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1984 Is Now

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To accept orthodoxy is always to inherit unresolved contradictions. George Orwell, 'Writers and Leviathan' 1948

So what, George? Surely you jest. Nobody blindly accepts orthodoxy here in America -- we are free here. Free to get a good job, free to have credit, and free to consume. We don't make mistakes here. (2+2=5)

For me to pretend I have even a remote idea about what is really going on with the world is folly. I don't, that is why I'm here (in your class). I bring with me only an inane desire to find out, and to do what I can to make things right. Original thought is vital in our times (Thoughtcrime) and rhetoric has a place, but not in my paper. That being said, I wish to make clear my understanding of the institutions in Orwell's 1984, as they relate to the institutions of Palast's Best Democracy money can buy, and my understanding of the concepts thereof.

In 1984, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. We find that the party slogan "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past" (1984, pp 35) Leibnitz put it thusly: "The Present is loaded with the Past, and pregnant with the Future." This applies heavily to the Ministry of Truth, as they are the disseminators of information. Our media in America is (supposedly) part of a free market, meaning the information given out is subject to competition. Usually, the media mogul with the most money wins here (ie, Bush's cousin at FOX) Marx tells us that in all class societies the state is the coercive instrument of the owning classes, this means the majority of the information disseminated here in America is that which the owning classes wish for the "lower classes" to hear. Winston himself is in the business of falsifying records, and thereby, changing the past. History becomes relative to the viewpoint the State wishes to be prevalent at any given moment. One such example is Winstons inside knowledge that Oceania was four years prior at war with her current ally, Eastasia, and allied with her current enemy, Eurasia. When the Government is "always right" it becomes infallible in the eyes of its citizens, who then have no reason not to trust it--"Besides, the Party was always right. It must be so: how could the immortal, collective brain be mistaken? By what external standard could you check its judgements?" (1984, pp 277) By this logic, the atrocities committed by "The Butcher of Baghdad" and Osama were perfectly fine, while they were on the payroll of the U.S. (Democracy, pp 357) I can hear Donald Rumsfeld talking to Saddam now--"Kurds giving you shit again? Here's some nerve gas fixins...gas those pesky Kurds! Works good on Iranians too." (NO, it isn't funny, and it should not go unpunished...who sold them those weapons of mass destruction anyway?) Palast points out to us that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin were both funded and backed by the United States to further the fight against communism, and once that "Enemy" had been vanquished, they became the State enemy of choice. This leads me to point out the direct correlation between the use of Emmanuel Goldstein (A Jew) in 1984, and Osama bin Ladin (A Muslim) in Democracy. Goldstein is a specter, a partially imagined demon villified by the state, "He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State." (1984, pp 13) Wow, does Al-Quaeda translate to "the Brotherhood?" If not, I hope it's equally as catchy. Since we no longer have the specter of communism to direct our "two minutes hate" at, Osama bin Ladin serves this purpose nicely--one may ask, why would our government claim to be hunting Osama, while the FBI is forbidden from investigating the Saudis who help to fund "terrorism"? I would say it serves their interests not to catch him at all. Why would the Ministry of Truth choose to allow Goldstein in the news as a platform for his ideology? Because it aides the governments ability to maintain control of the population--by beating the war drums and creating an outside entity at which the entire country may direct its negative emotions, it turns attention away from domestic affairs and towards "the enemy." The Enemy of freedom falls easily into the category of "outsider" being both of a different race and religion than many americans. Many americans have only ever seen a muslim on tv, portrayed as a religious fanatic with dynamite strapped to his chest, about to blow up some innocent people. They allow this racial fallacy to continue, because they want citizens to be afraid. In 1984 citizens of Oceania generally only saw Eastasians or Eurasians as prisoners. This feeling of angst against "the other" is perpetuated by the inherent racism of the United States, just as in 1984. After all, Our oil is trapped under their sand.

Bombing the world into peace.

The ministry of Peace in 1984 is comparable to our own "Department of Defense" (which up until earlier this century was known by its rightful name--the war department.) The INGSOC guiding principles "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength" apply here. The best war a totalitarian state can hope for is an unwinnable one (ie, the war on terrorism.) It becomes a rallying point--whereby a citizen is singled out as "with them" or "against them." Palast himself was asked to leave his hometown because he was "against them" even though he was once a member of the inner party. Most of the conflicts the U.S. has been involved in are far beyond its own boarders, much as the fighting in the world of 1984 is far beyond the streets of London. In both books, these conflicts are over resources and cheap labor. All three superpowers in 1984 have massive nuclear arsenals, but since mutual destruction is assured, there is an unspoken rule that nuclear weapons are off limits, however all three nations continue to build stockpiles. The U.S. admits to having the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. At the close of the second World War, Washington was the capital of 18/20ths of the land and seas, and nobody wanted to give it back. The "happy victory" of the Second World War is no longer possible, since many other countries also have "the Big One". Nuclear weapons change the flavor of diplomacy greatly, as is proven by Americas current relationship with Pakistan (a military dictatorship). The last thing America wanted was an "Islamic bomb" as this would prevent conventional military options against islamic countries, and seriously shifts the balance of power away from the U.S. I ask,



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