is intimidated by her own children, who are members of the Party Youth League and represent the new generation of Oceanian citizens, without memory of life before Big Brother, and without family ties or emotional sentiment; the model society moulded by the Inner Party. Syme—Winston's colleague at the Ministry of Truth, whom the Party "vaporised" because he remained a lucidly thinking intellectual. He was a lexicographer who developed the language and the dictionary of Newspeak, in the course of which he enjoyed destroying words, and wholeheartedly believed that Newspeak would replace Oldspeak (Standard English) by the year 2050. Although Syme's politically orthodox opinions aligned with Party doctrine, Winston noted that "He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly". After noting that Syme's name was deleted from the members list of the Chess Club, Winston infers he became an unperson who never had existed. Goldstein's book says that "Between the two branches of the Party there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise." It is unknown whether Syme has been killed or promoted in the Inner Party in another province.

Ingsoc

 (English Socialism), is the regnant ideology and pseudo-philosophy of Oceania, and Newspeak is its official language, of official documents.

Ministries of Oceania

In London, the Airstrip One capital city, Oceania's four government ministries are in pyramids (300 metres high), the façades of which display the Party's three slogans. The ministries' names are antonymous doublethink to their true functions: "The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation". (Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism) Ministry of Peace (Newspeak: Minipax) Minipax supports Oceania's perpetual war.

The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society. At present, when few human beings even have enough to eat, this problem is obviously not urgent, and it might not have become so, even if no artificial processes of destruction had been at work. Ministry of Plenty (Newspeak: Miniplenty) The Ministry of Plenty rations and controls food, goods, and domestic production; every fiscal quarter, the Miniplenty publishes false claims of having raised the standard of living, when it has, in fact, reduced rations, availability, and production. The Minitrue substantiates the Miniplenty claims by revising historical records to report numbers supporting the current, "increased rations". Ministry of Truth (Newspeak: Minitrue) The Ministry of Truth controls information: news, entertainment, education, and the arts. Winston Smith works in the Minitrue RecDep (Records Department), "rectifying" historical records to concord with Big Brother's current pronouncements, thus everything the Party says is true. Ministry of Love (Newspeak: Miniluv) The Ministry of Love identifies, monitors, arrests, and converts real and imagined dissidents. In Winston's experience, the dissident is beaten and tortured, then, when near-broken, is sent to Room 101 to face "the worst thing in the world" — until love for Big Brother and the Party replaces dissension.

Doublethink

Main article: Doublethink

The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

— Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism

Perpetual War: The news report Oceania has captured Africa, 1984. Three perpetually warring totalitarian super-states control the world:[30] Oceania (ideology: Ingsoc, i.e., English Socialism); its core territories are the Western Hemisphere, the British Isles, Australasia and Southern Africa. Eurasia (ideology: Neo-Bolshevism); its core territories are Continental Europe and Russia, including Siberia. Eastasia (ideology: Obliteration of the Self, i.e., "Death worship"); its core territories are China, Japan, Korea, and Indochina.

The perpetual war is fought for control of the "disputed area" lying "between the frontiers of the super-states", it forms "a rough parallelogram with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin and Hong Kong",[30] thus Northern Africa, the Middle East, India and Indonesia are where the super-states capture and utilise slave-labour. Fighting also takes place between Eurasia and Eastasia in Manchuria, Mongolia and Central Asia, and all three powers battle one another over various Atlantic and Pacific islands.

Goldstein's book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, explains that the super-states' ideologies are alike and that the public's ignorance of this fact is imperative so that they might continue believing in the detestability of the opposing ideologies. The only references to the exterior world for the Oceanian citizenry (the Outer Party and the Proles), are Minitrue maps and propaganda ensuring their belief in "the war".

The Revolution

Winston Smith's memory and Emmanuel Goldstein's book communicate some of the history that precipitated the Revolution; Eurasia was established after World War II (1939–45), when US and Imperial soldiers withdrew from continental Europe, thus the USSR conquered Europe against slight opposition. Eurasia does not include the British Empire because the US annexed it, as well as Latin America, southern Africa, Australasia, and Canada, thus establishing Oceania and gaining control over a quarter of the planet. The annexation of Britain was part of the Atomic Wars that provoked civil war; per the Party, it was not a revolution but a coup d'état that installed a ruling élite derived from the native intelligentsia. Eastasia, the last superstate established, comprises the Asian lands conquered by China and Japan. Although Eurasia prevented Eastasia from matching it in size, its larger populace compensate for that handicap. Precise chronology is unclear, but most of that global reorganisation occurred between 1945 and the 1960s.

The War

See also: Perpetual war

In 1984, there is a perpetual war among Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, the super-states which emerged from the atomic global war. "The book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein, explains that each state is so strong it cannot be defeated, even with the combined forces of two super-states—despite changing alliances. To hide such contradictions, history is re-written to explain that the (new) alliance always was so; the populaces accustomed to doublethink accept it. The war is not fought in Oceanian, Eurasian or Eastasian territory but in the arctic wastes and a disputed zone comprising the sea and land from Tangiers (northern Africa) to Darwin (Australia). At the start, Oceania and Eastasia are allies combatting Eurasia in northern Africa and the Malabar Coast.

That alliance ends and Oceania allied with Eurasia fights Eastasia, a change which occurred during the Hate Week dedicated to creating patriotic fervour for the Party's perpetual war. The public are blind to the change; in mid-sentence an orator changes the name of the enemy from "Eurasia" to "Eastasia" without pause. When the public are enraged at noticing that the wrong flags and posters are displayed they tear them down—thus the origin of the idiom "We've always been at war with Eastasia"; later the Party claims to have captured Africa.

"The book" explains that the purpose of the unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume human labour and commodities, hence the economy of a super-state cannot support economic equality (a high standard of life) for every citizen. Goldstein also details an Oceanian strategy of attacking enemy cities with atomic rockets before invasion, yet dismisses it as unfeasible and contrary to the war's purpose; despite the atomic bombing of cities in the 1950s the super-states stopped such warfare lest it imbalance the powers. The military technology in 1984 differs little from that of World War II, yet strategic bomber aeroplanes were replaced with Rocket Bombs, helicopters were heavily used as weapons of war (while they didn't figure in WW2 in any form but prototypes) and surface combat units have been all but replaced by immense and unsinkable Floating Fortresses, island-like contraptions concentrating the firepower of a whole naval task force in a single, semi-mobile platform (in the novel one is said to have been anchored between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, suggesting a preference for sea lane interdiction and denial).

Living standards

In 1984, the society of Airstrip One lives in poverty; hunger, disease and filth are the norms and ruined cities and towns the consequence of the civil war, the atomic wars and purported enemy (but quite possibly self-serving Oceanian) rockets. Social decay and wrecked buildings surround Winston; aside from the ministerial pyramids, little of London was rebuilt. The standard of living of the populace is low; almost everything, especially consumer goods, is scarce and available goods are of low quality; half of the Oceanian populace go barefoot – despite the Party reporting increased boot production. The Party claims that this poverty is a necessary sacrifice for the war effort; "the book" reports that this is partially correct, because the purpose of perpetual war is consuming surplus industrial production.

The Inner Party upper class of Oceanian society enjoy the highest standard of living. O'Brien resides in a clean and comfortable apartment, with a pantry well-stocked with quality foodstuffs (wine, coffee, sugar, etc.), denied to the general populace, the Outer Party and the Proles, who consume synthetic foodstuffs; "Victory" gin and "Victory" cigarettes are of low quality.[31] The brand "Victory" is taken from the low-quality "Victory" cigarettes (also known as Vs), made in India, that were widely smoked in Britain and by British soldiers during World War II when American cigarettes could not easily be imported across the U-boat-infested waters of the North Atlantic. Winston is astonished that the lifts in O'Brien's building function and that the telescreens can be switched off. The Inner Party are attended to by slaves captured in the disputed zone. O'Brien has an Asian manservant, Martin.

The proles live in poverty and are kept sedated with alcohol, pornography and a national lottery, yet the proles are freer and less intimidated than the middle class Outer Party, and jeer at the telescreens. "The Book" reports that the state of things derives from the observation that the middle class, not the lower class, traditionally started revolutions, therefore tight control of the middle class penetrates their minds in determining their quotidian lives, and potential rebels are politically neutralised via promotion to the Inner Party or "reintegration" by Miniluv; nonetheless Winston believed that "the future belonged to the proles".[32]

Themes

Nationalism

Nineteen Eighty-Four expands upon the subjects summarised in the essay Notes on Nationalism (1945) about the lack of vocabulary needed to explain the unrecognised phenomena behind certain political forces. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party's artificial, minimalist language 'Newspeak' addresses the matter.

Positive nationalism: Oceanians' perpetual love for Big Brother; Neo-Toryism, Celtic nationalism and British Israelism are (as Orwell argues) defined by love. Negative nationalism: Oceanians' perpetual hatred for Emmanuel Goldstein; Stalinism, Anglophobia and antisemitism are (as Orwell argues) defined by hatred.

Transferred nationalism: In mid-sentence an orator changes the enemy of Oceania; the crowd instantly transfers their hatred to the new enemy. Transferred nationalism swiftly redirects emotions from one power unit to another (e.g., Communism, Pacifism, Colour Feeling and Class Feeling). This happened during a Party Rally against the original enemy Eurasia, when the orator suddenly switches enemy in midsentence, the crowd goes wild and destroys the posters that are now against their new friend (Eurasia) and many say that this must be the act of an agent of their new enemy (and former friend) Eastasia, even though many of the crowd must have put up the posters before the rally. The enemy has always been Eastasia.

O'Brien concludes: "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

Futurology

In the book, Inner Party member O'Brien describes the Party's vision of the future:

There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always-do not forget this, Winston-always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.

-Part III, Chapter III, Nineteen Eighty-Four

This contrasts the essay "England Your England" (1941) with the essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" (1941):

The intellectuals who hope to see it Russianised or Germanised will be disappointed. The gentleness, the hypocrisy, the thoughtlessness, the reverence for law and the hatred of uniforms will remain, along with the suet puddings and the misty skies. It needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture. The Stock Exchange will be pulled down, the horse plough will give way to the tractor, the country houses will be turned into children's holiday camps, the Eton and Harrow match will be forgotten, but England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.

The geopolitical climate of Nineteen Eighty-Four resembles the précis of James Burnham's ideas in the essay "James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution"[34] (1946):

These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organize society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new 'managerial' societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.

Censorship

A major theme of Nineteen Eighty-Four is censorship, especially in the Ministry of Truth, where photographs are doctored and public archives rewritten to rid them of "unpersons" (i.e. persons who have been arrested, whom the Party has decided to erase from history). On the telescreens figures for all types of production are grossly exaggerated (or simply invented) to indicate an ever-growing economy, when the reality is the opposite. One small example of the endless censorship is when Winston is charged with the task of eliminating reference to an unperson in a newspaper article. He proceeds to write an article about Comrade Ogilvy, a fictional party member, who displayed great heroism by leaping into the sea from a helicopter so that the dispatches he was carrying would not fall into enemy hands.

Surveillance

The inhabitants of Oceania, particularly the Outer Party members, have no real privacy. Many of them live in apartments equipped with two-way telescreens, so that they may be watched or listened to at any time. Similar telescreens are found at workstations and in public places, along with hidden microphones. Written correspondence is routinely opened and read by the government before it is delivered. The Thought Police employ undercover agents, who pose as normal citizens and report any person with subversive tendencies. Children are encouraged to report suspicious persons to the government, and some even denounce their own parents.

This surveillance allows for effective control of the citizenry. The smallest sign of rebellion, even something so small as a facial expression, can result in immediate arrest and imprisonment. Thus, citizens (and particularly party members) are compelled to absolute obedience at all times.

The Newspeak appendix

Main article: Newspeak

"The Principles of Newspeak" is an academic essay appended to the novel. It describes the development of Newspeak, the Party's minimalist artificial language meant to ideologically align thought and action with the principles of Ingsoc by making "all other modes of thought impossible". (For linguistic theories about how language may direct thought, see the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.)[35] Note also the possible influence of the German book LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii, published in 1947, which details how the Nazis controlled society by controlling language.

Whether or not the Newspeak appendix implies a hopeful end to Nineteen Eighty-Four remains a critical debate, as it is in Standard English and refers to Newspeak, Ingsoc, the Party, et cetera, in the past tense (i.e., "Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised", p. 422); in this vein, some critics (Atwood,[36] Benstead,[37] Pynchon[38]) claim that, for the essay's author, Newspeak and the totalitarian government are past. The countervailing view is that since the novel has no frame story, Orwell wrote the essay in the same past tense as the novel, with "our" denoting his and the reader's contemporaneous reality.

Some sources for literary motifs

Nineteen Eighty-Four uses themes from life in the Soviet Union and wartime life in Great Britain as sources for many of its motifs.

The statement "2 + 2 = 5", used to torment Winston Smith during his interrogation, was a Communist party slogan from the second five-year plan, which encouraged fulfilment of the five-year plan in four years. The slogan was seen in electric lights on Moscow house-fronts, billboards, etc.[39]

The switch of Oceania's allegiance from Eastasia to Eurasia is evocative of the Soviet Union's changing relations with Nazi Germany, who were open adversaries until the signing of the Treaty of Non-Aggression. Thereafter, and continuing until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, no criticism of Germany was allowed in the Soviet press, and all references to prior party lines stopped.

The description of Emmanuel Goldstein, with a goatee beard, evokes the image of Leon Trotsky. The film of Goldstein during the two-minutes hate is described as showing him being transformed into a bleating goat. This image was used in a propaganda film during the Kino-eye period of Soviet film, which showed Trotsky transforming into a goat.[40] Goldstein's book is redolent of Trotsky's highly critical analysis of the USSR "The Revolution Betrayed", published in 1936.

The omnipresent images of Big Brother, described as having a mustache, evokes the cult of personality built up around Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler.

The news in Oceania emphasised production figures, just as it did in the Soviet Union, where record-setting in factories (by "Heroes of Socialist Labor") was especially glorified. The best known of these was Alexey Stakhanov, who purportedly set a record for coal mining in 1935.

The tortures of the Ministry of Love evoke the procedures used Gestapo and NKVD in their interrogations, including the use of rubber truncheons, being forbidden to put your hands in your pockets, remaining in brightly lit rooms for days, and the victim being shown a mirror after their physical collapse.

Orwell's "Spies", a youth organization taught to look for enemies of the state, appears to be based on the Hitler Youth

A poster showing young Pioneers as future Komsomol members. The "Junior Anti-Sex league" was based on the Young Communists; the komsomol and Bund Deutscher Mädel (the League of German Girls).

The random bombing of Airstrip One is based on the Buzz bombs, which struck England at random in 1944-1945.

The Thought Crime motif is drawn from Kempeitai, the Japanese wartime secret police, who arrested people for "unpatriotic" thoughts.

The confessions of the "Thought Criminals" Rutherford, Aaronson and Jones are based on the show trials of the 1930s, which included fabricated confessions by prominent Bolsheviks Nikolai Bukharin, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev to the effect that they were being paid by the Nazi government to undermine the Soviet regime under Leon Trotsky's direction.

The song "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree" ("Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you, and you sold me") was based on Glenn Miller's 1939 song of the same name ("Under the spreading chestnut tree, Where I knelt upon my knee, We were as happy as could be, 'Neath the spreading chestnut tree.") The song has its origins in the 1920s, when it was a camp song, sung with corresponding movements (like touching your chest when you sing "chest", and touching your head when you sing "nut"). The original title was 'Go no more a-rushing'. Under these lyrics, the song was published as early as 1891.

The "Hates" (two-minutes hate and hate week) were inspired by the constant rallies sponsored by party organs both in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

The contractions of words, in which "Ministry of Truth" was shortened to "Minitrue" and "English Socialism" to "Ingsoc" was inspired by the Soviet habit of combining words. Smert Shpionam ("death to spies", a sub-division of the NKVD) was shortened to "Smersh". Dialectical Materialism was similarly shortened to "DiaMat", and The Communist International was referred to as the Comintern.

"Vaporising" criminals (a metaphor for execution) is based on the Soviet word "liquidation" a vague term that usually meant execution or "Internal Exile" to the gulag labour camps. Nikolai Yezhov, walking with Stalin in the top photo from the 1930s. Following his execution, Yezhov was edited out of the photo by Soviet censors.[44] Yezhov became an "unperson".

Winston Smith's job, "revising history" (and the "unperson" motif) are based on the Stalinist habit of airbrushing images of 'fallen' people from group photographs and removing references to them in books and newspapers. In one well-known example, the Soviet encyclopaedia had an article about Lavrentiy Beria. When he fell in 1953, and was subsequently executed, institutes that had the encyclopaedia were sent an article about the Bering Strait, with instructions to paste it over the article about Beria.[46]

Big Brother's "Orders of the Day" were inspired by Stalin's regular wartime orders, called by the same name. A small collection of the more political of these have been published (together with his wartime speeches) in English as "On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union" By Joseph Stalin. Like Big Brother's Orders of the day, Stalin's frequently lauded heroic individuals,[49] like Comrade Ogilvy, the fictitious hero Winston Smith invented to 'rectify' (fabricate) a Big Brother Order of the day.

The Ingsoc slogan "Our new, happy life", repeated from telescreens, evokes Stalin's 1935 statement, which became a CPSU slogan, "Life has become better, Comrades; life has become more cheerful.

Influences

During World War II (1939–1945) Orwell believed that British democracy as it existed before 1939 would not survive the war, the question being "Would it end via Fascist coup d'état (from above) or via Socialist revolution (from below). Later he admitted that events proved him wrong: "What really matters is that I fell into the trap of assuming that 'the war and the revolution are inseparable'".

Thematically Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Animal Farm (1945) share the betrayed revolution; the person's subordination to the collective; rigorously enforced class distinctions (Inner Party, Outer Party, Proles); the cult of personality; concentration camps; Thought Police; compulsory regimented daily exercise and youth leagues. Oceania resulted from the US annexation of the British Empire to counter the Asian peril to Australia and New Zealand. It is a naval power whose militarism venerates the sailors of the floating fortresses, from which battle is given to recapturing India, the "Jewel in the Crown" of the British Empire.

Much of Oceanic society is based upon the propaganda strategies that emerged after WWI and fully florished during WWII. A similar thing also happened during the French Revolution in which many of the original leaders of the Revolution were later put to death, for example Danton who was put to death by Robespierre, and then later Robespierre himself met the same fate.

In his 1946 essay Why I Write, Orwell explains that the serious works he wrote since the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) were "written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism".

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a cautionary tale about revolution betrayed by totalitarian defenders previously proposed in Homage to Catalonia (1938) and Animal Farm (1945), while Coming Up for Air (1939) celebrates the personal and political freedoms lost in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Biographer Michael Shelden notes Orwell's Edwardian childhood at Henley-on-Thames as the golden country; being bullied at St Cyprian's School as his empathy with victims; his life in the Indian Burma Police – the techniques of violence and censorship in the BBC - capricious authority.

Other influences include Darkness at Noon (1940) and The Yogi and the Commissar (1945) by Arthur Koestler; The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London; 1920: Dips into the Near Future[53] by John A. Hobson; Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley; We (1921) by Yevgeny Zamyatin which he reviewed in 1946;[54] and The Managerial Revolution (1940) by James Burnham predicting perpetual war among three totalitarian superstates. Orwell told Jacintha Buddicom that he would write a novel stylistically like A Modern Utopia (1905) by H. G. Wells.

Extrapolating from World War II, the novel's pastiche parallels the politics and rhetoric at war's end-the changed alliances at the "Cold War's" (1945–91) beginning; the Ministry of Truth derives from the BBC's overseas service, controlled by the Ministry of Information; Room 101 derives from a conference room at BBC Broadcasting House; the Senate House of the University of London, containing the Ministry of Information is the architectural inspiration for the Minitrue; the post-war decrepitude derives from the socio-political life of the UK and the USA, i.e. the impoverished Britain of 1948 losing its Empire despite newspaper-reported imperial triumph; and war ally but peace-time foe, Soviet Russia became Eurasia.

The term "English Socialism" has precedents in his wartime writings; in the essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" (1941), he said that "the war and the revolution are inseparable... the fact that we are at war has turned Socialism from a textbook word into a realisable policy" - because Britain's superannuated social class system hindered the war effort and only a socialist economy would defeat Adolf Hitler. Given the middle class's grasping this, they too would abide socialist revolution and that only reactionary Britons would oppose it, thus limiting the force revolutionaries would need to take power. An English Socialism would come about which "... will never lose touch with the tradition of compromise and the belief in a law that is above the State. It will shoot traitors, but it will give them a solemn trial beforehand and occasionally it will acquit them. It will crush any open revolt promptly and cruelly, but it will interfere very little with the spoken and written word".

Adaptations in film, radio, television, and stage

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Gregg Silk - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Official Strategy Of Mandatory Poverty Through Eternal War, June 14, 2013

This review is from: 1984: 60th-Anniversary Edition (Plume) (Paperback)

The key part of the book is near the end where O'Brien is brainwashing Winston and explaining how the system works.

The Party's main problem is to keep the middle and lower classes hungry and fearful, and to make sure that the products of automation don't supply them with comfort and leisure.

The only way to do this is through eternal war, so that all excess production goes to weapons that are blown up or sunk in the ocean. It doesn't even matter if the war is real or not - the obsolete weapons are scrapped anyway. The important thing is to keep people poor so the class structure survives with the party on top.

The other key is to keep the population in a constant state of screaming enraged hatred. Anyone that looks "foreign" will get rounded up and executed. The country is saturated in phony "patriotism" over a war that probably doesn't even exist.

The government also pushes a national Puritanical drive to stamp out sex. And of course they use torture on a massive scale, and they apply it more or less randomly to get false confessions.

The only thing that make the book more anti-communist than anti-Fascist is that the Christian churches have been closed. The Nazis did not close churches, only synagogues.

Orwell was a life-long socialist but not a pacifist.

Julie - See all my reviews
The History Lesson You Wish you Had, March 3, 1998

George Orwell's final novel, 1984, was written amidst the anti-communist hysteria of the cold war. But unlike Orwell's other famous political satire, Animal Farm, this novel is filled with bleak cynicism and grim pessimism about the human race. When it was written, 1984 stood as a warning against the dangerous probabilities of communism. And now today, after communism has crumbled with the Berlin Wall; 1984 has come back to tell us a tale of mass media, data mining, and their harrowing consequences.

It's 1984 in London, a city in the new überstate of Oceania, which contains what was once England, Western Europe and North America. Our hero, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth altering documents that contradict current government statements and opinions. Winston begins to remember the past that he has worked so hard to destroy, and turns against The Party. Even Winston's quiet, practically undetectable form of anarchism is dangerous in a world filled with thought police and the omnipresent two-way telescreen. He fears his inevitable capture and punishment, but feels no compulsion to change his ways.

Winston's dismal observations about human nature are accompanied by the hope that good will triumph over evil; a hope that Orwell does not appear to share. The people of Oceania are in the process of stripping down the English language to its bones. Creating Newspeak, which Orwell uses only for examples and ideas which exist only in the novel. The integration of Newspeak into the conversation of the book. One of the new words created is doublethink, the act of believing that two conflicting realities exist. Such as when Winston sees a photograph of a non-person, but must reason that that person does not, nor ever has, existed.

The inspiration for Winston's work, may have come from Russia. Where Stalin's right-hand man, Trotzky was erased from all tangible records after his dissention from the party. And the fear of telescreens harks back to the days when Stasi bugs were hooked to every bedpost, phone line and light bulb in Eastern Europe.

His reference to Hitler Youth, the Junior Spies, which trains children to keep an eye out for thought criminals -- even if they are their parents; provides evidence for Orwell's continuing presence in pop culture. "Where men can't walk, or freely talk, And sons turn their fathers in." is a line from U2's 1993 song titled "The Wanderer".

Orwell assumes that we will pick up on these political allusions. But the average grade 11 student will probably only have a vague understanding of these due to lack of knowledge. It is even less likely that they will pick up on the universality of these happenings, like the fact that people still "disappear" without a trace every day in Latin America.

Overall, however, the book could not have been better written. Orwell has created characters and events that are scarily realistic. Winston's narration brings the reader inside his head, and sympathetic with the cause of the would-be-rebels. There are no clear answers in the book, and it's often the reader who has to decide what to believe. But despite a slightly unresolved plot, the book serves its purpose. Orwell wrote this book to raise questions; and the sort of questions he raised have no easy answer. This aspect can make the novel somewhat of a disappointment for someone in search of a light read. But anyone prepared to not just read, but think about a novel, will get a lot out of 1984.

1984, is not a novel for the faint of heart, it is a gruesome, saddening portrait of humanity, with it's pitfalls garishly highlighted. Its historic importance has never been underestimated; and it's reemergence as a political warning for the 21st century makes it deserving of a second look. Winston's world of paranoia and inconsistent realities is an eloquently worded account of a future we thought we buried in our past; but in truth may be waiting just around the corner.

Plom de Nume "Rob" (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews

1984 is the most "contemporary" book around - read it now!, November 2, 1999

Having just re-read 1984 it struck me that, whilst the quality of the writing is "timeless," (Orwell constructs a better sentence than most "literary artists"), the book's themes get more and more frightening as Western culture decays toward the millennium. My first school reading was in the days when 1984 was literally "the future," (even though Orwell had always intended it as a satire on contemporary Britain, with "1948" the originally intended title); in England today the resonances are especially profound, and what looked "old-fashioned" to `sixties and `seventies sci-fi readers has gained a new and bleaker realism. We're beginning to catch up with the US when it comes to presidential-style "leadership" and "spin," whilst the rewriting of history - with its horrible parallels with the politically correct mythologies espoused in transatlantic universities and the like - is already being implemented, with particular regard to the guilty denial of the achievements of the British Empire, (whilst the Roman and Greek civilisations still manage to escape trendy censure).

The worst shock comes with the realisation that everything 1984 says about the manipulation and reduction of thought by language-control, (Doublethink and Newspeak, respectively), is demonstrably happening right now. Things you can't say become thoughts you can't think, and an attempted conversation with most contemporary English youths on the street will reveal how hard it has become for our ill-educated masses actually to formulate rationale thought: what you get is a monotonic patois recitation of received simplistic opinion - or a boot stamping on your face, followed by a law-suit for your assault on them! One recent encounter left me with the reflection that we are so far from Shakespeare one could weep; then I read 1984 again, where Orwell has Winston wake up one morning with the name on his lips, a fleeting memory of a better past. The book is brilliantly written, shockingly painful and horribly, horribly relevant! (It's also fantastically entertaining and often very funny). Read it, read it again, and read it to your children!

Barry C. Chow (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Consummately Wrong, October 10, 2004

Orwell wrote 1984 at a miserable juncture in history. The Second World War had just ended, the Europe of his memory was in ruins, the full horror of the holocaust had been laid bare and the victorious powers seemed bent on completing the destruction the planet. The best of optimists would have quailed, and Orwell was no optimist. Surrounded by this stark despairing landscape, he wrote a stark despairing speculation. It was his damning indictment of the dark places of our souls.

It has been called a masterpiece; one of the twentieth century's greatest prophecies; a visionary dystopia that will speak for all time.

I beg to differ.

I do not question the brilliance of Orwell's writing. It exactly conveys the utter dejection and despair that he felt in the aftermath of the war. It is an incredibly taut development of character, theme, setting, and plot that strikes our psyche like a fist to the stomach. It attains exactly the right balance between storytelling and polemic.

It is also all wrong. It felt wrong thirty years ago when I first read it. It feels just as wrong today.

If we ever manage to create hell, it won't be Orwellian. Humans are far more amenable to seduction than oppression. Why spy into every household when one can be persuaded to spy on oneself? Why use techniques as inefficient as torture when far more can be accomplished by appealing to our basest pleasures? Why need doublethink be forced when we will freely embrace it where it is invested with enough allure? And why would the denizens of a misbegotten future bother to listen to voices of discord when their every waking hour can be filled to excess with titillation, shallow ecstasy, and unending bombardment of the senses? The dystopia of the future will not be one of oppression, but of gluttony.

An observant person, looking at the here and now, might conclude that hell has already arrived. But it has arrived via Huxley, not Orwell. We already have the Brave New World of test tube babies, mass pacification, casual sex, and broadcasted voyeurism. The key to keeping a society docile is to make docility so pleasant, so seductive, that we will freely and willingly embrace it over the rigours of a well-examined life. The road to hell is paved with syrup, not vinegar.

Orwell was a brilliant thinker and writer, not just of fiction, but of social and personal commentary. His essays are probably the finest since Montaigne's, and his powers of human observation and his sheer intellect are overwhelming in their stature. This is what makes 1984 so difficult to understand. Such a keen mind should have arrived at very different conclusions from those exposited in this book.

In a really hellish future, there will be no need to destroy malcontents; they will simply be irrelevant.

Doug Vaughn - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)

Control language; control the world, December 8, 1999

So much has been written by others on this classic text that I will limit my comments to that aspect of the book I feel is still the most important - the manipulation of language to control behavior. Orwell understood how crucial meaning and communication is to social and political behavior. The Bolsheviks first and then the Nazis both went to great lengths to manipulate meaning, creating an acceptable vocabulary of politically positive words and images and an equally negative vocabulary for that which was to be vilified and destroyed. Attempting to channel behavior into patterns predefined by these limited modes of expression represents the greatest part of the state propogandist's art. Orwell reduced the complexity of this enterprise to something that could be seen for the con game it is. His invention of 'newspeak' demonstrates the reducto ad absurdum of such verbal restrictiveness.

In our day, whether Big Brother is really watching or not, we suffer from some of the same contraints of limited language and, in term, limited behavioral options. On the one hand we suffer from a language of polictical correctness that strives to offend no one, but makes speech clumsy and artificial. On the other extreme we suffer from the limited categories that the professional news media use - the narrow meanings available to them for understanding and communicating what is considered 'news'. Since politicians contribute to this limited vocabulary and play off of it, it saves them from facing much real in depth analysis and critique and limits the public to shallow expositions that distort reality and make meaningful political choice impossible.

So 1984 has come and gone and we haven't fallen into the dramatic pit that Orwell pictured, but the language we use to deal with social and political issues has been so attenuated that we are in danger of becoming slaves to a limited set of possibilities because we cannot even articulate any alternatives.

Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)

WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, September 16, 2005

This novel by George Orwell (whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, 1903 to 1950) is about the effects of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is a characteristic of a government or state in which one political party maintains complete control under a dictatorship and bans all others.

This story, which takes place in London in 1984, follows one man (named Winston Smith) and his love interest (Julia) as they struggle against this totalitarian party ("The Party") whose leader (actually dictator) is "Big Brother." The Party political orthodoxy rules the giant country of "Oceania" (in which London is located).

At the heart of this party's political orthodoxy is the process of controlling thought through the manipulation of language and information by the use of "Newspeak" which utilizes what is called "doublethink."

Newspeak is the official language of Oceania (but is not the only language spoken). It is a language that eliminates unnecessary words and is designed to diminish rather than help expressive thought. For example, Newspeak states that there is no good and bad but only good and "ungood." Doublethink is the ability to simultaneously hold two opposing ideas in one's mind and believe in them both. The three Party slogans that title this review are examples of doublethink. Another good example is that (2+ 2 =4) and (2 + 2 = 5).

The Party keeps everybody in line through Newspeak and doublethink. But they also have other methods. For example, they have the "Thought Police" that investigate "thoughtcrimes." These are "crimes" of just having negative thoughts about The Party. Another example are telescreens that watch your every move even in bathroom stalls. Thus, "Big Brother is watching you" at all times.

Winston and Julia are discovered to be guilty of thoughtcrimes by O'Brien (who is the personification of The Party). O'Brien also represents those leaders who use cruelty and torture as their primary method of control (like Hitler and Stalin did). He makes them pay for their "crimes."

This novel clearly shows how totalitarianism negatively affects the human spirit and how it's impossible to remain freethinking under such circumstances.

This novel also contains an appendix written by Orwell. Here he explains various aspects of Newspeak and to my surprise he states that by the year 2050, Newspeak will be the only language that anyone will understand. Why does he state this? He wanted to keep the fear of totalitarianism alive in his readers well past the year 1984. (Thus, this novel is still quite relevant for today!)

This novel is in a word fascinating! It is well written and is filled with symbolism and imagination. It begins slow but gradually picks up speed. And the story is very interesting.

Finally, after reading this book, I recommend watching the 1984 movie "1984" starring John Hurt and Richard Burton (his last movie role).

In conclusion, this novel is a masterpiece of political speculation that serves as a warning to us all. Read it for yourself to see why it brought Orwell world-wide fame!!

(first published 1949; 3 parts or 24 chapters; 325 pages)

Melkor "Lord of Darkness" (Angband) - See all my reviews

Among the Literary Greats for Reason, September 14, 2005

It seemed so innocuous, just sitting there wedged between two other books on the shelf, collecting dust with the others on my "yet to read" list. I may have passed it by altogether had it not been for the fact that I needed to complete my three hundred pages for the second quarter of my junior year. Besides, I'd read this author's work before and knew that I enjoyed his writing fairly well. So, without realizing what I was plunging into, I picked up George Orwell's 1984; the most unceremonious beginning for a most extraordinary event.

As I unconsciously flipped the pages, not realizing that I was still me and not Winston Smith, the story's protagonist, barely cognizant, in fact, that this was a book and not reality, I was dimly aware that this was something special; something far beyond what I had been expecting. If Animal Farm was a slightly humorous, if morbid, look at communism, then 1984 was a ghastly, apocalyptic vision of a demented future. After reading the first twenty pages, I determined that this was the single most quotable book of all time.

The infamous Party slogans:

Chilling words from what could have been, from an averted catastrophe in which the human race subjugates itself through ignorance. Yet who's to say this could never come to pass? None can honestly look another straight in the eye and say, "That is not the future." To presume so is vanity manifest.

The one enemy man need truly fear is himself. The notorious Big Brother, the faceless autocrat in charge of Orwell's nightmare world (incidentally, it is never established whether Big Brother is a single man or a surreptitious group superciliously dealing justice to the masses), mercilessly dominates life on Oceania, one of three nations in existence. These countries, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, are continually in a state of war with each other, in which Oceania and one of the others are allied against the last. Big Brother's control over his people is absolute, executed through a methodical censorship that keeps the façade of truth as a contorted mask. Big Brother has the power to efface any record of an event or person - to rewrite the past as he sees fit.

Perhaps less relevant as a prophecy today (1984 has come and gone and no dictatorship has arisen to consolidate the Americas and the United Kingdom into a single communist entity), 1984 remains a very real piece of culture, with its own voice in the way it challenges one's preconceived notions and ideals. My English teacher perhaps said it best, when comparing 1984 to Animal Farm: "Animal Farm hits you with gloves on; 1984 just smacks you bare-fisted." And it's no slap, no half-hearted jab; it is an in-your-face, force of a moving train blow to the jaw from which the reader reels for weeks, even months after. It is an illustration, as well, of the need of consolidation and the hopelessness that such a government can be beaten: Winston, after waging a personal crusade for his secret freedom, winds up a brainwashed pawn of Big Brother.

In the end, Orwell proves that, if the government so wills it, two and two really make five, not four, and no amount of protest is going to change that. This book was a life-changer for me in many ways, but mostly because it made me see a broader view of the world and made me appreciate life as I know it just that much more.

"He gazed up at that enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast. Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

Quotes taken from George Orwell, 1984, copyright 1949 by Harcourt Brace Javonovich, Inc.

The "squirrelMaster" (BROUSSARD, LA United States) - See all my reviews

A masterpiece, misunderstood by many., July 1, 2004

A lot of readers seem to miss the point of this novel (especially the people who gave it 1 star, that's just weak). It's not about Orwell guessing what the world would be like in 1984 or really even a poke at communism.

Orwell presents an exaggerated and seemingly impossible not-so-distant future to the reader and supports it magnificently with parallelisms to religion and ideology. He addresses whether freedom of the mind is intrinsic to the human conscience and whether or not free thought is necessary for human happiness. It also questions what is real or true. Does 2+2=5? If you believe it and everyone else believes it, than why in the hell wouldn't it be so. The novel left me more afraid of the masses and the susceptibility of the human mind than the government. The people can take back control at the drop of a hat and they are the ones who allow it to get out of control in the first place.

Ahmed Ayad (Redmond, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
A must read for all, October 26, 2005

This is the most depressing tale I have ever read. Though I know it to be fiction, I still can't take myself out of its ending. Although you KNOW for certain how the story will end, one could even imagine writing the plot exactly as it is only half way through the book, you could still not imagine the profoundness in which it was written and the mood it puts you in. It is also one of the most mentally exhausting reads. Taking you from logical absurdities to the haziness of dream worlds to metaphysical discussions.

Ok, so why am I giving it 5 stars despite all this?

Because in doing it the way it is, Orwell has succeeded in transferring to you his absolute HATRED of mental bondage, and of absolute unchecked human authority, and anything and everything that can lead to them. The rate at which the story is advanced towards the darkness and viciousness, the way he never for a moment leaves a prickle of hope in you heart or your mind about the final outcome of the protagonists or the world in which he lives, all reflect in no uncertain terms this hatred. Sometimes you think to yourself reading this "ok, I get it, why all this darkness"? Then, you realize what he was doing. He is shouting with the top of his lungs to all of us to NEVER EVER let things even approach the conditions of "Airstrip one".

What I have found most amazing in the novel towards the end is his resolution of a question that kept lingering in the protagonist's mind throughout the story; the "why?", why would the "Party" or the people in it do that? I have seen few reviewers allude to it. His answer was as simple and unexpected to me as it was to Winston - the protagonist, yet was perfectly inline with the extreme world Orwell built. There is no "why", there is no logic to explain it. Power is an end, not a means. In the words of the party members: "GOD is power". There is no reason for such attrocities but a sheer animalistic lust for power. Again, he is in a way saying: "don't ever try to rationalize it to yourself or others".

What sets "1984" apart from its famous sibling "Animal Farm", which by the way was also very depressing, is that it is not tailored to the history of the Communists. You could see, in a sense, the development of Orwell's thought while writing these two pieces. He started with the first to document one of the worst forms of collectivism that he witnessed, then - seeing at that time no sign of it being defeated or abated - took it to its extreme form. Such a form was sufficiently general to cover all types of mind slavery, to the extent that it can be applicable everywhere. I belive he might have even hinted at that in the part where he recounts the "history of the world" that he imagined from the his time to 1984. In this history, ALL of the globe, is ruled the same way albeit with different names and insignificant changes in ideology.

It is impossible to read 1984 without drawing parallels between contemporary events and something that is taking place in the novel. Indeed, one might never find a place where this kind of world exists. Yet, there is always something to draw parallels upon. Here, in the States, when you here the words "spin masters", you can't help but think of the principle of "doublethink"; in which one can not only muster the ability to consciously think of something and its opposite at the same time, yet somehow be able to believe both of them. You hear the word "alternate reality" in which people hear, read, and see the facts yet still are able to fit them into their worldview. A view in which internment is justified, the poor are robbing the rich, dissent is treason, torture is patriotism, failures are successes, and everything you think is true is a lie fabricated by the an enemy called "the main stream media". Then, you can't help but think of the "Ministry of truth" and the "Ministry of love".

Orwell is a champion of freedom at all levels, but most importantly in "1984", he is a champion of common sense.

"Freedom is the ability to say that two plus two equals four".

1984 is a must read for all.

A.J. (Maryland) - See all my reviews

A great year for the defense industry, June 18, 2001

George Orwell's "1984," published in 1949, projects a parallel world 35 years into the future in which all nations have been combined into three major superpowers in an eternal state of unrest. London still exists, but it is now a part of Oceania, governed by an entity called the Party, headed by a sovereign figure known only as Big Brother. The Party's one goal is power -- power over everybody and everything in Oceania. Surveillance is administered constantly; devices called telescreens are placed in people's homes to monitor thoughts and actions and broadcast Party propaganda continuously, with no way for the resident to turn his off or change the channel. Free thinkers are not tolerated, and roving bands of "Thought Police" are sent to sniff out transgressors. The Party is developing an official language called Newspeak, whose goal is to simplify language by eliminating as many extraneous words as possible and reducing vocabulary to a small number of basic words, thus narrowing the scope of thought.

But there's always a rebel. The protagonist is a man named Winston Smith who works at the Ministry of Truth as a sort of professional history revisionist. His job is to revise newspaper articles and documents in which Big Brother made predictions or statements that did not agree with the actual outcome of events; in other words, to maintain the public illusion that the Party is infallible and omniscient. Unhappy with his state of being, Winston would like to overthrow the Party but is powerless to do so. Teaming up with his love interest Julia, another Party worker, he colludes with a high-ranking Party official named O'Brien, who reveals himself as a secret member of a society called the Brotherhood who are planning to destroy the Party. O'Brien gives Winston a subversive book explaining the ideals and motivations of the Party: The upper classes (the highest Party members) need to retain their economic status, so it is important to control the minds and bodies of the lower classes, and wars are waged constantly only so that capital will be spent on the production of war machinery instead of being converted into wealth which could be distributed to the lower classes.

Winston knows that if he is caught as a dissident, he's dead. The Thought Police are everywhere, and can he trust Julia, O'Brien, and the friendly old shopkeeper Mr. Charrington to be who they say they really are? Predictably, he is apprehended, but the Party's plans involve not killing but reprogramming him, which unfortunately for poor Winston could be a fate worse than death.

"1984" is not strictly an anti-communist rant. (For that, see Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon.") Rather, it attacks the complacency of all people and nations who would let a small number of idealists have their way and take command over the rest of the population. Semantics aside, Communism and Fascism, as practiced by certain Twentieth Century world powers, are essentially the same thing: the individual loses all his importance for the benefit of the nation, which really means the ruling Party. If democracy requires eternal vigilance, "1984" illustrates the consequences of apathy.

New Age of Barbarism "zosimos" (EVROPA.) - See all my reviews

Big Brother Is Watching You., September 23, 2007

_Nineteen Eighty Four_, first published in 1949 by George Orwell (pen name of Eric Blair), is a horrifying dystopian novel of a world in which the individual human being has been completely degraded and deprived of his fundamental humanity that reflects the totalitarianisms of the day, particularly communism and Stalinism. George Orwell (1903 - 1950) was the pen name of the British author Eric Blair, who developed an early enmity towards those in power and their abuses of power. Orwell was a socialist but came to witness the horrors of the Soviet state and the betrayal of his ideals by Stalinists. As such, Orwell came to loathe totalitarianism in general and wrote novels showing the degrading effects such societies had on people. Throughout this book, one can witness the underlying hatred of Orwell and those imprisoned by the system for the totalitarian state and bureaucracy which completely controls their lives and existences. This book in particular shows that rage in the main character of Winston Smith, a mere pawn in a totalitarian society. Orwell's books are indeed prophetic and show us a world in which the very life-force has been sapped out of mankind by those in power. Orwell imagines a highly efficient totalitarian state, capable of enforcing political correctness at the highest levels, tampering with the memories of men, and maintaining a total disregard for the truth. Orwell shows how under such regimes the very notion of truth becomes suspect and the individual can no longer distinguish between fact and state propaganda. This particularly applies to the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin, which is the primary setting for Orwell's stories.

However, Orwell's books are also applicable to the West of today, where the constant menace of totalitarian ideology exists.

1984 gives us a whole slew of new terminology to describe the situation as it exists in a totalitarian state in which political correctness is enforced. The book introduces such terms as thought police, thought crime (and thought criminal), doublethink, memory hole, Ingsoc, and Newspeak. Such terms reflect the complete disregard of the totalitarian state for the truth and the active promotion of propaganda within society. They have also largely entered into our culture as expressions to describe the enforcement of political correctness.

1984 focuses on the main character Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party who lives in England and works for the Ministry of Truth. As it turns out, the Ministry of Truth ironically is responsible for spreading propaganda, and as all ministries mentioned by Orwell has a purpose exactly opposite to its stated purpose. The world of 1984 is a very bleak one indeed, run by a single party and its ruling leader "Big Brother", in which all individuals are subject to surveillance by the state should they commit a "thought crime". All expressions of individuality in 1984 have been wiped out and the human being is totally degraded living a pathetic existence of total subservience to the party. Sexuality has been suppressed as part of the "Anti-sex League" as well as religion. Truth itself is highly malleable and memory is constantly distorted, reflected in such ironical and oxymoronic sayings of the party as "War Is Peace", "Freedom Is Slavery", and "Ignorance Is Strength". Further, the nation of Oceania is constantly at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia, varying from day to day and reflected in the official propaganda of the state bureaucracy.

All party members revere their leader "Big Brother" (perhaps reminiscent of Josef Stalin or other totalitarian dictators) and despise the rebellious "Goldstein" (perhaps reminiscent of the Soviet hatred for Leon Trotsky). Further, the party exists in a caste system in which the "proles" (the proletariat) live underneath the party members (who are divided into the Inner and Outer Party). Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth but begins to keep a diary (which is strictly forbidden to party members) in which he reflects his hatred for "Big Brother". His work involves developing propaganda for the party. At work he meets up with Julia, who he initially believes is a strict orthodox member of the party. However, eventually he comes to realize that Julia is in love with him and they have a secret encounter in the countryside. Eventually Julia expresses to Winston her complete loathing for the party, though she publicly maintains a persona of utter obeisance and orthodoxy and belongs to the "Anti-sex League". Together they find a new hiding place in a shop in a part of the city where the "proles" live and attempt to re-discover the past of England. Throughout this period, however, the two live in constant fear of the thought police, should they catch onto their affair.

Eventually, Winston meets up with O'Brien at work, a man who he believes is a member of the Resistance, and is given a copy of Goldstein's book which explains the rise of the party and the need for perpetual war. Orwell quotes extensively from Goldstein's book which reflects much of the social thinking of the time, in particular the theory of managerial elites. However, Winston and Julia are captured by the party and it turns out that O'Brien is in fact a member of the party. While taken captive, both are tortured and made to recant their original beliefs about the party. In a particularly disgusting scene, Winston is taken to Room 101 where he must face his worst fear. There he ultimately betrays Julia (as she has already betrayed him) to save himself from being tortured by rats (the worst torture that he can imagine).

Eventually, Winston is completely re-educated and made to love "Big Brother" while his relationship with Julia is forever changed after their mutual betrayals of each other. Thus, ends in the most horrifying of manners Orwell's classic novel. Orwell concludes with an appendix on "The Principles of Newspeak" which effectively shows how even the language itself can be put to the purposes of propaganda within a totalitarian state.

1984 remains a classic dystopia reflecting the darker side of human existence within the Twentieth Century as it played out in the totalitarian dictatorships of the age. Throughout this novel, the very notion of truth remains problematic, as the party re-defines history to reflect its own agenda and thus even memory itself becomes distorted. Orwell shows the sheer degradation that the human being undergoes within such a surveillance society, to the eventual point where a man can be tortured by the powers that be to such an extent that he will eventually even renounce his love and embrace the figure he hates the most. While the novel is made to reflect Soviet society and Stalinism in particular, it also reflects the modern world in general, in which large-scale and efficient bureaucratic structures rob man of his humanity. Orwell's novels prove particularly prescient warnings to mankind to avoid the dangers of totalitarianism. As such, they should be read by all thinking individuals who seek to understand the horrors that can be inflicted upon the human being through totalistic societies.

A Customer

reality then v reality now, January 9, 2004

You've probably already read the other reviews on this site, so i'll just concentrate on my opinion on the relevance of this book in our contemporary society 1984 is a stark warning against totalitarianism. Written in 1948, Orwell's depiction of a government-controlled society seemed absurd when published, contrasting the innumerable amount of people that've said how real it seems now than it did then in western society

One interesting factor is the geography of the planet. We are told very little and all we're told is that there're three 'super-states', Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. Oceania is constantly at war with a vague and distant enemy, and is always switching between being allies and enemies with Eurasia and Eastasia. Comparing it to today, just what is this 'war on terrorism, and how threatened do you really feel about it (disregarding media opinion)?. America and Britian, both independantly throughout the years and in allegiance with each other recently, are constantly at war with an enemy. WWI, WWII, Cold war, Korean war, Vietnam war, Falklands War, Gulf war I and more recently Gulf war II. Societal opinions + perceptions are influenced by media, but who are we at war with? The "War on Terror" clearly highlights the fact that there is no tangible enemy anymore. Explained more clearly in Goldstein's passage in the book, we are constantly at war because it keeps us united, and stops us fighting one another, stops us fighting the government.

Another interesting factor in book is the issue of government surveillance. 'Telescreen' in homes, Cameras everywhere you walk, Microphones even in the countryside to detect rebellious behaviour. Although key issues stated in the book aren't as extreme, the power the government now has to keep tabs on people and spy on them has reached limits it has never reached before. The 'Party' explain that this surveillance is for the benefit of the people (note: animal farm) and they constantly reassure the citizens, or 'comrades', that life was worst off before they came along. Similarly, our governments are constantly re-assuring us how much better our lives are because of them. I.D cards are being proposed under the pretence that they will 'eliminate terrorism and benefit fraud', which are something the people are 'persuaded they want' because they media tells them they do.

The third, conclusively and i think most importantly, is the way this book challenges the fact we (society in 1948) take our freedom for granted. One passage in the book which sticks out in my mind specifically is when the main charactor walks through a lower-class area, and is terrified that the police patrols might stop him and ask him questions; 'what are you doing in this part of town? is this your usual way home'? etc. Similarly, if someone was walking down the street at 2am in a dangerous part of town for no particular reason, it would be deemed socially strange, thus encouraging this person not to do so, and do what everyone else does. If someone dresses in clothes that you do not usually see, he/she would be regarded as a weirdo, a social outcast".My point is, how free do we really think we are as a society these days? How easily are we opinionated by the media?

Our society is edging closer and closer to the reality that is 1984, and i recommend that you read it, it will change the way you perceive news articles, and you'll question all these erosions of civil liberties that have been happening.

By the way, Orwell didn't intend for this vision to be reality in the year 1984. He wrote it in 1948, so he just switched the last 2 letters around.

Valentin (Philadelphia) - See all my reviews

Remarkable, January 30, 2009

This excellent book is about life which was deprived of all meaning, whose primary goal was a constantly increasing productivity motivated by an ingeniously designed social system that advocated "love and peace."

I was born in the Soviet Republic of Ukraine. I recall the anxiety that tormented my family during the preceding months that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was seven and lived in my own universe, but I was sort of aware that the Soviet Empire was seeing its last days. Karl Marx must have been doing somersaults in his grave.

I don't remember much about living under communism - except that daily life was "by the book" - but I've talked plenty about it to my parents and grandparents. When Stalin went six feet under, it became a bit more tolerable, but it remained totalitarianism nonetheless. Orwell did an exceptional job at depicting the essential aspects of that kind of state, more precisely Soviet regime.

The detail that he told is fascinating; as if Stalin or Beria had let him in on the juicy stuff. Some of it he exaggerated, some he understated, but fundamentally he was accurate. Also, it is imperative that the reader keeps in mind that it was published in 1949. A vast majority of people in Russia and Europe were isolated from this kind of knowledge - the government made sure of that through an intricate system of secret police - so this book was a revelation. Of course we now know that, aside from the fictitious names, he essentially portrayed reality. The indoctrination that is described in the book still lingered when I attended school in Ukraine in the `80s. Soviet propaganda machine was thorough indeed.

The history of totalitarian states is complex and enormous amount of time and literature has been dedicated to it. This book, however, is a good substitute if one cannot wrestle with a lengthy 700-page tome. It won't make you a political scholar, but it'll educate you on what Soviet Russia was. It's written in a lucid manner; however, one has to read it as nonfiction to truly appreciate the author's vision. George Orwell is a genius and his "1984" will be read for a long time.

Aleksander Coho (Athens Greece, from Albania) - See all my reviews
History of The Communist World, February 20, 2001

No amount of positive reviewing will do justice to the importance and beauty of this book - you have to read if for yourself. What I really want to review are the reviews of some reviewers from Wstern countries. They like the book, but their reviews are of the kind 'This is a book about a hypothetical totalitarian dictatorshp, ..., etc.' What is wrong, is the word 'hypothetical' This book could have been titled 'Bits of the History of the Communist World (albeit a little allegorical)'

I don't know what people born in the West understand in this book. Not much perhaps. The very fact that Orwell is the ONLY Westerner I know of to have written an accurate description (though a bit allegorical) of communism in practice, suggests that most Westerners couldn't understand what was happening in the communist world. I suggest that they read it for what it is: History cast into an allegorical novel.

Now an example or two. There was a famous picture in history textbooks in communist countries. Lenin in a podium holding a speech, his hand streched to the masses listening. On his left you could see Stalin. Everyone of my age has seen this picture. What most people haven't seen, though, is an older version of it: Lenin holding a speech, and on his left, Trotsky. (Winston's job right)

Now my country (Albania) was great friends with USSR, until 1961, that is. Albania broke up with USSR (considering USSR a traitor of real socialism), to advance real socialism together with China. Not for ever of course - in 1978 China became a traitor of real socialism, too, having in fact never been really socialist. There was a famous picture in Albanian history textbooks. The Albanian B.B. (Enver Hoxha) was denouncing the betrayal of real socialism by the Soviet leadership. I have seen all three versions of this painting: In the first one, Enver Hoxha had Chou EnLai on one side and Mehmet Shehu (Albanian Prime Minister) on the other. This was valid between 1961 and 1978. When China betrayed socialism in 1978, Chou Enlai disappeared from the painting, and someone else took his stead. This second version lasted until 1981. That's because in 1981 Mehmet Shehu became a traitor, and 'was suicided'. So he disappeared from the painting, too. This is the last version of it. By the way, the painting stood in the Albanian National Art Gallery. Many people must have seen all three versions of it in original.

I could wrie a book longer than 1984, describing how accurate 1984 is.

Read 1984 as a history of the communist world; it is valid even for the four decades after Orwell's death.

Aleksander Coho

"skaven264" (Rochester Hills, MI United States) - See all my reviews
Through a dark mirrior, George Orwell's world of 1984, December 7, 2003

There are many different types of books out there: fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, history, and biography. But only a few of them have the same impact that George Orwell achieves in his book 1984. It seems part paranoid fantasy, part tribute to the malleability of the human psyche, and part historical allegory.

The issues, even presented in the outdated means that they are, still ring true for our modern society. The line between patriotism and nationalism is a thin one, and one that Americans look at each day. But in Orwell's world that line was crossed, and the result was a totalitarian government beyond anything most of us can imagine. With the government controlling all jobs, information, deeds, and actions, even to the smallest thought of their peoples, his world is stark and horrible to those of us used to a freedom. But the steps into that world are not that far away from our modern media control. In his world of 1984 the media serves the purpose of brainwashing the populace at large, and an ongoing war keeps the pressure on. And while some may claim that the media in our own country has the same control over us, in his world, the media is the government, and has no other agenda than that which the government sets forth.

The strange part is that all of this occurs to us, through the eyes of the main character, Winston Smith, as he falls in love with a young woman named Julia. In Oceania, the nation-state in which Smith lives, love is not allowed, and not tolerated. Winston Smith is, in essence, an insurgent in his own nation. He sleeps each night knowing that something is wrong, but not being able to say exactly what. As a reader we can see exactly the horrors to which he is made to endure, and though they might make us scream and shout, he is unmoved. But love draws him out of that sheltered reality, and into open insurgency against his own nation.

This is the beginning of the end for Wilson, as the romance, and the pleasures, are short lived. Like a terrible wave the police of the world he inhabits come crashing down upon him to break his spirit. The way they torture him is gruesome, and should offend anyone who values our human rights. But in the end, Wilson himself comes to love "Big Brother" the face of the state of Oceania. He forgets his insurgency, through a conscious adaptation of his logic processes. He has to know that whatever the nation does is right, even when it contradicts what he has experienced in the recent past. In Orwell's words, Doublethink.
These are just the surface issues that come across in Orwell's vision world the deeper issues are buried. As in, how could such a world come to exist? Well, he explains that after World War 2, there came a mighty nuclear war that wiped out most of the population centers of the world. And that out of the nuclear ash arose a political methodology that swept the nations, a kind of socialism that blended into totalitarianism. This totalitarian regime took hold and great purges, on the scope of the great purges in the early communist USSR, ran across the world as we know it. 3 stable nations were born: Oceania (The Americas, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and England), Eastasia (China, Mongolia, The Indonesian Peninsula, and Japan), and Eurasia (All of Europe save England, and all of the Former USSR). The rest of the world was in a constant state of conquest by one of these 3 super-nations, with the captured populations used as slaves. The constant state of war between the nations served to keep control over the people within the nations.

This is a world devoid of hope. Indeed, devoid of any emotions except hatred, fanatical delight in the war effort, and the obedience to the governments of the nations. This is the worst vision of what the Nazis in Germany hoped to accomplish in their conquests. A world without any laws, but what the government states to be true at that moment. A world where people disappear, but no one notices, or even cares, a world of total devotion to the state as a whole, without regard to creed, race, or social status.

It isn't often that the characters in a book become common usage in the world at large, but the phrase "Big Brother is watching you" has become synonymous with the government watching over its citizens. It shows up today in almost everyday speech. Especially when people are talking right to privacy issues. This seems apt, as privacy is one of the things that Wilson Smith never had, and will never have. Big Brother (the government) watched his every move of his life, recorded his every word, and rifled through his belongings at their leisure. This book is the origin of that phrase.
Orwell gives us a black and white view of the virtues of that world, and its drawbacks. The astounding thing is that it isn't still more talked about. We have, most of us, read this book. But how many too the time to understand the social and political ramifications it speaks of? I will from now on, that is for sure.

Mike H "Livin in the Past" (Reno, NV USA) - See all my reviews
What More Can You Say: An Abiding Classic That Demands To Be Read, September 21, 2012

It's nearly impossible to reduce what George Orwell achieved with "1984", but here are some good examples: First, that of the nearly 1,800 reviews of this book, it's likely nobody managed to say anything really different than anyone else; yet Orwell managed to do it throughout an entire novel -- and he did it nearly 70 years ago.

Further, Orwell was incredibly prescient and insightful. Take his "telescreen" for instance, which closely mirrors our giant-screen TVs today and soon-to-be two-way viewing technology that we enjoy with our computers. The little helicopters buzzing around spying on everyone could just as easily be drones and satellites today.

And take the ever-changing alliances between the United States, Russia and China -- which could easily be called Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania. There's always a war somewhere and when you turn on what passes for news today and it's all double-talk spin -- not so much concrete reality than it is flip-flop opinion. The world has yet to degenerate to thought control or "thoughtcrime", but the increasing constraints of political correctness has us edging that way.

And when it comes to our economic system, Orwell nailed that too -- "oligarchical collectivism," a system made by the few for the few. The Orwellian lexicon lives on: "Big Brother."

In the end, it boils down to the book itself. In short, it's a once-in-a-lifetime novel that begs to be read. An enduring classic. It's a book you can read time and again -- I know I have. One man resisting authority. The quest for freedom of thought and speech and liberty.

And I've said nothing no one else hasn't said already. You may as well quit reading what people have to say about this great classic and find out for yourself.

P. L. SORUM "Ricia" (FL) - See all my reviews
I attended parochial school as a teen and this book was a huge "no-no." I read it anyway and understood why those who seek control over others are very uncomfortable with this book. Personally, I think it should be required reading as it helps to define manipulative behaviors. It's a great book about a lousy world where thought is actively curtailed and the powers that be are only satisfied when the soul is utterly destroyed.
Carolyn Blades (Dexter, MI) - See all my reviews
Our world today and to come, January 29, 2009

Once science fiction, now daily reality: constant war, newspeak, doublethink, surveillance by hidden cameras (and now satellites), TV sets humming 24/7 in many homes, political cover-ups, repression, restriction of language and the concomitant impoverishment of thought, manipulation on many levels. If you only read this in high school, read it again.

Tikhonov Alexei "nabludatel" (Suwon, South Korea) - See all my reviews

1984 by Orwell, January 3, 2007

As a person who lived at socialism and now at capitalism in Russia and outside Russia I can say... '1984' is still actual, regardless of a political system. UNFORTUNATELY.

A lot of mind controlling methods, may be not as cruel as in '1984' described, but still same unhuman, are applied all over the world.... I strongly recommend to read this book to younger generation and don't think that it is about gone away Stalin's Russia... IT IS ABOUT OUR TODAY...In Russia and elsewhere. It is not too easy to read it, but when you MUST THINK it is always not easy....

James E. Egolf (Florida) - See all my reviews

A Description of the West from 1948 to the Present, March 27, 2006

George Orwell (1903-1950) wrote 1984 in the late 1940s,and the novel was published in 1949. This book was a description of a negative utopia,and served as a warning to the West of not only future events but events that had already occured in Western Europe and the United States. In fact, the original title of 1984 was 1948, but Orwell's publishers thought a futuristic title would increase sales of the book. There are three basic warnings in this book.

The shifting of political alliances in 1984 has an all to familiar ring. Note that during the first had of the decade of the 1940s that the Soviets, Chinese, etc. were gallant allies. On the other had, the Japanese, Germans, and the Italians were the forces of evil beyond redemption. Yet, by 1948, or 1946, the scene dramatically changes. All of a sudden, the Soviets were the evil "Gremlins in the Kremlin." The Chinese suddenly became wicked. The previously defined wicked Germans, Japanese, and Italians were now suddently "good guys." One should also that those who clearly wrote about this in any honest context were badly smeared or condemned for being honest.

Another part of 1984 which should be closely examined is the corruption of language. The politically approved words such as democracy, world peace, etc., are part of the media's cowardly effort to avoid truth. Political hacks use these approval words in a flimsy attempt to pose as experts assigned to explain the changes of "allies" and power shifts. Orwell was always aware of the corruption of language and, in turn, the corruption of thought. The examples Orwell uses in 1984 should attract the attention of thoughtful men.

Orwell was one of the few who saw the connection between war and economics. He was one of the first who saw war production as an economic engine to maintain something close to full employment. He lived through the Great Depression and realized that wars are started not so much to defeat the enemy as to maintain political unity and full employment on "the home front." If a "war" can be prolonged, the better attempt to maintain war production and full employment. While living standards were not good, workers have the illusion that they are reasonable well off and are busy with important work.

Orwell's 1984 should be required reading for any teenager. The political lessons derived from this book are important, and, as some have mentioned, one can learn good prose. Reading 1984 can help explain the shifting of alliances since the start of the Cold War and can help explain phony international tensions from the end of W.W. II to the present. One should reflect how many "enemies" and allies the Americans have had during this time as well as reflect on how enemies quickly become allies and vice versa. This reviewer would not recommend 1984 to anyone who is immune to reason.

john b (Concord, NC) - See all my reviews

2+2=5, December 30, 2005

Too often people summarily dismiss anything with the word 'classic' on the outside of it as something that is either too deep to understand or too tame to be interesting. 1984 defies the second mold and blows away the first, roaring off its pages as an untamable black-hearted novel about society.

That's where the ability to define the novel stops. Undoubtedly, when the reader finishes 1984, the last four words are going to draw a line for them; that line will be the one that demarcates whether the reader is a socialist (that the power of production in society lies in the hands of the state) or a capitalist (that the power of production in society should lie in individuals). The brief bio at the beginning of the novel states that Orwell himself was a socialist...this is a strange thing to have to hear because you get the feeling that the novel is not pulling for that side, nor the other.

Because that is the strange greatness that is this novel -- it pulls for nothing, gives no easy answers, and least of all holds back on the literary punch that it delivers. Some novels put forth a question then attempt to answer it (Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot' is one such attempt) and they are great for their own pattern. 1984 is of the other milieu, giving us only a large, unanswered question which is bound to divide us as much as it helps us to see the problems which we all face.

I've not talked much about the plot of the book, nor the characters to this point. To this I must simply say: why should I? The plot and characters, the whole course of the book...they are all contained in what I've already said. This is not a book, it is a problem, a deep philosophical/sociological one which cannot be pinned down. The novel uses its characters and their situations to stake out the nature of its presentation, and then leaves the reader to wade through it on their own once it is finished. It is a disturbance in the mind, one that is significant more so today than ever before- What is the nature of government and its intrusion into life (the NSA situation)? What controls should be placed on the individual (abortion, censorship, euthanasia)? What form should punishment take (torture in the US run detention camps)?

By the time you finish the book, you're going to be thinking about these questions and several more. Hopefully you will want to find answers, though doing so is no easy task; these are intentionally hard questions, aimed at all strata of society, ones that will stick with you the older you get, facing you every time you look at your pay stub and think about where your effort goes.

And again, the cultural significance of this novel cannot be understated. It has already pervaded our daily lives in such a way that we might take for granted; from the lyrics in songs (who controls the past now, controls the future), to the shows on television (Big Brother), one cannot help but to see 1984 all around us, so ingrained into our lives that we might overlook the impact it has made.

Bottom line: this is required reading in many schools for a reason. Every person should be made to read this book.

-LP

Chris (Washington state, USA) - See all my reviews

A fine piece of work, August 5, 2004

Oceania, with the British Isles, the America's and other lands, and London as its capital is a totalitarian state. Winston Smith works on changing past newspapers and other documents to make them doctrinally consistent with the short term needs of the party running Oceania, INGSOC. Thus documents are changed to make it seem that Oceania has always been at war with one of the two other nations of the world, Eurasia and in an alliance with EastAsia, the other nation; similarly is the construction when Oceania goes to war with EastaAsia. Similarly documents will be changed that have some INGSOC official uttering an inaccurate prediction about economic performance so that the official will have originally made an accurate prediction.. Documents are changed to eliminate mention of former favored party members after they fall out of favor and are sent to a forced labor camp or are "vaporized." Winston and other bureaucrats throw doctrinally inaccurate documents into the "memory hole", a chute, attached to his cubicle where they are sent down to the inner recesses of the government building to be burned.

Party members have in their homes and offices "telescreens" where they receive propaganda, are led in mandatory morning exercises but through which are also watched by officials for suspicious facial expressions, or any activity that might indicate independence of mind or feelings of love, enthusiasm or any other human emotion that are not directed at Big Brother, the possibly non-existent ruler of Oceania. People who exhibit such tendencies towards "thought crimes" are immediately arrested, executed or released back into society brainwashed and then rearrested and shot or sometimes sent to a forced labor camp.

INGSOC indoctrination ensures that its party members will not be able to not think logically and instead be completely subordinated to their emotions, which are completely engrossed in worshipping Big Brother. "Doublethink" is what is called the ability of the INGSOC party member to somewhat recognize the logical fallacies and outright falsehoods the party propagates as truth. At the same time such fallacies and falsehoods are accepted as the truth because one's emotions are trained to accept the party's pronouncements as truth whatever common sense says. Thus, it is easy to accept that two plus two equals five when logic says two plus two equals four. Or to not see anything wrong in the Ministry of Torture being officially called "The Ministry of Love," The ministry of truth management/propaganda, etc, where Winston works, as "The Ministry of Truth, and so on. Or to have the party denounce the original ideals of socialism while declaring itself to be a repository of socialist purity. Logic seems to be only tolerated when examining the crimes of official enemies of Oceania.

The bigger one's vocabulary is, of course, the more one can utilize it to articulate opposition to the party; so INGSOC wants to keep Newspeak-the language it is developing--and the remaining use of "Oldspeak"-old standard English-- as small as possible. In Newspeak there is no bad to good. Instead bad is called "ungood," "very good" in oldspeak is called "doubleplusgood." INGSOC indoctrination and throwing old documents and dictionaries down the "memory hole" has made "freedom" have no political connotations but only is defined as in the sentence "She was now free from the illness." Most documents before 1960 are sent down the memory hole or like the Declaration of Independence, altered to express doctrines of INGSOC.

Orwell is not just talking about Stalinism in this book. He sort of touches on elements of our own society. The bottom eighty five percent of Oceanic society, the non-party members are called "Proles", for Proletarian. The Proles are far less constrained by party discipline than INGSOC members produces for them and encourages them to consume dumb popular songs, pornography, trashy novels, play lotteries.. They are encouraged to jingoist frenzies where they attack foreigners and watch parades where they can jeer at foreign POW's and so on. All this distracts them from organizing to seize economic and political justice for themselves. They are still economically enslaved as they were under capitalism.

The sort of Trotsky of the story, Goldstein, notes that Oceania's rulers want to keep throwing resources into war-making so as not to have to divert them to making an equitable standard of living for the masses. \

Erich Fromm notes in his 1961 Afterward notes a few examples of how we in the U.S. practice "doublethink." He gives the example of the person who works for Corporation A and defends its products and everything about it as perfect regardless of what one's common sense might say. However the person will attack his employer's rival corporation B, trying logically to look for flaws in the latter's products and so on. Then the person might switch to employment in corporation B., thus switching loyalty to the latter, and attack the flaws of Corporation A., its former employer. Fromm also notes how American propagandists described U.S. allies as part of the Free World even though it contained viscous Latin American military dictatorships, apartheid South Africa, Salazar's Portugal, Franco's Spain, and so on.

As a piece of literature, this book is excellent. The structure, the parts of the story, are well put together and flow together well. Winston's struggle to maintain his intelligence and impendence is very realistic and well told. I liked the views of life among the Proles as seen by Winston. How Winston and Julia make contact and their first meeting where they end up fornicating are all a little unreal.. But despite this the Winston-Julia love story is very charming, full of real feeling. Winston's experiences in the last part of the book are described vividly, if being slightly incredible.

1984 (Signet Classics) George Orwell

Amazon.com Books
Julie on March 3, 1998
The History Lesson You Wish you Had

George Orwell's final novel, 1984, was written amidst the anti-communist hysteria of the cold war. But unlike Orwell's other famous political satire, Animal Farm, this novel is filled with bleak cynicism and grim pessimism about the human race. When it was written, 1984 stood as a warning against the dangerous probabilities of communism. And now today, after communism has crumbled with the Berlin Wall; 1984 has come back to tell us a tale of mass media, data mining, and their harrowing consequences.

It's 1984 in London, a city in the new überstate of Oceania, which contains what was once England, Western Europe and North America. Our hero, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth altering documents that contradict current government statements and opinions. Winston begins to remember the past that he has worked so hard to destroy, and turns against The Party. Even Winston's quiet, practically undetectable form of anarchism is dangerous in a world filled with thought police and the omnipresent two-way telescreen. He fears his inevitable capture and punishment, but feels no compulsion to change his ways.

Winston's dismal observations about human nature are accompanied by the hope that good will triumph over evil; a hope that Orwell does not appear to share. The people of Oceania are in the process of stripping down the English language to its bones. Creating Newspeak, which Orwell uses only for examples and ideas which exist only in the novel. The integration of Newspeak into the conversation of the book. One of the new words created is doublethink, the act of believing that two conflicting realities exist. Such as when Winston sees a photograph of a non-person, but must reason that that person does not, nor ever has, existed.

The inspiration for Winston's work, may have come from Russia. Where Stalin's right-hand man, Trotzky was erased from all tangible records after his dissention from the party. And the fear of telescreens harks back to the days when Stasi bugs were hooked to every bedpost, phone line and light bulb in Eastern Europe.

His reference to Hitler Youth, the Junior Spies, which trains children to keep an eye out for thought criminals- even if they are their parents; provides evidence for Orwell's continuing presence in pop culture. "Where men can't walk, or freely talk, And sons turn their fathers in." is a line from U2's 1993 song titled "The Wanderer".

Orwell assumes that we will pick up on these political allusions. But the average grade 11 student will probably only have a vague understanding of these due to lack of knowledge. It is even less likely that they will pick up on the universality of these happenings, like the fact that people still "disappear" without a trace every day in Latin America.

Overall, however, the book could not have been better written. Orwell has created characters and events that are scarily realistic. Winston's narration brings the reader inside his head, and sympathetic with the cause of the would-be-rebels. There are no clear answers in the book, and it's often the reader who has to decide what to believe. But despite a slightly unresolved plot, the book serves its purpose. Orwell wrote this book to raise questions; and the sort of questions he raised have no easy answer. This aspect can make the novel somewhat of a disappointment for someone in search of a light read. But anyone prepared to not just read, but think about a novel, will get a lot out of 1984.

1984, is not a novel for the faint of heart, it is a gruesome, saddening portrait of humanity, with it's pitfalls garishly highlighted. Its historic importance has never been underestimated; and it's reemergence as a political warning for the 21st century makes it deserving of a second look. Winston's world of paranoia and inconsistent realities is an eloquently worded account of a future we thought we buried in our past; but in truth may be waiting just around the corner.

Geekier than thou TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 25, 2000

Big Brother is watching you - read this book and see how!

George Orwell's classic was incredibly visionary. It is hardly fathomable that this book was written in 1948. Things that we take for granted today - cameras everywhere we go, phones being tapped, bodies being scanned for weapons remotely - all of these things were described in graphic detail in Orwell's book.

Now that we have the Internet and people spying on other people w/ webcams and people purposely setting up their own webcams to let others "anonymously" watch them, you can see how this culture can develop into the Orwellian future described in "1984."

If you've heard such phrases as "Big Brother," "Newspeak," and "thought crime" and wondered where these phrases came from, they came from this incredible, vivid and disturbing book.

Winston Smith, the main character of the book is a vibrant, thinking man hiding within the plain mindless behavior he has to go through each day to not be considered a thought criminal. Everything is politically correct, children defy their parents (and are encouraged by the government to do so) and everyone pays constant allegiance to "Big Brother" - the government that watches everyone and knows what everyone is doing at all times - watching you shower, watching you having sex, watching you eat, watching you go to the bathroom and ultimately watching you die.

This is a must-read for everyone.


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[Aug 18, 2018] Corporate Media the Enemy of the People by Paul Street

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The dominant corporate U.S. media routinely exaggerates the degree of difference and choice between the candidates run by the nation's two corporate-dominated political organizations, the Democrats and the Republicans. It never notes that the two reigning parties agree about far more than they differ on, particularly when it comes to fundamental and related matters of business class power and American Empire. It shows U.S. protestors engaged in angry confrontations with police and highlights isolated examples of protestor violence but it downplays peaceful protest and never pays serious attention to the important societal and policy issues that have sparked protest or to the demands and recommendations advanced by protest movements. ..."
"... Newscasters who want to keep their careers afloat learn the fine art of evasion with great skill they skirt around the most important parts of a story. With much finesse, they say a lot about very little, serving up heaps of junk news filled with so many empty calories and so few nutrients. Thus do they avoid offending those who wield politico-economic power while giving every appearance of judicious moderation and balance. It is enough to take your breath away ..."
"... In U.S. "mainstream" media, Washington's aims are always benevolent and democratic. Its clients and allies are progressive, its enemies are nefarious, and its victims are invisible and incidental. The U.S. can occasionally make "mistakes" and "strategic blunders" on the global stage, but its foreign policies are never immoral, criminal, or imperialist in nature as far as that media is concerned. This is consistent with the doctrine of "American Exceptionalism," according to which the U.S., alone among great powers in history, seeks no selfish or imperial gain abroad. It is consistent also with "mainstream" U.S. media's heavy reliance on "official government sources" (the White House, the Defense Department, and the State Department) and leading business public relations and press offices for basic information on current events. ..."
"... U.S. citizens regularly see images of people who are angry at the U.S. around the world. The dominant mass media never gives them any serious discussion of the US policies and actions that create that anger. Millions of Americans are left to ask in childlike ignorance "Why do they hate us? What have we done?" ..."
"... If transmitting Washington's lies about Iraq were something to be fired about, then U.S. corporate media authorities would have to get rid of pretty much of all their top broadcasters. ..."
"... The U.S. corporate media's propagandistic service to the nation's reigning and interrelated structures of Empire and inequality is hardly limited to its news and public affairs wings. Equally if not more significant in that regard is that media's vast "entertainment" sector, which is loaded with political and ideological content ..."
"... Seen broadly in its many-sided and multiply delivered reality, U.S. corporate media's dark, power-serving mission actually goes further than the manufacture of consent. A deeper goal is the manufacture of mass idiocy, with "idiocy" understood in the original Greek and Athenian sense not of stupidity but of childish selfishness and willful indifference to public affairs and concerns. (An "idiot" in Athenian democracy was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private instead of public affairs.). As the U.S. Latin Americanist Cathy Schneider noted, the U.S.-backed military coup and dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet "transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals"[7] – into a nation of "idiots" understood in this classic Athenian sense. ..."
"... To be sure, a narrow and reactionary sort of public concern and engagement does appear and take on a favorable light in this corporate media culture. It takes the form of a cruel, often even sadistically violent response to unworthy and Evil Others who are perceived as failing to obey prevalent national and neoliberal cultural codes. Like the U.S. ruling class that owns it, the purportedly anti-government corporate media isn't really opposed to government as such. It's opposed to what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called "the left hand of the state" – the parts of the public sector that serve the social and democratic needs of the non-affluent majority. ..."
"... The generation of mass idiocy in the more commonly understood sense of sheer stupidity is also a central part of U.S. "mainstream" media's mission. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the constant barrage of rapid-fire advertisements that floods U.S. corporate media. ..."
"... There's nothing surprising about the fact that the United States' supposedly "free" and "independent" media functions as a means of mass indoctrination for the nation's economic and imperial elite ..."
"... A second explanation is the power of advertisers. U.S. media managers are naturally reluctant to publish or broadcast material that might offend the large corporations that pay for broadcasting by purchasing advertisements. ..."
"... A third great factor is U.S. government media policy and regulation on behalf of oligopolistic hyper-concentration. The U.S. corporate media is hardly a "natural" outcome of a "free market." It's the result of government protections and subsidies that grant enormous "competitive" advantages to the biggest and most politically/plutocratically influential media firms. ..."
"... In this writer's experience, the critical Left analysis of the U.S. "mainstream" media as a tool for "manufacturing consent" and idiocy developed above meets four objections from defenders of the U.S. media system, A first objection notes that the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times (FT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other major U.S. corporate media outlets produce a significant amount of, informative, high-quality and often candid reporting and commentary that Left thinkers and activists commonly cite to support their cases for radical and democratic change. ..."
"... The observation that Leftists commonly use and cite information from the corporate media they harshly criticize is correct but it is easy to account for the apparent anomaly within the critical Left framework by noting that that media crafts two very different versions of U.S. policy, politics, society, "life," and current events for two different audiences. Following the work of the brilliant Australian propaganda critic Alex Carey, we can call the first audience the "grassroots."[14] It comprises the general mass of working and lower-class citizens. ..."
"... The second target group comprises the relevant political class of U.S. citizens from at most the upper fifth of society. This is who reads the Times, the Post, WSJ, and FT, for the most part. Call this audience (again following Carey) the "treetops": the "people who matter" and who deserve and can be trusted with something more closely approximating the real story because their minds have been properly disciplined and flattered by superior salaries, significant on-the-job labor autonomy, and "advanced" and specialized educational and professional certification. ..."
"... To everyday Americans' credit, corporate media has never been fully successful in stamping out popular resistance and winning over the hearts and minds of the U.S. populace. ..."
"... The U.S. elite is no more successful in its utopian (or dystopian) quest to control every American heart and mind than it is in its equally impossible ambition of managing events across a complex planet from the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C ..."
Aug 18, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

"Homeland" Distortion

Consistent with its possession as a leading and money-making asset of the nation's wealthy elite, the United States corporate and commercial mass media is a bastion of power-serving propaganda and deadening twaddle designed to keep the U.S. citizenry subordinated to capital and the imperial U.S. state. It regularly portrays the United States as a great model of democracy and equality. It sells a false image of the U.S. as a society where the rich enjoy opulence because of hard and honest work and where the poor are poor because of their laziness and irresponsibility. The nightly television news broadcasts and television police and law and order dramas are obsessed with violent crime in the nation's Black ghettoes and Latino barrios, but they never talk about the extreme poverty, the absence of opportunity imposed on those neighborhoods by the interrelated forces of institutional racism, capital flight, mass structural unemployment, under-funded schools, and mass incarceration. The nightly television weather reports tells U.S. citizens of ever new record high temperatures and related forms of extreme weather but never relate these remarkable meteorological developments to anthropogenic climate change.

The dominant corporate U.S. media routinely exaggerates the degree of difference and choice between the candidates run by the nation's two corporate-dominated political organizations, the Democrats and the Republicans. It never notes that the two reigning parties agree about far more than they differ on, particularly when it comes to fundamental and related matters of business class power and American Empire. It shows U.S. protestors engaged in angry confrontations with police and highlights isolated examples of protestor violence but it downplays peaceful protest and never pays serious attention to the important societal and policy issues that have sparked protest or to the demands and recommendations advanced by protest movements.

As the prolific U.S. Marxist commentator Michael Parenti once remarked, US "Newscasters who want to keep their careers afloat learn the fine art of evasion with great skill they skirt around the most important parts of a story. With much finesse, they say a lot about very little, serving up heaps of junk news filled with so many empty calories and so few nutrients. Thus do they avoid offending those who wield politico-economic power while giving every appearance of judicious moderation and balance. It is enough to take your breath away." [1]

Selling Empire

U.S. newscasters and their print media counterparts routinely parrot and disseminate the false foreign policy claims of the nation's imperial elite. Earlier this year, U.S. news broadcasters dutiful relayed to U.S. citizens the Obama administration's preposterous assertion that social-democratic Venezuela is a repressive, corrupt, and authoritarian danger to its own people and the U.S. No leading national U.S. news outlet dared to note the special absurdity of this charge in the wake of Obama and other top U.S. officials' visit to Riyadh to guarantee U.S. support for the new king of Saudi Arabia, the absolute ruler of a leading U.S. client state that happens to be the most brutally oppressive and reactionary government on Earth.

In U.S. "mainstream" media, Washington's aims are always benevolent and democratic. Its clients and allies are progressive, its enemies are nefarious, and its victims are invisible and incidental. The U.S. can occasionally make "mistakes" and "strategic blunders" on the global stage, but its foreign policies are never immoral, criminal, or imperialist in nature as far as that media is concerned. This is consistent with the doctrine of "American Exceptionalism," according to which the U.S., alone among great powers in history, seeks no selfish or imperial gain abroad. It is consistent also with "mainstream" U.S. media's heavy reliance on "official government sources" (the White House, the Defense Department, and the State Department) and leading business public relations and press offices for basic information on current events.

As the leading Left U.S. intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman showed in their classic text Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), Orwellian double standards are rife in the dominant U.S. media's coverage and interpretation of global affairs. Elections won in other countries by politicians that Washington approves because those politicians can be counted on to serve the interests of U.S. corporations and the military are portrayed in U.S. media as good and clean contests. But when elections put in power people who can't be counted on to serve "U.S. interests," (Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro for example), then U.S. corporate media portrays the contests as "rigged" and "corrupt." When Americans or people allied with Washington are killed or injured abroad, they are "worthy victims" and receive great attention and sympathy in that media. People killed, maimed, displaced and otherwise harmed by the U.S. and U.S. clients and allies are anonymous and "unworthy victims" whose experience elicits little mention or concern.[2]

U.S. citizens regularly see images of people who are angry at the U.S. around the world. The dominant mass media never gives them any serious discussion of the US policies and actions that create that anger. Millions of Americans are left to ask in childlike ignorance "Why do they hate us? What have we done?"

In February of 2015, an extraordinary event occurred in U.S. news media – the firing of a leading national news broadcaster, Brian Williams of NBC News. Williams lost his position because of some lies he told in connection with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A naïve outsider might think that Williams was fired because he repeated the George W. Bush administration's transparent fabrications about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed connection to 9/11. Sadly but predictably enough, that wasn't his problem. Williams lost his job because he falsely boasted that he had ridden on a helicopter that was forced down by grenade fire during the initial U.S. invasion. If transmitting Washington's lies about Iraq were something to be fired about, then U.S. corporate media authorities would have to get rid of pretty much of all their top broadcasters.

More than Entertainment

The U.S. corporate media's propagandistic service to the nation's reigning and interrelated structures of Empire and inequality is hardly limited to its news and public affairs wings. Equally if not more significant in that regard is that media's vast "entertainment" sector, which is loaded with political and ideological content but was completely ignored in Herman and Chomsky's groundbreaking Manufacturing Consent. [3] One example is the Hollywood movie "Zero Dark Thirty," a 2012 "action thriller" that dramatized the United States' search for Osama bin-Laden after the September 11, 2001 jetliner attacks. The film received critical acclaim and was a box office-smash. It was also a masterpiece of pro-military, pro-CIA propaganda, skillfully portraying U.S. torture practices "as a dirty, ugly business that is necessary to protect America" (Glenn Greenwald[4]) and deleting the moral debate that erupted over the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques." Under the guise of a neutral, documentary-like façade, Zero Dark Thirty normalized and endorsed torture in ways that were all the more effective because of its understated, detached, and "objective" veneer. The film also marked a distressing new frontier in U.S. military-"embedded" filmmaking whereby the movie-makers receive technical and logistical support from the Pentagon in return for producing elaborate public relations on the military's behalf.

The 2014-15 Hollywood blockbuster American Sniper is another example. The film's audiences is supposed to marvel at the supposedly noble feats, sacrifice, and heroism of Chris Kyle, a rugged, militantly patriotic, and Christian-fundamentalist Navy SEALS sniper who participated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq to fight "evil" and to avenge the al Qaeda jetliner attacks of September 11, 2001. Kyle killed 160 Iraqis over four tours of "duty" in "Operational Iraqi Freedom." Viewers are never told that the Iraqi government had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or al Qaeda or that the U.S. invasion was one of the most egregiously criminal and brazenly imperial and mass-murderous acts in the history of international violence. Like Zero Dark Thirty's apologists, American Sniper's defenders claim that the film takes a neutral perspective of "pure storytelling," with no ideological bias. In reality, the movie is filled with racist and imperial distortions, functioning as flat-out war propaganda.[5]

These are just two among many examples that could be cited of U.S. "entertainment" media's regular service to the American Empire. Hollywood and other parts of the nation's vast corporate entertainment complex plays the same power-serving role in relation to domestic ("homeland") American inequality and oppression structures of class and race. [6]

Manufacturing Idiocy

Seen broadly in its many-sided and multiply delivered reality, U.S. corporate media's dark, power-serving mission actually goes further than the manufacture of consent. A deeper goal is the manufacture of mass idiocy, with "idiocy" understood in the original Greek and Athenian sense not of stupidity but of childish selfishness and willful indifference to public affairs and concerns. (An "idiot" in Athenian democracy was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private instead of public affairs.). As the U.S. Latin Americanist Cathy Schneider noted, the U.S.-backed military coup and dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet "transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals"[7] – into a nation of "idiots" understood in this classic Athenian sense.

In the U.S., where violence is not as readily available to elites as in 1970s Latin America, corporate America seeks the same terrible outcome through its ideological institutions, including above all its mass media. In U.S. movies, television sit-coms, television dramas, television reality-shows, commercials, state Lottery advertisements, and video games, the ideal-type U.S. citizen is an idiot in this classic sense: a person who cares about little more than his or her own well-being, consumption, and status. This noble American idiot is blissfully indifferent to the terrible prices paid by others for the maintenance of reigning and interrelated oppressions structures at home and abroad.

A pervasive theme in this media culture is the notion that people at the bottom of the nation's steep and interrelated socioeconomic and racial pyramids are the "personally irresponsible" and culturally flawed makers of their own fate. The mass U.S. media's version of Athenian idiocy "can imagine," in the words of the prolific Left U.S. cultural theorist Henry Giroux "public issues only as private concerns." It works to "erase the social from the language of public life so as to reduce" questions of racial and socioeconomic disparity to "private issues of individual character and cultural depravity. Consistent with "the central neoliberal tenet that all problems are private rather than social in nature," it portrays the only barriers to equality and meaningful democratic participation as "a lack of principled self-help and moral responsibility" and bad personal choices by the oppressed. Government efforts to meaningfully address and ameliorate (not to mention abolish) societal disparities of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality and the like are portrayed as futile, counterproductive, naïve, and dangerous.[8]

To be sure, a narrow and reactionary sort of public concern and engagement does appear and take on a favorable light in this corporate media culture. It takes the form of a cruel, often even sadistically violent response to unworthy and Evil Others who are perceived as failing to obey prevalent national and neoliberal cultural codes. Like the U.S. ruling class that owns it, the purportedly anti-government corporate media isn't really opposed to government as such. It's opposed to what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called "the left hand of the state" – the parts of the public sector that serve the social and democratic needs of the non-affluent majority. It celebrates and otherwise advances the "right hand of the state"[9]: the portions of government that serve the opulent minority, dole out punishment for the poor, and attacks those perceived as nefariously resisting the corporate and imperial order at home and abroad. Police officers, prosecutors, military personnel, and other government authorities who represent the "right hand of the state" are heroes and role models in this media. Public defenders, other defense attorneys, civil libertarians, racial justice activists, union leaders, antiwar protesters and the like are presented at best as naïve and irritating "do-gooders" and at worst as coddlers and even agents of evil.

The generation of mass idiocy in the more commonly understood sense of sheer stupidity is also a central part of U.S. "mainstream" media's mission. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the constant barrage of rapid-fire advertisements that floods U.S. corporate media. As the American cultural critic Neil Postman noted thirty years ago, the modern U.S. television commercial is the antithesis of the rational economic consideration that early Western champions of the profits system claimed to be the enlightened essence of capitalism. "Its principal theorists, even its most prominent practitioners," Postman noted, "believed capitalism to be based on the idea that both buyer and seller are sufficiently mature, well-informed, and reasonable to engage in transactions of mutual self-interest." Commercials make "hash" out of this idea. They are dedicated to persuading consumers with wholly irrational claims. They rely not on the reasoned presentation of evidence and logical argument but on suggestive emotionalism, infantilizing manipulation, and evocative, rapid-fire imagery.[10]

The same techniques poison U.S. electoral politics. Investment in deceptive and manipulative campaign commercials commonly determines success or failure in mass-marketed election contests between business-beholden candidates that are sold to the audience/electorate like brands of toothpaste and deodorant. Fittingly enough, the stupendous cost of these political advertisements is a major factor driving U.S. campaign expenses so high (the 2016 U.S. presidential election will cost at least $5 billion) as to make candidates ever more dependent on big money corporate and Wall Street donors.

Along the way, mass cognitive competence is assaulted by the numbing, high-speed ubiquity of U.S. television and radio advertisements. These commercials assault citizens' capacity for sustained mental focus and rational deliberation nearly sixteen minutes of every hour on cable television, with 44 percent of the individual ads now running for just 15 seconds. This is a factor in the United States' long-bemoaned epidemic of "Attention Deficit Disorder."

Seventy years ago, the brilliant Dutch left Marxist Anton Pannekoek offered some chilling reflections on the corporate print and broadcast media's destructive impact on mass cognitive and related social resistance capacities in the United States after World War II:

"The press is of course entirely in hands of big capital [and it] dominates the spiritual life of the American people. The most important thing is not even the hiding of all truth about the reign of big finance. Its aim still more is the education to thoughtlessness. All attention is directed to coarse sensations, everything is avoided that could arouse thinking. Papers are not meant to be read – the small print is already a hindrance – but in a rapid survey of the fat headlines to inform the public on unimportant news items, on family triflings of the rich, on sexual scandals, on crimes of the underworld, on boxing matches. The aim of the capitalist press all over the world, the diverting of the attention of the masses from the reality of social development, nowhere succeed with such thoroughness as in America."

"Still more than by the papers the masses are influenced by broadcasting and film. These products of most perfect science, destined at one time to the finest educational instruments of mankind, now in the hands of capitalism have been turned into the strongest means to uphold its rule by stupefying the mind. Because after nerve-straining fatigue the movie offers relaxation and distraction by means of simple visual impressions that make no demand on the intellect, the masses get used to accepting thoughtlessly all its cunning and shrewd propaganda. It reflects the ugliest sides of middle-class society. It turns all attention either to sexual life, in this society – by the absence of community feelings and fight for freedom – the only source of strong passions, or to brute violence; masses educated to rough violence instead of to social knowledge are not dangerous to capitalism "[11]

Pannekoek clearly saw an ideological dimension (beyond just diversion and stupefaction) in U.S. mass media's "education to thoughtlessness" through movies as well as print sensationalism. He would certainly be impressed and perhaps depressed by the remarkably numerous, potent, and many-sided means of mass distraction and indoctrination that are available to the U.S. and global capitalist media in the present digital and Internet era.

The "entertainment" wing of its vast corporate media complex is critical to the considerable "soft" ideological "power" the U.S. exercises around the world even as its economic hegemony wanes in an ever more multipolar global system (and as its "hard" military reveals significant limits within and beyond the Middle East). Relatively few people beneath the global capitalist elite consume U.S. news and public affairs media beyond the U.S., but "American" (U.S.) movies, television shows, video games, communication devices, and advertising culture are ubiquitous across the planet.

Explaining "Mainstream" Media Corporate Ownership

There's nothing surprising about the fact that the United States' supposedly "free" and "independent" media functions as a means of mass indoctrination for the nation's economic and imperial elite. The first and most important explanation for this harsh reality is concentrated private ownership – the fundamental fact that that media is owned primarily by giant corporations representing wealthy interests who are deeply invested in U.S. capitalism and Empire. Visitors to the U.S. should not be fooled by the large number and types of channels and stations on a typical U.S. car radio or television set or by the large number and types of magazines and books on display at a typical Barnes & Noble bookstore. Currently in the U.S., just six massive and global corporations – Comcast, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, The News Corporation and Disney – together control more than 90 percent of the nation's print and electronic media, including cable television, airwaves television, radio, newspapers, movies, video games, book publishing, comic books, and more. Three decades ago, 50 corporations controlled the same amount of U.S. media.

Each of the reigning six companies is a giant and diversified multi-media conglomerate with investments beyond media, including "defense" (the military). Asking reporters and commentators at one of those giant corporations to tell the unvarnished truth about what's happening in the U.S. and the world is like asking the company magazine published by the United Fruit Company to the tell the truth about working conditions in its Caribbean and Central American plantations in the 1950s. It's like asking the General Motors company newspaper to tell the truth about wages and working conditions in GM's auto assembly plants around the world.

As the nation's media becomes concentrated into fewer corporate hands, media personnel become ever more insecure in their jobs because they have fewer firms to whom to sell their skills. That makes them even less willing than they might have been before to go outside official sources, to question the official line, and to tell the truth about current events and the context in which they occur.

Advertisers

A second explanation is the power of advertisers. U.S. media managers are naturally reluctant to publish or broadcast material that might offend the large corporations that pay for broadcasting by purchasing advertisements. As Chomsky has noted in a recent interview, large corporations are not only the major producers of the United States' mass and commercial media. They are also that media's top market, something that deepens the captivity of nation's supposedly democratic and independent media to big capital:

"The reliance of a journal on advertisers shapes and controls and substantially determines what is presented to the public the very idea of advertiser reliance radically distorts the concept of free media. If you think about what the commercial media are, no matter what, they are businesses. And a business produces something for a market. The producers in this case, almost without exception, are major corporations. The market is other businesses – advertisers. The product that is presented to the market is readers (or viewers), so these are basically major corporations providing audiences to other businesses, and that significantly shapes the nature of the institution."[12]

At the same time, both U.S. corporate media managers and the advertisers who supply revenue for their salaries are hesitant to produce content that might alienate the affluent people who count for an ever rising share of consumer purchases in the U.S. It is naturally those with the most purchasing power who are naturally most targeted by advertisers.

Government Policy

A third great factor is U.S. government media policy and regulation on behalf of oligopolistic hyper-concentration. The U.S. corporate media is hardly a "natural" outcome of a "free market." It's the result of government protections and subsidies that grant enormous "competitive" advantages to the biggest and most politically/plutocratically influential media firms. Under the terms of the 1934 Communications Act and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, commercial, for-profit broadcasters have almost completely free rein over the nation's airwaves and cable lines. There is no substantive segment of the broadcast spectrum set aside for truly public interest and genuinely democratic, popular not-for profit media and the official "public" broadcasting networks are thoroughly captive to corporate interests and to right-wing politicians who take giant campaign contributions from corporate interests. Much of the 1996 bill was written by lobbyists working for the nations' leading media firms. [13]

A different form of state policy deserves mention. Under the Obama administration, we have seen the most aggressive pursuit and prosecution in recent memory of U.S. journalists who step outside the narrow parameters of pro-U.S. coverage and commentary – and of the whistleblowers who provide them with leaked information. That is why Edward Snowden lives in Russia, Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil, Chelsea Manning is serving life in a U.S. military prison, and Julian Assange is trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. A leading New York Times reporter and author, James Risen, has been threatened with imprisonment by the White House for years because of his refusal to divulge sources.

Treetops v. Grassroots Audiences

In this writer's experience, the critical Left analysis of the U.S. "mainstream" media as a tool for "manufacturing consent" and idiocy developed above meets four objections from defenders of the U.S. media system, A first objection notes that the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times (FT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other major U.S. corporate media outlets produce a significant amount of, informative, high-quality and often candid reporting and commentary that Left thinkers and activists commonly cite to support their cases for radical and democratic change. Left U.S. media critics like Chomsky and Herman are said to be hypocrites because they obviously find much that is of use as Left thinkers in the very media that they criticize for distorting reality in accord with capitalist and imperial dictates.

The observation that Leftists commonly use and cite information from the corporate media they harshly criticize is correct but it is easy to account for the apparent anomaly within the critical Left framework by noting that that media crafts two very different versions of U.S. policy, politics, society, "life," and current events for two different audiences. Following the work of the brilliant Australian propaganda critic Alex Carey, we can call the first audience the "grassroots."[14] It comprises the general mass of working and lower-class citizens. As far as the business elites who own and manage the U.S. mass media and the corporations that pay for that media with advertising purchases are concerned, this "rabble" cannot be trusted with serious, candid, and forthright information. Its essential role in society is to keep quiet, work hard, be entertained (in richly propagandistic and ideological ways, we should remember), buy things, and generally do what they're told. They are to leave key societal decisions to those that the leading 20th century U.S. public intellectual and media-as-propaganda enthusiast Walter Lippman called "the responsible men." That "intelligent," benevolent, "expert," and "responsible" elite (responsible, indeed, for such glorious accomplishments as the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, the Great Recession, global warming, and the rise of the Islamic State) needed, in Lippman's view, to be protected from what he called "the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd."[15] The deluded mob, the sub-citizenry, the dangerous working class majority is not the audience for elite organs like the Times, the Post, and the Journal.

The second target group comprises the relevant political class of U.S. citizens from at most the upper fifth of society. This is who reads the Times, the Post, WSJ, and FT, for the most part. Call this audience (again following Carey) the "treetops": the "people who matter" and who deserve and can be trusted with something more closely approximating the real story because their minds have been properly disciplined and flattered by superior salaries, significant on-the-job labor autonomy, and "advanced" and specialized educational and professional certification. This elite includes such heavily indoctrinated persons as corporate managers, lawyers, public administrators, and (most) tenured university professors. Since these elites carry out key top-down societal tasks of supervision, discipline, training, demoralization, co-optation, and indoctrination – all essential to the rule of the real economic elite and the imperial system – they cannot be too thoroughly misled about current events and policy without deleterious consequences for the smooth functioning of the dominant social and political order. They require adequate information and must not be overly influenced by the brutal and foolish propaganda generated for the "bewildered herd." At the same time, information and commentary for the relevant and respectable business and political classes and their "coordinator class" servants and allies often contains a measure of reasoned and sincere intra-elite political and policy debate – debate that is always careful not to stray beyond narrow U.S. ideological parameters. That is why a radical Left U.S. thinker and activist can find much that is of use in U.S. "treetops" media. Such a thinker or activist would, indeed, be foolish not to consult these sources.

"P"BS and N"P"R

A second objection to the Left critique of U.S. "mainstream" media claims that the U.S. public enjoys a meaningful alternative to the corporate media in the form of the nation's Public Broadcasting Service (television) and National Public Radio (NPR). This claim should not be taken seriously. Thanks to U.S. "public" media's pathetically weak governmental funding, its heavy reliance on corporate sponsors, and its constant harassment by right wing critics inside and beyond the U.S. Congress, N"P"R and "P"BS are extremely reluctant to question dominant U.S. ideologies and power structures.

The tepid, power-serving conservatism of U.S. "public" broadcasting is by longstanding political and policy design. The federal government allowed the formation of the "public" networks only on the condition that they pose no competitive market or ideological challenge to private commercial media, the profits system, and U.S. global foreign policy. "P"BS and N"P"R are "public" in a very limited sense. They not function for the public over and against corporate, financial, and imperial power to any significant degree.

"The Internet Will Save Us"

A third objection claims that the rise of the Internet creates a "Wild West" environment in which the power of corporate media is eviscerated and citizens can find and even produce all the "alternative media" they require. This claim is misleading but it should not be reflexively or completely dismissed. In the U.S. as elsewhere, those with access to the Internet and the time and energy to use it meaningfully can find a remarkable breadth and depth of information and trenchant Left analysis at various online sites. The Internet also broadens U.S. citizens and activists' access to media networks beyond the U.S. – to elite sources that are much less beholden of course to U.S. propaganda and ideology. At the same time, the Internet and digital telephony networks have at times shown themselves to be effective grassroots organizing tools for progressive U.S. activists.

Still, the democratic and progressive impact of the Internet in the U.S. is easily exaggerated. Left and other progressive online outlets lack anything close to the financial, technical, and organizational and human resources of the corporate news media, which has its own sophisticated Internet. There is nothing in Left other citizen online outlets that can begin to remotely challenge the "soft" ideological and propagandistic power of corporate "entertainment" media. The Internet's technical infrastructure is increasingly dominated by an "ISP cartel" led by a small number of giant corporations. As the leading left U.S. media analyst Robert McChesney notes:

"By 2014, there are only a half-dozen or so major players that dominate provision of broadband Internet access and wireless Internet access. Three of them – Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast – dominate the field of telephony and Internet access, and have set up what is in effect a cartel. They no longer compete with each other in any meaningful sense. As a result, Americans pay far more for cellphone and broadband Internet access than most other advanced nations and get much lousier service These are not 'free market' companies in any sense of the term. Their business model, going back to pre-Internet days, has always been capturing government monopoly licenses for telephone and cable TV services. Their 'comparative advantage' has never been customer service; it has been world-class lobbying.' [16]

Along the way, the notion of a great "democratizing," Wild West" and "free market" Internet has proved politically useful for the corporate media giants. The regularly trumpet the great Internet myth to claim that the U.S. public and regulators don't need to worry about corporate media power and to justify their demands for more government subsidy and protection. At the same time, finally, we know from the revelations of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and others that the nation's leading digital and Internet-based e-mail (Google and Yahoo), telephony (e.g. Verizon), and "social network" (Facebook above all) corporations have collaborated with the National Security Agency and with the nation's local, state, and federal police in the surveillance of U.S. citizens' and activists' private communications.[17]

Solutions

The fourth objection accuses Left media critics of being overly negative, "carping" critics who offer no serious alternatives to the nation's current corporate-owned corporate-managed commercial and for-profit media system. This is a transparently false and mean-spirited charge. Left U.S. media criticism is strongly linked to a smart and impressive U.S. media reform movement that advances numerous and interrelated proposals for the creation of a genuinely public and democratically run non-commercial and nonprofit U.S. media system. Some of the demand and proposals of this movement include public ownership and operation of the Internet as a public utility; the break-up of the leading media oligopolies; full public funding of public broadcasting; limits on advertising in commercial media; the abolition of political advertisements; the expansion of airwave and broadband access for alternative media outlets; publicly-funded nonprofit and non-commercial print journalism; the abolition of government and corporate surveillance, monitoring, and commercial data-mining of private communication and "social networks."[18] With regard to the media as with numerous other areas, we should recall Chomsky's sardonic response to the standard conservative claim that the Left offers criticisms but no solutions: "There is an accurate translation for that charge: 'they present solutions and I don't like them.'"[19]

A False Paradox

The propagandistic and power-serving mission and nature of dominant U.S, corporate mass media might seem ironic and even paradoxical in light of the United States' strong free speech and democratic traditions. In fact, as Carey and Chomsky have noted, the former makes perfect sense in light of the latter. In nations where popular expression and dissent is routinely crushed with violent repression, elites have little incentive to shape popular perceptions in accord with elite interests. The population is controlled primarily through physical coercion. In societies where it is not generally considered legitimate to put down popular expression with the iron heel of armed force and where dissenting opinion is granted a significant measure of freedom of expression, elites are heavily and dangerously incentivized to seek to manufacture mass popular consent and idiocy. The danger is deepened by the United States' status as the pioneer in the development of mass consumer capitalism, advertising, film, and television. Thanks to that history, corporate America has long stood in the global vanguard when it comes to developing the technologies, methods, art, and science of mass persuasion and thought control.[20]

It is appropriate to place quotation marks around the phrase "mainstream media" when writing about dominant U.S. corporate media. During the Cold War era, U.S. officials and media never referred to the Soviet Union's state television and radio or its main state newspapers as "mainstream Russian media." American authorities referred to these Russian media outlets as "Soviet state media" and treated that media as means for the dissemination of Soviet "propaganda" and ideology. There is no reason to consider the United States' corporate and commercial media as any more "mainstream" than the leading Soviet media organs were back in their day. It is just as dedicated as the onetime Soviet state media to advancing the doctrinal perspectives of its host nation's reigning elite -- and far more effective.

Its success is easily exaggerated, however. To everyday Americans' credit, corporate media has never been fully successful in stamping out popular resistance and winning over the hearts and minds of the U.S. populace. A recent Pew Research poll showed that U.S. "millennials" (young adults 18-29 years old) have a more favorable response to the word "socialism" than to "capitalism" – a remarkable finding on the limits of corporate media and other forms of elite ideological power in the U.S. The immigrant worker uprising of May 2006, the Chicago Republic Door and Window plant occupation of 2008, the University of California student uprisings of 2009 and 2010, the Wisconsin public worker rebellion in early 2011, the Occupy Movement of late 2011, and Fight for Fifteen (for a $15 an hour minimum wage) and Black Lives Matter movements of 2014 and 2015 show that U.S. corporate and imperial establishment has not manufactured anything like comprehensive and across the board mass consent and idiocy in the U,S. today. The U.S. elite is no more successful in its utopian (or dystopian) quest to control every American heart and mind than it is in its equally impossible ambition of managing events across a complex planet from the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. The struggle for popular self-determination, democracy, justice, and equality lives on despite the influence of corporate media.

[Aug 08, 2018] Zone23 is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

BillDakota , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 6:28 am GMT

Zone 23 was one of the best novels I've ever read. I'm a big reader, and Zone 23 stands out as one of the better fiction books in my lifetime. It is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

[Aug 08, 2018] Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People

Notable quotes:
"... please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war. ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [207] Disclaimer , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 7:08 am GMT

After observing Skynet's coordinated attack on Alex Jone's Infowars yesterday, we can hardly wait to implement Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People, and eagerly await the God-Emperor's word.

Second, please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war.

No one else may have been paying attention to the unintended consequences of that, but many folks on our side of the present divide were. Food for thought. A reminder about the shape of the battlefield (legal and otherwise) and Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement.

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/03/man-bites-dog-dogs-get-pissed-off.html

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to navigation Jump to search "Ministry of Love" redirects here. For other uses, see Ministry of Love (disambiguation) .

The Ministries of Love , Peace , Plenty , and Truth are ministries in George Orwell 's futuristic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four , set in Oceania . [1] Despite the name, no actual "ministers" are mentioned in the book, and all public attention is focused on the idealized figurehead Big Brother .

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink .

--   Part II, Chapter IX
Contents Ministry of Love [ edit ]

The Ministry of Love ( Newspeak : Miniluv ) serves as Oceania's interior ministry . It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear, buttressed through a massive apparatus of security and repression, as well as systematic brainwashing . The Ministry of Love building has no windows and is surrounded by barbed wire entanglements, steel doors, hidden machine-gun nests , and guards armed with "jointed truncheons ". Referred to as "the place where there is no darkness", its interior lights are never turned off. It is arguably the most powerful ministry, controlling the will of the population. The Thought Police are a part of Miniluv.

The Ministry of Love, like the other ministries, is misnamed, since it is largely responsible for the practice and infliction of misery, fear, suffering and torture . In a sense, however, the name is apt, since its ultimate purpose is to instill love of Big Brother -- the only form of love permitted in Oceania -- in the minds of thoughtcriminals as part of the process of reverting them to orthodox thought. This is typical of the language of Newspeak , in which words and names frequently contain both an idea and its opposite; the orthodox party member is nonetheless able to resolve these contradictions through the disciplined use of doublethink .

Room 101 [ edit ] "Room 101" redirects here. For other uses, see Room 101 (disambiguation) .

Room 101 , introduced in the climax of the novel, is the basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love, in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare , fear or phobia , with the object of breaking down their resistance.

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.

--   O'Brien , Part III, Chapter V

Such is the purported omniscience of the state in the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four that even a citizen's nightmares are known to the Party. The nightmare, and therefore the threatened punishment, of the protagonist Winston Smith is to be attacked by rats . This is manifested in Room 101 by confronting Smith with a wire cage that contains two large rats. The front of the cage is shaped so that it can fit over a person's face. A trap-door is then opened, allowing the rats to devour the victim's face. This cage is fitted over Smith's face, but he saves himself by begging the authorities to let his lover, Julia , suffer this torture instead of him. The threatened torture, and what Winston does to escape it, breaks his last promise to himself and to Julia: never to betray her. The book suggests that Julia is likewise subjected to her own worst fear (although it is not revealed what that fear is), and when she and Winston later meet in a park, he notices a scar on her forehead. The intent of threatening Winston with the rats was to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore to break his spirit.

Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room at Broadcasting House where he used to sit through tedious meetings. [2] When the original room 101 at the BBC was due to be demolished, a plaster cast of it was made by artist Rachel Whiteread and displayed in the cast courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum from November 2003 until June 2004. [3] [4]

Ministry of Peace [ edit ]

The Ministry of Peace ( Newspeak : Minipax ) serves as the war ministry of Oceania's government, and is in charge of the armed forces , mostly the navy and army . The Ministry of Peace may be the most vital organ of Oceania, seeing as the nation is supposedly at an ongoing genocidal war with either Eurasia or Eastasia and requires the right amount of force not to win the war, but keep it in a state of equilibrium.

As explained in Emmanuel Goldstein 's book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism , the Ministry of Peace revolves around the principle of perpetual war . Perpetual war uses up all surplus resources, keeping most citizens in lives of constant hardship – and thus preventing them from learning enough to comprehend the true nature of their society. Perpetual warfare also "helps preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs." Since that means the balance of the country rests in the war, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of fighting the war (mostly centered around Africa and India), but making sure to never tip the scales, in case the war should become one-sided. Oceanic telescreens usually broadcast news reports about how Oceania is continually winning every battle it fights, though these reports have little to no credibility.

As with all the other Nineteen Eighty-Four ministries, the Ministry of Peace is named the exact opposite of what it does, since the Ministry of Peace is in charge of maintaining a state of war. The meaning of peace has been equated with the meaning of war in the slogan of the party, "War is Peace". Like the names of other ministries, it also has a literal application. Perpetual war is what keeps the "peace" (the status quo) in Oceania and the balance of power in the world.

Ministry of Plenty [ edit ]

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

Ministry of Truth [ edit ] Senate House, London , where Orwell's wife worked at the Ministry of Information , was his model for the Ministry of Truth

The Ministry of Truth ( Newspeak : Minitrue ) is the ministry of propaganda . As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.

As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak , in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.

Description [ edit ]

Winston Smith , the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four , works at the Ministry of Truth. [5] It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres (980 ft) into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY," "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." There is also a large part underground, probably containing huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after they are put down memory holes . For his description, Orwell was inspired by the Senate House at the University of London . [6]

Role in information [ edit ]

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth correct the record to make it accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence, the "why", is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong.

Minitrue plays a role as the news media by changing history, and changing the words in articles about events current and past, so that Big Brother and his government are always seen in a good light and can never do any wrong. The content is more propaganda than actual news.

Departments [ edit ]

The following are the sections or departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:

Cultural impact [ edit ]

The novel's popularity has resulted in the term "Room 101" being used to represent a place where unpleasant things are done.

In fiction [ edit ]

In The Ricky Gervais Show , Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant play a game called "Room 102", based on the concept of "Room 101", in which Karl Pilkington has to decide what things he dislikes enough to put in Room 102. This would result, according to their game, in these things being erased from existence. [ citation needed ]

The name "Ministry of Peace", and shorthand "Minipax", appear in the US science fiction TV series Babylon 5 . The Ministry of Peace first appears in the episode " In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum ". It is a sinister organisation, created to instill loyalty to the government of Earth and root out dissent; one of its senior staff is a "Mr Welles". In its role it more closely resembles the novel's § Ministry of Love (which is responsible for the Thought Police and the interrogation of dissidents) than it does the Ministry of Peace depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four . [ citation needed ]

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier , set in Britain after the fall of the Big Brother government , the Ministry of Love is actually MI5 and its physical location is given as the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross , noted by a young spy named Jimmy (a thinly veiled James Bond ). [ citation needed ]

In the 2011 Doctor Who episode " The God Complex ", The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a hotel full of their own personal Room 101s, each with their greatest fear in it. [8]

One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Sound involved the hapless residents of room 102, the telescreen repair centre, who could not ignore the things happening in the next room. [ citation needed ]

In the 2002 game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind there is a floating rock known as "The Ministry of Truth".

References [ edit ]
  1. Jump up ^ Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four . Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-452-28423-6 .
  2. Jump up ^ "The Real Room 101" . BBC. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007.
    Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation . W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7 , p. 214.
  3. Jump up ^ "BBC Broadcasting House – Public Art Programme 2002–2008" . Archived from the original on 2009-05-19 . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  4. Jump up ^ Brooks, Richard (23 March 2003). "Orwell's room 101 to be work of art" . The Sunday Times . London . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  5. Jump up ^ "Literature Network, George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 4" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  6. Jump up ^ Stansky, Peter (1994). London's Burning . Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-8047-2340-0 .
    Tames, Richard (2006). London . Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-19-530953-7 .
    Humphreys, Rob (2003). The Rough Guide to London . Rough Guides Limited. p. 146. ISBN 1-84353-093-7 .
    "Orwell Today, Ministry of Truth" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  7. Jump up ^ Byrnes, Sholto; Tonkin, Boyd (18 June 2004). "Anna Funder: Inside the real Room 101" . The Independent . London . Retrieved 2008-02-02 . (Profile of Funder and her book, Stasiland )
  8. Jump up ^ Risely, Matt (18 September 2011). "Doctor Who: "The God Complex" Review" . IGN . Retrieved 31 March 2012 .

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministry of Plenty

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lives 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 so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink . For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jun 21, 2018] The neoliberal agenda is agreed and enacted by BOTH parties:

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the progressive left has been destroyed. All that's left is the Democratic Party which CALLS ITSELF "progressive" but actually acts in a way that undermines progressive ideals. ..."
"... Both Obama and Trump are faux populists. Both were probably thrust upon us in very slick operations. Proof? In hindsight, their political opponents (McCain, Hillary) were so flawed as to be ridiculous, especially because they were each the very embodiment of an establishment that most people KNOW works against them. In our current, money-driven political system electing a real progressive is virtually impossible. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit | Jun 21, 2018 10:16:05 PM | 34

Fernando, Almand

You may be interested to know:

Civil Rights Attorney Asked Obama To Close Migrant "Baby Jails" In 2015

Why The "Abject Silence" From The Left About Child Migrant Detentions Under Obama?

This shows how hypocritical and partisan the left is in the U.S. That's because the progressive left has been destroyed. All that's left is the Democratic Party which CALLS ITSELF "progressive" but actually acts in a way that undermines progressive ideals.

karlof1 is right. Revolutions happen from the bottom up. Not by electing those who have been selected to run for office. Both Obama and Trump are faux populists. Both were probably thrust upon us in very slick operations. Proof? In hindsight, their political opponents (McCain, Hillary) were so flawed as to be ridiculous, especially because they were each the very embodiment of an establishment that most people KNOW works against them. In our current, money-driven political system electing a real progressive is virtually impossible.

The establishment agenda is agreed and enacted by BOTH parties:

  1. neo-feudalism : low taxes on the wealthy and roll-back of social programs;
  2. legal usury : very low interest rates for best credit / very high interest rates to ordinary people;
  3. neolib taking of the commons ; Example from the neolib Sith Lord himself: Obamaland Fiasco Worsens
    A presidential library became Obamaland... The center will not be a presidential library because Obama's archives and documents won't be there there and it won't be federally run.

    [Furthermore] The taxpayer bill for the Obama Center to be built on Chicago's Southside is now $224 million, not $172 million as initially reported, and it's certainly not privately funded as initially promised.

  4. global hegemony via massive spending on military & spying; It's for the children. No, not YOUR children.
  5. divisive politics to keep lower classes occupied; Let's talk about bathrooms and statues and "rocketman".
  6. militarized police & massive propaganda . You are now a consumer of government services not a citizen. Have a nice day.

[Jun 10, 2018] Trump and National Neoliberalism by Sasha Breger Bush

Highly recommended!
This is prophetic article, no question about it. "National neoliberalism" and interesting term.
Notable quotes:
"... Political theorist Sheldon Wolin writes in Democracy, Inc. ..."
"... By contrast, in Trump's America -- where an emergent "national neoliberalism" may be gradually guiding us to a more overt and obvious totalitarian politics -- we can expect a similar fusion of state and market interests, but one in which the marketplace and big business have almost total power and freedom of movement (I think that labor will do poorly in this configuration). State and market in the U.S. will fuse further together in the coming years, leading some to make close parallels with European fascism. But it will do so not because of heavy handed government dictates and interventions, but rather because domestic privatization initiatives, appointments of businessmen to government posts, fiscal stimulus and the business community's need for protection abroad will bring them closer. Corporate interests will merge with state interests not because corporations are commanded to, but rather because the landscape of risk and reward will shift and redirect investment patterns to a similar effect. This may be where a budding U.S. totalitarianism differs most starkly from its European cousins. ..."
Dec 24, 2016 | www.commondreams.org
Originally published by Dollars & Sense

And why the world is about to get much more dangerous The election of Donald Trump "represents a triumph of neoliberal thinking and values." (Photo: Carlo Allegri/ Reuters) Many writers and pundits are currently framing Trump's election in terms of a dispossessed and disenfranchised white, male working class, unsatisfied with neoliberal globalization and the insecurity and hardship it has unleashed -- particularly across regions of the United States that were formerly manufacturing powerhouses (like the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, four states believed to have cost Hillary Clinton the election). While there is much truth to this perspective and substantial empirical evidence to support it, it would be a mistake to see Trump's election wholly in these terms.

"What Trump's election has accomplished is an unmasking of the corporate state."

Trump's election is in some ways a neoliberal apex, an event that portends the completion of the U.S. government's capture by wealthy corporate interests. While in my opinion Trump's election does not signal the beginning of a rapid descent into European-style fascism, it appears to be a key stage in the ongoing process of American democratic disintegration. American democracy has been under attack from large and wealthy corporate interests for a long time, with this process accelerating and gaining strength over the period of neoliberal globalization (roughly the early 1970s to the present). This time period is associated with the rise of powerful multinational corporations with economic and political might that rivals that of many national governments.

In terms of the political consequences of these trends in the U.S., certain thinkers have argued that the U.S. political system is not democratic at all, but rather an "inverted totalitarian" system. Political commentator Chris Hedges notes: "Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state." Citing the American political theorist Sheldon Wolin, Hedges continues, "Unlike the Nazis, who made life uncertain for the wealthy and privileged while providing social programs for the working class and poor, inverted totalitarianism exploits the poor, reducing or weakening health programs and social services, regimenting mass education for an insecure workforce threatened by the importation of low-wage workers." Our inverted totalitarian system is one that retains the trappings of a democratic system -- e.g. it retains the appearance of loyalty to "the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, [and] the independence of the judiciary" -- all the while undermining the capacity of citizens to substantively participate and exert power over the system.

In my view, what Trump's election has accomplished is an unmasking of the corporate state. Trump gives inverted totalitarianism a persona and a face, and perhaps marks the beginning of a transformation from inverted totalitarianism to totalitarianism proper. In spite of this, it makes no sense to me to call the system toward which we are heading (that is, if we do not stand up and resist with all our might right this second) "fascism" or to make too close comparisons to the Nazis. Whatever totalitarian nightmare is on our horizon, it will be uniquely American. And it will bear a striking resemblance to the corporate oriented system we've been living in for decades. Indeed, if the pre-Trump system of inverted totalitarianism solidified in the context of global neoliberalism, the period we are entering now seems likely to be one characterized by what I call "national neoliberalism."

Trump's Election Doesn't Mean the End of Neoliberalism

Trump's election represents a triumph of neoliberal thinking and values. Perhaps most importantly, we should all keep in mind the fact that Americans just elected a businessman to the presidency. In spite of his Wall Street background and billionaire status, Trump successfully cast himself as the "anti-establishment" candidate. This configuration -- in which a top-one-percenter real estate tycoon is accepted as a political "outsider" -- is a hallmark of neoliberal thinking. The fundamental opposition between market and government is a central dichotomy in the neoliberal narrative. In electing Trump, American voters are reproducing this narrative, creating an ideological cover for the closer connections between business and the state that are in store moving forward (indeed, Trump is already using the apparatus of the U.S. federal government to promote his own business interests). As states and markets further fuse in coming years, this representation of Trump and his administration -- as being anti-government -- will help immunize his administration from accusations of too-cozy relationships with big business. Trump's attempts to "drain the swamp" by imposing Congressional term limits and constraints on lobbying activities by former political officials will also help to hide this relationship. (Has anyone else noticed that Trump only addresses half of the "revolving door," i.e., he plans to limit the lobbying of former politicians, but not the political roles of businessmen?)

"Whatever totalitarian nightmare is on our horizon, it will be uniquely American."

Trump's Contract with the American Voter, his plan for the first 100 days in office, discusses policies and programs many of which are consistent with neoliberal thinking. (I understand the term "neoliberalism" to emphasize at its core the importance of private property rights, market-based social organization, and the dangers of government intervention in the economy.) Trump's plan redirects the activities of the U.S. government along the lines touted by neoliberal "market fundamentalists" like Milton Friedman, who advocate limiting government's role to market-supportive functions like national defense (defense stocks are doing very well since the election) and domestic law and order (Trump's proposals have a lot to do with altering immigration policy to "restore security"). Trump also plans to use government monies to revitalize physical infrastructure and create jobs. Other government functions, for example, health care provision and education as well as protecting the environment and public lands, are open for privatization and defunding in Trump's agenda. Under Trump, the scope of federal government activities will narrow, likely to infrastructure, national defense, and domestic policing and surveillance, even if overall government spending increases (as bond markets are predicting).

Trump also seems content to take neoliberal advice in regard to business regulation (less is best) and the role of the private sector in regulating itself (industry insiders understand regulatory needs better than public officials). Trump's plan for the first 100 days specifies "a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated." As of the time of this writing, his selection of cabinet appointees illustrate a broad willingness to appoint businesspeople to government posts. As of mid-December 2016, a Goldman Sachs veteran, Steven Mnuchin, has been appointed Secretary of the Treasury; billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has been appointed Secretary of Commerce; fossil fuel industry supporter and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been appointed as EPA administrator; and fast-food mogul Andrew Puzder has been appointed as Secretary of Labor. Trump's business council is staffed by the CEOs of major U.S. corporations including JP Morgan Chase, IBM and General Motors. To be fair, the "revolving door" between government and industry has been perpetuated by many of Trump's predecessors, with Trump poised to continue the tradition. But this is not to say that neoliberalism will continue going in a "business as usual" fashion. The world is about to get much more dangerous, and this has serious implications for patterns of global trade and investment.

Trump's Election Does Mean the End of Globalism

The nationalism, xenophobia, isolationism, and paranoia of Donald Trump are about to replace the significantly more cosmopolitan outlook of his post-WWII predecessors. While Trump is decidedly pro-business and pro-market, he most certainly does not see himself as a global citizen. Nor does he intend to maintain the United States' extensive global footprint or its relatively open trading network. In other words, while neoliberalism is not dead, it is being transformed into a geographically more fragmented and localized system (this is not only about the US election, but also about rising levels of global protectionism and Brexit, among other anti-globalization trends around the world). I expect that the geographic extent of the US economy in the coming years will coincide with the new landscape of U.S. allies and enemies, as defined by Donald Trump and his administration.

Trump's Contract with the American Voter outlines several policies that will make it more expensive and riskier to do business abroad. All of these need not occur; I think that even one or two of these changes will be sufficient to alter expectations in business communities about the benefits of certain cross-border economic relationships. Pulling the United States out of the TPP, along with threats to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and attempts to renegotiate NAFTA, is already signaling to other countries that we are not interested in international cooperation and collaboration. A crackdown on foreign trading abuses will prompt retaliation. Labelling China a currency manipulator will sour relations between the two countries and prompt retaliation by China. As Trump goes forward with his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, he will alienate the United States' traditional allies in Europe (at least until Europe elects its own nationalist and xenophobic leaders) and communities across the Global South. The U.S. election has already undermined performance in emerging markets, and bigoted rhetoric and policy will only increase anti-American sentiment in struggling economies populated largely by people of color. Add to this the risk of conflict posed by any number of the following: his antagonizing China, allying with Russia, deploying ground troops to stop ISIS, and pulling out of the Korean DMZ, among other initiatives that seem likely to contribute to a more confrontational and violent international arena. All of this is to say that Trump will not have to intervene directly in the affairs of business in order to nationalize it. The new global landscape of conflict and risk, combined with elevated domestic spending on infrastructure and security, will bring U.S. business and investment back home nonetheless.

National Neoliberalism and State-Market Relations

Fascist states are corporatist in nature, a state of affairs marked by a fusion of state and business functions and interests, with an often significant role for labor interests as well. In the fascist states on the European continent in the 1930s and 1940s -- systems that fall under the umbrella of "national socialism" -- the overwhelming power of the state characterized this tripartite relationship. Political theorist Sheldon Wolin writes in Democracy, Inc. in regard to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (as well as Stalinist Russia), "The state was conceived as the main center of power, providing the leverage necessary for the mobilization and reconstruction of society".

By contrast, in Trump's America -- where an emergent "national neoliberalism" may be gradually guiding us to a more overt and obvious totalitarian politics -- we can expect a similar fusion of state and market interests, but one in which the marketplace and big business have almost total power and freedom of movement (I think that labor will do poorly in this configuration). State and market in the U.S. will fuse further together in the coming years, leading some to make close parallels with European fascism. But it will do so not because of heavy handed government dictates and interventions, but rather because domestic privatization initiatives, appointments of businessmen to government posts, fiscal stimulus and the business community's need for protection abroad will bring them closer. Corporate interests will merge with state interests not because corporations are commanded to, but rather because the landscape of risk and reward will shift and redirect investment patterns to a similar effect. This may be where a budding U.S. totalitarianism differs most starkly from its European cousins.

Of course it helps that much of the fusion of state and market in the United States is already complete, what with decades of revolving doors and privatization initiatives spanning the military, police, prison, healthcare and educational sectors, among others. It will not take much to further cement the relationship. © 2018 Dollars & Sense

Sasha Breger Bush is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Denver and author of Derivatives and Development: A Political Economy of Global Finance, Farming, and Poverty (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

[Jun 10, 2018] Trump and National Neoliberalism, Revisited by Sasha Breger Bush

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... But if we take seriously the idea that Trump is a consequence of the disintegration of American democracy rather than the cause of it, this "blame game" becomes especially problematic. Partisan bickering, with one party constantly pointing to the other as responsible for the country's ills, covers up the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike have presided over the consolidation of corporate power in the United States. To paraphrase Ralph Nader, the U.S. corporate state is a two-headed beast. Sure, President Trump and the Republican Party are currently handing over public lands to oil and gas companies, eliminating net neutrality, introducing pro-corporate tax legislation, kowtowing to the military industrial complex, defunding the welfare state, and attempting to privatize education and deregulate finance. But let's not forget our recent Democratic presidents, for example, who are also guilty of empowering and enriching big business and disempowering and impoverishing ordinary Americans. ..."
"... All of this is to say that I'm considerably less excited about 2018 and 2020 than many others -- on what counts as the U.S. left -- appear to be. Democratic Party victories at the ballot box would certainly reduce some of the pressures on a variety of marginalized groups who are suffering mightily under President Trump. This is, of course, a good thing. But, Democratic victories will not "fix" the structural problems that underpin our current political crisis nor will they ensure a freer and more just future. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.dollarsandsense.org

This article is from Dollars & Sense : Real World Economics, available at http://www.dollarsandsense.org

Last winter, in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, I wrote an article for Dollars & Sense in which I argued that Trump's election represented a transition toward "national neoliberalism" in the United States ("Trump and National Neoliberalism: Trump's ascendance means the end of globalism -- but not of neoliberalism," January/February 2017).

I argued that this emergent state of affairs would be marked by a completion of the takeover of the U.S. government by corporate interests. I saw the election of Trump -- a top one-percenter and real estate tycoon firmly rooted in the culture and logic of big business, who has somehow convinced many Americans that he is an anti-establishment "outsider" -- as an "unmasking" of the corporate state, a revelation of the ongoing merger between state and market that has arguably been ongoing since the 1970s. In short, I envisioned a movement away from "global neoliberalism," a state of affairs characterized by the increasing preeminence of transnational corporate capital in a relatively open global political-economic system, and towards "national neoliberalism," a state of affairs in which transnational corporate dominance is cemented in the context of an ever more fragmented and dangerous global system.

About ten years ago, political theorist Sheldon Wolin published Democracy Incorporated , diagnosing American democracy with a potentially fatal corporate disease. Referring to the specter of "inverted totalitarianism," Wolin writes in his preface:

Primarily it represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry. Unlike the classic forms of totalitarianism [e.g. Germany, Italy], which openly boasted of their intentions to force their societies into preconceived totality, inverted totalitarianism is not expressly conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. Typically it is furthered by power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. There is a certain heedlessness, an inability to take seriously the extent to which a pattern of consequences may take shape without having been preconceived. Wolin paints a picture of a gradual process of change in which many different actors, some wealthy and powerful and others not, unwittingly push the country's politics, bit by bit in piecemeal fashion, towards an undemocratic, corporate-controlled end. Many of these actors may have good intentions. Many of them may see themselves as champions of the people. Many of them may actually speak out against the very interests that they in other ways empower.

This framework for thinking about the plight of the United States, which has for me been legitimated over and over again during Trump's first year in office, conditions how I think about President Trump and the Republican Party, and how I think about our opportunities for nonviolent social transformation, freedom, and social justice. It's hard not to point to President Trump and blame him for our problems. He is a bigot who has struck out at immigrants, Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans, Mexicans, women, LGBT people, and disabled people. He lacks the basic knowledge of politics and foreign policy that are a necessary condition for competent leadership. He picked up a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan in December 2016, disrupting relations with China, and called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "short" and "fat." He is a paranoid and narcissistic demagogue who has scorned and marginalized journalists, and made the terms "fake news" and "alternative facts" household words. He is a corrupt businessman who is using the levers of power that he controls to enrich Big Business, as well as his cronies, his friends, and himself. I could go on.

It's also hard not to point to Republicans in Congress. After the election, there was hope that the "never Trump" Republicans would win out and that Trump's agenda would be blocked. This has not happened. While some in Congress, like Senators McCain (R-Ariz.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Collins (R-Maine), Flake (R-Ariz.) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) have defied Trump in certain contexts (e.g. on foreign policy), on many issues congressional Republicans have simply fallen in line (e.g. with tax reform). Today, the Republican Party is often discussed by liberals in the same breath as Trump, with everyone hoping for good news in 2018 and 2020.

But if we take seriously the idea that Trump is a consequence of the disintegration of American democracy rather than the cause of it, this "blame game" becomes especially problematic. Partisan bickering, with one party constantly pointing to the other as responsible for the country's ills, covers up the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike have presided over the consolidation of corporate power in the United States. To paraphrase Ralph Nader, the U.S. corporate state is a two-headed beast. Sure, President Trump and the Republican Party are currently handing over public lands to oil and gas companies, eliminating net neutrality, introducing pro-corporate tax legislation, kowtowing to the military industrial complex, defunding the welfare state, and attempting to privatize education and deregulate finance. But let's not forget our recent Democratic presidents, for example, who are also guilty of empowering and enriching big business and disempowering and impoverishing ordinary Americans.

President Obama presided over the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a process that President Trump is continuing. As William Hartung recently reported in Mother Jones , "There is, in fact, a dirty little secret behind the massive U.S. arsenal: It has more to do with the power and profits of weapons makers than it does with any imaginable strategic considerations." President Obama also helped corporations get richer and more powerful in other ways. He negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal that, if Trump had not withdrawn us, would have expanded U.S. corporate access to overseas markets and given multinational corporates new policy leverage over governments (via investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms). (See Robin Brand, "Remembering the 'Tokyo No'," Dollars & Sense , January/February 2015.) In 2012, as he was running for his second term, Obama proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 28%, not much different from the bill just passed by Congress. He also lobbied Congress for the $700 billion Wall Street bailouts after the Great Recession, continuing on the policy path set by his Republican predecessor, President Bush. (Obama received huge campaign contributions from finance, insurance, and real estate.) In terms of income inequality, CNBC had to reluctantly conclude that the gap widened under Obama, in spite of all his powerful rhetoric about equity and equality.

President Clinton negotiated and signed NAFTA into law, a trade agreement that created hardship for millions of American manufacturing workers and farmers, and generated large profits for multinational industrial and agricultural corporations. Clinton also pushed for welfare reform, signing into law a "workfare" system that required recipients to meet strict job and employment related conditions. Millions of people became ineligible for payments under the new system, and poverty increased especially among households in which members were long-term unemployed. Clinton's 1997 tax proposal advocated cutting estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and did not favor lower-income Americans. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, "Analyses by the Treasury Department indicate that when fully in effect, the Clinton plan would give the 20 percent of Americans with the highest incomes about the same amount in tax cuts as the bottom 60 percent combined. This is an unusual characteristic for a tax plan proposed by a Democratic President."

All of this is to say that I'm considerably less excited about 2018 and 2020 than many others -- on what counts as the U.S. left -- appear to be. Democratic Party victories at the ballot box would certainly reduce some of the pressures on a variety of marginalized groups who are suffering mightily under President Trump. This is, of course, a good thing. But, Democratic victories will not "fix" the structural problems that underpin our current political crisis nor will they ensure a freer and more just future.

I plan to support third-party candidates at the ballot box in coming years, in the hopes of contributing to the creation of a new kind of political infrastructure that can help us to unmake the corporate state.

SASHA BREGER-BUSH is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado–Denver.

[Jun 06, 2018] Inverted totalitarism described by a Guardia commenter

Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Bearmuchly, 3 Jun 2018 16:37

Despite the huge changes in communication in the last several decades and the ever increasing levels of education in our society, politics have failed to engage the vast majority and that cohort of the cynical, the alienated, the disinterested, the lazy, the simply care less continues to grow.

In the last decade the only cause that evoked passion and engaged a larger number, finally forcing our elected members to act was same sex marriage .....a crescendo that took years to generate.

With the complicity of our media and the decline of that part of education that teaches analysis, social psychology and political philosophy (let alone teaches about basic political structures and mechanisms) our level of disengagement from the political process appears to be at an all time high. The performance of our legislators has become increasingly unaccountable and purely self interested .... we have re-created the "political class" of pre-war times where alienation was based on a lack of education and awareness and a sense of inferiority and powerlessness DESPITE our vastly improved communication, access to information and educational standards (not to mention affluence).

Basically, we have "dumbed down" to the extent where passion and ideology in politics is now the preserve of fewer and fewer. In a democracy this trend is of massive concern and a threat to its sustainability.... it also completely suits those that are focused on concentrating power and wealth... the more that don't give a toss the less likely you are to be encumbered by limitations, social considerations, ethics and morality.

Until we re-engage far larger numbers into the political process, raise the levels of awareness of political thought and choices, stop dumbing down and re-inject some broader passion and participation into our political processes then vested interests will continue to dominate.....and democracy will become increasingly undemocratic !

[Apr 08, 2018] Chris Hedges U.S. Citizens Are Living In An Inverted Totalitarian Country

Apr 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won't stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November '18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a "creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago." As a columnist with Truthdig, and a big advocate of independent media. Chris Hedges was the perfect interviewee for us to draw on the benefits of crowdsourced journalism and the challenges facing sites at the mercy of Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/I0Lzmq8alBw

Chris's ire against the corporate interest of Facebook et al didn't let up saying dissident voices were being shut down and that corporate oligarchs were only too happy to let them. The neutralisation of the media platforms that seek to provide independent opinion on U.S. current affairs is in full pelt.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Im5zi2lcX8Y

North Korea was the hot topic in 2017. Commentators said it was like a return to the days of the Cold War. But Hedges pointed that we need to remember what happened during the Korean War  --  how the North was flattened by U.S. bombs  --  and that as a result they, as a nation, suffer from an almost psychosis as a result. Trump, he said, is an imbecile and only deals in bombast, threats and rhetoric.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/iD2YGy56VAs

Not surprisingly, Trump got it hard from Hedges. Describing his administration as a "kleptocracy" who will seek to attack immigrants and up the xenophobia stakes as it distracts and covers for the unadulterated theft of U.S. natural resources.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0Ajr6WFf_SM

As young people look to estimable journalists, activists and politicians in the States to help give them a voice, Hedges sees the democratic system as utterly futile. Encouraging mass civil disobedience instead, the ex-NY Times foreign correspondent states that railroads should be blocked and shutting down corporate buildings, for example, is the only way forward.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hailNKOv2mw

The perennial argument between Republicans and Democrats is just that; is the U.S. a Republic or a Democracy? Hedges thinks neither. He told Newsvoice that the States is an inverted totalitarian country where the government regards the public as "irrelevant".

https://www.youtube.com/embed/uexNoNK2Xok

Unlike Ben Wizner from the ACLU who sees hope in delaying Net Neutrality, at least until a new administration is in power, Chris feels it is hopeless  --  that it is a dead duck, and as Net Neutrality slows down independent media platforms, the public will be at the behest of corporate social media sites such as Facebook who'll increasingly deem what you do and don't read or see.

You can read more of Chris' work at Truthdig where he has a weekly column every Monday.

[Mar 18, 2018] Powerful intelligence agencies are incompatible with any forms of democracy including the democracy for top one precent. The only possible form of government in this situation is inverted totalitarism

Highly recommended!
Jun 28, 2013 | www.theguardian.com

Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden are upset about something, they just can't say what. In a letter sent to the National Security Agency this week about a fact sheet on its surveillance programs, the senators complained about what they refer to only as "the inaccuracy". The inaccuracy is "significant". The inaccuracy could "decrease public confidence in the NSA's openness and its commitment to protecting Americans' constitutional rights". But, because the information underlying it is classified, the inaccuracy can't be described.

This is either a frustrating illustration of the absurdities of America's secrecy regime, or the start of a pretty solid vaudeville act.

The frenzied public debate over the NSA leaks has focused on the correctness of the government surveillance programs themselves. But America cannot properly debate these and future surveillance efforts until it decides what can be debated.

As an official in the first Obama administration, I worked in jobs requiring top secret clearance. I know firsthand how essential secrecy can be to effecting policy goals and how devastating leaks can be. I navigated diplomatic relationships threatened by the indiscriminate release of WikiLeaks documents, and volunteered on the taskforce that sifted through them, piecing together the damage done. But it is also true that a culture of over-classification has shielded too much from public debate and that more could be disclosed without damaging the efficacy of intelligence programs.

Trillions of new pages of text are classified each year. More than 4.8 million people now have a security clearance, including low level contractors like Edward Snowden . A committee established by Congress, the Public Interest Declassification Board, warned in December that rampant over-classification is "imped[ing] informed government decisions and an informed public" and, worse, "enabl[ing] corruption and malfeasance". In one instance it documented, a government agency was found to be classifying one petabyte of new data every 18 months, the equivalent of 20m filing cabinets filled with text.

It is difficult to argue that all or even most of that information should be classified. By keeping too many secrets, America has created fertile ground for their escape. Already, the Obama administration has been forced to initiate six espionage prosecutions for leaks – twice as many as every previous administration combined.

It has also left the American people disillusioned and mistrustful. This is especially true of a new generation raised in a networked world that has made them expect far greater transparency from the institutions around them. According to a recent Pew Research Center/ USA Today poll , a clear majority of young people (60%) feels that the NSA leaks served the public interest.

The leaks illustrate how bad the lack of trust has become - and present an opportunity for greater disclosure.

There is no doubt that some secrecy is essential to the efficacy of surveillance programs like those revealed by the NSA leaks. The specific sources and methods of such programs should be protected. However, it is entirely possible to protect those specifics while also broadly disclosing to the public the scope of information subject to collection, and the rationale behind doing so.

That level of disclosure should be the norm for future programs, and can still be instated in the case of the current NSA surveillance programs. Two Congressmen – Democrat Adam Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, and Republican Todd Rokita – introduced a bill last week that would call on the Department of Justice to declassify the legal justifications for NSA surveillance efforts. Universal public disclosure of individual decisions could impede the efficacy of the program, but there is no reason the Department of Justice can't disclose its generalized legal reasoning. That's a drawer in the stadium of filing cabinets that America can safely open.

"You can't have 100% security and then have 100% privacy," President Obama said in the days immediately following the leaks. "We're going to have to make some choices as a society." But the government can and should let Americans know what choices it is that they're making. The intelligence community might find Americans, particularly young Americans most suspicious of government institutions, more sympathetic to their delicate balancing act as informed participants.

[Mar 11, 2018] Inverted Totalitarianism by Sheldon Wolin

Notable quotes:
"... ...Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. ..."
Mar 11, 2018 | www.thenation.com

The Nation

"Empire" and "superpower" accurately symbolize the projection of American power abroad, but for that reason they obscure the internal consequences. Consider how odd it would sound if we were to refer to "the Constitution of the American Empire" or "superpower democracy." The reason they ring false is that "constitution" signifies limitations on power, while "democracy" commonly refers to the active involvement of citizens with their government and the responsiveness of government to its citizens.

For their part, "empire" and "superpower" stand for the surpassing of limits and the dwarfing of the citizenry. The increasing power of the state and the declining power of institutions intended to control it has been in the making for some time. The party system is a notorious example.

...Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment.

What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic. In the United States, however, it has been apparent for decades that corporate power has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party

...At the same time, it is corporate power, as the representative of the dynamic of capitalism and of the ever-expanding power made available by the integration of science and technology with the structure of capitalism, that produces the totalizing drive

.. a pervasive atmosphere of fear abetted by a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor. With such instrumentalities for promoting uncertainty and dependence, it is almost overkill for inverted totalitarianism to employ a system of criminal justice that is punitive in the extreme, relishes the death penalty and is consistently biased against the powerless.

Thus the elements are in place: a weak legislative body, a legal system that is both compliant and repressive, a party system in which one party, whether in opposition or in the majority, is bent upon reconstituting the existing system so as to permanently favor a ruling class of the wealthy, the well-connected and the corporate, while leaving the poorer citizens with a sense of helplessness and political despair, and, at the same time, keeping the middle classes dangling between fear of unemployment and expectations of fantastic rewards once the new economy recovers.

That scheme is abetted by a sycophantic and increasingly concentrated media; by the integration of universities with their corporate benefactors; by a propaganda machine institutionalized in well-funded think tanks and conservative foundations; by the increasingly closer cooperation between local police and national law enforcement agencies aimed at identifying terrorists, suspicious aliens and domestic dissidents.

What is at stake, then, is nothing less than the attempted transformation of a tolerably free society into a variant of the extreme regimes of the past century. In that context, the national elections of 2004 represent a crisis in its original meaning, a turning point. The question for citizens is: Which way?

Sheldon Wolin Sheldon Wolin is the author, most recently, of Alexis de Tocqueville: Man Between Two Worlds (Princeton). A new edition of his book Politics and Vision is forthcoming. He is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University.

[Feb 19, 2018] The Free Market Threat to Democracy by John Weeks

Notable quotes:
"... In addition, financial capital leads to inequality, and that inequality, as you've seen in the United States and in Europe and many other places, it increases. And suddenly, not suddenly, but bit by bit, people begin to realize that they aren't getting their share and that means that the government, to protect capitalism, must use force to maintain the order of financial capital. And I think Trump is the fulfillment of that, and I think there are other examples too which I can go into. So, basically, my argument is that with the rise of finance and its unproductive activities, you've got the decline in living standards of the vast majority, and in order to maintain order in such a system where people no longer think that they're sort of getting their share, and so justice doesn't become, a just distribution doesn't become the reason why people support this system, increasingly it has to be done through force. ..."
"... I think that as The Real News has pointed out, that many of Trump's policies appear just to be more extreme versions of things that George Bush did, and in some cases not that much different from what Barack Obama did. ..."
"... The difference with Trump is, he has complete contempt for all of those constraints. That is, he is an authoritarian. I don't think he's a fascist, not yet, but he is an authoritarian. He does not accept that there are constraints which he should respect. There are constraints which bother him, and he wants to get rid of them, and he actually takes steps to do so. ..."
"... Erdoğan so infamously said? "Democracy is like a train. You take it to where you want to go and then you get off." No. Progressive view is that democracy is what it's all about. Democracy is the way that we build the present and we build a future. ..."
"... I think that the struggle in the United States is extremely difficult because of the role of the big money and the media, which you know more about than I do. But it is a struggle which we have to keep at, and we have to be optimistic about it. It's a good bit easier over here, but as we saw, and you reported, during the last presidential election, a progressive came very close to being President of the United States. That, I don't think was a one-off event, not to be repeated. I think it lays the basis for hope in the future. ..."
"... The democratic nation-state basically operates like a criminal cartel, forcing honest citizens to surrender large portions of their wealth to pay for stuff like roads and hospitals and schools. ..."
"... Any hierarchic system will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths. Systems will not save us. ..."
"... What I gleaned from my quick Wikiread was the apparent pattern of economic inequality causing the masses to huddle in fear & loathing to one corner – desperation, and then some clever autocrat subverts the energy from their F&L into political power by demonizing various minorities and other non-causal perps. ..."
"... Like nearly every past fascism emergence in history, US Trumpismo is capitalizing on inequality, and fear & loathing (his capital if you will) to seize power. That brings us to Today – to Trump, and an era (brief I hope) of US flirtation with fascism. Thank God Trump is crippled by a narcissism that fuels F&L within his own regime. Otherwise, I might be joining a survivalist group or something. :-) ..."
Feb 17, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with professor emeritus John Weeks discussed how economic ideology has weakened or eliminated public accountability of institutions like the Fed and promote neo[neo]liberal policies that undermine democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/o9bXo1f5r0I

SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The concept of the [neo]liberal democracy is generally based on capitalistic markets along with respect for individual freedoms and human rights and equality in the face of the law. The rise of financial capital and its efforts to deregulate financial markets, however, raises the question whether [neo]liberal democracy is a sustainable form of government. Sooner or later, democratic institutions make way for the interests of large capital to supersede.

Political economist John Weeks recently gave this year's David Gordon Memorial Lecture at the meeting of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia where he addressed these issues with a talk titled, Free Markets and the Decline of Democracy. Joining us now is John Weeks. He joins us from London to discuss the issues raised in his lecture. You can find a link to this lecture just below the player, and John is, as you know, Professor Emeritus of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and author of Economics of the 1%: How Mainstream Economics Serves the Rich, Obscures Reality and Distorts Policy. John, good to have you back on The Real News.

JOHN WEEKS: Thank you very much for having me.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, let me start with your talk. Your talk describes a struggle between efforts to create a democratic control over the economy and the interest of capital, which seeks to subjugate government to the interest, its own interest. In your assessment, it looks like this is a losing battle for democracy. Explain this further.

JOHN WEEKS: Yeah, so I think that Marx in Capital, in the first volume of Capital, refers to a concept called bourgeois right, by which he meant that, you said it in the introduction, that in a capitalist society there is a form of equality that mimics the relationship of exchange. Every commodity looks equal in exchange and there is a system of ownership that you might say is the shadow of that. I think more important, in the early stages of development of capitalism, of development of factories, that those institutions or those factories prompted the growth of trade unions and workers' struggles in general. Those workers' struggles were key to the development, or further development of democracy, freedom of speech, a whole range of rights, the right to vote.

However, with the development of finance capital, you've got quite a different dynamic within the capitalist system. Let me say, I don't want to romanticize the early period of capitalism, but you did have struggles, mass struggles for rights. Finance capital produces nothing productive, it doesn't do anything productive. So, what finance capital does basically is it redistributes the income, the wealth, the, what Marx would call the surplus value, from other sectors of society to itself. And it employs relatively few people, so that dynamic of the capital, industrial capital, generating its antithesis So, that a labor movement doesn't occur under financial capital.

In addition, financial capital leads to inequality, and that inequality, as you've seen in the United States and in Europe and many other places, it increases. And suddenly, not suddenly, but bit by bit, people begin to realize that they aren't getting their share and that means that the government, to protect capitalism, must use force to maintain the order of financial capital. And I think Trump is the fulfillment of that, and I think there are other examples too which I can go into. So, basically, my argument is that with the rise of finance and its unproductive activities, you've got the decline in living standards of the vast majority, and in order to maintain order in such a system where people no longer think that they're sort of getting their share, and so justice doesn't become, a just distribution doesn't become the reason why people support this system, increasingly it has to be done through force.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, John. Before we get further into the relationship between neo[neo]liberalism and democracy, give us a brief summary of what you mean by neo[neo]liberalism. You say that it's not really about deregulation, as most people usually conceive of it. If that's not what it's about, what is it, then?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that if you think about the movements in the United States, and as much as I can, I will take examples from the United States because most of your listeners will be familiar with those, beginning in the early part of the twentieth century, in the United States you have reform movements, the breaking up of the large monopolies, tobacco monopoly, a whole range of Standard Oil, all of that. And then of course under Roosevelt you began to get the regulation of capital in the interests of the majority, much of that driven by Roosevelt's trade union support. So, that was moving from a system where capital was relatively unregulated to where it was being regulated in the interests of the vast majority. I also would say, though, I won't go into detail, to a certain extent it was regulated in the interest of capital itself to moderate competition and therefore, I'd say, ensure a relatively tranquil market environment.

Neo[neo]liberalism involves not the deregulation of the capitalist system, but the reregulation of it in the interest of capital. So, it involves moving from a system in which capital is regulated in the interests of stability and the many to regulation in a way that enhances capital. These regulations, to get specific about them, restrictions on trade unions, as you, on Real News, a number of people have talked about this. The United States now have many restrictions on the organizing of trade unions which were not present 50 or 60 years ago, making it harder to have a mass movement of labor against capital, restrictions on the right to demonstrate, a whole range of things. Then within capital itself, the regulations on the movement of capital that facilitate speculation in international markets. We have a capitalism in which the form of regulation is shifted from the regulation of capital in the interest of labor to regulation of capital in the interest of capital.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, give us a brief summary of the ways in which neo[neo]liberalism undermines democracy.

JOHN WEEKS: Well, I think that there are many examples, but I'm going to focus on economic policy. For an obvious case is the role of the Central Bank, in the case of the United States' Federal Reserve System, in which reducing its accountability to the public, one way you can do that is by assigning goals to it, such as fighting inflation, which then override other goals. Originally, the Federal Reserve System, its charter, or I'll say its terms of reference, if you want me to use that phrase, included full employment and a stable economy. Those have been overridden in more recent legislation, which puts a great emphasis on the control of inflation. Control of inflation basically means maintaining an economy at a relatively high level of unemployment or part-time employment, or flexible employment, where people have relatively few rights at work. And that the Central Bank becomes a vehicle for enforcing a neo[neo]liberal economic policy.

Second of all, probably most of your viewers will not remember the days when we had fixed exchange rates. We had a world of fixed exchange rates in those days that represented the policy, which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. There have been deregulation of that. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool, an instrument of economic policy. And in fiscal policy, there the, here it's more ideology than laws, though there are also laws. There's a law requiring that the government balance its budget, but more important than that, the introduction into the public consciousness, I'd say grinding into the public consciousness, the idea that deficits are a bad thing, government debt is a bad thing, and that's a completely neo[neo]liberal ideology.

In summary, one way that the democracy has been undermined is to take away economic policy from the public realm and move it to the realm of experts. So, we have certain allegedly expert guidelines that we have to follow. Inflation should be low. We should not run deficits. The national debt should be small. These are things that are just made up ideologically. There is no technical basis to them. And so, in doing that, you might say, the term I like to use is, you decommission the democratic process and economic policy.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, speaking of ideology, in your talk you refer to the challenge that fascism posed or poses to neo[neo]liberal democracies. Now, it is interesting when you take Europe into consideration and National Socialist in Germany, for example, appeal mostly to the working class, as does contemporary far-right leaders in Poland and Hungary, that they support more explicit neo[neo]liberal agendas. Why would people support a neo[neo]liberal agenda that exasperate inequalities and harm public services that they depend on, including jobs?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that to a great extent it is country-specific, but I can make generalizations. First of all, I'm talking about Europe, because you raised a case in some European countries, and then I'll make some comments about the United States and Trump, if you want me to. I think in Europe, a combination of three things resulted in the rise of fascism and authoritarian movements which are verging on fascism. One is that the European integration project, which let me say that I have supported, and I would still prefer Britain not to leave the European Union, but nevertheless, the European Union integration project has been a project run by elites.

It has not been a bottom-up process. It has been a process very much run by elite politicians, in which they get together in closed door, and they make policies which they subsequently announce, and many of the decisions they come to being extremely, the meaning of them being extremely opaque. So, therefore, you have the development in Europe of the European Union which, not from the bottom up, but very much from the top down. You might suggest from the top, but I'm not sure how much goes down. That's one.
The second key factor, I would say, for about 20 years in European integration, it was relatively benign elitism because it was social democratic, it had the support of the working class, or the trade unions, at any rate. Then, increasingly, it began to become neo[neo]liberal. So, you have an elite project which was turning into a neo[neo]liberal project. Specifically, what I mean by neo[neo]liberal is where they're generating flexibility rules for the labor market, austerity policies, bank, balanced budgets, low inflation, the things I was talking about before.

Then the third element, toxic, the most toxic of them, but the other, they're volatile, is the legacy of fascism in Europe. Every European country, with the exception of Britain, had a substantial fascist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. I can go into why Britain didn't sometime. It had to do with the particular class struggle of the, I mean, class structure of Britain. Poland, ironically enough, though, is one of them. It was overrun by the Nazis, and occupied, and incorporated into the German Reich. Ironically, it had a very right-wing government with a lot of sympathies towards fascism when it was invaded in the late summer of 1939.

France had a strong fascist movement. Of course, Italy had a fascist government, and Hungary, where now you have a right-wing government, a very strong fascist movement. The incorporation of these countries into the Soviet sphere of influence, or the empire, as it were, did not destroy that fascism. It certainly suppressed it, but it didn't destroy it. So, as soon as the European project began to transform into a neo[neo]liberal project, and that gathered strength in the early 1990s, I mean, the neo[neo]liberal aspect of the European Union gathered strength in the early 1990s, exactly when you were getting the "liberation" of many countries from Soviet rule. And so, when you put those together, it led to, It was a rise of fascism waiting to happen and now it is happening.

SHARMINI PERIES: John, earlier, you said you'll factor in Trump. How does Trump fit into this phenomena?

JOHN WEEKS: I think that as The Real News has pointed out, that many of Trump's policies appear just to be more extreme versions of things that George Bush did, and in some cases not that much different from what Barack Obama did. Now, though I wouldn't go too deeply into that, I think that that is the most serious offenses by Obama that have been carried on by Trump have to do with the use of drones and the military. But at any rate, but there's a big difference from Trump. For the most part, the previous Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents, accepted the framework of, the formal framework of [neo]liberal democracy in the United States. That is, formally accepted the constraints imposed by the Constitution.

Now, of course, they probably didn't do it out of the goodness of their heart. They did it because they saw that the things that they wanted to achieve, the neo[neo]liberal goals that they wanted to achieve were perfectly consistent with the Constitution's framework and guarantees of rights and so on, that most of those rights are guaranteed in a way that's so weak that you didn't have to repeal the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution in order to have repressive policies.

The difference with Trump is, he has complete contempt for all of those constraints. That is, he is an authoritarian. I don't think he's a fascist, not yet, but he is an authoritarian. He does not accept that there are constraints which he should respect. There are constraints which bother him, and he wants to get rid of them, and he actually takes steps to do so. What you have in Trump, I think, is a sea change. You have a, we've had right-wing presidents before, certainly. What the difference with Trump is, he is a right-wing president that sees no reason to respect the institutions of democratic government, or even, you might say, the institution of representative government. I won't even use a term as strong as "democratic." That lays the basis for an explicitly authoritarian United States, and I'd say that we're beginning to see the vehicle by which this will occur, the restriction on voting rights. Of course, that was going on before Trump, it does in a more aggressive way. I think the, soon, we will have a Supreme Court that will be quite lenient with his tendency towards authoritarian rule.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, John. Let's end this segment with what can be done. I mean, what must be done to prevent neo[neo]liberal interests from undermining democracy? And who do you believe is leading the struggle for democracy now, and what is the right strategy that people should be fighting for?

JOHN WEEKS: Well, one thing, I think, where I'd begin is that I think progressives, as The Real News represents, and Bernie Sanders, and all the people that support him, and Jeremy Corbyn over here, I'll come back to talk about a bit about Jeremy. We must be explicit that we view democracy, by which we mean the participation of people at the grassroots, their participation in the government, we view that as a goal. It's not merely a technique, or a tool which, what was it that Erdoğan so infamously said? "Democracy is like a train. You take it to where you want to go and then you get off." No. Progressive view is that democracy is what it's all about. Democracy is the way that we build the present and we build a future.

I'm quite fortunate in that I live in perhaps the only large country in the world where there's imminent possibility of a progressive, left-wing, anti-authoritarian government. I think that is the monumental importance of Jeremy Corbyn and his second-in-command, John McDonnell, and others like Emily Thornberry, who is the Foreign Secretary. These people are committed to democracy. In the United States, Bernie Sanders is committed to a democracy, and a lot of other people are too, Elizabeth Warren. So, I think that the struggle in the United States is extremely difficult because of the role of the big money and the media, which you know more about than I do. But it is a struggle which we have to keep at, and we have to be optimistic about it. It's a good bit easier over here, but as we saw, and you reported, during the last presidential election, a progressive came very close to being President of the United States. That, I don't think was a one-off event, not to be repeated. I think it lays the basis for hope in the future.

... ... ...


JTMcPhee , February 17, 2018 at 9:35 am

"Informed speculation" with lots of footnotes and offshoots in this Reddit skein: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1llyf7/about_how_much_in_todays_money_was_30_pieces_of/

"A lot of money" in those days- Some say JI "bought land" with the shekels. An early form of asset swap? A precursor to current financialist activities?

WobblyTelomeres , February 17, 2018 at 10:44 am

Good article. If it were any bleaker, I'd suspect Chris Hedges having a hand in writing it.

The democratic nation-state basically operates like a criminal cartel, forcing honest citizens to surrender large portions of their wealth to pay for stuff like roads and hospitals and schools.

There it is, the Gorgon Thiel, surrounded by terror and rout.

James T. Cricket , February 18, 2018 at 3:46 am

I suppose you've read this.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/sam-altmans-manifest-destiny

Here's a quote:

"Altman felt that OpenAI's mission was to babysit its wunderkind until it was ready to be adopted by the world. He'd been reading James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention for guidance in managing the transition. 'We're planning a way to allow wide swaths of the world to elect representatives to a new governance board,' he said."

I was having trouble choosing which of the passages in this article to provide a mad quote from. Some other choices were
Altman's going to work with the Department of Defense, then help defend the world from them.
Or:
OpenAI's going to take over from humans, but don't worry because they're going to make it (somehow) so OpenAI can only terminate bad people. Before releasing it to the world.
Or:
Altman says 'add a 0 to whatever you're doing but never more than that.'

But if this sort of wisdom (somehow) doesn't work out well for everybody and the world collapses, he's flying with Peter Thiel in the private jet to the New Zealand's south island to wait out the Zombie Apocalypse on a converted sheep farm. (Before returning to the Valley work with more startups?)

These are your new leaders, people

David , February 17, 2018 at 7:56 am

I think it's revealing that the only type of democracy discussed, in spite of the title, is "[neo]liberal democracy", which the host describes as "based on capitalistic markets along with respect for individual freedoms and human rights and equality in the face of the law."

I've always argued that [neo]liberal democracy is a contradiction in terms, and you can see why from that quotation. [neo]liberalism (leaving aside special uses of the term in the US) is about individuals exercising their personal economic freedom and personal autonomy as much as they can, with as little control by government as possible.

But given massive imbalances in economic power, the influence of media-backed single issue campaigns and the growth of professional political parties, policy is decided by the interventions of powerful and well-organised groups, without ordinary people being consulted. At the end, Weeks does start to talk of grassroots participation, but seems to have no more in mind than a campaign to get people to vote for Sanders in 2020, which hardly addresses the problem. The answer, if there is one, is a system of direct democracy, involving referendums and popular assemblies chosen at random.

This has been much talked about, but since you would have the entire political class against you, it's not going to happen. In the meantime, we are stuck with [neo]liberal democracy, whose contradictions, I'm afraid are becoming ever more obvious.

JTMcPhee , February 17, 2018 at 8:45 am

"Contradictions?" One question for me at least would be whether the features and motions of the current regime are best characterized as "contradictions." If so, to what? And implicit in the use of the word is some kind of resolution, via actual class conflict or something, leading to "better" or at least "different." All I see from my front porch is more of the same, and worse. "The Matrix" in that myth gave some comforting illusions to the mopery. I think the political economy/collapsed planet portrayed in "Soylent Green" is a lot closer to the likely endpoints.

At least in the movie fable, the C-Suite-er of the Soylent Corp. as the lede in the film, was sickened of what he was helping to maintain, and bethought himself to blow his tiny little personal whistle that nobody would really hear, and got axed for his disloyalty to the ruling collective. I doubt the ranks of corporatists of MonsantoDuPont and LockheedMartin and the rest include any significant numbers of folks sickened by "the contradictions" that get them their perks and bennies and power (as long as they color inside the lines.)

Eustache De Saint Pierre , February 17, 2018 at 9:33 am

I hope I am way off the mark, but within that genre & in terms of where we could be heading, the film " Snowpiercer " sums it up best for me- a dystopian world society illustrated through the passengers on one long train.

Michael C , February 17, 2018 at 8:46 am

Thanks for the Real News Network for covering issues that never see the light of day on the corporate media and never mentioned by the Rachel Maddow's of the "news" shows.

torff , February 17, 2018 at 10:02 am

Can we please put a moratorium on the term "free market"? It's a nonsense term.

Yves Smith Post author , February 17, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Yes, I wrote about that at length in ECONNED. I kept the RNN headline, which used it, but should have put "free market" in quotes.

Katz , February 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

I actually like the term and find it useful, insofar as it describes an ideology -- as oposed a real political-economic arrangement. The presence of "free markets" may not be a characteristic of the neo[neo]liberal phase, but the belief in them sure is.

(Which is not to say there aren't people who don't believe in free markets but do invoke them rhetorically for other ends. That's a feature of many if not most successful ideologies.)

Jim Haygood , February 17, 2018 at 10:59 am

' Originally, the Federal Reserve charter included full employment and a stable economy. Those have been overridden in more recent legislation, which puts a great emphasis on the control of inflation.

Eh, this is fractured history. The Fed was set up in 1913 as a lender of last resort -- a discounter of government and private bills.

In late 1978 Jimmy Carter signed the Humphrey Hawkins Act instructing the Fed to pursue three goals: stable prices, maximum employment, and moderate long-term interest rates, though the latter is rarely mentioned now and the Fed is widely viewed as having a dual mandate.

The Fed's two percent inflation target it simply adopted at its own initiative -- it's not enshrined in no Perpetual Inflation Act.

' We had a world of fixed exchange rates which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool. '

LOL! This is totally inverted and flat wrong. The Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system prevented radical monetary experiments such as QE which would have broken the peg. Nixon unilaterally suspended fixed exchange rates in 1971 because he was unwilling to take the political hit of formally devaluing the dollar (or even more unlikely, sweating out Vietnam War inflation with falling prices to maintain the peg).

Floating rates are a new and potentially lethal monetary tool which have produced a number of sad examples of "governments gone wild" with radical monetary experiments and currency swings. Bad boys Japan & Switzerland come readily to mind.

To render history accurately requires getting hands dirty with dusty old books. Icky, I know. :-(

RBHoughton , February 17, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Yes but globalisation meant that all central banks and finance ministers had to act concertedly as in G-20 and similar meetings. While we may talk of floating exchange rates, each country fixes its interest rate to maintain parity with the others. Isn't that so?

Yves Smith Post author , February 17, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Ahem, you skip over that the full employment goal was added to the Fed mandate in 1946, long before the inflation goal was added.

The Rev Kev , February 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

I think that the key piece of info is that the Federal Reserve was created on December 23rd, 1913. That sounds like that it was slipped in the legislative back door when everybody was going away for the Christmas holidays.

Steven Greenberg , February 17, 2018 at 11:26 am

===== quote =====
Second of all, probably most of your viewers will not remember the days when we had fixed exchange rates. We had a world of fixed exchange rates in those days that represented the policy, which government could use to affect its trade and also affect its domestic policy. There have been deregulation of that. We now have floating exchange rates. That takes away a tool, an instrument of economic policy. And in fiscal policy, there the, here it's more ideology than laws, though there are also laws. There's a law requiring that the government balance its budget, but more important than that, the introduction into the public consciousness, I'd say grinding into the public consciousness, the idea that deficits are a bad thing, government debt is a bad thing, and that's a completely neo[neo]liberal ideology.
===== /quote =====

This makes absolutely no sense and seems to have the case exactly backward. Our federal government has no rule that the budget must be balanced. Fixed exchange rates were not a tool that could be used to affect trade and domestic policy in a good way.

Lee Robertson , February 17, 2018 at 11:42 am

Any hierarchic system will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths. Systems will not save us.

Susan the other , February 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm

I enjoyed John Weeks' point of view. He's the first person I've read who refers to the usefulness of a fixed exchange rate. Useful for a sovereign government with a social spending agenda. We have always been a sovereign government with a military agenda which is at odds with a social agenda.

Guns and butter are a dangerous combination if you are dedicated to at least maintaining the illusion of a "strong dollar." That's basically what Nixon finessed. John Conally told him not to worry, we could go off the gold standard and it wasn't our problem since we were the reserve currency – it was everybody else's problem and we promptly exported our inflation all around the world. And now it has come home to roost because it was fudging and it couldn't last forever.

Much better to concede to some fix for the currency and maintain the sovereign power to devalue the dollar as necessary to maintain proper social spending. I don't understand why sovereign governments cannot see that a deficit is just the mirror image of a healthy social economy (Stephanie Kelton).

And to that end "fix" an exchange rate that maintains a reasonable purchasing power of the currency by pegging it to the long term health of the economy. What we do now is peg the dollar to a "basket of goods and services"- Ben Bernanke. That "basket" is effectively "the market" and has very little to do with good social policy.

There's no reason we can't dispense with the market and simply fiat the value of our currency based on the social return estimated for our social investments. Etc. Keeping the dollar stubbornly strong is just tyranny favoring those few who benefit from extreme inequality.

ebbflows , February 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Bancor. Then some got delusions of grandeur.

albert , February 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm

" Democracy is not under stress – it's under aggressive attack, as unconstrained financial greed overrides public accountability ."

I request a lessatorium* on the term 'democracy', because there aren't any democracies. Rather than redefine the term, why not use a more accurate one, like 'plutocracy', or 'corporatocracy'.
-- -- -- -
* It's like a moratorium, you just do less of it.

Paul Cardan , February 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm

What is this democracy of which you speak?

Tomonthebeach , February 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm

I had not given much thought to "Fascist" until the term was challenged as a synonym for "bully." So, I started reading Wikipedia's take on Fascismo. What I discovered was the foremost, my USA education did not teach jack s -- about Fascism – and I went to elite high school in libr'l Chicago.

Is Fascism right or left? Does it matter? What goes around comes around.

What I gleaned from my quick Wikiread was the apparent pattern of economic inequality causing the masses to huddle in fear & loathing to one corner – desperation, and then some clever autocrat subverts the energy from their F&L into political power by demonizing various minorities and other non-causal perps.

Like nearly every past fascism emergence in history, US Trumpismo is capitalizing on inequality, and fear & loathing (his capital if you will) to seize power. That brings us to Today – to Trump, and an era (brief I hope) of US flirtation with fascism. Thank God Trump is crippled by a narcissism that fuels F&L within his own regime. Otherwise, I might be joining a survivalist group or something. :-)

Synoia , February 17, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Left and right are more line circle that a line.

I view the extreme left and extreme right, meeting somewhere, hidden, at the back of a circle.

c_heale , February 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

I always believed this too!

+1

flora , February 17, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Neoliberalism involves not the deregulation of the capitalist system, but the reregulation of it in the interest of capital. So, it involves moving from a system in which capital is regulated in the interests of stability and the many to regulation in a way that enhances capital.

Prominent politicians in the US and UK have spent their entire political careers representing neoliberalism's agenda at the expense of representing the voters' issues. The voters are tired of the conservative and [neo]liberal political establishments' focus on neoliberal policy. This is also true in Germany as well France and Italy. The West's current political establishments see the way forward as "staying the neoliberal course." Voters are saying "change course." See:

'German Politics Enters an Era of Instability' – Der Speigel

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-political-landscape-crumbling-as-merkel-coalition-forms-a-1193947.html

[Feb 16, 2018] Stephanie Savell The Hidden Costs of America's Wars by Tom Engelhardt

Feb 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

If anything, recent weeks have offered remarkable evidence of just how victorious this country's losingest commanders and their colleagues really are in our nation's capital. In the bipartisan style that these days usually applies only to the U.S. military, Congress has just settled on giving an extra $165 billion to the Pentagon over the next two years as part of a formula for keeping the government open. As it happens, the 2017 Pentagon budget was already as large as the defense spending of the next seven nations combined. And that was before all those extra tens of billions of dollars ensured that the two-year military budget (for 2018 and 2019) would crest at a total of more than $1.4 trillion .

That's the sort of money that only goes to winners, not losers. And if this still seems a little strange to you, given that military's dismal record in actual war-fighting since 9/11, all I can say is: don't bring it up. It's no longer considered polite or proper to complain about our wars and those who fight them or how we fund them, not in an age when every American soldier is a " hero ," which means that what they're doing from Afghanistan to Yemen , Syria to Somalia , must be heroic indeed.

In a draft-less country, those of us not in or connected to our military are expected to say " thank you " to the warriors and otherwise go about our lives as if their wars (and the mayhem they continue to generate abroad) were not a fact of global life. This is the definition of a demobilized public. If you happen to be that rarest of all creatures in our country these days -- someone in active opposition to those wars -- you have a problem. That means Stephanie Savell, who co-runs the Costs of War Project , which regularly provides well-researched and devastating information on the spread of those wars and the money continually being squandered on them, does indeed have a problem. It's one she understands all too well and describes vividly today.

[Dec 19, 2017] Do not Underestimate the Power of Microfoundations

Highly recommended!
Nice illustration of ideologically based ostrakism as practiced in Academia: "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders."
Notable quotes:
"... A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned. ..."
"... The arguments over internal and external consistency of models is just a convenient misdirection from what policy makers are willing to risk and whose interests they are willing to risk policy decisions for ..."
"... Mathematical masturbations are just a smoke screen used to conceal a simple fact that those "economists" are simply banking oligarchy stooges. Hired for the specific purpose to provide a theoretical foundation for revanschism of financial oligarchy after New Deal run into problems. Revanschism that occurred in a form of installing neoliberal ideology in the USA in exactly the same role which Marxism was installed in the USSR. With "iron hand in velvet gloves" type of repressive apparatus to enforce it on each and every university student and thus to ensure the continues, recurrent brainwashing much like with Marxism on the USSR universities. ..."
"... To ensure continuation of power of "nomenklatura" in the first case and banking oligarchy in the second. Connections with reality be damned. Money does not smell. ..."
"... Economic departments fifth column of neoliberal stooges is paid very good money for their service of promoting and sustaining this edifice of neoliberal propaganda. Just look at Greg Mankiw and Rubin's boys. ..."
"... "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders." ..."
Apr 04, 2015 | Economist's View

Darryl FKA Ron -> pgl...

At the risk of oversimplifying might it not be as simple as stronger leanings towards IS-LM and kind are indicative of a bias towards full employment and stronger leanings towards DSGE, microfoundations, and kind are indicative of a bias towards low inflation?

IN general I consider over-simplification a fault, if and only if, it is a rigidly adhered to final position. This is to say that over-simplification is always a good starting point and never a good ending point. If in the end your problem was simple to begin with, then the simplified answer would not be OVER-simplified anyway. It is just as bad to over-complicate a simple problem as it is to over-simplify a complex problem. It is easier to build complexity on top of a simple foundation than it is to extract simplicity from a complex foundation.

A lot of the Chicago School initiative into microfoundations and DSGE may have been motivated by a desire to bind Keynes in a NAIRU straight-jacket. Even though economic policy making is largely done just one step at a time then that is still one step too much if it might violate rentier interests.

Darryl FKA Ron -> Barry...

There are two possible (but unlikely) schools of (generously attributed to as) thought for which internal consistency might take precedence over external consistency. One such school wants to consider what would be best in a perfect world full of perfect people and then just assume that is best for the real world just to let the chips fall where they may according to the faults and imperfections of the real world. The second such school is the one whose eyes just glaze over mesmerized by how over their heads they are and remain affraid to ask any question lest they appear stupid.

A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned.

Richard H. Serlin

Consistency sounds so good, Oh, of course we want consistency, who wouldn't?! But consistent in what way? What exactly do you mean? Consistent with reality, or consistent with people all being superhumans? Which concept is usually more useful, or more useful for the task at hand?

Essentially, they want models that are consistent with only certain things, and often because this makes their preferred ideology look far better. They want models, typically, that are consistent with everyone in the world having perfect expertise in every subject there is, from finance to medicine to engineering, perfect public information, and perfect self-discipline, and usually on top, frictionless and perfectly complete markets, often perfectly competitive too.

But a big thing to note is that perfectly consistent people means a level of perfection in expertise, public information, self-discipline, and "rationality", that's extremely at odds with how people actually are. And as a result, this can make the model extremely misleading if it's interpreted very literally (as so often it is, especially by freshwater economists), or taken as The Truth, as Paul Krugman puts it.

You get things like the equity premium "puzzle", which involves why people don't invest more in stocks when the risk-adjusted return appears to usually be so abnormally good, and this "puzzle" can only be answered with "consistency", that people are all perfectly expert in finance, with perfect information, so they must have some mysterious hidden good reason. It can't be at all that it's because 65% of people answered incorrectly when asked how many reindeer would remain if Santa had to lay off 25% of his eight reindeer ( http://richardhserlin.blogspot.com/2013/12/surveys-showing-massive-ignorance-and.html ).

Yes, these perfect optimizer consistency models can give useful insights, and help to see what is best, what we can do better, and they can, in some cases, be good as approximations. But to say they should be used only, and interpreted literally, is, well, inconsistent with optimal, rational behavior -- of the economist using them.

Richard H. Serlin -> Richard H. Serlin...
Of course, unless the economist using them is doing so to mislead people into supporting his libertarian/plutocratic ideology.

dilbert dogbert

As an old broken down mech engineer, I wonder why all the pissing and moaning about micro foundations vs aggregation. In strength of materials equations that aggregate properties work quite well within the boundaries of the questions to be answered. We all know that at the level of crystals, materials have much complexity. Even within crystals there is deeper complexities down to the molecular levels. However, the addition of quantum mechanics adds no usable information about what materials to build a bridge with.

But, when working at the scale of the most advanced computer chips quantum mechanics is required. WTF! I guess in economics there is no quantum mechanics theories or even reliable aggregation theories.

Poor economists, doomed to argue, forever, over how many micro foundations can dance on the head of a pin.

RGC -> dilbert dogbert...

Endless discussions about how quantum effects aggregate to produce a material suitable for bridge building crowd out discussions about where and when to build bridges. And if plutocrats fund the endless discussions, we get the prominent economists we have today.

Darryl FKA Ron -> dilbert dogbert...

"...I guess in economics there is no quantum mechanics theories or even reliable aggregation theories..."

[I guess it depends upon what your acceptable confidence interval on reliability is. Most important difference that controls all the domain differences between physical science and economics is that underlying physical sciences there is a deterministic methodology for which probable error is merely a function of the inaccuracy in input metrics WHEREAS economics models are incomplete probabilistic estimating models with no ability to provide a complete system model in a full range of circumstances.

YOu can design and build a bridge to your load and span requirements with alternative models for various designs with confidence and highly effective accuracy repeatedly. No ecomomic theory, model, or combination of models and theories was ever intended to be used as the blueprint for building an economy from the foundation up.

With all the formal trappings of economics the only effective usage is to decide what should be done in a given set of predetermined circumstance to reach some modest desired effect. Even that modest goal is exposed to all kinds of risks inherent in assumptions, incomplete information, externalities, and so on that can produce errors of uncertain potential bounds.

Nonetheless, well done economics can greatly reduce the risks encountered in the random walk of economics policy making. So much so is this true, that the bigger questions in macro-economics policy making is what one is willing to risk and for whom.

The arguments over internal and external consistency of models is just a convenient misdirection from what policy makers are willing to risk and whose interests they are willing to risk policy decisions for.]

Darryl FKA Ron -> Peter K....

unless you have a model which maps the real world fairly closely like quantum mechanics.

[You set a bar too high. Macro models at best will tell you what to do to move the economy in the direction that you seek to go. They do not even ocme close to the notion of a theory of everything that you have in physics, even the theory of every little thing that is provided by quantum mechanics. Physics is an empty metaphor for economics. Step one is to forgo physics envy in pursuit of understanding suitable applications and domain constraints for economics models.

THe point is to reach a decision and to understand cause and effect directions. All precision is in the past and present. The future is both imprecise and all that there is that is available to change.

For the most part an ounce of common sense and some simple narrative models are all that are essential for making those policy decisions in and of themselves. HOWEVER, nation states are not ruled by economist philosopher kings and in the process of concensus decision making by (little r)republican governments then human language is a very imprecise vehicle for communicating logic and reason with respect to the management of complex systems. OTOH, mathematics has given us a universal language for communicating logic and reason that is understood the same by everyone that really understands that language at all. Hence mathematical models were born for the economists to write down their own thinking in clear precise terms and check their own work first and then share it with others so equipped to understand the language of mathematics. Krugman has said as much many times and so has any and every economist worth their salt.]

likbez -> Syaloch...

I agree with Pgl and PeterK. Certain commenters like Darryl seem convinced that the Chicago School (if not all of econ) is driven by sinister, class-based motives to come up justifications for favoring the power elite over the masses. But based on what I've read, it seems pretty obvious that the microfoundation guys just got caught up in their fancy math and their desire to produce more elegant, internally consistent models and lost sight of the fact that their models didn't track reality.

That's completely wrong line of thinking, IMHO.

Mathematical masturbations are just a smoke screen used to conceal a simple fact that those "economists" are simply banking oligarchy stooges. Hired for the specific purpose to provide a theoretical foundation for revanschism of financial oligarchy after New Deal run into problems. Revanschism that occurred in a form of installing neoliberal ideology in the USA in exactly the same role which Marxism was installed in the USSR.
With "iron hand in velvet gloves" type of repressive apparatus to enforce it on each and every university student and thus to ensure the continues, recurrent brainwashing much like with Marxism on the USSR universities.

To ensure continuation of power of "nomenklatura" in the first case and banking oligarchy in the second. Connections with reality be damned. Money does not smell.

Economic departments fifth column of neoliberal stooges is paid very good money for their service of promoting and sustaining this edifice of neoliberal propaganda. Just look at Greg Mankiw and Rubin's boys.

But the key problem with neoliberalism is that the cure is worse then disease. And here mathematical masturbations are very handy as a smoke screen to hide this simple fact.

likbez -> likbez...

Here is how Rubin's neoliberal boy Larry explained the situation to Elizabeth Warren:

"Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders."

Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance

Syaloch -> likbez...

Yeah, case in point.

[Dec 10, 2017] Russia-gate s Reach into Journalism by Dennis J Bernstein

Highly recommended!
When national security establishment is trying to undermine sitting President this is iether color revolution or coup d'état. In the USa it looks more like color revolution.
"Now you have this interesting dynamic where the national security establishment is effectively undermining a duly elected president of the United States. I recognize that Trump is vulnerable, but these types of investigations often become highly politicized."
Notable quotes:
"... The Credico subpoena, after he declined a request for a "voluntary" interview, underscores how the investigation is moving into areas of "guilt by association" and further isolating whistleblowers who defy the powers-that-be through unauthorized release of information to the public, a point made by National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake in an interview. ..."
"... Drake knows well what it means to blow the whistle on government misconduct and get prosecuted for it. A former senior NSA executive, Drake complained about a multi-billion-dollar fraud, waste, and widespread violation of the rights of civilians through secret mass surveillance programs. As a result, the Obama administration indicted Drake in 2010, "as the first whistleblower since Daniel Ellsberg charged with espionage," according to the Institute for Public Accuracy. ..."
"... In 2011, the government's case against him, which carried a potential 35 years in prison, collapsed. Drake went free in a plea deal and was awarded the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize. ..."
"... In this hyper-inflated, politicized environment, it is extremely difficult to wade through the massive amount of disinformation on all sides. Hacking is something all modern nation-states engage in, including the United States, including Russia. The challenge here is trying to figure out who the players are, whose ox is being gored, and who is doing the goring. ..."
"... From all accounts, Trump was duly elected. Now you have the Mueller investigation and the House investigation. Where is this all leading? The US intelligence agency hasn't done itself any favors. The ICA provides no proof either, in terms of allegations that the Russians "hacked" the election. We do have the evidence disclosed by Reality Winner that maybe there was some interference. But the hyper-politicization is making it extraordinarily difficult. ..."
"... Well, if you consider the content of those emails .Certainly, the Clinton folks got rid of Bernie Sanders. ..."
"... The national security establishment was far more comfortable having Clinton as president. Someone central to my own case, General Michael Hayden, just a couple days ago went apoplectic because of a tweet from Trump taking on the mainstream media. Hayden got over 100,000 likes on his response. Well, Hayden was central to what we did in deep secrecy at the highest levels of government after 9/11, engaging in widespread surveillance and then justifying it as "raw executive authority." ..."
"... Now you have this interesting dynamic where the national security establishment is effectively undermining a duly elected president of the United States. I recognize that Trump is vulnerable, but these types of investigations often become highly politicized. I worry that what is really happening is being sacrificed on the altar of entertainment and the stage of political theater. ..."
"... What is happening to Randy is symptomatic of a larger trend. If you dare speak truth to power, you are going to pay the price. Is Randy that much of a threat, just because he is questioning authority? Are we afraid of the press? Are we afraid of having the uncomfortable conversations, of dealing with the inconvenient truths about ourselves? ..."
"... Yeah, it is definitely a way of describing the concept of fascism without using the word. The present Yankee regime seems to be quite far along that road, and the full-on types seem to be engaged in a coup to eliminate those they fear may not be as much in the fascist deep-state bag. ..."
"... How disgusting to have to live today in the society so accurately described by Orwell in 1984. It was a nice book to read, but not to live in! ..."
"... Truth is he enemy of coercive power. Lies and secrecy are essential in leading the sheeple to their slaughter. ..."
"... Perhaps the one good thing about Trumps election is that its shows democracy is still just about alive and breathing in the US, because as is pointed out in this article, Trump was never expected to win and those who lost are still in a state of shock and disbelief. ..."
"... One things for sure: the Neocons, the deep state, and all the rest of the skunks that infest Washington will make absolutely sure that future elections will go the way as planned, so perhaps we should celebrate Trump, because he may well be the last manifestation of the democracy in the US. ..."
"... In the end, what will bring this monstrously lumbering "Russia-gate" dog and pony show crashing down is that stupid, fake Fusion GPS dossier that was commissioned, paid for, and disseminated by Team Hillary and the DNC. Then, as with the sinking of the Titanic, all of the flotsam and jetsam floating within its radius of destruction will go down with it. What will left to pluck from the lifeboats afterwards is anyone's guess. All thanks to Hillary. ..."
Dec 10, 2017 | www.facebook.com

The investigation to somehow blame Russia for Donald Trump's election has now merged with another establishment goal of isolating and intimidating whistleblowers and other dissidents, as Dennis J Bernstein describes.

The Russia-gate investigation has reached into the ranks of journalism with the House Intelligence Committee's subpoena of Randy Credico, who produced a series about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for Pacifica Radio and apparently is suspected of having passed on early word about leaked Democratic emails to Donald Trump's supporter Roger Stone.

The Credico subpoena, after he declined a request for a "voluntary" interview, underscores how the investigation is moving into areas of "guilt by association" and further isolating whistleblowers who defy the powers-that-be through unauthorized release of information to the public, a point made by National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake in an interview.

Drake knows well what it means to blow the whistle on government misconduct and get prosecuted for it. A former senior NSA executive, Drake complained about a multi-billion-dollar fraud, waste, and widespread violation of the rights of civilians through secret mass surveillance programs. As a result, the Obama administration indicted Drake in 2010, "as the first whistleblower since Daniel Ellsberg charged with espionage," according to the Institute for Public Accuracy.

In 2011, the government's case against him, which carried a potential 35 years in prison, collapsed. Drake went free in a plea deal and was awarded the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize.

I interviewed Drake about the significance of Credico's subpoena, which Credico believes resulted from his journalism about the persecution of Julian Assange for releasing information that powerful people would prefer kept hidden from the public. (I had a small role in Credico's 14-part radio series, Julian Assange: Countdown to Freedom . It was broadcast first as part of his Live on the Fly Series, over WBAI and later on KPFA and across the country on community radio.)

Credico got his start as a satirist and became a political candidate for mayor of New York City and later governor of New York, making mainstream politicians deal with issues they would rather not deal with.

I spoke to Thomas Drake by telephone on Nov. 30, 2017.

Dennis Bernstein: How do you look at Russiagate, based on what you know about what has already transpired in terms of the movement of information? How do you see Credico's role in this?

Thomas Drake: Information is the coin of the realm. It is the currency of power. Anyone who questions authority or is perceived as mocking authority -- as hanging out with "State enemies" -- had better be careful. But this latest development is quite troubling, I must say. This is the normalization of everything that has been going on since 9/11. Randy is a sort of 21st century Diogenes who is confronting authority and pointing out corruption. This subpoena sends a chilling message. It's a double whammy for Randy because, in the eyes of the US government, he is a media figure hanging out with the wrong media figure [Julian Assange].

Dennis Bernstein: Could you say a little bit about what your work was and what you tried to do with your expose?

Thomas Drake: My experience was quite telling, in terms of how far the government will go to try to destroy someone's life. The attempt by the government to silence me was extraordinary. They threw everything they had at me, all because I spoke the truth. I spoke up about abuse of power, I spoke up about the mass surveillance regime. My crime was that I made the choice to go to the media. And the government was not just coming after me, they were sending a really chilling message to the media: If you print this, you are also under the gun.

Dennis Bernstein: We have heard the charges again and again, that this was a Russian hack. What was the source? Let's trace it back as best we can.

Thomas Drake: In this hyper-inflated, politicized environment, it is extremely difficult to wade through the massive amount of disinformation on all sides. Hacking is something all modern nation-states engage in, including the United States, including Russia. The challenge here is trying to figure out who the players are, whose ox is being gored, and who is doing the goring.

From all accounts, Trump was duly elected. Now you have the Mueller investigation and the House investigation. Where is this all leading? The US intelligence agency hasn't done itself any favors. The ICA provides no proof either, in terms of allegations that the Russians "hacked" the election. We do have the evidence disclosed by Reality Winner that maybe there was some interference. But the hyper-politicization is making it extraordinarily difficult.

The advantage that intelligence has is that they can hide behind what they are doing. They don't actually have to tell the truth, they can shade it, they can influence it and shape it. This is where information can be politicized and used as a weapon. Randy has found himself caught up in these investigations by virtue of being a media figure and hanging out with "the wrong people."

Dennis Bernstein: It looks like the Russiagaters in Congress are trying to corner Randy. All his life he has spoken truth to power. But what do you think the role of the press should be?

Thomas Drake: The press amplifies just about everything they focus on, especially with today's 24-hour, in-your-face social media. Even the mainstream media is publishing directly to their webpages. You have to get behind the cacophony of all that noise and ask, "Why?" What are the intentions here?

I believe there are still enough independent journalists who are looking further and deeper. But clearly there are those who are hell-bent on making life as difficult as possible for the current president and those who are going to defend him to the hilt. I was not surprised at all that Trump won. A significant percentage of the American electorate were looking for something different.

Dennis Bernstein : Well, if you consider the content of those emails .Certainly, the Clinton folks got rid of Bernie Sanders.

Thomas Drake: That would have been an interesting race, to have Bernie vs. Trump. Sanders was appealing, especially to young audiences. He was raising legitimate issues.

Dennis Bernstein: In Clinton, they had a known quantity who supported the national security state.

Thomas Drake: The national security establishment was far more comfortable having Clinton as president. Someone central to my own case, General Michael Hayden, just a couple days ago went apoplectic because of a tweet from Trump taking on the mainstream media. Hayden got over 100,000 likes on his response. Well, Hayden was central to what we did in deep secrecy at the highest levels of government after 9/11, engaging in widespread surveillance and then justifying it as "raw executive authority."

Now you have this interesting dynamic where the national security establishment is effectively undermining a duly elected president of the United States. I recognize that Trump is vulnerable, but these types of investigations often become highly politicized. I worry that what is really happening is being sacrificed on the altar of entertainment and the stage of political theater.

What is happening to Randy is symptomatic of a larger trend. If you dare speak truth to power, you are going to pay the price. Is Randy that much of a threat, just because he is questioning authority? Are we afraid of the press? Are we afraid of having the uncomfortable conversations, of dealing with the inconvenient truths about ourselves?

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of "Flashpoints" on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom . You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net .

orwell

"Raw Executive Authority" means Totalitarianism/Fascism.

exiled off mainstreet , December 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Yeah, it is definitely a way of describing the concept of fascism without using the word. The present Yankee regime seems to be quite far along that road, and the full-on types seem to be engaged in a coup to eliminate those they fear may not be as much in the fascist deep-state bag.

Jerry Alatalo , December 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

It is highly encouraging to know that a great many good and decent men and women Americans are 100% supportive of Mr, Randy Credico as he prepares for his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Remember all those standing right there beside you, speak what rightly needs to be spoken, and make history Mr. Credico!

jaycee , December 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm

The intensification of panic/hysteria was obviously triggered by the shock election of Trump. Where this is all heading is on display in Australia, as the government is writing legislation to "criminalise covert and deceptive activities of foreign actors that fall short of espionage but are intended to interfere with our democratic systems and processes or support the intelligence activities of a foreign government." The legislation will apparently be accompanied by new requirements of public registration of those deemed "foreign agents". (see http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/07/auch-d07.html ).

This will be an attack on free speech, free thought, and political freedoms, justified by an orchestrated hysteria which ridiculously assumes a "pure" political realm (i.e. the "homeland") under assault by impure foreign agents and their dirty ideas. Yes, that is a fascist construct and the liberal establishment will see it through, not the alt-right blowhards.

mike k , December 7, 2017 at 5:49 pm

How disgusting to have to live today in the society so accurately described by Orwell in 1984. It was a nice book to read, but not to live in!

john wilson , December 8, 2017 at 5:48 am

Actually Mike, the book was a prophesy but you aren't seen nothing yet. You me and the rest of the posters here may well find ourselves going for a visit to room 101 yet.

fudmier , December 7, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Those who govern (527 of them) at the pleasure of the constitution are about to breach the contract that entitles them to govern. Limiting the scope of information allowed to those who are the governed, silencing the voices of those with concerns and serious doubts, policing every word uttered by those who are the governed, as well as abusing the constitutional privilege of force and judicial authority, to deny peaceful protests of the innocents is approaching the final straw.

The governors and their corporate sponsors have imposed on those the governors govern much concern. Exactly the condition that existed prior to July 4, 1776, which elicited the following:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political bands which connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the laws of nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

I submit the actions and intentions of those who govern that are revealed and discussed in this article https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/07/russia-gates-reach-into-journalism/ should be among the list of impels that support the next declaration.

Al Pinto , December 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Those who govern (527 of them and the puppet master oligarch behind them) will make certain that there's no support for the next declaration. There's no respect to the opinions of the mankind, what matters is keeping the current status quo in place and further advance it by silencing the independent media.

Maybe when the next "Mother of all bubbles" come, there's an opportunity for the mankind to be heard, but it's doubtful. What has taken place during the last bubble is that the rich has gotten richer and the poor, well, you know the routine.

https://usawatchdog.com/mother-of-all-bubbles-too-big-to-pop-peter-schiff/

mike k , December 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Truth is he enemy of coercive power. Lies and secrecy are essential in leading the sheeple to their slaughter.

john wilson , December 8, 2017 at 5:44 am

Perhaps the one good thing about Trumps election is that its shows democracy is still just about alive and breathing in the US, because as is pointed out in this article, Trump was never expected to win and those who lost are still in a state of shock and disbelief.

Trump's election has also shown us in vivid technicolour, just what is really going on in the deep state. Absolutely none of this stuff would have come out had Clinton won and anything there was would have been covered up as though under the concrete foundation of a tower block. However, Trump still has four years left and as a British prime minister once said, "a week is a long time in politics". Well four more years of Trump is a hell of a lot longer so who knows what might happen in that time.

One things for sure: the Neocons, the deep state, and all the rest of the skunks that infest Washington will make absolutely sure that future elections will go the way as planned, so perhaps we should celebrate Trump, because he may well be the last manifestation of the democracy in the US.

Christene Bartels , December 8, 2017 at 9:57 am

In the end, what will bring this monstrously lumbering "Russia-gate" dog and pony show crashing down is that stupid, fake Fusion GPS dossier that was commissioned, paid for, and disseminated by Team Hillary and the DNC. Then, as with the sinking of the Titanic, all of the flotsam and jetsam floating within its radius of destruction will go down with it. What will left to pluck from the lifeboats afterwards is anyone's guess. All thanks to Hillary.

Apparently, Santa isn't the only one making a list and checking it twice this year. He's going to have to share the limelight with Karma.

[Oct 07, 2017] Neoliberals seizes power with no intention of relinquishing it. Ever.

This is what inverted totalitarism is about.
Oct 07, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian | Oct 6, 2017 11:07:01 PM | 25

"We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.

They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

George Orwell, 1984

[Sep 25, 2017] Neoliberalism and democracy are incompatible. And they were incompatible from the very beginning, because neoliberalism is a flavor of corporatism, the Trotskyism for the rich

Shedon Volin has much deeper insights...
Notable quotes:
"... What it's called is "freedom," but "freedom" means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That's what it means. The institutions of governance -- or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making -- those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about "there is no society, only individuals." ..."
"... Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. ..."
"... She was actually, unconsciously no doubt, paraphrasing Marx, who in his condemnation of the repression in France said, "The repression is turning society into a sack of potatoes, just individuals, an amorphous mass can't act together." ..."
"... For Thatcher, it's an ideal!and that's neoliberalism. We destroy or at least undermine the governing mechanisms by which people at least in principle can participate to the extent that society's democratic. So weaken them, undermine unions, other forms of association, leave a sack of potatoes and meanwhile transfer decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom. ..."
"... when you impose socioeconomic policies that lead to stagnation or decline for the majority of the population, undermine democracy, remove decision-making out of popular hands, you're going to get anger, discontent, fear take all kinds of forms. And that's the phenomenon that's misleadingly called "populism." ..."
"... I don't know what you think of Pankaj Mishra, but I enjoy his book Age of Anger ..."
"... What was the wondrous economy that was then being praised? It was one in which the wages, the real wages of American workers, were actually lower than they were in 1979 when the neoliberal period began. That's historically unprecedented except for trauma or war or something like that. Here is a long period in which real wages had literally declined, while there was some wealth created but in very few pockets. It was also a period in which new institutions developed, financial institutions. You go back to the '50s and '60s, a so-called Golden Age, banks were connected to the real economy. That was their function. There were also no crashes because there were New Deal regulations. ..."
"... In Europe the way democracy is undermined is very direct1. Decisions are placed in the hands of an unelected troika: the European Commission, which is unelected; the IMF, of course unelected; and the European Central Bank. They make the decisions. So people are very angry, they're losing control of their lives. The economic policies are mostly harming them, and the result is anger, disillusion, and so on. ..."
"... I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it's not just inequality, stagnation. It's terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That's our pincers. That's what we face, and if that problem isn't solved, we're done with. ..."
"... It's not the Age of Anger. It's the Age of Resentment against socioeconomic policies which have harmed the majority of the population for a generation and have consciously and in principle undermined democratic participation. ..."
"... Go back to the 1970s. Across the spectrum, elite spectrum, there was deep concern about the activism of the '60s. It's called the "time of troubles." It civilized the country, which is dangerous. What happened is that large parts of the population -- which had been passive, apathetic, obedient -- tried to enter the political arena in one or another way to press their interests and concerns. They're called "special interests." That means minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers, women. In other words, the population. The population are special interests, and their task is to just watch quietly. And that was explicit. ..."
"... That is the more interesting one [ The Crisis of Democracy ..."
"... But in the '60s they all agreed it became problematic because the special interests started trying to get into the act, and that causes too much pressure and the state can't handle that. ..."
"... Listen to the full conversation with Noam Chomsky on Radio Open Source. ..."
Sep 25, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press
Noam Chomsky Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy Defend Democracy Press

CL: Social democracy

NC: Social democracy, yeah. That's sometimes called "the golden age of modern capitalism." That changed in the '70s with the onset of the neoliberal era that we've been living in since. And if you ask yourself what this era is, its crucial principle is undermining mechanisms of social solidarity and mutual support and popular engagement in determining policy.

It's not called that. What it's called is "freedom," but "freedom" means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That's what it means. The institutions of governance -- or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making -- those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about "there is no society, only individuals."

Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them.

She was actually, unconsciously no doubt, paraphrasing Marx, who in his condemnation of the repression in France said, "The repression is turning society into a sack of potatoes, just individuals, an amorphous mass can't act together." That was a condemnation. For Thatcher, it's an ideal!and that's neoliberalism. We destroy or at least undermine the governing mechanisms by which people at least in principle can participate to the extent that society's democratic. So weaken them, undermine unions, other forms of association, leave a sack of potatoes and meanwhile transfer decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom.

Well, what does that do? The one barrier to the threat of destruction is an engaged public, an informed, engaged public acting together to develop means to confront the threat and respond to it. That's been systematically weakened, consciously. I mean, back to the 1970s we've probably talked about this. There was a lot of elite discussion across the spectrum about the danger of too much democracy and the need to have what was called more "moderation" in democracy, for people to become more passive and apathetic and not to disturb things too much, and that's what the neoliberal programs do. So put it all together and what do you have? A perfect storm.

CL: What everybody notices is all the headline things, including Brexit and Donald Trump and Hindu nationalism and nationalism everywhere and Le Pen all kicking in more or less together and suggesting some real world phenomenon.

NC: it's very clear, and it was predictable. You didn't know exactly when, but when you impose socioeconomic policies that lead to stagnation or decline for the majority of the population, undermine democracy, remove decision-making out of popular hands, you're going to get anger, discontent, fear take all kinds of forms. And that's the phenomenon that's misleadingly called "populism."

CL: I don't know what you think of Pankaj Mishra, but I enjoy his book Age of Anger , and he begins with an anonymous letter to a newspaper from somebody who says, "We should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled. Nothing since the triumph of Vandals in Rome and North Africa has seemed so suddenly incomprehensible and difficult to reverse."

NC: Well, that's the fault of the information system, because it's very comprehensible and very obvious and very simple. Take, say the United States, which actually suffered less from these policies than many other countries. Take the year 2007, a crucial year right before the crash.

What was the wondrous economy that was then being praised? It was one in which the wages, the real wages of American workers, were actually lower than they were in 1979 when the neoliberal period began. That's historically unprecedented except for trauma or war or something like that. Here is a long period in which real wages had literally declined, while there was some wealth created but in very few pockets. It was also a period in which new institutions developed, financial institutions. You go back to the '50s and '60s, a so-called Golden Age, banks were connected to the real economy. That was their function. There were also no crashes because there were New Deal regulations.

Starting in the early '70s there was a sharp change. First of all, financial institutions exploded in scale. By 2007 they actually had 40 percent of corporate profits. Furthermore, they weren't connected to the real economy anymore.

In Europe the way democracy is undermined is very direct1. Decisions are placed in the hands of an unelected troika: the European Commission, which is unelected; the IMF, of course unelected; and the European Central Bank. They make the decisions. So people are very angry, they're losing control of their lives. The economic policies are mostly harming them, and the result is anger, disillusion, and so on.

... ... ...

NC: I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it's not just inequality, stagnation. It's terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That's our pincers. That's what we face, and if that problem isn't solved, we're done with.

CL: I want to go back Pankaj Mishra and the Age of Anger for a moment!

NC: It's not the Age of Anger. It's the Age of Resentment against socioeconomic policies which have harmed the majority of the population for a generation and have consciously and in principle undermined democratic participation. Why shouldn't there be anger?

CL: Pankaj Mishra calls it -- it's a Nietzschean word -- "ressentiment," meaning this kind of explosive rage. But he says, "It's the defining feature of a world where the modern promise of equality collides with massive disparities of power, education, status and!

NC: Which was designed that way, which was designed that way. Go back to the 1970s. Across the spectrum, elite spectrum, there was deep concern about the activism of the '60s. It's called the "time of troubles." It civilized the country, which is dangerous. What happened is that large parts of the population -- which had been passive, apathetic, obedient -- tried to enter the political arena in one or another way to press their interests and concerns. They're called "special interests." That means minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers, women. In other words, the population. The population are special interests, and their task is to just watch quietly. And that was explicit.

Two documents came out right in the mid-'70s, which are quite important. They came from opposite ends of the political spectrum, both influential, and both reached the same conclusions. One of them, at the left end, was by the Trilateral Commission -- liberal internationalists, three major industrial countries, basically the Carter administration, that's where they come from. That is the more interesting one [ The Crisis of Democracy , a Trilateral Commission report]. The American rapporteur Samuel Huntington of Harvard, he looked back with nostalgia to the days when, as he put it, Truman was able to run the country with the cooperation of a few Wall Street lawyers and executives. Then everything was fine. Democracy was perfect.

But in the '60s they all agreed it became problematic because the special interests started trying to get into the act, and that causes too much pressure and the state can't handle that.

... ... ...

Listen to the full conversation with Noam Chomsky on Radio Open Source.

[Aug 30, 2017] The President of Belgian Magistrates - Neoliberalism is a form of Fascism by Manuela Cadelli

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates' Union of Belgium ..."
"... Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language, as in the novel by George Orwell. Neoliberalism has its Newspeak and strategies of communication that enable it to deform reality. In this spirit, every budgetary cut is represented as an instance of modernization of the sectors concerned. If some of the most deprived are no longer reimbursed for medical expenses and so stop visiting the dentist, this is modernization of social security in action! ..."
"... translated from French by Wayne Hall ..."
Aug 30, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press

By Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates' Union of Belgium

The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.

Liberalism was a doctrine derived from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.

Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.

Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.

I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.

The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy.

The austerity that is demanded by the financial milieu has become a supreme value, replacing politics. Saving money precludes pursuing any other public objective. It is reaching the point where claims are being made that the principle of budgetary orthodoxy should be included in state constitutions. A mockery is being made of the notion of public service.

The nihilism that results from this makes possible the dismissal of universalism and the most evident humanistic values: solidarity, fraternity, integration and respect for all and for differences.

There is no place any more even for classical economic theory: work was formerly an element in demand, and to that extent there was respect for workers; international finance has made of it a mere adjustment variable.

Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language, as in the novel by George Orwell. Neoliberalism has its Newspeak and strategies of communication that enable it to deform reality. In this spirit, every budgetary cut is represented as an instance of modernization of the sectors concerned. If some of the most deprived are no longer reimbursed for medical expenses and so stop visiting the dentist, this is modernization of social security in action!

Read also: The only real way to stop atrocities like the Manchester attack is to end the wars which allow extremism to grow

Abstraction predominates in public discussion so as to occlude the implications for human beings.

Thus, in relation to migrants, it is imperative that the need for hosting them does not lead to public appeals that our finances could not accommodate. Is it In the same way that other individuals qualify for assistance out of considerations of national solidarity?

The cult of evaluation

Social Darwinism predominates, assigning the most stringent performance requirements to everyone and everything: to be weak is to fail. The foundations of our culture are overturned: every humanist premise is disqualified or demonetized because neoliberalism has the monopoly of rationality and realism. Margaret Thatcher said it in 1985: "There is no alternative." Everything else is utopianism, unreason and regression. The virtue of debate and conflicting perspectives are discredited because history is ruled by necessity.

This subculture harbours an existential threat of its own: shortcomings of performance condemn one to disappearance while at the same time everyone is charged with inefficiency and obliged to justify everything. Trust is broken. Evaluation reigns, and with it the bureaucracy which imposes definition and research of a plethora of targets, and indicators with which one must comply. Creativity and the critical spirit are stifled by management. And everyone is beating his breast about the wastage and inertia of which he is guilty.

The neglect of justice

The neoliberal ideology generates a normativity that competes with the laws of parliament. The democratic power of law is compromised. Given that they represent a concrete embodiment of liberty and emancipation, and given the potential to prevent abuse that they impose, laws and procedures have begun to look like obstacles.

Read also: EU lies on Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Greece

The power of the judiciary, which has the ability to oppose the will of the ruling circles, must also be checkmated. The Belgian judicial system is in any case underfunded. In 2015 it came last in a European ranking that included all states located between the Atlantic and the Urals. In two years the government has managed to take away the independence given to it under the Constitution so that it can play the counterbalancing role citizens expect of it. The aim of this undertaking is clearly that there should no longer be justice in Belgium.

A caste above the Many

But the dominant class doesn't prescribe for itself the same medicine it wants to see ordinary citizens taking: well-ordered austerity begins with others. The economist Thomas Piketty has perfectly described this in his study of inequality and capitalism in the twenty-first century (French edition, Seuil, 2013).

In spite of the crisis of 2008 and the hand-wringing that followed, nothing was done to police the financial community and submit them to the requirements of the common good. Who paid? Ordinary people, you and me.

And while the Belgian State consented to 7 billion-euro ten-year tax breaks for multinationals, ordinary litigants have seen surcharges imposed on access to justice (increased court fees, 21% taxation on legal fees). From now on, to obtain redress the victims of injustice are going to have to be rich.

All this in a state where the number of public representatives breaks all international records. In this particular area, no evaluation and no costs studies are reporting profit. One example: thirty years after the introduction of the federal system, the provincial institutions survive. Nobody can say what purpose they serve. Streamlining and the managerial ideology have conveniently stopped at the gates of the political world.

The security ideal

Read also: DEMOCRATIC MENTAL HEALTH SOLIDARITY NETWORK

Terrorism, this other nihilism that exposes our weakness in affirming our values, is likely to aggravate the process by soon making it possible for all violations of our liberties, all violations of our rights, to circumvent the powerless qualified judges, further reducing social protection for the poor, who will be sacrificed to "the security ideal".

Salvation in commitment

These developments certainly threaten the foundations of our democracy, but do they condemn us to discouragement and despair?

Certainly not. 500 years ago, at the height of the defeats that brought down most Italian states with the imposition of foreign occupation for more than three centuries, Niccolo Machiavelli urged virtuous men to defy fate and stand up against the adversity of the times, to prefer action and daring to caution. The more tragic the situation, the more it necessitates action and the refusal to "give up" (The Prince, Chapters XXV and XXVI).

This is a teaching that is clearly required today. The determination of citizens attached to the radical of democratic values is an invaluable resource which has not yet revealed, at least in Belgium, its driving potential and power to change what is presented as inevitable. Through social networking and the power of the written word, everyone can now become involved, particularly when it comes to public services, universities, the student world, the judiciary and the Bar, in bringing the common good and social justice into the heart of public debate and the administration of the state and the community.

Neoliberalism is a species of fascism. It must be fought and humanism fully restored.

Published in the Belgian daily Le Soir, 3.3.2016

translated from French by Wayne Hall
Le néolibéralisme est un fascisme, par Manuela Cadelli

[Jun 28, 2017] Trump Has Been Continuing Obamas Syria-Policy by Eric Zuesse

Jun 27, 2017 | off-guardian.org

U.S. President Donald Trump, who during the election-campaign ferociously condemned Barack Obama's foreign policies, while asserting nothing concrete of his own, has, as the U.S. President, committed himself quite clearly to continuing Obama's publicly stated policy on Syria, which policy was to place, as the first priority, the elimination of ISIS, and as the policy to follow that, the elimination and replacement of Syria's government. I have previously indicated that on June 19th "Russia Announces No-Fly Zone in Syria - War Against U.S. There" , and that the early indications are that Trump has changed his Syria-policy to accommodate Russia's demands there; but, prior to June 19th, Trump was actually following Obama's publicly stated Syria-policy.

As also will be shown here, Obama's publicly stated policy - to destroy ISIS and then to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad - was actually less extreme than his real policy, which was to overthrow Assad and to use the jihadist forces in Syria (especially Al Qaeda in Syria) to achieve that objective. Trump, at least until 19 June 2017, has been adhering to Obama's publicly stated policy. Russia's warning was for him not to adopt and continue Obama's actual policy (to overthrow Assad).

Here is the part, of the by-now-famous 12 August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysis of the intelligence regarding Iraq and in Syria, that the press (despite its extensive reporting about the document) has not yet reported from the Judicial Watch FOIA disclosures (which had included that document and many others), but which part of it shows even more than the part that has been reported from the document, Obama's having made an informed choice actually to protect Al Qaeda in Syria, so as to bring down and replace the Syrian government - Obama's actual prioritization (contrary to his publicly stated one) of overthrowing Assad, even above defeating the jihadists in Syria; and this was clearly also a warning by the DIA to the Commander-in-Chief, that he can have either an overthrow of Assad, or else a non-jihadist-controlled Syria, but not both, and that any attempt to bring down Assad by means of using the jihadists as a proxy army against him, would ultimately fail:

http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version.pdf

page 69 of 100:

D. AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], through spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) Abu Muhammed Al Adnani, declared the Syrian regime as the spearhead of what he is naming Jibha Al Ruwafdh (forefront of the Shiites) because of its (the Syrian regime) declaration of war on the Sunnis. Additionally, he is calling on the Sunnis in Iraq, especially the tribes in the border regions (between Iraq and Syria), to wage war against the Syrian regime, regarding Syria as an infidel regime for its support to the infidel party Hezbollah, and other regimes he considers dissenters like Iran and Iraq.

E. AQI considers the Sunni issue in Iraq to be fatefully connected to the Sunni Arabs and Muslims.

page 70:

A. The [Syrian] regime will survive and have control over Syrian territory.

page 71:

B. Development of the current events into a proxy war: with support from Russia, China, and Iran, the regime is controlling the areas of influence along coastal territories (Tartus and Latakia), and is fiercely defending Homs, which is considered the primary transportation route in Syria. On the other hand, opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these [jihadist] efforts

And here is from the part that the press did report:

https://www.facebook.com/ayssar.midani/posts/10152479627582395

Ayssar Midani, May 23, 2015 · Paris, France:

"C: If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime."

The "supporting powers" are: western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey The DIA warns that the creation of such an Salafist principality would have "dire consequences" for Iraq and would possibly lead to the creation of an Islamic State and: create the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.
These DIA folks really earned their salary.

The Obama administration, together with other supporter of the Syrian "opposition", knew that AQ was a large part of that "opposition" from the very beginning. The U.S. and others wanted a Salafist [i.e., fundamentalist Sunni] principality in east Syria to cut Syria and Lebanon off from a land route to Iran. It was warned that such a principality would create havoc in Iraq and to the return of AQ in Iraq (today the Islamic State) to Mosul and Ramadi.

I quoted from that part in December 2016 , which was the time when the two Presidents, Obama and Turkey's Erdogan, began their joint effort to relocate ISIS from Mosul Iraq, into Der Zor Syria, in order to culminate their (and the Sauds') joint plan to use ISIS so as to bring down Assad. Then, I headlined, on 30 April 2017, that they had actually completed this task of moving Iraq's ISIS into Syria, "How Obama & Erdogan Moved ISIS from Iraq to Syria, to Weaken Assad" . That's why the Syrian government is now fighting to take Der Zor back from ISIS control.

Other portions of the Judicial Watch FOIA disclosures which received little or no press-coverage (and that little being only on far-right blogs - not mainstream 'news' sites) add still further to the evidence that Obama was using Al Qaeda and its friends, as a proxy army of jihadists to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and replace him by a jihadist regime that would be loyal to America's fundamentalist-Sunni 'allies', the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia, and the Thanis who own Qatar. (Of course, now, the Sauds are trying to destroy the Thanis, too.)

These unpublished or little-published portions from the Judical Watch disclosures, also add to the ample published evidence that the Obama regime was transporting (as these documents acknowledged on page 4) "weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya" which "were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria," for use by Obama's 'moderate rebels' (a.k.a.: jihadists) in Syria. Specifically:

page 4:
18 Sep 2012

2. During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amounts of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.

3. The weapons shipped from Libya to Syria during late-August 2012 [i.e., the period immediately prior to this memo] were sniper rifles, RPGs, and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles.

It's now clear that Trump (at least until June 19th) has been continuing Obama's stated policy of killing ISIS and then overthrowing Assad. But of course no one can yet know whether or not he would be continuing it in precisely the way that Hillary Clinton made clear that she would do, which is to announce a no-fly zone in Syria and thus grab control over some portion of the sovereign nation of Syria. That way would result, now after 19 June 2017 ( Russia's warning to shoot down U.S. aircraft that attack Syrian government-allied forces ), either in U.S. retreat or else shooting down Russian planes in Syria, and war between U.S. and Russia, ending in nuclear war.

When I presented, in my December 2016 report, what I referred to above as "the part of the 12 August 2012 DIA analysis of the intelligence regarding Iraq and in Syria that the press has not yet reported from the Judicial Watch FOIA disclosures," I didn't mention then that one news-medium did report a part of that section, and it was a rabidly pro-Republican site, Glenn Beck and his "The Blaze," which headlined about this matter, very appropriately, "'It Is Damn Near Criminal': Glenn Beck Says the U.S. Is Using Islamic State as a 'Pawn'," which point, Beck presented rather well in the video accompanying it. Unfortunately, however, closed-minded 'liberals' and 'progressives' paid no attention to this and to the other evils perpetrated by Obama ( such as these ). Regardless of how untrustworthy Beck is, his statements about that particular matter were actually spot-on.

Obama was using ISIS in this way, but after Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, Obama joined in so as not to make obvious to the world that he had been protecting and even arming ISIS until that date, and that prior to Russia's bombing ISIS, the U.S. had actually ignored ISIS.

Now that ISIS in Syria seems to be on its last legs there, only Kurds and Al Qaeda in Syria ( and their backers especially the U.S. and Sauds ) remain as big threats to Syria's sovereignty, and the evidence at least till June 19th, has been that Trump definitely backs the Kurds there, and might also be backing Al Qaeda there as well. If he continues backing the Kurds and Al Qaeda there, after Russia's warning on June 19th (which the neoconservative Washington Post called only "bluffing" and the neoconservative CNBC called "bluster" ), then the U.S. will be at war not only against Russia, but also against Turkey, and also against Iran, and it would be World War III because it would be U.S.-v.-Russia. Turkey is already at war against the Kurds; and, if America is fighting for the Kurds, to break up Syria, then Turkey - a member of the NATO anti-Russia alliance - will paralyze NATO; and the U.S. will then be waging its war without NATO's support.

Trump would need to be very stupid to do such a thing. It would be an intelligence test which, if Trump fails, the world will end, in nuclear winter - with or without support from the rest of NATO. But, nonetheless, some in the American 'elite' and its employees, say that it would merely be a recognition of Russia's "bluffing" and "bluster." One wonders what objective this 'elite' believes to be worthy of taking the risk that they're wrong. What do they actually hope to 'win', fighting on the side of the Sauds (and their Israeli agents), in order to conquer Syria? Why are they so desperate, to do that?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .

Eric Blair says June 27, 2017

Moon of Alabama commented yesterday on the US and its allies defeat (so far) in S.E. Syria. At an MSM ignored DoD press conference the US military admitted as much. From MoA's article:

Q: [ ] [W]hat potential threat do you believe these Iranian backed militias and regime forces continue to pose to your forces and your partner forces in the At Tanf - Abu Kamal area?

COL. DILLON: Well if the Syrian regime - and it looks like they are making a concerted effort to move into ISIS held areas. And if they show that they can do that, that is not a bad sign. We are here to fight ISIS as a coalition, but if others want to fight ISIS and defeat them, then we absolutely have no problem with that. And as they move eastward toward Abu Kamal and to Deir Ezzour, if we - as long as we can de-conflict and make sure that we can focus on what it is we're there to do, without having any kind of strategic mishaps with the regime or with pro-regime forces or with Russians, then that is - we're perfectly happy with that.

In a later part the spokesperson also concedes that the forces in al-Tanf are now very constricted in their movement:

if the regime is - has moved into an area that is towards Abu Kamal, then we are going to be limited to how far out we do patrols [from al-Tanf] with our partner forces.

Somewhat later the point is made again and even clearer – al-Tanf is now useless and the Syrian army is free to do what it does:

COL. DILLON: So what I was saying about that is that, out of the At Tanf area, we have used that to train our partner forces and to continue to - to fight ISIS, you know, if they are in and around that area.

You know, now that the regime has moved in, and they have made some significant, you know, progress, as it looks, towards moving to Abu Kamal and perhaps Deir Ezzour, if they want to fight ISIS in Abu Kamal and they have the capacity to do so, then, you know, that - that would be welcome.

We as a coalition are not in the land-grab business. We're in the killing ISIS business, and that is what we want to do. And if - if the Syrian regime wants to do that, and they are going to, again, put forth a concerted effort and show that they are - are doing just that in Abu Kamal or Deir Ezzour or elsewhere, that means that we don't have to do that in those locations.

So I guess that - what I'm saying is, in the At Tanf area, we will continue to train our partner forces. We will continue to do patrols in and around At Tanf in the Hamad desert. But if our access to Abu Kamal is shut off because the regime is there, that's okay.

Hmm the US military standing down? I haven't looked at the entire transcript yet but this seems almost too good to be true. Of course these press conference proclamations need to be washed down with a generous helping of delicious salt. Even if the statements are sincere, the interventionists, their media "partners" and think tank propagandists will keep on pushing for "regime change" (a coup by any other name ) and the destruction of Syria.

On the bright side US/NATO uncontested domination of the globe was stopped in its tracks by the Russian military in Syria on 30.09.2015 and there is simply no way Washington can bribe, threaten or beat every nation in the world into submission.

bevin says June 26, 2017
This is a culture at the end of its tether: it simply cannot put up with dissent or contradiction, so brittle is it. It is all part of a refusal to face ugly reality, symptomatic of which is the relegation-to Die Welt's Sunday edition- of Seymour Hersh's latest investigation of US state mendacity its irresponsibility in the matter if the recent "Sarin" attack blamed on Assad.
Ray McGovern has a piece at Counterpunch today in which he reveals that "Even the London Review of Books, which published Hersh's earlier debunking of the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin-gas incident, wouldn't go out onto the limb this time despite having paid for his investigation.

"According to Hersh, the LRB did not want to be "vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russia governments when it came to the April 4 bombing in Khan Sheikhoun." So much for diversity of thought in today's West."
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/26/hershs-big-scoop-bad-intel-behind-trumps-syria-attack/

captain Swing says June 27, 2017
Very interesting article from Counterpunch. Thanks.
Jerry Alatalo says June 27, 2017
bevin,
The facts Seymour Hersh's article lays out pushes one in the direction that Trump – totally ignoring his intelligence and military experts telling him their was no certainty Assad was responsible – had knowledge the event was a false flag. Trump couldn't be so stupid as to not understand what his experts were telling him. After launching the 50 Tomahawk missiles, he lied through his teeth to the world, saying "we know we have the evidence..", then UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (like Colin Powell, before the illegal Iraq War) blasted Assad falsely, held up pictures at the Security Council of dead children which were quickly plastered on the front pages of newspapers globally,, and literally warned Syria's Bashar al-Jaafari of impending war.

Hersh's article shows Trump, Haley and the U.S. administration, UK/France and other United Nations representatives were lying about "we have the evidence", and owe their citizens and the world an explanation, plus an apology. These psychopath liars are extremely dangerous and must become held to account for their deceptions.

archie1954 says June 26, 2017
If the US were to persist in this dangerous dance with the devil, I could imaging NATO being split by Turkey, refusing to get involved any further and even separately protecting Europe from Russian retaliation by entering into a defense treaty with Russia. The US then would be shouldering the whole foolish confrontation by itself and perhaps having to deal with China and North Korea at the same time. Now that would be an interesting scenario.
Michael Leigh says June 26, 2017
I think the worthy Historian, Eric Zuesse has not considered the possibility that a new midlle East regional grouping, offers the best chance of allowing the USA to gracefully avoid the ultimate failure of its Middle East policy by conceding to the combined alliance, of the major traditional Nations and their forces of the Middle East; being Egypt, Iran and Turkey.

Currently divided by a false religious and secular division, posed by primarily Great Britain and the USA, it was the British who over 100 years ago financed and invented the Sunni Wahhabi division which sunni division represents the most murderous of the current Islamic terrorist outrages financed also by the USA and Saudi Arabia throughout the region and globe.

Similarly, the Anglo-Franco financed and hosting of the Muslim Brotherhood to further frustrate and end Turkey's leadership of the declining Otterman Empire, formally lead by Turkey.

The most important factor against a new alignment of those three aforementioned regional leaders; is the current illegimate counter-alliance of " the lawless Hebrew State of Israel " and the Teflon-guarded deep state, which appears to own and really run the also infamous North America State?

[Mar 28, 2017] Foundation - Fall Of The American Galactic Empire Zero Hedge

Mar 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Mar 27, 2017 10:40 PM Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity-a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I read Isaac Asimov's renowned award winning science fiction trilogy four decades ago as a teenager. I read them because I liked science fiction novels, not because I was trying to understand the correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. The books that came to be called the Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) were not written as novels; they're the collected Foundation stories Asimov wrote between 1941 and 1950. He wrote these stories during the final stages of our last Fourth Turning Crisis and the beginning stages of the next High. This was the same time frame in which Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Orwell wrote 1984 . This was not a coincidence.

The tone of foreboding, danger, dread, and impending doom, along with unending warfare, propels all of these novels because they were all written during the bloodiest and most perilous portion of the last Fourth Turning . As the linear thinking establishment continues to be blindsided by the continued deterioration of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions in the world, we have entered the most treacherous phase of our present Fourth Turning .

That ominous mood engulfing the world is not a new dynamic, but a cyclical event arriving every 80 or so years. Eight decades ago the world was on the verge of a world war which would kill 65 million people. Eight decades prior to 1937 the country was on the verge of a Civil War which would kill almost 5% of the male population. Eight decades prior to 1857 the American Revolution had just begun and would last six more bloody years. None of this is a coincidence. The generational configuration repeats itself every eighty years, driving the mood change which leads to revolutionary change and the destruction of the existing social order.

Isaac Asimov certainly didn't foresee his Foundation stories representing the decline of an American Empire that didn't yet exist. The work that inspired Asimov was Edward Gibbon's multi-volume series, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published between 1776 and 1789. Gibbon saw Rome's fall not as a consequence of specific, dramatic events, but as the result of the gradual decline of civic virtue, monetary debasement and rise of Christianity, which made the Romans less vested in worldly affairs.

Gibbon's tome reflects the same generational theory espoused by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning . Gibbon's conclusion was human nature never changes, and mankind's penchant for division, amplified by environmental and cultural differences, is what governs the cyclical nature of history. Gibbon constructs a narrative spanning centuries as events unfold and emperors' successes and failures occur within the context of a relentless decline of empire. The specific events and behaviors of individual emperors were inconsequential within the larger framework and pattern of historical decline. History plods relentlessly onward, driven by the law of large numbers.

Asimov described his inspiration for the novels:

"I wanted to consider essentially the science of psychohistory, something I made up myself. It was, in a sense, the struggle between free will and determinism. On the other hand, I wanted to do a story on the analogy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but on the much larger scale of the galaxy. To do that, I took over the aura of the Roman Empire and wrote it very large. The social system, then, is very much like the Roman imperial system, but that was just my skeleton.

It seemed to me that if we did have a galactic empire, there would be so many human beings-quintillions of them-that perhaps you might be able to predict very accurately how societies would behave, even though you couldn't predict how individuals composing those societies would behave. So, against the background of the Roman Empire written large, I invented the science of psychohistory. Throughout the entire trilogy, then, there are the opposing forces of individual desire and that dead hand of social inevitability."

Is History Pre-Determined?

"Don't you see? It's Galaxy-wide. It's a worship of the past. It's a deterioration – a stagnation!" – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Foundation trilogy opens on Trantor, the capital of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire. Though the empire appears stable and powerful, it is slowly decaying in ways that parallel the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and psychologist, has developed psychohistory, a new field of science that equates all possibilities in large societies to mathematics, allowing for the prediction of future events.

Psychohistory is a blend of crowd psychology and high-level math. An able psychohistorian can predict the long-term aggregate behavior of billions of people many years in the future. However, it only works with large groups. Psychohistory is almost useless for predicting the behavior of an individual. Also, it's no good if the group being analyzed is aware it's being analyzed - because if it's aware, the group changes its behavior.

Using psychohistory, Seldon has discovered the declining nature of the Empire, angering the aristocratic rulers of the Empire. The rulers consider Seldon's views and statements treasonous, and he is arrested. Seldon is tried by the state and defends his beliefs, explaining his theory the Empire will collapse in 300 years and enter a 30,000-year dark age.

He informs the rulers an alternative to this future is attainable, and explains to them generating an anthology of all human knowledge, the Encyclopedia Galactica, would not avert the inevitable fall of the Empire but would reduce the Dark Age to "only" 1,000 years.

The fearful state apparatchiks offer him exile to a remote world, Terminus, with other academic intellectuals who could help him create the Encyclopedia. He accepts their offer, and sets in motion his plan to set up two Foundations, one at either end of the galaxy, to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humanity and thereby shorten the Dark Age, once the Empire collapses. Seldon created the Foundation, knowing it would eventually be seen as a threat to rulers of the Empire, provoking an eventual attack. That is why he created a Second Foundation, unknown to the ruling class.

Asimov's psychohistory concept, based on the predictability of human actions in large numbers, has similarities to Strauss & Howe's generational theory. His theory didn't pretend to predict the actions of individuals, but formulated definite laws developed by mathematical analysis to predict the mass action of human groups. His novel explores the centuries old debate of whether human history proceeds in a predictable fashion, with individuals incapable of changing its course, or whether individuals can alter its progression.

The cyclical nature of history, driven by generational cohorts numbering tens of millions, has been documented over centuries by Strauss & Howe in their 1997 opus The Fourth Turning . Human beings in large numbers react in a herd-like predictable manner. I know that is disappointing to all the linear thinking individualists who erroneously believe one person can change the world and course of history.

The cyclical crisis's that occur every eighty years matches up with how every Foundation story centers on what is called a Seldon crisis, the conjunction of seemingly insoluble external and internal difficulties. The crises were all predicted by Seldon, who appears near the end of each story as a hologram to confirm the Foundation has traversed the latest one correctly.

The "Seldon Crises" take on two forms. Either events unfold in such a way there is only one clear path to take, or the forces of history conspire to determine the outcome. But, the common feature is free will doesn't matter. The heroes and adversaries believe their choices will make a difference when, in fact, the future is already written. This is a controversial viewpoint which angers many people because they feel it robs them of their individuality.

Most people don't want to be lumped together in an amalgamation of other humans because they believe admitting so would strip them of their sense of free will. Their delicate sensibilities are bruised by the unequivocal fact their individual actions are virtually meaningless to the direction of history. But, the madness of crowds can dramatically impact antiquity.

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Many people argue the dynamic advancements in technology and science have changed the world in such a way to alter human nature in a positive way, thereby resulting in humans acting in a more rational manner. This alteration would result in a level of human progress not experienced previously. The falsity of this technological theory is borne out by the continuation of war, government corruption, greed, belief in economic fallacies, civic decay, cultural degradation, and global disorder sweeping across the world. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued them throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Asimov's solution to the failure of humanity to change was to create an academic oriented benevolent ruling class who could save the human race from destroying itself. He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

In Part Two of this article I will compare and contrast Donald Trump's rise to power to the rise of The Mule in Asimov's masterpiece. Unusually gifted individuals come along once in a lifetime to disrupt the plans of the existing social order.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> BaBaBouy , Mar 27, 2017 10:56 PM

" He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions."

The masses aren't the ones begging to start all of these wars. They are the ones TRYING to make a few good decisions. The Shadow Government and Deep State however, are hell bent on getting us all killed. Who exactly is the problem here??

LetThemEatRand , Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM

Asimov was a good writer and created some great fiction. That's as far as it goes.

Huxle LetThemEatRand •Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM y is the one who predicted the current state of affairs. Orwell gets honorable mention. You could also throw in some biblical passages for the mark of the beast, though the best part was clearly written about Nero.

biker Mar 27, 2017 11:06 PM
Of course its better to watch them eat themselves
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/rewriting-the-rules...

[Mar 17, 2017] Orwells 1984 was not a complete work of fiction, but a successful blueprint for full statist control

Notable quotes:
"... His book Animal Farm was a satire on Stalin and Trotsky and 1984 * gave readers a glimpse into what would happen if the government controlled every detail of a person's life, down to their own private thoughts. (*online bio). The battles in Europe were life and death with the goal of survival. ..."
"... We are now programed (propagandized) from pre school to the home for the elderly. We are initially taught as children, continue through college, and are forever conditioned by media such as TV, Movies, Radio, Newspapers and Advertising our entire lives. The younger generations are not taught to think independently or critically but instead indoctrinated with pre packaged knowledge 'propaganda' while older generations assess outcomes from a different perspective. There is as a result, a clash within the society which we are experiencing today. ..."
"... 1984 was about controlling the news and airwaves. Farenheit 451 was about burning history. The two go hand in hand. ..."
"... The similarity of the major networks evening "news" programs has given rise to a report that, each day, a list of ten or twelve "acceptable" news stories is prepared by British Intelligence in London for the networks, teletyped to Washington, where the CIA routinely approves it, and then delivered to the networks. ..."
"... The "selectivity" of the broadcasters has never been in doubt. Edith Efron, in "The News Twisters," (Manor Books, N.Y., 1972) cites TV Guide's interview with David Brinkley, April 11, 1964, with Brinkley's declaration that "News is what I say it is. It's something worth knowing by my standards." This was merely vainglorious boasting on Brinkley's part, as he merely reads the news stories previously selected for him. ..."
"... "REMEMBER THE MAINE!" That false flag headline is over a century old. ..."
"... Next time you are in a Best Buy.. go up to the Geek Squad guy and say... "So how does it feel to work for the CIA " ..."
"... Fuck the Washington Post. As Katherine Austin Fitts has suggested, it is essentially the CIA's Facebook wall. The same could be said of the NYT as well. ..."
"... James Rosen from Fox, he was at a state dept briefing with that little weasel Kirby, and Kirby stated that the negotiations over the Iran "deal" were all overt and "above the table." He remembered, tho, a briefing years earlier from the witch Psaki, who stated that sometimes, in interests of expedience, aspects of the negotiations are not made public. ..."
"... Rosen goes back to state dept video archives, finds out that his whole exchange with Psaki has been erased. Weasel Kirby, when asked how this happened, who did it, who ordered it, blames it on a "technical glitch." ..."
Mar 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

FreedomWriter -> TheWrench , Mar 11, 2017 10:12 AM

Snowflakes should also learn the depressing fact that Orwell's 1984 was not a complete work of fiction, but a successful blueprint for full statist control.

Orwell was dying of tuberculosis when he wrote "1984" and passed away after its publication in 1949. Once you have their attention and they have read the book, it is time to show snowflakes the MANY obvious parallels between Orwellian concepts and modern society.

NEWSPEAK AND THOUGHT CRIME

You can start with soft targets like Newspeak (today's examples include gems like cis-gender labels and other politically correct BS).

Now move to the "thought police" and thought crime in general.

Explain how thought and speech crime keep the globalist model alive and ticking by discouraging independent thought and discussion.

Explain how state-financed institutions seek to implant these concepts at an early age and onwards into university education.

Provide real-life newspeak and double-think examples, such as "police-action" "regime-change", "coalition of the willing" and "collateral damage". Show how these are really just PC euphemisms for "wars of aggression" and "murder". If you have a picture of a droned wedding party handy, now is the time to use it.

Also mention people who have been silenced, prosecuted or even killed for committing "hate crimes" or other political blasphemies. Explain how this often occurs while they are standing up for or using their constitutionally protected human rights.

Name some of these people: Randy and Vicki Weaver, David Koresh, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Julian Assange, William Binney, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning

Show them how this trend is ongoing both in the USA and abroad, and is primarily being deployed against populist politicians who promote more individual rights and reduced state control over citizens. Ask them whether or not they can see a pattern developing here.

Above all, d on't waste time with cheap shots at identity politics and its absurd labelling. This will just polarize the more brainwashed members of your audience. Stick to the nitty gritty and irrefutable facts.

And be very careful here, because if they have insufficient vocabulary to understand or critique what you are saying, you will lose them. Which was the whole point of Newspeak. Of course you can use this failed learning opportunity to demonstrate just how successful the Newspeak program has been.

TELESCREENS

Tell them about the real life "Telescreens" that can now listen to you, even when turned off. Name one of their known manufacturers: Samsung and users: Central Intelligence Agency

Show them how these same telescreens are used to pump out constant lies from the MSM whenever they are turned on. Name some of these organizations: CNN, BBC, MSNBC, FOX, etc.

MASS SURVEILLANCE and the "PANOPTICON"

Talk to them about the modern surveillance state and how it will always be abused by corporate globalists and corrupt elites.

Describe how mass-surveillance service providers (MSSPs) and MSM stooges have become obscenely rich and powerful as the real-life proles (who were 85% of the population in "1984") struggle to put food on the table, pay their debts, find a decent job or buy a home. Tell them to find out how much wealth is owned by 8 very wealthy people relative to the poorest half of the world, and how this trend is accelerating. Name a few of them: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, etc.

Show how the previously enacted, totalitarian US policies, programs and laws have been extensively deployed, lobbied for, used and abused by the very Big-Brothers (Clinton and Obama) they so adored. Even George W is swooning progressives again.

Name some of these policies, programs and laws: Patriot Act, SOPA, US Telecommunications Act, FISA, Echelon, PRISM, and Umbrage

Explain why this whole surveillance system, its operators and proponents must be completely dismantled and reined in or imprisoned, unless we wish all whistle blowers, dissidents and normal citizens to end up like Winston Smith.

ETERNAL WAR AND THE BROTHERHOOD

Explain how eternal war keeps the proles from getting too restless and questioning their leaders. How it leads to modern strategic idiocies like "Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahedeen are steadfast allies against Russian totalitarianism, which is why the CIA needs to give them Stingers" (aka Operation Cyclone). Or the illegal provision of arms and funds to countries with questionable human rights records (KSA, Iran, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Israel.....)

Explain how this leads to, nay requires, state-propagated lies like WMD to justify illegal military actions against sovereign nation states like Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Show how 9/11 was used to target a former-ally Osama and his Taliban brotherhood and prepare the terrain for eternal war, even though the real criminals were actually in DC, Riyadh and other world capitals. Explain how letting Osama escape from Tora Bora was all part of this intricate plan for the PNAC, until he finally outlived his usefulness as a bogeyman. If they disagree, ask for their counter-argument and proofs.

Explain how these same criminals then made a financial killing when our real life Oceania went to war bigly with Eastasia. How this resulted in over a million civilian deaths (half of them children), around 80,000 terrorists and perhaps 10,000 uniformed soldiers/contractors. Show them videos where US officials justify this slaughter as "worth it", unimportant or irrelevant. Ask what kind of individuals could even say these things or let them happen. If they can't answer, name a few: Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

At this point, you may need to take a break as listeners will soon have trouble distinguishing between real-life events and those in Orwell's book.

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Next, explain how real, imagined or simulated terrorist outrages can be manipulated to influence electorates. This is done by creating or allowing atrocities that frighten citizens into seeking "safety". These citizens will then vote in corrupt, globalist leaders who promise to keep them safe. These same leaders can then curtail freedoms in their previously democratic, freedom-loving nation states. New terrorist threats can always be used to justify more restrictions on free movement and state-mandated invasions of personal privacy.

If your snowflakes don't agree with this, name some leaders responsible for bad laws, policies and the ensuing restrictions on civil liberties:

Tony Blair, George W Bush, Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Francois Hollande.

Name some events as well: Oklahoma City, 911, 7/7 Sandy Hook, 11-M

Also mention that the USA has not waged a single legal, constitutional, Congress-declared war since 1945. But that the USA has been involved in hot or cold wars for all but 5 of the past 71 years.

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

Tell them that Orwell's original book title was actually "1944" (already past), but that his publisher vetoed this choice saying it could hurt sales.

Then explain how 1944-45 was actually the perfect crucible for the divisive, right-left political paradigm we live in today and many of the concepts presciently described in Orwell's chilling masterpiece.

EPILOGUE

Tell them everything, until their brains hurt, their eyes water and their ears bleed.

Eventually even the iciest snowflakes will get it.

Of course, some will cry, and some will have temper tantrums and meltdowns.

But a few might just wake up, start reading real books and get a proper education.

This is when the healing can begin.

Those thinking a career in gender-diversity-issue management is still the way forward may figure it out later, God help them. Until then, we should just pity them.

dearth vader , Mar 11, 2017 5:03 AM

Ira Levin's "This Perfect Day" (1970) is from the same dystopian mold. In the late Eighties, my then teenage daughter kept reading it, till it literally fell apart.

How technology has "advanced"! People in this phantasy had to wear bracelets with which they checked in and out of buildings and areas. Reality always seems to surpass the imaginative powers of SF-writers.

Maestro Maestro , Mar 11, 2017 5:16 AM

The problem is not your government.

YOU are the problem.

Your government is not populated by reptilians from outer space. The politicians and the bankers, lawyers are YOUR sons and daughters. You gave birth to them, you educated them, you taught them their values.

YOU pull the trigger when the government says KILL! YOU vote Democrat or Republican EVERY TIME. Yet you have the temerity to blame them when you don't get what you wanted.

Scum,

Hitler didn't kill anyone as fas as we know, in WWII. People [YOU] killed people. You blame the Jews because the wars they incite you to fight result in blowback to you. Why do you blame them because YOU jumped when they said JUMP! YOU are the ones flying the fighter jets and firing the tank shells against foreign populations living 10,000 miles away from your land, and who have not attacked you. NO ONE does anything unless they wanted to, in the first place. In any case, YOU are responsible for YOUR actions. This we all know.

Even your own money the US dollar is illegal according to your own US Constitution (Article 1, Section 10) yet you commit mass murder and mass torture throughout the world in order to impose it on everyone?

Fuck you, American.

BrownCoat , Mar 11, 2017 6:59 AM

The liberals are promoting the book (Nineteen Eighty-Four). IMO, that's great! Orwell's book is a classic and accurately describes features in our current society.

The downside is that the liberals won't understand it . They are promoting the idea that Trump is a fascist. They don't see that they themselves are fascists (albeit a different brand of fascism). Ironic that the book could help them see past the indoctrinated haze of their perspective, but it won't. The future, from my perspective, is a boot stamping on a human face forever.

Robert of Ottawa -> BrownCoat , Mar 11, 2017 8:09 AM

Fascism as a style of government rather than philosophy .

RevIdahoSpud3 , Mar 11, 2017 9:07 AM

I read 1984 in 1960 as a freshman in HS. Spent the next 24 years waiting. I don't remember details but I do remember it was upsetting at the time to picture my future as depicted by Orwell. It might be more interesting to me now to go back to the publishing date and study the paradigm that Orwell lived under to get a perspective of his mindset. He wasn't a US citizen. He was born in India, moved to England with his mother, had little contact with his father, was sickly and lonely as a child and suffered from tuberculosis as an adult, served in Burma for five years as a policeman, fought Soviet backed Communsts in the Spanish Civil War, fought Facism, believed in Democratic socialism or Classless socialism.

His book Animal Farm was a satire on Stalin and Trotsky and 1984 * gave readers a glimpse into what would happen if the government controlled every detail of a person's life, down to their own private thoughts. (*online bio). The battles in Europe were life and death with the goal of survival.

The European cauldron produced or nurtured, IMO, the seeds of most social evils that exist today. In Orwell's era society was changing and reacting to the Machine age which was followed by the Atomic age, the Space age and to the current Information age. He died in 1950 but in his environment, the Machine age is where he related. The forces (of evil) at work in his era still exist today with the additions of the changes brought by the later ages. We don't contend with the physical (at least not initially) conquerors such as the Genghis Khan, Mohamed, Alexander, Roman conquest etc. of the past but the compulsion of others to control our lives still exists just in different forms. We as a society react or comply and have the same forces to deal with as did Orwell but also those that resulted in the later eras. 1984 was actually the preview of the information age that Orwell didn't experience.

We are now programed (propagandized) from pre school to the home for the elderly. We are initially taught as children, continue through college, and are forever conditioned by media such as TV, Movies, Radio, Newspapers and Advertising our entire lives. The younger generations are not taught to think independently or critically but instead indoctrinated with pre packaged knowledge 'propaganda' while older generations assess outcomes from a different perspective. There is as a result, a clash within the society which we are experiencing today.

Through the modern (at least recorded) ages the underlying force no matter what era humans lived through was the conflict of...religion. In the name or names of God and whose god is the true god and which god will rule. Even in the most 'godless' societies it is the underlying force. There are many who do not believe in god or a god and by extension should or do not believe in satin. Good vs Evil? It's always there, although we are encouraged not to mention it?

Can't say I need another go at 1984 from Costco but I do need another indoor/outdoor vacuum and right now they have one with a manufacturers discount of $5. See you there!

Collectivism Killz , Mar 11, 2017 9:24 AM

1984 is really just a knock off of Evgeny Zemyatin's "We," which is frankly a better account of dystopian authoritarianism from someone who wrote shortly after the Russian Revolution.

FrankDrakman -> Collectivism Killz , Mar 11, 2017 9:39 AM

This is not true. Orwell's book touched on major points, such as the destruction of people's ability to communicate real ideas by perversion and simplification of language, that are not discussed elsewhere. It is a unique and disturbing view of totalitarian regimes.

Atomizer , Mar 11, 2017 10:22 AM

Tyler, your missing the point. 1984 was about controlling the news and airwaves. Farenheit 451 was about burning history. The two go hand in hand.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Full Movie | Julie Christie ...

Nobodys Home , Mar 11, 2017 10:23 AM

Manipulation of the news is not new folks:

The similarity of the major networks evening "news" programs has given rise to a report that, each day, a list of ten or twelve "acceptable" news stories is prepared by British Intelligence in London for the networks, teletyped to Washington, where the CIA routinely approves it, and then delivered to the networks.

The "selectivity" of the broadcasters has never been in doubt. Edith Efron, in "The News Twisters," (Manor Books, N.Y., 1972) cites TV Guide's interview with David Brinkley, April 11, 1964, with Brinkley's declaration that "News is what I say it is. It's something worth knowing by my standards." This was merely vainglorious boasting on Brinkley's part, as he merely reads the news stories previously selected for him.

Sinophile -> Nobodys Home , Mar 11, 2017 11:33 AM

"REMEMBER THE MAINE!" That false flag headline is over a century old.

Dragon HAwk , Mar 11, 2017 10:53 AM

Next time you are in a Best Buy.. go up to the Geek Squad guy and say... "So how does it feel to work for the CIA "

Al Bondiga , Mar 11, 2017 11:13 AM

Fuck the Washington Post. As Katherine Austin Fitts has suggested, it is essentially the CIA's Facebook wall. The same could be said of the NYT as well.

SurfinUSA , Mar 11, 2017 1:37 PM

Bezos has no problem selling "1984" on Amazon. https://tinyurl.com/hdmhu75 He's collecting the sales price and sticking it in his pocket. He's not making a joke out of it. Bezos is a lunatic. The Washington Post is full of shit. End of story.

Amy G. Dala -> SurfinUSA , Mar 11, 2017 2:23 PM

James Rosen from Fox, he was at a state dept briefing with that little weasel Kirby, and Kirby stated that the negotiations over the Iran "deal" were all overt and "above the table." He remembered, tho, a briefing years earlier from the witch Psaki, who stated that sometimes, in interests of expedience, aspects of the negotiations are not made public.

Rosen goes back to state dept video archives, finds out that his whole exchange with Psaki has been erased. Weasel Kirby, when asked how this happened, who did it, who ordered it, blames it on a "technical glitch."

It's a slippery fuckin slope. Only now the progressives are finding relevance in 1984?

[Mar 17, 2017] Costco is now carrying Orwell famouns novell 1984 And this is not a joke

Mar 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Holbrooks via TheAntiMedia.org,

"Next time you're at Costco, you can pick up a jumbo bag of Cheetos and a copy of '1984.' Doubleplus good!"

That's how the Washington Post opened its quick little entry on Wednesday. Continuing, Ron Charles, editor of Book World for the Post , wrote:

"The discount store is now stocking Orwell's classic novel along with its usual selection of current bestsellers."

If the significance of the fact that a dystopian masterwork can now be purchased alongside a three-ton bag of cheese puffs instantly strikes you, it should. Strangely, though, Charles and the Post don't seem to see it.

In fact, it seemed to be a joke to them. The entry closed in the manner it opened. With humor:

"Appropriately, Costco is offering a reprint of the 2003 edition of '1984,' which has a forward by Thomas Pynchon. That reclusive satirist must love the idea of hawking Orwell's dystopian novel alongside towers of discounted toilet paper and radial tires. SHOPPING IS SAVING."

In the one and only instance Charles even approached something that could be considered commentary, he linked the surge in the book's sales to "alternative" news items :

"Last month, amid talk of 'alternative facts' from the Trump administration, Signet Classics announced that it had reprinted 500,000 copies, about twice the novel's total sales in 2016."

Note Charles was certain to use the word "alternative" when mentioning Trump. Why? Very clearly, "fake news" is the man's go-to phrase when speaking of the media. So why go with "alternative" instead? Hell, the Post itself was the driving force behind the "fake news" frenzy in the first place.

I could go on about how this is the Washington Post , corporate media juggernaut, attempting, rather pathetically, to poison the notion of "alternative" in the minds of its readers - or, I should say, what's left of them - but that's not really what this is about.

What it's really about is journalism. The fact that "1984" is being sold at Costco, the fact that demand for the classic tale has skyrocketed , is significant. It's societal. And journalists are supposed to write about things like that.

And what does the Post do? They make a joke of it.

This is an organization that, as recently as January, has been busted publishing false news stories. You would think that with its credibility among a growing division of society hanging on by a thread - at best - the Post would turn an event like this into social commentary. This was an opportunity to speak about a changing world.

But instead, the Post went for laughs.

Let it sink in, friends. George Orwell's "1984," a dystopian tale about a society being crushed under the boot of authoritarian regime, is, once again, flying off bookshelves. To the extent that you can now get it at Costco. Let the significance of that truly dig in deep.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is talking about Cheetos and toilet paper.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

xythras -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 10, 2017 11:56 PM

Well, after all the shit is going down, White House is definitely in distress. Trump gets a taste of his own medicine as he's grabbed by the pussy from all intelligence agencies directions.

And Spicer just proved it today:

White House in Distress? Sean Spicer's Upside Down Flag Pin Unleashes Twitter Frenzy

http://dailywesterner.com/news/2017-03-10/white-house-in-distress-sean-s...

Luc X. Ifer -> Twee Surgeon , Mar 11, 2017 12:46 AM

Read 'Little Heroes' by Norman Spinrad. It's like the dude had a trip to the future which is our present, a completly broken society dominated by corporations exploiting the masses of hedonist mindless snowflakes. In my humble oppinion perfect companion to Orwell's 84.

[...

  • In the future the class divide between capitalist and worker will have widened to become a virtually unbridgeable chasm. In HG Wells' The Time Machine (1895) this division has become so extreme that humanity had split into two species.
  • The way to keep the underclass under control is to feed them mass-produced pseudo-culture. If - as in Orwell's 1984 (1949) - the technocratic ruling class can get some kind of computer or machine to generate this product, so much the better.
  • In the future, 20th century entertainment forms like TV and movies will have been superseded by more direct experiences that, ideally, feed directly into the brain or, at least - as with the 'feelies' in Huxley's Brave New World (1932) - stimulate more senses than simply the visual and auditory.
  • And now, here's a book that uses all these themes in one hit, and builds on these classic foundations by adding rock & roll to the mix.

    Set in the early years of the 21st century, it shows us an America decimated by devaluation, where unemployment is commonplace and rock music is firmly in the grip of accountants and electro-nerds producing synthesized superstars to keep the proles contented.

    ...]

    http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/little_heroes.html

    Latina Lover -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 11, 2017 7:16 AM

    Washington Post = CIA produced fake news.

    peddling-fiction , Mar 10, 2017 9:59 PM

    Please read Philip K. Dick's most recent works for a more accurate description of our dystopian reality.

    RIP Philip.

    LetThemEatRand -> indygo55 , Mar 10, 2017 10:05 PM

    "Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then." P.K.D.

    Row Well Number 41 -> LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Once they notice you, Jason realized, they never completely close the file. You can never get back your anonymity. It is vital not to be noticed in the first place. -- Philip K Dick

    PodissNM -> Row Well Number 41 , Mar 10, 2017 11:27 PM

    "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

    P.K.D., How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

    AlaricBalth -> peddling-fiction , Mar 11, 2017 12:13 AM

    Philip was spot on decades before the advent of the CIA's infestation of cell phones and other electronic devices.

    "There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'." Philip K. Dick

    AlaricBalth -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 12:30 AM

    Here is a free copy of 1984.

    https://ia800201.us.archive.org/8/items/NINETEENEIGHTY-FOUR1984ByGeorgeO...

    "The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

    napples -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 2:37 AM

    The irony never fails to amuse:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

    bruno_the -> BeanusCountus , Mar 10, 2017 11:31 PM

    Sure. Read it again...

    As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.

    Free

    https://wikispooks.com/w/images/f/fc/1984.pdf

    Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a user's guide.

    Twox2 -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    Too late...

    skinwalker -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 11:35 PM

    Orwell and Huxley were close to the fabians, so they knew what was coming down the pike.

    The difference is Orwell grew a conscience and tried to warn everybody.

    He probably would have titled it 2036, but 1984 was the 100th anniversary of the Fabian society.

    koan , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    WaPo is fake news, owned by a stereotypical bald headed villain. (Bezos)

    Ignorance is bliss -> aloha_snakbar , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Maybe Orwell meant 2084. That sounds like a scary year to me...

    Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 10:08 PM

    You could also download "1984" for free to your computer or Kindle device. Do a Google search.

    Ms No -> Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 11:05 PM

    That's actually a waste of time at this point. If anything read Anthony Suttons Wall Street series for free on the internet, or stay here. You already know more than Orwell will teach you at this point. Unless your a mouth breather or blind from herpes of the eyeball. Apparently that is something contracted at birth.

    All wars are bankers wars. You can sum 1984 up to that. Actually they didn't even cover that. They just covered mechanisms. Actually they didn't even cover that, just symptoms.

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=BolshevikRev&C=4.0

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=WallStHitler

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Entity=BrzezinskiZ

    SgtShaftoe -> Wee_littte_dogee , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    You're fine. Their lists don't have enough enforcers to do jack shit. By the time the first raid occurs, all hell would break loose and they'll all die.

    Ms No -> SgtShaftoe , Mar 10, 2017 10:57 PM

    In order to break that down we have to figure who their enforcers are.

    Intelligence agencies. That's a big one.

    Some unknown number of police agency staff. Quite a few in many places, like Texas. They obviously have strategic coroners, emergency room staff, etc.

    Some unknown quantitity of narco-terrorists out of Mexico/fast and furious funded types.

    Some unknown number of our military. They have been purging for decades.

    A smaller but unknown number of funded terrorist groups/ ISIS types.

    A very large number of our congress, etc.

    Probably 2/3 of our Supreme Court

    The entire media system and publishing

    The easiest way to narrow it down is who do they not have? I give up already. Remember JFK was a long time ago.

    SgtShaftoe -> Ms No , Mar 11, 2017 9:10 AM

    The ones most relevant in my mind are the logistics and support as well as the "action" guys (using that term very loosely).

    The military, the CIA and a few other agencies have trained combat arms types that are effective. The rest are at various stages of competency. In any event, they still don't have enough competent troops by a long shot. The logistics tail is also very wide and vulnerable.

    [Feb 26, 2017] If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes thatll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement

    Notable quotes:
    "... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples. ..."
    "... Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. ..."
    "... ...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. ..."
    "... Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?" ..."
    "... Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it. ..."
    "... And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page. ..."
    "... And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota. ..."
    Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Chris G : February 24, 2017 at 04:48 AM
    On the Crooked Timber piece: Quiggin makes a very astute observation about 'propertarians' and Divine Providence in his concluding paragraphs. If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes that'll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , -1
    Yep. All roads lead to scapegoating. The anti-social capabilities of base desires and greed are often paled in comparison to those of detached indifference supported by abstract high-mindedness. For example, both sides can blame the robots for the loss of decent blue collar jobs.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 04:58 AM
    Not sure that there are "both sides" any more in elite circles. There are at least two types though. There is very little presence among elites on the progressive side.
    Chris G -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 05:11 AM
    Hard to call this related but worth reading, Why Nothing Works Anymore - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/the-singularity-in-the-toilet-stall/517551/
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 05:54 AM
    [THANKS! This was LOL funny:]

    "...When spun on its ungeared mechanism, an analogous, glorious measure of towel appears directly and immediately, as if sent from heaven..."

    [This was highly relevant to today's lead article "The Jobs Americans Do:"]

    ... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples.

    That includes hourly service work in which schedules are adjusted ad-hoc and just-in-time, so that workers don't know when or how often they might be working. For low-wage food service and retail workers, for instance, that uncertainty makes budgeting and time-management difficult. Arranging for transit and childcare is difficult, and even more costly, for people who don't know when-or if-they'll be working.

    Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. For one part, it consolidated existing businesses and made efficiency its primary concern. For another, economic downturns like the 2008 global recession facilitated austerity measures both deliberate and accidental. Immaterial labor also rose-everything from the unpaid, unseen work of women in and out of the workplace, to creative work done on-spec or for exposure, to the invisible work everyone does to construct the data infrastructure that technology companies like Google and Facebook sell to advertisers...

    [This was very insightful into its own topic of the separation of technology "from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologized world can service its own ends," but I would rather classify that as serving owners of proprietary technology rights.]


    ...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. But things are bound to get even weirder than that. When automobiles drive themselves, for example, their human passengers will not become masters of a new form of urban freedom, but rather a fuel to drive the expansion of connected cities, in order to spread further the gospel of computerized automation.

    If artificial intelligence ends up running the news, it will not do so in order to improve citizen's access to information necessary to make choices in a democracy, but to further cement the supremacy of machine automation over human editorial in establishing what is relevant...

    [THANKS! It was an exceptionally good article in places despite that it wandered a bit off into the ozone at times.] ...

    Julio -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:26 AM
    Excellent article, thanks!

    It hits on one of the reasons why I am less skeptical than Darryl that AI will succeed, an soon, in all kinds of fields: it may remain stupid in some ways, but we will adapt to it.

    Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?"

    Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it.

    And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page.

    On the political front, Winston will not be necessary, nobody will click through to the old information, we will all just know that we were always at war with Eurasia.

    And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota.

    Resist!

    Paine -> Julio ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:55 AM
    Humans are more contrarian then not

    The middle third of the twentieth century was hysterical about the totalitarian state
    And the erasure of micro scale cultural heritage

    That seems laughable since at least 1965 as lots of old long dormant memes
    Revived in these frightfully "totalized " civil societies

    The Motions of human Society reveal underlying dialectics not mechanics

    Paine -> Paine... , February 24, 2017 at 09:59 AM
    "1984 " is way past it's sell by date. Much like Leviathan and the declaration of independence
    cm -> Julio ... , February 25, 2017 at 12:01 AM
    There was probably more than one movie about this topic - people not happy with their "peaceful" but bland, boring, and intellectually stifling environment.

    Not too far from Huxley's "Brave New World" actually.

    [Dec 04, 2016] Neoliberalism and Why its Bad for All of Us

    The full version of this paper with a complete bibliography is also available electronically.
    Notable quotes:
    "... The buck is constantly and systematically passed to those least able to carry it – large-scale problems (e.g. national debts) are sent down the pipeline to smaller units; devolution without the resources to implement it, combined with competition for resources, choices without resources, responsibility without power, power without structure. ..."
    "... "See-Judge-Act" ..."
    "... resistance have happened over the last 5 years or so – views about how effective they have been vary. But as Christians, we are called to show solidarity with those who resist a dehumanising and very powerful status quo. ..."
    "... And, above all, we should recognise that a very small space in which to act is not no space at all – challenging TINA – that neoliberalism is the only view on the block is itself action of a kind – sometimes opening up a space opens up new possibilities. What we shouldn‟t so, at least, is to close them down! ..."
    Mar 07, 2015 | Diocese of Liverpool
    Introduction: When is an economy not an economy? When it's a caravan park! So What is It? Several key elements to what Neoliberalism is: Behind these features are a series of underlying assumed principles – an ideology of neo-liberalism: 2

    So What's Wrong with it?

    1. It is internally contradictory
      • There is no such thing as a free market
      • Even the original neoliberals recognise this – competition regulates the market – there is no one view of what "competitive" is
      • The ordoliberals certainly recognise it – role of government to create the perfectly competitive market
      • The view taken of competition based on price tends to monopolies, a "race to the bottom," and uniformity (Amazon, Sky, Apple )
    2. Its effects are not as the theory predicted, and have often been damaging:
      • There has been no "trickle down" effect of wealth (in fact, wealth has redistributed upwards)
      • It has entailed much "creative destruction" of institutional frameworks and powers, divisions of labour social relations, attachments to the land and habits of the heart.‟ (David Harvey, Short History of Neo-Liberalism, p 3)
      • It has pushed, and is pushing, the reach of the market into ever more spheres of human life, „the saturation of the state, political culture and the social with market rationality.‟ (Wendy Brown: American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism and De-Democratization (Political Theory 34 (2006), p 695)
    3. It has a view of human beings as 'specks of human capital,' who can be 'plugged in' to markets of various kinds, (or who plug themselves in)
      • the hero of neoliberalism is the entrepreneur – we are all becoming more and more required to be „entrepreneurs of the self‟ – to invest in ourselves/make something of ourselves, „cultivate and care for‟ ourselves and, increasingly – measure our performance.
      • The caravan park analogy –we are required to „plug ourselves in‟ – to pay the price of doing so, and to accept the cost.
      • Our „belonging‟ becomes passive plugging in – rather than active participation.
      • Traditional forms of solidarity are wiped out.
      • Specks of human capital are eminently sacrificable, even if they have done all the „right things‟ – there are no guarantees, and individuals are expected to bear the risk of their entrepreneurial activity themselves (investing many hours in „training‟ and „upskilling,‟ often with no financial or institutional support and with no guarantee of better employment practices – i.e. gain (more skilled workforce) is privatized and risk is distributed downwards, labour is bound and capital released.
      • Austerity politics is the natural outcome of this – people are told virtue is sacrifice for the sake of a productive economy, but with no protection.
      • Despite opposition to „big government,‟ isolated and vulnerable individuals are eminently governable, subject to new forms of power whilst having smaller and
      • smaller spaces in which to resist it. People are easily integrated into a project that is quite prepared to sacrifice them.
    So why is it bad for all of us? So what is to be done? Justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, in quite resting places. (Isaiah 32.16-18)

    Further Reading:

    The full version of this paper with a complete bibliography will be available electronically after the conference.

    [Sep 14, 2016] Noam Chomsky WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman

    Notable quotes:
    "... Perhaps the most dramatic revelation, or mention, is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government -- Hillary Clinton, others -- and also by the diplomatic service. ..."
    "... How representative this is of what they say, we don't know, because we do not know what the filtering is. But that's a minor point. But the major point is that the population is irrelevant. ..."
    "... The Tea Party movement itself is, maybe 15% or 20% of the electorate. It's relatively affluent, white, nativist, you know, it has rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important, I think, is the outrage. Over half the population says they more or less supported it, or support its message. What people are thinking is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly polls reveal that people are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything. ..."
    "... The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. It's not just the financial catastrophe, it's an economic disaster. I mean, in the manufacturing industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back. U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make more profit with complicated financial deals than by production. So finance -- this goes back to the 1970s, mainly Reagan escalated it, and onward -- Clinton, too. The economy has been financialized. ..."
    "... Financial institutions have grown enormously in their share of corporate profits. It may be something like a third, or something like that today. At the same time, correspondingly, production has been exported. So you buy some electronic device from China. China is an assembly plant for a Northeast Asian production center. The parts and components come from the more advanced countries and from the United States, and the technology . So yes, that's a cheap place to assemble things and sell them back here. Rather similar in Mexico, now Vietnam, and so on. That is the way to make profits. ..."
    "... The antagonism to everyone is extremely high -- actually antagonism -- the population doesn't like Democrats, but they hate Republicans even more. They're against big business. They're against government. They're against Congress. ..."
    www.chomsky.info
    AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Noam Chomsky, world-renowned dissident, author of more than 100 books, speaking to us from Boston. Noam, you wrote a piece after the midterm elections called Outrage Misguided. I want to read for you now what Sarah Palin tweeted Ð the former Alaskan governor, of course, and Republication vice presidential nominee. This is what she tweeted about WikiLeaks. Rather, she put it on Facebook. She said, "First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop WikiLeaks' director Julian Assange from distributing this highly-sensitive classified material, especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a journalist any more than the editor of the Al Qaeda's new English-language magazine ÒInspire,Ó is a journalist. He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders? Noam Chomsky, your response?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: That's pretty much what I would expect Sarah Palin to say. I don't know how much she understands, but I think we should pay attention to what we learn from the leaks. What we learned, for example, is kinds of things I've said. Perhaps the most dramatic revelation, or mention, is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government -- Hillary Clinton, others -- and also by the diplomatic service.

    To tell the world well, they're talking to each other -- to pretend to each other that the Arab world regards Iran as the major threat and wants the U.S. to bomb Iran, is extremely revealing, when they know that approximately 80% of Arab opinion regards the U.S. and Israel as the major threat, 10% regard Iran as the major threat, and a majority, 57%, think the region would be better off with Iranian nuclear weapons as a kind of deterrent. That is does not even enter. All that enters is what they claim has been said by Arab dictators -- brutal Arab dictators. That is what counts.

    How representative this is of what they say, we don't know, because we do not know what the filtering is. But that's a minor point. But the major point is that the population is irrelevant. All that matters is the opinions of the dictators that we support. If they were to back us, that is the Arab world. That is a very revealing picture of the mentality of U.S. political leadership and, presumably, the lead opinion, judging by the commentary that's appeared here, that's the way it has been presented in the press as well. It does not matter with the Arabs believe.

    AMY GOODMAN: Your piece, Outrage Misguided. Back to the midterm elections and what we're going to see now. Can you talk about the tea party movement?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: The Tea Party movement itself is, maybe 15% or 20% of the electorate. It's relatively affluent, white, nativist, you know, it has rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important, I think, is the outrage. Over half the population says they more or less supported it, or support its message. What people are thinking is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly polls reveal that people are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything.

    The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. It's not just the financial catastrophe, it's an economic disaster. I mean, in the manufacturing industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back. U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make more profit with complicated financial deals than by production. So finance -- this goes back to the 1970s, mainly Reagan escalated it, and onward -- Clinton, too. The economy has been financialized.

    Financial institutions have grown enormously in their share of corporate profits. It may be something like a third, or something like that today. At the same time, correspondingly, production has been exported. So you buy some electronic device from China. China is an assembly plant for a Northeast Asian production center. The parts and components come from the more advanced countries and from the United States, and the technology . So yes, that's a cheap place to assemble things and sell them back here. Rather similar in Mexico, now Vietnam, and so on. That is the way to make profits.

    It destroys the society here, but that's not the concern of the ownership class and the managerial class. Their concern is profit. That is what drives the economy. The rest of it is a fallout. People are extremely bitter about it, but don't seem to understand it. So the same people who are a majority, who say that Wall Street is to blame for the current crisis, are voting Republican. Both parties are deep in the pockets of Wall Street, but the Republicans much more so than the Democrats.

    The same is true on issue after issue. The antagonism to everyone is extremely high -- actually antagonism -- the population doesn't like Democrats, but they hate Republicans even more. They're against big business. They're against government. They're against Congress. They're against science

    [Dec 23, 2015] Orwell vs Kipling

    oldfarmermac, 12/22/2015 at 8:26 pm

    I have read most of Orwell, and just about all of Kipling.

    If the two are to be compared, then the fact that Orwell is from a later generation has to be taken into account.

    It is possible to get an idea about what a writer actually believes, especially one who writes in certain genre. Orwell was a writer who wanted to change things, and he made it fairly clear by what he wrote that change was one of his goals.

    Kipling was not especially concerned with changing things. He wrote extremely well, and did a very good, and exceptional , job of describing the times and places he wrote about.

    If you read his work for comprehension, it is clear he understood and sympathized with the troubles of the lower classes.

    It is a mistake however to assume the work of a novelist or poet reflects all or most of the deeper beliefs he or she may hold.

    I think Kipling, if he were around, would have something uncomplimentary to say about this Orwell quote:

    "It is true that Kipling does not understand the economic aspect of the relationship between the highbrow and the blimp. He does not see that the map is painted red chiefly in order that the coolie may be exploited. "

    It does not follow that he believed otherwise because of his writing. Writers have to make a living. He wrote what would sell.

    I used to read Louis L'amour novels to get to sleep, they worked great.( His novels also display a keen sense of the way men come to bond together in small groups in the face of opportunity and adversity , and some not insignificant understanding of American frontier culture. )

    When asked why he did not turn out serious work, simply said he wrote in order to make a living, and that meant he wrote what would sell.

    [Dec 22, 2015] Orwells Nightmare Is Here - China Just Gamified Obedience To The State (And Soon Itll Be Mandatory)

    That's something new and pretty Orwelian : computerized score of "political correctness" made similar for FICO score and based on data about you in social media.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. ..."
    "... "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create." ..."
    "... "very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist." ..."
    "... "Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?" ..."
    "... Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you! ..."
    "... At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;) ..."
    "... What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.' ..."
    "... Patriot Points. ..."
    "... The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own. ..."
    "... The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see. ..."
    "... Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the Perfect tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally). ..."
    "... The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. ..."
    Dec 22, 2015 | Zero Hedge

    As if further proof were needed Orwell's dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in - that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. "Going under the innocuous name of 'Sesame Credit,' China has created a score for how good a citizen you are," explains Extra Credits' video about the program. "The owners of China's largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score - but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line."

    Zheping Huang, a reporter for Quartz, chronicled his own experience with the social control tool in October, saying that

    "in the past few weeks I began to notice a mysterious new trend. Numbers were popping up on my social media feeds as my friends and strangers on Weibo [the Chinese equivalent to Twitter] and WeChat began to share their 'Sesame Credit scores.' The score is created by Ant Financial, an Alibaba-affiliated company that also runs Alipay, China's popular third-party payment app with over 350 million users. Ant Financial claims that it evaluates one's purchasing and spending habits in order to derive a figure that shows how creditworthy someone is."

    However, according to a translation of the "Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System," posted online by Oxford University's China expert, Rogier Creemers, it's nightmarishly clear the program is far more than just a credit-tracking method. As he described it,

    "The government wants to build a platform that leverages things like big data, mobile internet, and cloud computing to measure and evaluate different levels of people's lives in order to create a gamified nudging for people to behave better."

    While Sesame Credit's roll-out in January has been downplayed by many, the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, urges caution, saying:

    "The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people's social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance.

    Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them."

    And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create."

    Social pressure, of course, can be highly effective given the right circumstances. China seems to have found exactly that in the intricate linking of people's scores to their contacts, which can be seen publicly by anyone - and then upping the ante through score-based incentives and rewards. Rick Falkvinge pointed out a startling comparison:

    "The KGB and the Stasi's method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant so-called agents provocateurs in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent. As a result, nobody would dare agree that the government did anything bad, and this was very effective in preventing any large-scale resistance from taking hold. The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still."

    As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant,

    "With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen."

    Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Johan Lagerkvist, said the system is

    "very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist."

    James Corbett has been tracking the implementation of Sesame Credit for some time. Introducing the ubiquitous tracking system for a recent episode of the Corbett Report, he mused:

    "Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?"

    Indeed, because mandatory enrollment in Sesame Credit is still a few years away, its true effectiveness won't be measurable for some time. But even a reporter's usual wariness appears knocked off-kilter, as Zheping Huang summarized his personal experience,

    "Even if my crappy credit score doesn't mean much now, it's in my best interest I suppose to make sure it doesn't go too low."

    And that, of course, is precisely why gamifying State obedience is so terrifying.

    Cornfedbloodstool

    We just have FICO scores in the US, that measures how obidient you are to the banks, the true rulers of the country.

    ToSoft4Truth

    And Facebook 'Likes'. Can't get laid without the Likes, man.

    CAPT DRAKE

    It is already here. There is a thing called an "NSA Score", based on your habits, contacts, and email/posts. Fortunately, porn surfing, even addiction, is not a negative. Only anti state stuff counts, and no, most of the posts on ZH don't count as they are seen as venting and not actionable intel.

    knukles

    I love Big Brother...

    Miffed Microbiologist

    "The children and adults, including his own parents, tiptoe nervously around him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good," since displeasing him can get them wished away into a mystical "cornfield", an unknown place, from which there is no return. At one point, a dog is heard barking angrily. Anthony thinks the dog is "bad" and doesn't "like [him] at all," and wishes it into the cornfield. His father and mother are horrified, but they dare not show it."

    Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

    Miffed

    Old Poor Richard

    You beat me to it on FICO score. If you're off the grid, out of the electronic money system or not paying sufficient fealty to banksters, you are NOT being obedient to the state.

    NoDebt

    I'm as off the grid as you can get and still live a middle class lifestyle with electricity and a cell phone. I assure you they still score me and I'm usually over 800. I don't use credit much these days but what I use says nothing but "pays as agreed".

    Now, if you start to factor in the "slightly to the right of the John Burke Society" shit I post on ZH I'd be down around -500.

    Uchtdorf

    http://qz.com/519737/all-chinese-citizens-now-have-a-score-based-on-how-...

    Dated October 9th of this year.

    savagegoose

    thats it, in the communist version of facebook you can vote on gov post's, ie you can like them.

    Government needs you to pay taxes

    Cmon its China, where numbers are faked everyday. Ya think this number will be any different? And even if its effective in China, when the US .govbots roll this out, how effective can it be when US .gov employees 'at the wheel'?

    The US .gov can fuck ANYTHING up.

    roisaber

    It will be funny to see who gets a low citizen loyalty oath score for unpredictable reasons, or from hacks, and their increasing radicalization as their honest efforts to try to get themselves back into good standing only makes them register as more anti-social.

    techpriest

    The other question is, how many services are going to pop up to help you boost your score, just like there are books, guides, and services for your credit score currently?

    "Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you!"

    SgtShaftoe

    China doesn't have enough enforcers to control the population. They will lose control. That is only a matter of time. They may be able to delay the inevitable for a while but eventually reality will arrive. Keep pushing that volatility into the tail and see what happens. When it goes, it will blow your fucking socks off.

    Tick tock motherfuckers, and that goes for the US as well...

    tarabel

    That is the (evil) genius of this scheme. It is collectively enforced by the proletarians themselves. If you do anti-social things, that will reflect badly on your friends and family so they will excoriate you and, if necessary, shun you until you get with the program. Really, it's just a crowd-sourced Communist Block Warden program gone digital.

    I don't worry about the Chinese. They're fooked any which way you slice it. But China invents nothing, merely imitates. So where did they get this idea from, hmmm?

    techpriest

    At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;)

    With that in mind, what would you be able to accomplish with a team of 40-50 developers and several months? What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.'


    cherry picker

    "I have nothing to hide"

    Well, the bozos who coined the above term, have fun. You think keeping up with mortgage, car payments, Obama Care, taxes, raising kids and keeping a spouse happy is stressful, wait til .gov does a 'test' on you.

    Me, I'm not worried. I'm a non conformist, live in the boonies and am too old. I tell my children and grandchildren they need to get rid of this 'evil eye' government encroachment.

    They think I am crazy now, but I think they may be coming around.

    techpriest

    I would love to turn that "You shouldn't be afraid if you have nothing to hide" around by pointing out that the Fed shouldn't be afraid of an audit if they have nothing to hide.

    Amish Hacker

    Patriot Points.

    Bopper09

    Is this not what assface is? (facebook for people plugged in). I admit I went on it for the simple fact I couldn't find anything better for talking to my Russian fiance. But even a year before she got here, I said fuck it. Tried cancelling, but if you click a link that has something to do with facebook, your profile becomes active again. Fucking criminals. I left a computer for 3 weeks (not that I haven't done that before. TRY IT, no cell phone or computer for ONE WEEK. Take vacation days and see what's important in your life. Seriously, I've never owned a cell phone. Where I work I don't need one. Cell phones do not 'save your life'.

    Consuelo

    Interesting the references to FB, especially when one considers who's at the head and his position on censorship. Then again, what happened in Mao's China descended from the likes of Trotsky, so it kinda sorta follows...

    Gantal

    The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own.

    The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see.

    The underlying lie is that the Chinese government needs to repress its people. It doesn't. Anyone purporting to be China 'experts' like Messrs. Lagerkvist and Creemers, should know that China's government is the most popular, most trusted government on earth.

    By why let facts get in the way of a good story?

    Fuku Ben

    The score is created by Ant Financial

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lcUHQYhPTE#t=36s

    FedFunnyMoney

    Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer...Chinese style.

    rejected

    Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the "Perfect" tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally).

    Sure, it's cool, you can play games and other useless crap but even a blind man could see how governments are going to be useing it. The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. Wouldn't surprise me if everything we post even here on ZH is stored on some digital crap machine somewhere.

    For sure it's on ZH servers and thus available to any Tom, Dick or Harry LEO. I myself am very close to going dark. This stuff isn't laughable anymore. It's getting DEADLY serious.

    [Dec 07, 2015] George Orwell, Edward Bernays & Perpetual War

    Dec 07, 2015 | Zero Hedge

    Submitted by Zero Hedge reader "Ferrari",

    Another horrific act of terror, another shrill chorus calls the faithful to war. It's a recurring phenomenon in this early Twenty-first Century. The horrible news crashes from the heavens like a meteor, violently jolting us from the Saint Vitus Dance of our produce-consume existence. Our screens with all the answers flash between splattered blood on the pavement and the victims' smiling faces as they were in life. From the Middle East we hear little and see less of the shattered lives on the receiving end of our vengeance. Like giving a fifth of bourbon to a drunk prostrate on the pavement, our leaders advocate more slaughter as the solution to the world's problems. Mass civilian casualties is the global order of the day, the constant in our lives.

    Orwell's essay on Perpetual War in "1984" is currently enjoying a revival in certain circles. Through the novel's mysterious bogey man, Emmanuel Goldstein, Orwell avers that technological innovations have brought industry to such a level of efficiency that material abundance and leisure should be attainable to all. Widespread material comfort and spare time would allow the populace to develop intellectually and spiritually, and thus to achieve a kind of universal enlightenment. Orwell argues that with such leisure-based understanding, humanity would question the necessity for hierarchy and begin to threaten the arrangement that so benefits those at society's pinnacle.

    During the first half of the Twentieth Century those atop "1984"'s pyramid perceived this eventuality and identified a leisured, enlightened public as a threat to social stability and their dominant position. The ruling caste devised Perpetual War as a way of keeping industrial production humming. Orwell plainly states, "The primary aim of modern warfare… is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living." Rather than distribute the fruits of modern industry to the masses, produced goods are blown up and sent to the bottom of the ocean, thus artificially maintaining scarcity. According to Orwell, both the terror and material scarcity attendant to such engineered, continuous conflict deprives humanity of the security and leisure necessary for the political awareness necessary to question society's hierarchical arrangement. Perpetual War keeps the population struggling to eke out its meager existence and thus remain both ignorant and docile.

    The hypothesis of Perpetual War has been blowing around the sentient class for decades. Author Chalmers Johnson, said it was the failed promise of the promised peace dividend at the end of the Cold War that lead him to question motives behind the American Empire. Going back further, Col. Fletcher Prouty argued that the Vietnam War was engineered as early as 1945 to be a profit-making, interminable war. Vietnam, Korea, The Cold War, The War on Drugs, and now The Global War on Terror were all virtually unending with exorbitant price tags, driving nations–particularly our own–deeply into debt. Our leaders constantly cry public poverty when it comes to rebuilding our infrastructure or keeping the lights on in our cities, yet there's always funds for new carpet bombing, furtive drone campaigns, or boots on the ground abroad.

    Orwell's hypothesis of Perpetual War as a bulwark to maintain the status quo works quite well, up to a point. What he did not seem to recognize was the far more effective silencing mechanism, not of material scarcity, but of consumer abundance. Long before Orwell envisioned his "1984" nightmare, a small group of virtually anonymous men devised and implemented consumerism in a mere decade, the 1920's.

    With industrial Europe transformed into a battlefield during World War I, America became the manufacturing base for the Western Powers. After the war, U.S. industrialists and Wall Street bankers feared the loss of demand for elevated wartime capacity would plunge the national economy into ruin. At that time the American public purchased items based on need. Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers decided to change that, and with Edward Bernays' adroit effort in public relations, they conceived and gave birth to the American Consumer by creating, molding, and then catering to the individual's desires.

    The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays was fascinated with his uncle's work on the human subconscious and its applicability to commerce. For example, when tobacco industry executives came to him with the problem that half the population wouldn't buy cigarettes, Bernays devised a scheme making it acceptable for women to smoke. Basing his research on psychoanalysis, he identified cigarettes as a phallic symbol. Bernays arranged for a group of young socialites to interrupt the New York Easter Day Parade by lighting up, declaring them "Torches of Freedom" for the whirring cameras and reporters. By portraying smoking as an act of women's liberation, Bernays turned the tide, and Big Tobacco soon captured the other half of American market. Bernays and his cohorts continually repeated such manipulative feats for the next fifty years, and in the process supplanted the American citizen with the American consumer.

    The ramifications of the shift away from a needs-based culture cannot be overestimated. Acting on rational thought, the citizen who bought only what he needed merely did his job to sustain life and got on with his day. But desires emanate from emotion rather than reason, so the consumer driven by impulse becomes a puppet in the hands of those controlling the media. Fearing the herd, the powers that be have instilled in us a false belief in our own significance and made us slaves to our ethereal, artificial and irrational whims.

    The individual consumed and lead by base impulses ceases to think rationally, much less critically. Most importantly he sees himself, if he ever looks at himself beyond the bathroom mirror, as the embodiment of "product choice," rather than the citizen of a republic obligated to being informed and participating in the public debate. The consciousness of the modern consumer is a passive, empty vessel, defined by corporate brands rather than a more autonomous self.

    An entire culture of such unquestioning individuals consumed by their own fickle desire forms a docile, in-cohesive herd of chattel, incapable of debate, unifying, or demanding a redress of grievances. "We are silenced by our greed," as Christopher Hedges so succinctly defines it.

    A lively, engaged electorate might steady power's hand, but the U.S. electorate, as well as the rest of Western society, have been distracted and in the end lobotomized by an ever-increasing workload, fueled by the febrile chase of gewgaws and numbing mass entertainment. As Orwell observed in "1984," modern technological marvels should liberate humanity to reach a higher form of living, but instead have been bent by men in the shadows to enslave us. One of those men, Edward Bernays, brazenly opened his book, "Propaganda," with the declaration:

    The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

    Bernays and his cohorts manipulated the American electorate and shaped public opinion. Men like spymaster Allan Dulles, and the apostles of University of Chicago academic, Leo Strauss, ran foreign policy from behind the curtain and engineered decades of unending wars. All the while Americans have stood by idly cowed and duped into approving the global carnage, as those on top amassed more power.

    The owners of humanity's wealth have always held undue sway over government. At times during the Twentieth Century it seemed as if Western society might reach a more sustainable balance between top and bottom, but towards the new millennium the scales tipped radically toward the top. Transfer of production to the virtual slave nations of Asia, as well as public and private skyrocketing debt worked to shift earlier material gains away from the masses to society's owners. Consumerism is the opiate to calm us while the doctors in the shadows kill us with endless global war and its concomitant debt.

    Those on high profit immensely from the mayhem which embroils the globe. How we wound up killing in these far places and what exactly the policy is are questions we rarely ask. The carnage in the Middle East–much of it engineered by the Western powers–has been a bonanza for the for-profit Military Industrial Complex and the bankers enriched by the ballooning debt it generates. Every cruise missile or drone strike forges a new link in the public's chains of debt-servitude. We should be asking, "Is there another way?" and collectively making life difficult for public officials who cannot answer.

    Demdere

    It is time someone in MSM bragged about how amazing powerful it has been, with recent examples, otherwise nobody will notce, because they are about to be eclipsed.

    The entire world's Status Quos are burning the last of their legitimacy in Keynesian hyperflation and not dealing with 9/11 as they fumble the consequences.

    9/11 was a False Flag operation by Israeli-Neocons in control fo the US Government. They cannot every allow normal government processes, and so every single bit of social discord is hyped to the moon as they gradually destroy our communities and civilization.

    There is no possible remedy except taking on 9/11 and dealing with it, dispensing Justice. It will require arresting hundreds of high-level people in governments and other institutions around the world. Many of them will be executed.

    I think their control of MSM has an excellent chance of producing the social discord that foments the revolution, which will protect them for a few more years.

    What do you think? They are soo good at producing hate, and I can't see where to hide.

    Oh regional Indian

    Well, how fitting, again, if y'all missed it the firstand second times.

    Read the extract from the book that justifies the party's need to be at perpetual war...

    https://aadivaahan.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/by-george-oh-well-war-psy-no...

    And then, to really add the dessert of truth . listen to this man, voice of truth, harsh truth... James Trafficant...perhaps the last great american hero... Trump is a pale, false shadow of THIS man...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQOwlpQHx9w

    And in case you think any of this is new or was not foretold in other books, by other people, so brilliantly, perhaps you need a dose of King Goshawk.... ;-)

    https://aadivaahan.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/brilliant-futile-frustrating...

    Rock On Roger

    Nineteen Eighty Four was a prophecy. And we're living in Oceania.

    Ms No

    The manufacture of desire or the amplification of it is an interesting subject. Even with the sex advertizing you have to wonder how much of it is about selling and how much of it is about changing the person and society to be more controlled by the lizard brain.

    Everybody likes looking at beautiful people but our society has become a cheap absence of culture because of it. How many people become controlled by their desires as a result and where would our culture be if we obsessed less on our vices that our shoved in our face perpetually? How much of our other capacities may be dumbed down due to the over stimulation of our base lizard brain?

    Oh screw it, might as well go drink some booze, rub one out, plan a gambling adventure and shopping spree.

    Practical Cogitator

    Ferrari has hit the ball clear out the park. We live in Thailand and sadly have not a single friend or relative left stateside who has not been corrupted by the Deep State's various toxic candy. Their brains have all gone to mush alongside their morals. Every single one is obese, having gobbled down way too many highly refined carbohydrates. As a result, they all take gobs of dehabilitating and very expensive drugs to combat the 'Civilization Diseases' that track almost perfectly with BigFood's and BigPharma's fascist marriage to BigGov - i.e., the flooding of highly refined sugars and carbs everywhere all the time.

    We have even defined a new term to capture the overall rot that is going on: Collective Corruption. And, we suppose not unexpectedly, with each progressively destructive level of Collective Corruption comes ever more moral depravity. As just one of many examples, every single one of our highly-educated, upper-income stateside friends vehemently argue that the kinds of torture practiced at Uncle's various detention centers spread around the world is absolutely essential for protecting the American citizen from the bad guys.

    The country is lost. Far too many of the 318 million Americans are fat, brain-dead, brain-washed twits, with not a single idea how they've blown their winning the birthright lottery, or how they are systemically destroying society. They all deserve precisely what they get in this representive democracy turned dictatorship, which is some monster like Trump or Killary.

    o r c k

    And now It's spilled over into the PRISON Industrial Complex.

    [Nov 12, 2015] Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

    IMDb

    Skeptic459 (nren006@ec.auckland.ac.nz) from Auckland, New Zealand. 30 December 2003

    Brilliant adaption of a classic novel.

    Despite what one reviewer states here, 1984 is an extremely important literary work. It explains to the reader what the ultimate facist state would be like. This story is never more important than now, with the world in crisis. It is an absolute must that people read or see 1984. Other films have been made about fascism. One of the most notable examples being Pier Pasolini's Salo. But the problem is hardly anyone is going to see that except for weirdo's or film buffs. This is because of the graphic nature of the film. Besides, Salo was explaining the inherently depraved, decadent nature of fascism. Orwell's 1984 explains the mechanisms that invoke totalitarianism.

    John Hurt is excellent as the main character. I am quite a fan. The film is also very well made. The bleakness of the book is perfectly captured by the director. You feel sympathy for the characters even though they seem far away because they appear so weary, yet willing to hope. Transcendence is hinted at when there is a scene where Hurt looks out and sees a wilderness instead of a prison. Hurt's character, Winston looks like he is about half dead! You really hope that Winston and Julia can pull off a passionate love affair. Although you know that it is doomed and is more of an act of rebellion against big brother than anything else. The setting is a land that is half destroyed because of the constant wars. The wars being yet another method of control. They tell us in psychology that in war, depression and other similar disorders actually go down! Interesting eh? The start where everyone sits watching the screens and begins to scream at images of the enemy. This is a great moment in the film that shows a kind of utter conformity through extreme social norms. The most effective form of brainwashing.

    The problem with the film, like the book, is that people will find it too bleak and horrific to really appreciate it. It is depressing but this is the horror of totalitarianism. The material is not intended to be a walk in the park. One of the most striking and horrific instances of 1984 is the 2+2 does not equal 4 scene. The torture and brainwashing too achieve utter obedience. Richard 'my voice competes with Orson Welles' Burton, who normally pontificates and chews up the scenery is remarkably restrained here. This restraint is the key to a very good performance. These torture scenes are horrific and Hurt really shines. This guy should have got an Oscar! The scenes had me gasping...When I originally read the book it took a while for me to get over the rats. EWWWWWWW!

    Looking at the overall rating of 1984 I am just totally surprised that this film has such a low rating. Maybe people would rate the novel exactly the same way because of the material. This brings me too my other quibble. The film does not TOTALLY cover all of the novels themes. In fact, although Suzanna Hamilton puts on a good performance, her character is not completely captured. Viewers must remember that literature and cinema are two completely different mediums. There is no such thing as a 100 percent adaption. Therefore you must rate the film on the usual cinematic features. But the main thing is how well the overall message of the story was transmitted. This film powerfully demonstrates Orwell's message!

    What is weird is one of the reviewers here states that they did not like the nudity. Well, I'm guessing the director was going for a Adam and Eve state with their being naked out in the woods. This is obviously the complete opposite of the unnatural state they have to live in. It does not cheapen the film and points more to the reviewers own repressed desires. Reaction formation perhaps? Besides no one is going to get this for naked bodies when porn is so freely available from your local video store!

    Consider how relevant this story is. How propaganda and public relations has never been more prevalent. How public relations has overtaken journalism, causing journalism to become more and more watered down. How the political economy of the media is now being hugely influenced by being based in a monopoly economy. A few now control the flow of information for the general population in western nations. This is not conspiracy theory, this is fact. True investigative journalism is at an all time low and the media itself is in a shocking state of affairs. Like everything in our capitalist system, it is controlled by money. Ever read Michel Foucault? Dominant hegemonies, discourse analysis, bla bla bla. I don't want to get all crusty and academic here. But Rupert Murdoch is rubbing his hands together. Time and time again, the United States has been shown to be patently false about why they engaged in conflict with Iraq. Just read John Pilger! Yet many Americans supported the conflict. Even believing chemical weapons were used on American troops, when no such event took place! Why? Because they were manipulated by a sophisticated propaganda machine.

    Knowledge is power. That is why in 1984 language is being systematically destroyed. This denial of language is the denial of thought itself. Reality is then more easily shaped by the oppressor. Remember dictators, such as Pol Pot destroy the educated first. This is why the film and book are so important, they are still very RELEVANT! In fact I think the progression of western society will become a mixture of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and 1984. Either way we are being manipulated and controlled and these books show you how. America has the 'Patriot Act' that was rushed through congress although human rights groups had many serious doubts about the act. In New Zealand we have a Government that is similary becoming too involved in the regulation of peoples lives. BIG BROTHER IS STILL ALIVE!

    I give this film a 10 and think the last scene with Hurt looking so haunted in the bar/coffee place was awesome! GREAT, GREAT BOOK! GREAT, GREAT FILM!

    I have had a bit of a rant here...But hey I really like the book and this version of the film! So why not? This is a film for rebels!

    quixoboy from Ottawa, Ontario, 31 October 2003

    One of the great screen adaptations

    Merely a few days after finishing my read of George Orwell's fantastic 1948 novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four", I was immediately keen on looking to rent the modern film version, "1984" - filmed, appropriately enough, not only during the actual YEAR of 1984, but also during the exact same short span of months that the story took place in. This, to me, is a prime example of perfect, and unbelievably well-timed, brilliance. A picture based on such complex, prophetic, and well-known material could have turned out to be a complete disaster (which it certainly had potential for, judging from the horrendous-looking DVD cover); thankfully, however, I was not disappointed.

    "1984" is probably one of the most, if not THE most, masterful transitions from book to movie I have ever seen. Easily, its most impressive aspect was its phenomenal accuracy, attention to detail, etc. In other words, this film was FAITHFUL, in every sense of the word, to its source material. One can't give such a statement about films these days.

    Amazing casting, terrific musical score, and mind-blowing sets, cinematography, and direction, "1984" is surely a unique treasure, and one that still retains the same timeless messages even decades since its release.

    jawills from Vancouver, Canada, 23 May 2000

    "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness..."

    Michael Radford's utterly superlative film of Orwell's famed novel may well be the greatest cinematic adaptation of a major literary source ever -- and it stands out as one of the most memorable British films of the past thirty years. Full credit is due to cinematographer Roger Deakins who shoots everything in grainy, washed-out, desaturated colors adding to the picture's atmosphere of wistful yet austere, dream-like strangeness. The modern London settings -- with their cobblestone streets, shabby, dilapidated buildings, desolate fields, rubble-strewn alleyways, and forbidding, blackened Gothic-Victorian façades and hints of minimalist fascist architecture -- resemble a Depression-era housing project after the Luftwaffe. And Dominic Muldowney's score, with its martial clarion calls, bombastic church-organ blasts, and swelling choral leitmotiv of `Oceania, 'tis for thee,' has a mixture of Wagnerian grandeur and Bach-like religiosity about it. All the while, the bizarre, mantra-like drones of the much-maligned Eurythmics soundtrack rises and falls, weaving in and out of the narrative like so many subconscious banshee wails.

    Radford treats the book's premise not as a sci-fi flight of fantasy or grim prophecy but rather as the world of 1948 seen through a glass darkly -- a kind of medieval morality play for the post-totalitarian age. There is less emphasis on the novel's musty, well-worn-and-endlessly-picked-over polemical import and more focus on the stark human element, and indeed, the actors bear such uncanny resemblance to Orwell's descriptions they practically seem born for their roles.

    With his quiet, brooding eloquence and haunted eyes peeking out of a gaunt, cadaverous frame like a tubercular, ashen-faced Egon Schiele figure, John Hurt is ideally cast as Winston Smith. As Julia, Suzanna Hamilton (first seen as a lovelorn dairymaid in Polanski's TESS and as the paralyzed daughter in BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE) has a serene, arresting presence – and she appears as mysteriously stirring and beguiling to us as she does to Hurt. She brings a captivating freshness and warmth to her role, a little reminiscent of a young Harriet Andersson. Her pale, wiry, broad-hipped body has a simple, unaffected, almost archetypal beauty, and in the film's more intimate moments, she radiates all the tactile sensual grace of a Munch or Degas nude.

    As O'Brien, the Jesuitical inquisitor of infinite patience, Richard Burton delivers a superbly perspicacious swan-song performance – he becomes almost a kind of an oracular Thanatos to Hamilton's Eros. In an exquisite, maliciously Swiftian twist of irony, Burton's famous voice, with its rich, mellifluous Welsh inflections and descending cadences of Shakespearean sonnets and Dylan Thomas poetry, becomes a cruel herald of the willful, systematic destruction of the human spirit -- of `the worst thing in the world' that waits in Room 101… in the fated `place where there is no darkness.' When O'Brien tells Winston, `you are thinking that my face is old and tired…and that while I talk of power I am unable to prevent the decay of my own body,' Burton's sagging, weary face speaks volumes.

    In the lesser roles, Gregor Fisher's Parsons literally resembles a sweaty frog, James Walker's Syme is the classic image of a squirrelly, mealy-mouthed hack-intellectual, while Andrew Wilde cuts the most chilling figure as the bespectacled, unblinking 'company man,' Tillotson. The late Cyril Cusack plays Mr. Charrington, the kindly Cockney landlord who is not all that he appears to be, with an understated sentimental charm punctuated by slight flickers of calculating menace (watch closely for the way Cusack's facial expression changes whenever Hurt is not looking at him). Phyllis Logan (the star of Radford's début feature, ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE, and a supporting player in Mike Leigh's SECRETS AND LIES) provides one of the film's most clever unacknowledged ironies: as the Telescreen Announcer, her strident, hectoring voice suggests a more shrill caricature of Margaret Thatcher.

    If anything, this film makes a unique and compelling case for some of the oldest cinematic devices in the book that nearly all contemporary filmmakers have since abandoned: slow dissolves, fades, blackouts, shock-cuts, slow motion, flashbacks, montage. The high-contrast photography, alternately harsh and low-key lighting, and iconic close-up shots evoke the abstract, transcendental purity of Bresson or Dreyer. There is even one extraordinary sequence when Winston, bruised and battered, is seen having his head shorn in a holding cell that is clearly meant to recall Falconetti's famous haircutting scene in Dreyer's LA PASSION DE JEANNE D'ARC (1928). Similarly, Burton is filmed in oppressive, looming low-angle with Expressionist shadows defining the lines of his craggy visage à la Eugène Silvain's Bishop Cauchon sans the warts. And the idyllic barley fields of the 'Golden Country,' where Winston and Julia have their first tryst is a possible homage to the titular peasant paradise of Dovzhenko's EARTH (1926).

    What makes the film so powerful is not merely its fidelity to its source but its vivid sense of realism. NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR is such an impassioned and richly textured work that the visuals almost seem to seep into the pores of your skin, intoxicating you with dread and longing. And Radford is so adept at obscuring the boundaries that separate the ameliorative persistence of reverie from the glaring harshness of waking reality, that the film's seamless perfection becomes almost frightening.

    [Oct 29, 2015] Hedges Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist (1-8)

    Notable quotes:
    "... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom. ..."
    "... in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesnt rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but dont rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. ..."
    "... I think Webers critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom / m re z/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And its that -- thats where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while its broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed its also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was. ..."
    "... I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. ..."
    "... the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by ruling groups , they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasnt just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country. ..."
    "... in Politics and Vision , as in Democracy Inc. , you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process? ..."
    "... I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, theres no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different. ..."
    "... the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization. ..."
    "... They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And thats why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people. ..."
    "... the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government. ..."
    "... that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism. ..."
    "... the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybodys economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficultys been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled. ..."
    therealnews.com

    Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

    Transcript

    CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Hi. I'm Chris Hedges. And we are here in Salem, Oregon, interviewing Dr. Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and, later, Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Inc.. And we are going to be asking him today about the state of American democracy, political participation, and what he calls inverted totalitarianism.

    So let's begin with this concept of inverted totalitarianism, which has antecedents. And in your great work Politics and Vision, you reach back all the way to the Greeks, up through the present age, to talk about the evolution of political philosophy. What do you mean by it?

    SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. POLITICS EMERITUS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by it that in the inverted idea, it's the idea that democracy has been, in effect, turned upside down. It's supposed to be a government by the people and for the people and all the rest of the sort of rhetoric we're used to, but it's become now so patently an organized form of government dominated by groups which are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or even responsive to popular needs and popular demands. But at the same time, it retains a kind of pattern of democracy, because we still have elections, they're still relatively free in any conventional sense. We have a relatively free media. But what's missing from it is a kind of crucial continuous opposition which has a coherent position, and is not just saying, no, no, no but has got an alternative, and above all has got an ongoing critique of what's wrong and what needs to be remedied.

    HEDGES: You juxtapose inverted totalitarianism to classical totalitarianism -- fascism, communism -- and you say that there are very kind of distinct differences between these two types of totalitarianism. What are those differences?

    WOLIN: Well, certainly one is the -- in classic totalitarianism the fundamental principle is the leadership principle and the notion that the masses exist not as citizenry but as a means of support which can be rallied and mustered almost at will by the dominant powers. That's the classical one. And the contemporary one is one in which the rule by the people is enshrined as a sort of popular message about what we are, but which in fact is not really true to the facts of political life in this day and age.

    HEDGES: Well, you talk about how in classical totalitarian regimes, politics trumps economics, but in inverted totalitarianism it's the reverse.

    WOLIN: That's right. Yeah. In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

    Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have.

    And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

    HEDGES: In your book Politics and Vision, you quote figures like Max Weber who talk about capitalism as in fact being a destructive force to democracy.

    WOLIN: Well, I think Weber's critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom /ˈmɔːreɪz/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that -- that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

    HEDGES: You talk in the book about about how it was essentially the engine of the Cold War, juxtaposing a supposedly socialist Soviet Union, although like many writers, including Chomsky, I think you would argue that Leninism was not a socialist movement. Adam Ulam talks about it as a counterrevolution, Chomsky as a right-wing deviation. But nevertheless, that juxtaposition of the Cold War essentially freed corporate capitalism in the name of the struggle against communism to deform American democracy.

    And also I just want to make it clear that you are very aware, especially in Politics and Vision, of the hesitancy on the part of our founding fathers to actually permit direct democracy. So we're not in this moment idealizing the system that was put in place. But maybe you could talk a little bit about that.

    WOLIN: Well, I think that's true. I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. And that was rooted in historical realities. Many of the colonial governments had a very strong popular element that became increasingly prominent as the colonies moved towards rebellion. And rebellion meant not only resisting British rule, but also involved the growth of popular institutions and their hegemony in the colonies, as well as in the nation as a whole, so that the original impulses to the Constitution came in large measure from this democratizing movement. But the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by "ruling groups", they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasn't just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country.

    And you must remember at this time that the people, so-called, were not well-educated and in many ways were feeling their way towards defining their own role in the political system. And above all, they were preoccupied, as people always have been, with making a living, with surviving. And those were difficult times, as most times are, so that politics for them could only be an occasional activity, and so that there would always be an uneasy relationship between a democracy that was often quiescent and a form of rule which was constantly trying to reduce, as far as possible, Democratic influence in order to permit those who were qualified to govern the country in the best interests of the country.

    HEDGES: And, of course, when we talk about property, we must include slaveholders.

    WOLIN: Indeed. Indeed. Although, of course, there was, in the beginning, a tension between the northern colonies and the southern colonies.

    HEDGES: This fear of direct democracy is kind of epitomized by Thomas Paine, --

    WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah.

    HEDGES: -- who was very useful in fomenting revolutionary consciousness, but essentially turned into a pariah once the Revolution was over and the native aristocracy sought to limit the power of participatory democracy.

    WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true. I think it's too bad Paine didn't have at his disposal Lenin's phrase "permanent revolution", because I think that's what he felt, not in the sense of violence, violence, violence, but in the sense of a kind of conscious participatory element that was very strong, that would have to be continuous, and that it couldn't just be episodic, so that there was always a tension between what he thought to be democratic vitality and the sort of ordered, structured, election-related, term-related kind of political system that the framers had in mind.

    HEDGES: So let's look at the Cold War, because in Politics and Vision, as in Democracy Inc., you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process?

    WOLIN: Well, I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, there's no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different.

    But in the Cold War, I think what was lost in the struggle was the ability to see that there was some kind of justification and historical reality for the appearance of communism, that it wasn't just a freak and it wasn't just a kind of mindless dictatorship, but that the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization.

    HEDGES: So it's just like today.

    WOLIN: Yeah. They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And that's why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people.

    HEDGES: And the Cold War. So the Cold War arises. And this becomes the kind of moment by which capital, and especially corporate capital, can dismantle the New Deal and free itself from any kind of regulation and constraint to deform and destroy American democracy. Can you talk about that process, what happened during that period?

    WOLIN: Well, I think the first thing to be said about it is the success with which the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government.

    HEDGES: And in Politics and Vision, you talk about because of that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism.

    WOLIN: Oh, I think there's no question about that, the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybody's economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficulty's been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled.

    HEDGES: Thank you. Please join us for part two later on with our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

    [Oct 29, 2015] Hedges and Wolin (3-8) Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

    Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 2 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
    Notable quotes:
    "... n all totalitarian societies theres a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism. ..."
    "... I think Id probably qualify that, because Id qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isnt true of our contemporary situation. ..."
    "... And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- youre right, in that the notion of superpower is that its global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically. ..."
    "... I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where its lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do. ..."
    "... And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think its in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I dont know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested. ..."
    "... The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that its very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and its accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesnt want to claim in the end that hes really on your side. ..."
    "... when a underdeveloped part of the world, as theyre called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, its a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because its so omnipresent, its so much a part of what were used to, that we cant recognize what were used to as a threat. And thats part of the paradox. ..."
    "... I think theyre conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think theyre always willing to radically change, lets say, social legislation thats in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think theyre very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate. ..."
    "... Thats, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism thats going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements. ..."
    "... Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again youre back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldnt possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way. ..."
    therealnews.com
    CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part three of our discussion with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

    You talk in both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, about superpower, which you call the true face of inverted totalitarianism. What is superpower? How do you describe it?

    SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I think it's important to grasp that superpower includes as one of its two main elements the modern economy. And the modern economy, with its foundations in not only economic activity but scientific research, is always a dynamic economy and always constantly seeking to expand, to get new markets, to be able to produce new goods, and so on. So the superpower's dynamism becomes a kind of counterpart to the character of the modern economy, which has become so dominant that it defines the political forms.

    I mean, the first person to really recognize this -- which we always are embarrassed to say -- was Karl Marx, who did understand that economic forms shape political forms, that economic forms are the way people make a living, they're the way goods and services are produced, and they determine the nature of society, so that any kind of government which is responsive to society is going to reflect that kind of structure and in itself be undemocratic, be elitist in a fundamental sense, and have consumers as citizens.

    HEDGES: And Marx would also argue that it also defines ideology.

    WOLIN: It does. It does define ideology. Marx was really the first to see that ideology had become a kind of -- although there are antecedents, had become a kind of preconceived package of ideas and centered around the notion of control, that it represented something new in the world because you now had the resources to disseminate it, to impose it, and to generally make certain that a society became, so to speak, educated in precisely the kind of ideas you wanted them to be educated in. And that became all the more important when societies entered the stage of relatively advanced capitalism, where the emphasis was upon work, getting a job, keeping your job, holding it in insecure times. And when you've got that kind of situation, everybody wants to put their political beliefs on hold. They don't want to have to agonize over them while they're agonizing over the search for work or worrying about the insecurity of their position. They're understandably preoccupied with survival. And at that point, democracy becomes at best a luxury and at worst simply an afterthought, so that its future becomes very seriously compromised, I think.

    HEDGES: And when the ruling ideology is determined by capitalism -- corporate capitalism; you're right -- we have an upending of traditional democratic values, because capitalist values are about expansion, exploitation, profit, the cult of the self, and you stop even asking questions that can bring you into democratic or participatory democracy.

    WOLIN: I think that's true to an extent. But I would amend that to say that once the kind of supremacy of the capitalist regime becomes assured, and where it's evident to everyone that it's not got a real alternative in confronting it, that I think its genius is it sees that a certain relaxation is not only possible, but even desirable, because it gives the impression that the regime is being supported by public debate and supported by people who were arguing with other people, who were allowed to speak their minds, and so on. And I think it's when you reach that stage -- as I think we have -- that the problematic relationship between capitalism and democracy become more and more acute.

    HEDGES: And yet we don't have anyone within the mainstream who questions either superpower or capitalism.

    WOLIN: No, they don't. And I don't think it's -- it may be a question of weakness, but I think -- the problem is really, I think, more sort of quixotic. That is, capitalism -- unlike earlier forms of economic organization, capitalism thrives on change. It presents itself as the dynamic form of society, with new inventions, new discoveries, new forms of wealth, so that it doesn't appear like the old regime -- as sort of an encrusted old fogey type of society. And I think that makes a great deal of difference, because in a certain sense you almost get roles reversed. That is, in the old regime, the dominant powers, aristocracy and so on, want to keep the lid on, and the insurgent democracy, the liberalizing powers, wanted to take the lid off.

    But now I think you get it -- as I say, I think you get it kind of reversed, that democracy, it now wants -- in its form of being sort of the public philosophy, now wants to keep the lid on and becomes, I think, increasingly less -- more adverse to examining in a -- through self-examination, and becomes increasingly, I would say, even intolerant of views which question its own assumptions, and above all question its consequences, because I think that's where the real issues lie is not so much with the assumptions of democracy but with the consequences and trying to figure out how we've managed to get a political system that preaches equality and an economic system which thrives on inequality and produces inequality as a matter of course.

    HEDGES: Well, in all totalitarian societies there's a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism.

    WOLIN: Well, I guess that's true. I think I'd probably qualify that, because I'd qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isn't true of our contemporary situation.

    HEDGES: And yet in the same time, in those regimes, I mean, you look at Stalin's constitution as a document, it was very liberal, --

    WOLIN: Sure.

    HEDGES: -- it protected human rights and free speech. And so on the one hand -- at least in terms of civil liberties. And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- you're right, in that the notion of superpower is that it's global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically.

    WOLIN: Well, I think it does. I think one has to treat the matter carefully, because a lot of the vestiges of the nation-states still are, obviously, in existence. But I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where it's lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do.

    HEDGES: And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think it's in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I don't know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested.

    WOLIN: Yeah. I think you're right about that. The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that it's very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and it's accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesn't want to claim in the end that he's really on your side.

    Yeah, it's a very paradoxical situation. And I don't know. I mean, I think we all have to take a deep breath and try to start from scratch again in thinking about where we are, how we get there, and what kind of immediate steps we might take in order to alter the course that I think we're on, which really creates societies which, when you spell out what's happening, nobody really wants, or at least not ordinary people want. It's a very strange situation where -- and I think, you know, not least among them is, I think, the factor that you suggested, which is the kind of evaporation of leisure time and the opportunities to use that for political education, as well as kind of moral refreshment. But, yeah, it's a really totally unprecedented situation where you've got affluence, opportunity, and so on, and you have these kinds of frustrations, injustices, and really very diminished life prospects.

    HEDGES: You agree, I think, with Karl Marx that unfettered, unregulated corporate capitalism is a revolutionary force.

    WOLIN: Oh, indeed. I think it's been demonstrated even beyond his wildest dreams that it -- yeah, you're just -- you just have to see what happens when a underdeveloped part of the world, as they're called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, it's a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because it's so omnipresent, it's so much a part of what we're used to, that we can't recognize what we're used to as a threat. And that's part of the paradox.

    HEDGES: You take issue with this or, you know, point out that in fact it is a revolutionary force. And yet it is somehow, as a political and economic position, the domain of people as self-identified conservatives.

    WOLIN: Yeah, it is. I think they're conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think they're always willing to radically change, let's say, social legislation that's in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think they're very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate.

    That's, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism that's going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements.

    HEDGES: Of both corporate capitalism and superpower.

    WOLIN: Absolutely.

    HEDGES: And yet you say that at this point, political debate has really devolved into what you call nonsubstantial issues, issues that don't really mean anything if we talk about politics as centered around the common good.

    WOLIN: Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again you're back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldn't possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way.

    You know, politics has become such an expensive thing that I think really the only way to describe it realistically is to talk about it as a political economy or an economic kind of political economy. It's got those -- those two are inextricable elements now in the business of the national or state governments, too.

    HEDGES: And yet I think you could argue that even the Democratic Party under Clinton and under Obama, while it continues to use the rhetoric of that kind of feel-your-pain language, which has been part of the Democratic establishment, has only furthered the agenda of superpower, of corporate capitalism, and, of course, the rise of the security and surveillance state by which all of us are kept in check.

    WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true, because the reformers have simply hesitated -- really, really hesitated -- to undertake any kind of a focus upon political reform.

    HEDGES: Haven't the reformers been bought off, in essence?

    WOLIN: I think it's the no-no subject. I don't think it even has to be bought off anymore. I think that it is such a kind of third rail that nobody wants to touch it, because I think there is a real in-built fear that if you mess with those kind of so-called fundamental structures, you're going to bring down the house. And that includes messing with them even by constitutional, legal means, that it's so fragile, so delicate, so this that and the other thing that inhibit all kinds of efforts at reforming it. As the phrase used to go, it's a machine that goes of itself -- so they think.

    HEDGES: Thank you.

    Stay tuned for part four, coming up, of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

    [Nov 08, 2014] American Machiavelli by Daniel McCarthy

    October 28, 2014 | The American Conservative

    James Burnham reveals how our oligarchy rules.

    America is badly governed. Congress has dismal approval ratings, sometimes as low as single digits. Presidential elections, settled by popular landslides in most postwar contests, now see margins of less than 5 percent separating winner from loser. Half or more of the country at any time disapproves of the president.

    Politics is polarized. Yet activists left and right are frustrated that our politics also seems stuck in an unprincipled middle. Republicans and Democrats employ violent rhetoric against one another but are more similar than not in their behavior. Republican and Democratic presidents alike expand the welfare state; both parties endorse free trade; both are quick to use military force abroad. Even on divisive social issues, where popular passions are most irreconcilable, the conformity among the elite can be surprising. Only after Republicans like Ken Mehlman and Ted Olson had come out in support of same-sex marriage did the Clintons and Obama do so. Democrats are not necessarily as liberal, nor Republicans as conservative, as they seem.

    Meanwhile, the troubles facing the country are grave. Wars, terrorism, and a sense of losing ground economically and strategically beset the national psyche. Politics seems inadequate to the crises.

    These appear to be a variety of different and even paradoxical problems-how can our politics be both too extreme and too consensual? Yet one writer's work pulls all this into focus. He was one of the key thinkers of the postwar conservative movement, though his thought is badly neglected on the right today. The man whose mind explains our politics today and suggests a diagnosis-if not a cure-for our condition is James Burnham. Once a Marxist, he became the American Machiavelli, master analyst of the oligarchic nature of power in his day and ours.

    He was one of William F. Buckley Jr.'s first recruits for the masthead of National Review before the magazine's launch in 1955. Burnham, born in 1905, had already had a distinguished career. He had worked with the CIA and its World War II-era precursor, the OSS. Before that, as a professor of philosophy at New York University, he had been a leading figure in the American Trotskyist movement, a co-founder of the socialist American Workers Party.

    But he broke with Trotsky, and with socialism itself, in the 1940s, and he sought a new theory to explain what was happening in the world. In FDR's era, as now, there was a paradox: America was a capitalist country, yet capitalism under the New Deal no longer resembled what it had been in the 19th century. And socialism in the Soviet Union looked nothing at all like the dictatorship of the proletariat: just "dictatorship" would be closer to the mark. (If not quite a bull's-eye, in Burnham's view.)

    Real power in America did not rest with the great capitalists of old, just as real power in the USSR did not lie with the workers. Burnham analyzed this reality, as well as the fascist system of Nazi Germany, and devised a theory of what he called the "managerial revolution." Economic control, thus inevitably political control, in all these states lay in the hands of a new class of professional managers in business and government alike-engineers, technocrats, and planners rather than workers or owners.

    The Managerial Revolution, the 1941 book in which Burnham laid out his theory, was a bestseller and critical success. It strongly influenced George Orwell, who adapted several of its ideas for his own even more famous work, 1984. Burnham described World War II as the first in a series of conflicts between managerial powers for control over three great industrial regions of the world-North America, Europe, and East Asia. The geographic scheme and condition of perpetual war are reflected in Orwell's novel by the ceaseless struggles between Oceania (America with its Atlantic and Pacific outposts), Eurasia (Russian-dominated Europe), and Eastasia (the Orient). The Managerial Revolution itself appears in 1984 as Emmanuel Goldstein's forbidden book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.

    Could freedom of any sort survive in the world of 1984 or the real world of the managerial revolution? Burnham provided an answer-one Orwell didn't want to hear-in his next book, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom. Liberty's only chance under any economic or political system at all was to be found in a school of political realism beginning with the author of The Prince.

    Machiavelli poses yet another paradox. The Florentine political theorist seems to recommend a ruthless and manipulative ethos to monarchs in The Prince-the book is a veritable handbook of tyranny. Yet his other great work, the Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livy, is as deeply republican as The Prince appears to be despotic. Whose side was Machiavelli on?

    Scholars still argue, but Burnham anticipated what is today a widely accepted view: Machiavelli was fundamentally a republican, a man of the people, yet one who took a clear-eyed, even scientific view of power. And by discussing the true, brutal nature of politics openly, Machiavelli provided any of his countrymen who could learn a lesson about how freedom is won and lost. As Burnham writes:

    If the political truths stated or approximated by Machiavelli were widely known by men, the success of tyranny and all the other bad forms of oppressive political rule would become much less likely. A deeper freedom would be possible in society than Machiavelli himself believed attainable. If men generally understood as much of the mechanism of rule and privilege as Machiavelli understood, they would no longer be deceived into accepting their rule and privilege, and they would know what steps to take to overcome them.

    From his experience in government and reading of the classics Machiavelli distilled a number of lessons, which Burnham further refines. "Machiavelli insists," he notes, that in a republic "no person and no magistrate may be permitted to be above the law; there must be legal means for any citizen to bring accusations against any other citizen or any official…" Freedom also requires a certain extent of territory, even if the means by which that territory is to be acquired are not as republican as one would wish: hence Machiavelli's call for a prince to unify Italy. Machiavelli was a Florentine patriot, but he had seen his beloved city ruined by wars with other cities while mighty foreign kingdoms like France overawed them all. Cities like Florence and their citizens could be free only if Italy was.

    Most importantly, within any polity "only out of the continuing clash of opposing groups can liberty flow," writes Burnham:

    the foundation of liberty is a balancing of forces, what Machiavelli calls a 'mixed' government. Since Machiavelli is neither a propagandist nor an apologist, since he is not the demagogue of any party or sect or group, he knows and says how hypocritical are the calls for a 'unity' that is a mask for the suppression of all opposition, how fatally lying or wrong are all beliefs that liberty is the peculiar attribute of any single individual or group-prince or democrat, nobles or people or 'multitude.'

    All well and good-but what has any of this to do with the perils of America in 1943, let alone those of seven decades later? The answer begins to emerge once later contributions to the Machiavellian tradition are taken into account. Burnham focuses on four late 19th- and early 20th-century thinkers: Italian social theorists Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto; French syndicalist Georges Sorel; and German sociologist Robert Michels. Together, their work explains a great deal about 21st-century American oligarchy-and what can be done about it.

    Mosca's signal contribution was a categorical one: all societies are logically divided into two classes, rulers and ruled. This may seem like common sense, yet in fact Mosca's taxonomy dispels two persistent myths, those of autocracy and democracy-of one-man rule and rule by everyone. For even the most absolute monarch depends on a class of advisers and magistrates to develop and enforce his policies, while in the most liberal modern democracy there is still a practical difference between the elected and appointed officials who make or execute laws and the ordinary citizen who does neither.

    The rationale according to which a society justifies the division between rulers and ruled is what Mosca calls its "political formula." In the U.S. today, representative democracy is the political formula. For early modern monarchies, it was a theory of divine right. Under communism, the political formula was the idea of the party as the vanguard of the proletariat-the class that according to Marx would inherit the earth. For the Nazis the formula was the identification of the party and its leader with the mystical essence of the Volk.

    Just as Machiavelli does not entrust liberty to any one class-nobles, king, or people-Mosca does not believe freedom depends on any particular political formula. Such doctrines are myths, even if some historically correspond only to the most repressive regimes. The reality is that liberty comes from specific conditions, not abstract formulas-conditions that permit open competition among what Mosca calls "social forces." Burnham explains: "By 'social force' Mosca means any human activity which has significant social and political influence," including "war, religion, land, labor, money, education, technological skill," all of which are represented by different factions and institutions in society.

    The ruling class represents the strongest forces-but which ones are strongest changes over time. Practices that allow competition among social forces thus imply a ruling class of some permeability, as well as one tolerant of organized opposition and dissent.

    A lesson here for America's nation-building efforts in the Islamic world should be plain-democracy and a paper-based rule of law count for nothing; actual social forces are everything. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya we understand nothing about the forces of tribe, sect, and interest. As a result, trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives lost are not nearly enough to create order, let alone freedom. We let our own political formula blind us to foreign realities.

    Not all myths are politically debilitating, however. Burnham finds in the work of Georges Sorel-a revolutionary syndicalist who early in the 20th century became a fellow traveler of Charles Maurras's Action Française and the nationalist right-a theory of myth as constitutive of political identity and a driver of political action. "A myth that serves to weld together a social group-nation, people, or class-must be capable of arousing their most profound sentiments," says Burnham, "and must at the same time direct energy toward the solution of the real problems which the group faces in is actual environment."

    For Sorel, the archetypal myth of this sort was the anarcho-syndicalist idea of the general strike, in which all workers cease their labor and bring down society, resulting in spontaneous creation of a new and more just order. A Sorelian myth is not a utopian vision-the utopia is what comes after the mythical action-but it is also not a thing that occurs in time and space. It is an aspiration that in theory could be fulfilled but in practice never will be, yet in working toward this impossible goal much real progress-in terms of organization, reform, and empowering one's group-is achieved.

    Myths of this sort are plentiful in American politics. On the right, they include the idea of ending all abortion or returning to a pristine interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. On the left, they include the goals of eliminating all discrimination and bringing about universal human equality - as if more equality in some things might not lead to more inequality in others.

    "A myth cannot be refuted," however, "since it is, at bottom, identical with the convictions of a group, being the expression of these convictions in the language of movement; and it is, in consequence, unanalyzable into parts which could be placed on the plane of historical descriptions," Sorel writes. Such myths "are not descriptions of things but expressions of determination to act."

    The key is the ability of myths to organize groups and mass movements. The effects of such mobilization, however, can be paradoxical. The election of a Tea Party senator like Ted Cruz, a Princeton and Harvard graduate whose wife is a Goldman Sachs executive, or a left-wing populist like Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor herself who is, if not a one-percenter, much closer to the top one percent than to the bottom 90, shows how the myths of the masses serve society's winners.

    Even organizations that come into being to rally the masses are themselves subject to the scientific laws of power, in particular the "iron law of oligarchy" described by Burnham's third subject, the German-Italian sociologist Robert Michels. In works such as the book known in English as Political Parties, Michels shows that all organizations and movements have a leadership class whose interests and abilities are distinct from those of the membership. Democracy or equality-the idea that everyone participates on the same level-is antithetical to the very concept of organization, which necessarily involves different persons, different "organs," serving different roles. And some roles are more powerful than others.

    Not only do leaders corrupt organizations, Burnham observes, but the oligarchic nature of organization affects even the most selfless leader as well. "Individual saints, exempt in individual intention from the law of power, will nonetheless be always bound to it through the disciples, associates, and followers to whom they cannot, in organized social life, avoid being tied." Many a grassroots true believer faults bad advisers for the mistakes of a Ronald Reagan or Ron Paul-but the problem is not bad advisers, it's advisers, period. They are necessary, and they necessarily have their own motives and perspectives. Without them, however, there would be no organization. This is as true of grassroots groups, even purely volunteer ones, as of Beltway cliques.

    Effective politics therefore means accepting the limits of human nature and organization and working within those limits, not expecting perfection. An organization as a whole must harmonize the interests of the leaders with those of the membership and direct them all toward political achievement.

    The greatest of the modern Machiavellians considered by Burnham is the one he covers last: Vilfredo Pareto, whose accomplishments spanned the fields of economics and sociology. Pareto's work on elitism sums up and extends the thinking of the others, though Mosca considered him a rival and copycat. Pareto examines not only social class but classes of social psychology: his magisterial Mind and Society reduces human motives to six fundamental classes of what Pareto terms "residues." (They are residues in that they are what remains when everything less stable has been boiled away by analysis.)

    Only the first two classes are important for Burnham's investigation. Class I residues involve the "instinct for combinations"-manufacturing new ideas and tastes from the disassembling and reassembling of old ones; creating complex systems from simple materials; incorporating experiences of the world with ideas in novel ways. These are the instincts that drive the verbalist and theorist, the filmmaker, the philosopher, the magician. Class II residues, by contrast, involve "group persistences" and encourage the preservation of existing institutions and habits. These are the psychological forces of social inertia; they are also the forces of loyalty.

    Burnham observes that Class I residues correspond to the character type Machiavelli describes as the fox, cunning and quick to use fraud to get his way. Class II residues correspond to Machiavelli's lions, more comfortable with force than manipulation. A society needs both types. "If Class II residues prevail" in all strata of society, Burnham warns,

    the nation develops no active culture, degenerates in a slough of brutality and stubborn prejudice, in the end is unable to overcome new forces in its environment, and meets disaster. Disaster, too, awaits the nation given over wholly to Class I residues, with no regard for the morrow, for discipline or tradition, with a blind confidence in clever tricks as the sufficient means for salvation.

    After residues, the rock-bottom motives of men and women, come what Pareto calls "derivations." These, writes Burnham, are "the verbal explanations, dogmas, doctrines, theories"-and ideologies-"with which man, with that passionate pretense of his that he is rational, clothes the non-logical bones of the residues." Derivations may seem to be expressions of rational thinking, but they are not. "It is for this reason," Burnham continues,

    that the 'logical' refutation of theories used in politics never accomplishes anything so long as the residues remain intact. Scientists proved with the greatest ease that Nazi racial theories were altogether false, but that had no effect at all in getting Nazis to abandon those theories; and even if they had abandoned them, they would merely have substituted some new derivation to express the same residue.

    Facts about voter fraud and the suppressive effects of voter ID requirements, for example, thus count for very little in today's discussions of such laws-not because either side is consciously dishonest about its intentions but because such arguments are driven by emotional commitments that are not subject to proof or disproof. This is also why our cable news channels put little effort into persuading skeptics. The politics to which they cater is about group loyalty and its derivative mythologies. (To be sure, this costs Fox and MSNBC their credibility with people in whom Class I residues are stronger-not necessarily because such people are devoted to the truth but because they at least desire variety and complexity. Fox News is for lions, not foxes.)

    No one is a slave of a single class of residues, however, and both within the individual mind and within society there are always competing currents. Elites in particular must cultivate a mixture of fox-like and lion-like qualities if they hope to retain power. An imbalance of these characteristics leads to social upheaval and what Pareto terms "the circulation of elites," the fall of one ruling class and rise of another.

    This happens especially when foxes, having outmaneuvered the lions in the struggle for power within society, are confronted by an external threat that cannot be overcome without violence. Foxes are inept in the use of force, apt to apply too much or too little, and always they prefer to secure their goals by deceit or diplomacy.

    There is also internal danger from an imbalance of residues. Talented verbalists denied admittance to an elite whose ranks are closed will, instead of competing for power within the institutions of society, attempt to gain power by subverting those institutions-including through revolution, which they foment by sowing alienation and anger among the lions of the public.

    Burnham feared that foxes were dangerously dominant in the America of his own time, which is why he followed The Machiavellians with a series of books arguing for a hard line in the Cold War: The Struggle for the World in 1947, The Coming Defeat of Communism in 1949, and Containment or Liberation? in 1953. His column in National Review, which he wrote from 1955 until ill health ended his career in 1978, was called first "The Third World War" and later, only a little mellowed, "The Protracted Conflict."

    He died in 1987, much honored by the conservative movement he had helped build. Yet he is poorly understood today, remembered only as a Cold Warrior rather than a brilliant social theorist of enduring urgency. Ironically, Burnham's last original book, The Suicide of the West in 1964, may have contributed to misperceptions about his work. In it, Burnham describes liberalism as "the ideology of Western suicide"-meaning not that it was the cause of the West's loss of ground and nerve but that it was a rationale expressing a more fundamental mood of surrender. Burnham was assumed to be saying that the managerial revolution, having put in a place a new liberal ruling class since World War II, was leading America into weakness and withdrawal.

    In fact, though Burnham hardly emphasized this for his free-market readership in National Review, liberalism was the ideology of Western capitalism's suicide in the face of an assertively managerial Communist bloc. Burnham had, after all, argued in The Managerial Revolution that of the three great nations in the throes of the revolution-the U.S., Russia, and Nazi Germany-the U.S. was least far along the path and the most torn between its capitalist past and managerial future. Liberalism, even in its left-wing, statist iteration, is the characteristic ideology of capitalism, and it was the capitalist system as well as the West-Burnham identified both with the British Empire-that was committing suicide.

    This might suggest Burnham's social thought is even more antiquated than his Cold War strategizing. After all, the managerial Soviet Union is gone, and the capitalist U.S. has not only survived but thrived for decades in what is now a globalized free-market system. While the political theory of The Machiavellians doesn't depend on The Managerial Revolution-it's surprising, in fact, how little connected the two books are-his reputation must surely suffer for getting such a basic question wrong.

    Only he didn't get it wrong-for what is the political and economic system of China if not what Burnham described in The Managerial Revolution? Engineers, industrial planners, and managers have led China for decades, with unarguable results. Indeed, several East Asian economies, including those of American allies Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, are managerialist. As Burnham predicted, these economies have been highly successful at controlling unemployment and raising standards of living.

    The American ruling class, by contrast, has pursued a largely anti-managerial policy, ridding the country of much strategic manufacturing. Such industry-including shipbuilding and semiconductor fabrication-is now overwhelmingly based in Asia. The U.S. hybrid system, transitioning from capitalism to managerialism, outperformed the Soviet Union. Whether it can outperform the next wave of managerial revolution is very much uncertain.

    For the Machiavellians, freedom is not a thing to be won by popular revolt against the ruling class-for any revolt can only replace one ruling class with another. Instead, freedom requires that factions among the elite-representatives of different social forces or rival elements of the same one-should openly compete for power and seek to draw into their ranks the most talented foxes and lions of the people, to gain advantages in skill and strength over their rivals. In such a system, the people still do not rule directly, but they can influence the outcome of elite contests at the margin. This leads evenly matched elites constantly to seek popular support by looking out for the welfare of the common citizen, for perfectly self-interested reasons.

    What has happened in America since the end of the Cold War, however, is that competition for popular favor has been reduced to a propaganda exercise-employing myths, symbols, and other "derivatives"-disconnected from policies of material interest to the ruling class. Thus monetary policy, foreign policy, and positions on trade and immigration vary little between Republican and Democratic presidents. This is a terrible situation-if you're not part of the elite. If you are, all the gridlock and venom of our politics is simply irrelevant to the bottom line. For the non-elite, however, insecurity of all kinds continues to rise, as does a sense that the country is being sold out from under you.

    America's ruling class has bought itself time-for continuing capitalism in an age of worldwide managerial revolution-at the expense of America's middle and working classes. Reform, alas, will not come from "throw the bums out" populism of either the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street varieties. It can only come from two directions: the best of the people must grow conscious of how oligarchy operates and why populist leadership is a paradox, and new factions among the elite must be willing to open competition on more serious fronts-campaigning not only on myths and formulas but on the very substance of the managerial revolution.

    Daniel McCarthy is editor of The American Conservative.

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