Why Orwell? It would seem that literary commentary on this famous British author is almost exhausted. Every generation sees Orwell’s novels reprinted and reinterpreted to fit new circumstances. He has at various times been claimed, almost as a patron saint, by the political left, the political right, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, and the anti-Soviet cold-warriors, as well by sundry libertarians, anarchists and many others.
Here we shall examine certain aspects of Orwell’s greatest work Nineteen Eighty-Four. It would be a mistake to categorize Nineteen Eighty-Four as strictly a work of fiction. Orwell’s participation in the Spanish Civil War and his war-time employment writing propaganda for the BBC contributed directly to what he writes. In one sense, his story is autobiographical, but it is from his insights into those experiences that he constructs his fictitious yet nightmarish vision.
Orwell himself was decidedly a socialist, but on terms devised strictly by himself. He was never comfortable as a member of any organized political party, and his experience fighting for the Spanish Republic in 1937 turned him permanently and vehemently against the Soviet Union. As he grew older, most who knew him identified his outlook as “anti-totalitarian,” a slippery connotation, because it tended to group him—at least in establishment lexicon—with snakes such as Hannah Arendt. But the truth is that Orwell can not be categorized or pigeon-holed.
I urge every person to actually read Nineteen Eighty-Four. Memorizing trite phrases like “Orwellian” or “Big Brother” simply do not do justice to what Orwell presents. The intention of this piece is not to draw direct parallels between what is written in Nineteen Eighty-Four and the political/cultural climate of today. What is more relevant is to take what Orwell struggled to put on paper and to reflect upon how his vision relates to what Lyndon LaRouche called the “Oligarchical Principle.”
The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of permanent unceasing warfare, with three competing blocs—Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia—engaged in ongoing battle against one another, but with no prospect for ultimate victory by any individual bloc. War is not conducted to defeat the enemy, but as the raison d’être for the state’s existence. The permanent state of warfare defines every aspect of the culture, down to the smallest detail of personal life—including the very thoughts of the individual. All economic hardships and shortages are blamed on the enemy.
As Orwell has Emmanuel Goldstein say:
“To understand the nature of the present war—for in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war—one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive. None of the three super-states could be definitively conquered even by the other two in combination. They are too evenly matched, and their natural defences are too formidable. . . .
“War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries . . . did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.”
In the 1950s some commentators equated Orwell’s vision of geopolitical “blocs” with the U.S./Soviet rivalry of the cold war, and some imperial henchmen within institutions such as the Pugwash Conference clearly viewed the cold war as an opportunity to introduce Malthusian policy worldwide; nevertheless, most people believed that the cold war would end with one side victorious. This is not the case with Orwell’s scenario.
It is within this light that it is useful to reevaluate the recent pronouncement of Black Rock’s Larry Fink on March 23rd that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades.” It is also illuminating to consider the April 13th speech by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to the Atlantic Council, wherein she declared the creation of a new bloc—the “unified coalition of sanctioning countries”—and announced a new policy of the “friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries.” Additionally, the effect of the Biden administration’s sanctions policy is threatening to destroy the role of the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency—a development which is likely to divide the world into competing monetary blocs.
What Yellen—and others—are now proposing is of a sharply different character from the endless wars of the Bush/Obama era. It is not simply proxy warfare, designed to lead to eventual victory by the globalists. We are being herded into a new arrangement of permanent conflict—monetary, economic and military—between competing power blocs, an arrangement where all human progress will be halted and where economic regimentation, depopulation and green fascism will be imposed.
Since World War I, there have been many dystopian novels written and many films produced. Most present an unreal science-fictional picture of a very improbable future. Orwell is different, because his insights into the human mind and human emotions ring true, and thus instill real horror.
Take the case of the Ingsoc (the state ideology of Oceania) slogans: “Who Controls the Past Controls the Future. Who Controls the Present Controls the Past.”
As O’Brien (Smith’s torturer) tells the doomed protagonist Winston Smith, the past has no material existence; it exists only within our minds. Therefore, “it is what we say it is.” Let that sink in, and then reflect on the present day assertions of Critical Race Theory: America is racist. It is based on white supremacy. It has always been based on white supremacy. Any history books which say differently will be removed from the schools. The schools themselves will be renamed. Statues honoring the Founding Fathers will be torn down. Soon, the only reality that will be accepted in public discourse—a reality that has always been true—is that the very Idea of America is racist. The heroism of George Washington as the Father of our Country or the profundity of the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence don’t exist. Such ideas never existed. America has always been synonymous with racism. In the mind of the individual citizen, no other version of history is possible.
Or, perhaps more extreme, yet still lawful: Trans-genderism is normal. It has always been normal. What is intended is to create a culture where it is impossible to think otherwise, a culture where it would never even occur to anyone to think otherwise. Young children, beginning at a very early age, will be taught the technique of CRIMESTOP, i.e., an automatic faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any heretical thought.
Voluntary Slavery and the End of Critical Thinking
The most chilling scenes of Nineteen Eighty-Four are to be found in Room 101, with the dialogues between O’Brien and Winston Smith. Here is where O’Brien describes how human individuality and creativity are to be snuffed out:
“Did I not tell you just now that we are different from the persecutors of the past? We are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. . . .
“In the old days the heretic walked to the stake still a heretic, proclaiming his heresy, exulting in it. Even the victim of the Russian purges could carry rebellion locked up in his skull as he walked down the passage waiting for the bullet. But we make the brain perfect before we blow it out. The command of the old despotisms was ‘Thou shalt not’. The command of the totalitarians was ‘Thou shalt’. Our command is ‘THOU ART’. No one whom we bring to this place ever stands out against us. Everyone is washed clean.
“We do not destroy the heretic. . . We convert him.” Orwell is not describing a totalitarian dictatorship where obedience is imposed from above, but one where voluntary mental slavery is embraced from within the human heart and mind—and in such a way that the process is entirely unconscious and instinctive, because no other reality, no other identity, is even recognized as possible.
The truly terrifying implication of what transpires in Room 101 is the annihilation of all human intimacy, all trust between individual human beings, all beneficent social interaction. Love becomes a “non-thing.”
Key to the success of this unconscious surrender of one’s human identity is the elimination of language which facilitates creative thought and communication. This is the project known as NEWSPEAK, a subject Orwell spends a great deal of time on—including an entire appendix. As one of the novel’s characters, a man named Syme, says to Winston Smith:
“Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak. Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”
“Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.” Consider that prediction in light of the plethora of current government reports which show that a huge percentage of present-day high school graduates are functionally illiterate, incapable of reading on even an eighth-grade level. Also, consider the now ongoing de-gendering of the language, with him and her, he and she, replaced by neutral pronouns.
Orwell also includes another conversation describing how, in NEWSPEAK, most verbs will be eliminated, and that most conversation—and most thought!—will be reduced to a string of nouns (names), to which a strict meaning and a specific emotion will be attached. A word is uttered—RACISM—and everyone knows immediately what it means and what the appropriate response is—without the intervention of any thought process whatsoever.
Again, my purpose here is not to draw direct parallels between Nineteen Eighty-Four and the world of 2022. Yet, the eerie similarities of what Orwell writes to what we are seeing today cannot be ignored. It is not as if the oligarchy is operating from an “Orwell playbook.” Rather, these similarities tell us something about the nature of the oligarchy itself. They hate what is human. They despise the idea of a creative human identity made in the image of God. They are determined to eradicate that identity. Their new Oceania is still inchoate, but the intention is clear: war, depopulation, human degradation.
Much more could be said about Nineteen Eighty-Four, including the way in which the population is kept in line through inciting hate against enemy images, but I leave it to you to pursue this for yourself.
Our fight is to recreate the America of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. We value and cherish the potential of every citizen. But it behooves us to recognize the true evil we are confronted with. Ours is not a fight to simply change this policy or that policy. We must rescue our nation and recreate a republican culture in which people can actually live and think like human beings. And we must win.