War on Terror Is Never Ending – Part Four: Orwell’s 1984 and the War

After finally reading Orwell’s much celebrated dystopian story 1984, I put some pieces together and determined that Orwell’s version of the future was similar to ours in many aspects — which is ironic considering the Party shown in 1984 was communist and the Bush administration is anything but.

In 1984 (a take on the horrors of Stalinist Russia), the Party controls everything, especially the people who are in the party (everyone who is not a “prole”, or worker, is part of the Party). There are telescreens, or two way televisions, in every home, used to spy on the people. The leader, Big Brother, is made out to be a loving, God like figure, when really, he runs a police state. A man by the name of Goldstein is blamed for everything that goes wrong in Oceania (the country the story is set in), and is reportedly heading a conspiracy with the aim of bringing down the Party. The protagonist, Winston, a member of the party, has a job in which he edits historical documents and photgraphs so they meet the demands of the Party. The main practice to keep the Party in power is doublethink, or holding two contrary positions and accepting both as the truth. And, lastly, in 1984, there is what seems to be a never-ending war against a constantly changing opponent, in order to keep people producing goods to be used in said war. Sound familiar?

Here’s a comparison between the Party and our administration:

…the Party controls everything: The Bush administration, without doubt. When you’ve got cronies like Monica Goodling and Alberto Gonzalez hiring and dismissing people just because they weren’t republicans, you know that a Party’s got a grip on internal affairs, crushing outside voices. It’s well known that almost everyone in a position of power in the Bush administration is a devout neoconservative.

There are telescreens used to spy on the people: Well, we don’t have telescreens, but CCTV use in Britain is growing wildly popular, though, admittedly, the cameras don’t catch criminals nearly as effectively as the telescreens did in 1984. CCTV use is, however, a small but important step towards telescreen-like surveillance.

Big Brother: Admittedly, we don’t have an equivalent to Big Brother, in fact it’s startlingly the opposite of that kind of love because Bush is the most hated president since Nixon.

Goldstein blamed for everything: Osama Bin Laden is the definitive scapegoat for this administration, and by linking him with 9/11, he was the administration’s excuse to invade Afghanistan and take away our rights using the Patriot Act and illegal wiretapping by the NSA. Now, unlike Goldstein, Bin Laden’s ideals are somehow worse than the acts perpetuated by this administration.

Winston edits historical documents to serve the party line: How about the Bin Laden “confession tape” or the Habbush letter exposed in Ron Suskind’s book? This administration has been willing to fabricate documents or tapes (in this case) in order to start a war with the ever changing enemy. When we couldn’t find a good reason to invade Afghanistan, it was convenient that Bin Laden was there and an all too convenient coincidence that troops found the confession tape soon after we invaded. We couldn’t find WMDs in Iraq, so we fabricated a letter to say that there were weapons. We have tried to rewrite the past in an effort to control the future just like the Party in Orwell’s book.

Use of Doublethink, or holding two contradictory ideas as truth: This one is the most prevalent and scary out of the similarities. John McCain practiced doublethink when he said, “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations,” when he has repeated many times that he wants to invade Iran. Our president is guilty of doublethink as well: this week he said, “I don’t see America as having problems.” Oh really, Dubya? Let’s look at your State of the Union address from 2006…

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security — (applause) — yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

So, Mr. Bush, I assume that when you say America doesn’t have problems, you mean we’re not addicted to oil anymore and you’ve fixed social security right? There are other examples of doublethink as well: our National Security Agency violates the security of the American people, our Department of Defense attacks other nations, and the Department of Justice has had its fair share of corrupt officials (see lawyer firing scandal). This is not unlike 1984 in which the Ministry of Love tortures and kills, the Ministry of Peace fights wars, and the Ministry of Truth lies.

A never-ending war against a constantly changing opponent: This is the war on terror. In 1984, Oceania is always at war with one of two countries, Eurasia or Eastasia, and that constantly changes. Whoever Oceania is currently at war with, however, has always been the enemy according to the party, though they change who it is on a weekly basis. First, with our government, we thought the enemy was Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Then we invaded Afghanistan and switched our focus to getting rid of the oppressive Taliban regime. Once that was done, we pinned Iraq as the enemy, saying Saddam Hussein was ready to use his non-existent WMD’s on us. After toppling Hussein’s government, it occurred to us that there would be an insurgency, and Al Qaeda in Iraq joined the party. Well, now that we’ve lowered the violence in Iraq, the administration has painted Iran as the enemy, saying things like Ahmadinejad said that he would, “wipe Israel off the map.” NOT TRUE. And, in light of last week’s events, Russia’s being painted by the media as “big, bad Leroy Brown” again.

But, you ask, why make all the 1984 links? Why did the Party in 1984 do it?

The thing is that nobody knows, and we’re lucky that we can vote somebody different into office that won’t be as horrid as the Administration. However, O’Brien, a government agent in 1984, says power is not a means, but an end. So, are we just ruled by a bunch of power mongers?

EDIT: Turns out we are — except we, the people, in our fear of another attack, have given up our rights to people who’d exploit them in the name of security. Thus, part of the responsibility is laid on the people who kept Bush in office — the people who supported him. This doesn’t justify the Administration’s actions, but we forget we voted him in twice at times.

Check for the conclusion of the series: Part 5 – The Future tomorrow. Remember to bookmark on delicious, stumble, and digg this post using the buttons below.
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  1. Uncha-chachaumcha!!!!!!!!!

    The thing is that nobody knows, and we’re lucky that we can vote somebody different into office that won’t be as horrid as the Administration. However, O’Brien, a government agent in 1984, says power is not a means, but an end. So, are we just ruled by a bunch of power mongers?

    Now I am going to ask you to do something you will hate me for. Go back and read the book – look for the references that show you where the ultimate power of Big Brother came from.

    The hint is there all through the book – and to give you the answer so can skim rather than get too heady in it – it was the people who gave their power away for safety and “freedom” that Big Brother would bring.

    Again, excellent piece!

  2. I’ll edit that in.

    This part is what started this entire series. After reading 1984 for the first time a year ago and reading it again last month, I was inspired.

    Making the doublethink connection was the hardest for me — luckily some people said some pretty stupid things this past week.

  3. Inspirational indeed!

    I think I have read it about 6/7 times now and it is amazing how each time you can see different things.

    A book I am reading now called 40 Days and 40 Nights: Kitzmiller Vs Dover is another great read if you can get a copy.

    I somehow think you will be very interested in it.

  4. Will do. I’m in need for some books to rip through… So I think I’ll see if I can pick hat up.

  5. Excellent work, leapsecond. Very well written. As you can see I linked it to a couple of my recent posts. Thanks for the heads up. Keep up the great work, too.

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