Friday, April 23, 2004

Orwell Was Right...

"In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird." -from 1984.

I recently purchased the 2nd collected works of Winston Smith who takes his name from the protagonist of Orwell's wonderful novel: 1984. As I'm sure those of you reading this blog have probably read the book I will save the summary, but the main idea (or at least what I picked up on) seems to be about mankinds inability to save itself. Some see the novel as railing against Communism or Totalitarian societies (which is obvious of course) but I see the novel as railing more against the nature of humanity rather than a specific system of control. See, I think the best way to view the novel is to somewhat consider it as a modernistic work (and I will save you the English major analysis for college days are over so I don't have to prove shit). I think the text has much more to do with general themes of the modernists than it does as a critique of a form of government. See, the modernists were concerned with this brave new world they had inherited. They enjoyed studying old thought (whether literary technique, morals, religion, philosophy, government, etc.) and then criticizing it in an attempt to come up with something better. Certainly most understood the old adage "those who do not understand the past are condemned to repeat it" and I think Orwell had this in mind when writing the novel.
See, I think when Orwell wrote the novel he saw the world (humanity) at a very important crossroads, one where we (as humanity) could look at the past, the old way of doing things (systems of control etc.) and decide if we wanted to extend these ideas or perhaps, come up with new ideas to further humanity in positive ways (yes, it's way to simplified I know, but shit, I just woke up an hour ago...). I don't think Orwell saw a huge difference in totalitarianism, democracy or communism. To me, it seems as though the novel is a warning that any of these could lead to the society portrayed in 1984. The real story is how the society got there in the first place. I suspect Oceania started as a democracy and eventually progressed into the society found in the novel. To me, it reminds me of my country today. Everyone has a fancy chain (television, internet.etc.) to keep them happy (or at least distracted enough to not care) so we never really notice that the freedoms we enjoy are really meant to restrict us further. To quote Talib Queli: "it's like slaves on the slave-ship talkin' about who's got the flyest chain." The point is not how nice your chain is, rather it is, you are chained and you are oblivious to it. I think the same (general) theme is expressed in the novel. You decide though.
I think Orwell is saying this: We as a society of human beings have the ability (and perhaps the responsibility) to change the world for the better and yet, we will not because the weight of responsibility is too much for us to bear and as a result we will always be our own worst enemy, blaming everyone but ourselves (humanity) for our own misery that, by not challenging, we indirectly support. See, I think that especially today (in 2004) Orwell's novel is more important than it ever was. Progressions in technology have changed this world for better and for worse. It seems as though the price of all this technology and "progress" is the death of our planet. It really should not be debated. Anyway, it doesn't matter...this is my blog love my thoughts. Anyhoo, just like the Modernists, we live in a world where former institutions of humanity have began to crumble and we have the option of either inspecting the rubble to see what went wrong or just to build these institutions again (but prettier this time!) and continue to fool ourselves. Therefore, we seem to have the means to begin ushering in a new age of human compassion and understanding if we utilize our tools correctly, but I doubt we will because it is much easier to watch the Paris Hilton sex-tape than it is to begin forming a plan to deconstruct the mechanisms that restrict our freedom. I think we have the means to begin a new era, a new enlightenment (if such a thing truly exists) but we posses no desire to do so because the task seems impossible or, at least, too hard for us to deal with. We are heading into the new dark ages my friends, we stand upon the precipice of a new era. And it ain't pretty.

That's why I think the events that occurred on September 11th have cemented my argument and illustrated my point. Follow along please:
When 9-11 happened and the initial shock wore off the general consensus was "how did something like this happen?" Motives were explored and speculated upon, but I never saw (and there's agood reason for this) anyone saying "Uh, you know why 9-11 happened? Because of our government. Because of us. The only people to blame 9-11 on are the citizens of it's democracy." Myself included. The only reason these motherfuckers even got on that plane to strike a physical and ideological blow to the U.S.A. is because of our insane foreign policy which we, the citizens support with our complacency. Now, I am guilty of it too so don't think I'm just passing the blame. You see, if we are truly a democracy then we owe it to ourselves and the world to demonstrate why democracy is so damn great. After 9-11 we had a present to ourselves: an opportunity of reflection so that we could see that we are lying to ourselves and that our government (and no government for that matter) is not to be trusted. Instead of inspecting the faulty mechanisms of our government we shifted the blame to differences in culture,etc. I cannot believe that we looked to our government to protect us from the mess they had created and now, we even thank them for it. Shit. Sad to say, but if another terrorist attack happens here (cuz we Americans don't care about that sort of thing unless it affects us) it's gonna be our own fault and we won't even realize why.
God does not bless America and eagles do not cry.
Some quotes to think about:

"Patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel"-Samuel Johnson

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."-Hermann Goering, Hitler's second-in-command, Nuremburg trials, 1946

"When Fascism comes to America it will be called anti-Fascism."-Attributed to Huey Long, governor of Louisiana

Next time I won't be as serious...promise. Here, enjoy some MAAKIES
I'm out.

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