postponing utopia: degeneracy as ideal

There is a relationship between memory and a participatory emancipation and an equally strong connection with forgetting, loss of memory and enslavement and subjugation. George Orwell asserted that individuals who lack the capability for remembrance are defenseless in confronting the danger of domination in its various guises.  In  Orwell’s 1984, the hero, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who cannot bear his job of rewriting the past to conform to the party’s directives and simply wants to be left alone. This desire for privacy is, of course, a crime; in every Party member’s home stands a two way tele-screen to regulate his behavior and his thoughts. Winston is the last in a consistent line of Orwell’s anti-heroes starting with Flory in his novel Burmese days, who said, “Be as degenerate as you can. It all postpones Utopia.”

"Without hesitation he accused that Yeats is a fascist, H.G. Wells was out of touch with reality, Salvador Dali he found decadent, but he defended P.G. Wodehouse. In 'Why Write?' and 'Politics and the English Language' (1948) Orwell argued that writers have an obligation of fighting social injustice, oppression, and the power of totalitarian regimes. " Read More: image:

In 1984, hate is the common emotion: the Two Minutes Hate against the Party’s enemies, real or imagined, is a daily ritual. The plot of 1984, is, of itself not really worthy of second rate science fiction. But the real message, which escapes the cultists of both left and right, is the bankruptcy of liberal rationalism. The vacuous concept on the importance of ideas contributing to a more perfect society. The notion of rationally perfectible institutions is a sham. Orwell warned that the rationalist spirit of progress represented the first step toward the very thing it aims to prevent, because it means someone has the power to enforce their ideas on another.

George Orwell:Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Read More:

The book tells us more about the quality of modern life than about the people in it. Orwell’s style, a mix of ideological fantasy and grubby realism, grows naturally from his beliefs. He confronts ideas with the rough edge of fact. By 1984 life has been streamlined into a drab uniformity, or homogeneity. The state is organized for war, but War is Peace. A fantastic communications system has been developed, but the Party uses it only to disseminate its own ideas, so Ignorance is Strength. Society has been organized into an immutable hierarchy that frees the individual from even considering his position in it, so Freedom is Slavery.

Most important, the past is being systematically expunged as part of a process of controlling thought; without human experience, ideas thus can exist in a vacuum. Privacy, individuality, history, tragedy, have vanished. For Orwell, human qualities, private loyalties and individual relations, feelings, were the main reason for living. Qualities as important by themselves. For modern social engineering, individual feelings and emotion represent unfortunate variables that somehow must be fitted into quantitative projections and an overall political and psychological conditioning for ideological conflict in some distant corner of the globe adjusted in an ad-hoc and willy-nilly manner for the huge structure of human beings organized to produce, dwell and play together in this enormous commercial complex that traumatizes the psyche, caters to the immediacy of the moment and numbs the soul to tolerate their ghetto.

"Let’s look at this from Stalin’s point of view. George Orwell was definitely an intellectual who might better have been eliminated before he could write his two masterpieces, Animal Farm and 1984. If such books are published, they must be dismissed. The genius of anti-anti-Communism was never to say anything good about Communism, but to undermine any criticism of Communism. In the extreme case, Henny Gurland liquidates Walter Benjamin. In a more polite part of existence, Erich Fromm and others liquidate George Orwell’s message." Read More: image:

George Orwell, on the rationalism of H.G.Wells. 1941:When Wells was young, the antithesis between science and reaction was not false. Society was ruled by narrow-minded, profoundly incurious people, predatory business men, dull squires, bishops, politicians who could quote Horace but had never heard of algebra. Science was faintly disreputable and religious belief obligatory. Traditionalism, stupidity, snobbishness, patriotism, superstition and love of war seemed to be all on the same side; there was need of someone who could state the opposite point of view. Back in the nineteen-hundreds it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H. G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers, with your future employers exhorting you to ‘get on or get out,’ your parents systematically warping your sexual life, and your dull-witted schoolmasters sniggering over their Latin tags; and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the planets and the bottom of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined. A decade or so before aeroplanes were technically feasible Wells knew that within a little while men would be able to fly. He knew that because he himself wanted to be able to fly, and therefore felt sure that research in that direction would continue. On the other hand, even when I was a little boy, at a time when the Wright brothers had actually lifted their machine off the ground for fifty-nine seconds, the generally accepted opinion was that if God had meant us to fly He would have given us wings. Up to 1914 Wells was in the main a true prophet. In physical details his vision of the new world has been fulfilled to a surprising extent.

"This is something I believe the United States has fallen into--a sort of totalitarianism of the corporation that has rendered the American populace complacent. Whereas Orwell's Party would deny the proles anything approaching comfort and leisure, the postmodern totalitarian regime would provide everything that the prole needs, while ensuring that his existence is dull, uneventful, unchallenging. In this regard, Bradbury and Huxley more correct than Orwell--remove intellectual stimulation, make people stupid, provide them with never-ending amusement and entertainment. Make them content. Keep them busy fighting traffic so that they can't muster the willpower to fight the Party. However, when the times of plenty are gone, and famine arrives (as it may well in the coming decades in the United States), the strict control measures of IngSoc and its ability to redirect the citizens' anger against enemies (both external and internal) may become more and more apparent. Orwell was right about numerous things--the need for an enemy to hate for one. I've said it before, I'll say it again, the Democrats wouldn't have any unity whatsoever if it weren't for the Republican Party. They'd be at one-another's throats and the mudslinging, hate-filled race for the Democratic nomination is proof that Democrat constituents are a patchwork of mutually exclusive minorities with only the most tenuous common ground--the Republican Party." Read More: image:

But because he belonged to the nineteenth century and to a non-military nation and class, he could not grasp the tremendous strength of the old world which was symbolised in his mind by fox-hunting Tories. He was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity. Creatures out of the Dark Ages have come marching into the present, and if they are ghosts they are at any rate ghosts which need a strong magic to lay them. The people who have shown the best understanding of Fascism are either those who have suffered under it or those who have a Fascist streak in themselves. A crude book like The Iron Heel, written nearly thirty years ago, is a truer prophecy of the future than either Brave New World or The Shape of Things to Come. If one had to choose among Wells’s own contemporaries a writer who could stand towards him as a corrective, one might choose Kipling, who was not deaf to the evil voices of power and military ‘glory’. Kipling would have understood the appeal of Hitler, or for that matter of Stalin, whatever his attitude towards them might be. Wells is too sane to understand the modern world. The succession of lower-middle-class novels which are his greatest achievement stopped short at the other war and never really began again, and since 1920 he has squandered his talents in slaying paper dragons. But how much it is, after all, to have any talents to squander. Read More: a

"Control of language is not the only component of the Party's program, but also the control of communication. In this age of highly centralized market control of communications, it is nearly impossible to escape the inherent media bias. The government doesn't even need to censor the information we acquire, the media does all of the gatekeeping for them. This has led to an institutional memory within American culture that is often erroneous. Falsified magazine articles earn Pulitzer Prizes and overtly biased films receive Academy Awards. What Orwell never realized is that the system polices itself, and the Proles allow it to do so--no Thinkpol is required. So what are we given? Instead of Goldstein, produce a Klansman, a Teabagger, or a Creationist. Instead of Eastasia an

rasia, show them Iraq or China. Make them think that they are fighting for freedom when they vote for somebody that was already picked for them. The media provides grist enough for the mill." Read More: image:

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Noam Chomsky:In the 1980s there was an even greater expansion to the solidarity movements, which is something very new and important in the history of at least American, and maybe even world dissidence. These were movements that not only protested but actually involved themselves, often intimately, in the lives of suffering people elsewhere. They learned a great deal from it and had quite a civilizing effect on mainstream America. All of this has made a very large difference.”

Chomsky continues:

“These are all signs of the civilizing effect, despite all the propaganda, despite all the efforts to control thought and manufacture consent. Nevertheless, people are acquiring an ability and a willingness to think things through. Skepticism about power has grown, and attitudes have changed on many, many issues.”

Why is this so?

Because propagandists in the modern era were (in my view) totalitarian thinkers. Like Marx, Lenin, Dewey, Orwell, and many others, they generalized about the “proletariat” and confused relatively free and anxiously upwardly mobile Americans with “the masses” or “uniformed herd.” Of course they were wrong. They had no data base. Human nature, particularly in “collective,” is more complex than elites – including science – can competently codify. Economic elitist thinking is nothing more than dogma (an aspiration to control) based on demographic superficialities, like accents or clothing or levels of education, or consumption patterns, while human experience and behavior continue to be evolutionary, progressive without regard for elitist opinion. Simplistic generalizations concerning “masses” are only marginally relevant as shorthand for superficial social analysis. The elite are no more intelligent than the masses, they know nothing more than anybody else in the postmodern world, they just have the power to define the differences. The formulation of public opinion in a relatively free state is ultimately an unmanageable process, I suggest, particularly in a wider arena of shifting geopolitics and expanding (not contracting) methods of low cost, efficient and instant public communication. Read More:

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