War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength – 1984 George Orwell
Permanent war as a means to distract the populace from their own dire economic situation? Hey war on terror, I see you over there. Pervasive surveillance of most human interaction? Ah, yes warrant-less wiretapping. Manipulating language to obscure the truth? This is in essence Reagan admitting to his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Try to find it in there… go on…
Orwell suggests that a lack of privacy and choice equal a lack of freedom. The word freedom is thrown around in our politicians’ speeches and our media. Typically it is either in a self-congratulatory manner or as a trigger for fear mongering (Obama’s taking our guns!). But if freedom is choice, I would argue most of us don’t have it. And with warrant-less wire tapping and drones, I think it obvious we lost privacy years back.
Every day in America everyone who isn’t rich or on state assistance is waking, commuting, working, commuting, consuming and sleeping. The exact hours allocated to each of these activities varies, but the general structure is true for almost all of us. Is that what freedom looks like? I know almost no one who enjoys their commute. But they need the job, because they need a roof over their heads and thus need the commute.
I think it apt to replace freedom with consumer choice. Because that’s actually what we have. We get to choose if a Jeep better represents us or a Dodge. We get to choose if we like Tide better than Gain. We choose to watch (consume) Mad Men or Breaking Bad, The Ravens or The Bengals. It’s these trivial things that we’ve mistaken for freedom.
And as we zombie-walk to the 2016 elections, I reflect yet again on choice, or in this instance the illusion of choice. The media will do it’s best to ratchet up the drama as though who we elect has dramatic consequences. But what will most likely be true is as follows:
- Both nominees will support using most of our discretionary budget for defense
- Both nominees will change little to nothing about our general monetary policy
- More trickle down economics
- Continued absurd reliance on wall street AKA giant casino
- Continued trade policy that favors exports expanding the collapse of the middle class
- Continued monetary support for Israel
- Continued drone strikes where ever the war on terror is deemed on any given day
- No one will touch the trusts that exist in multiple American markets (Telecom companies, the constantly merging insurance companies, and the to-big-to-fail banks)
That list above effects every American in multiple ways. Trade policy to a large degree determines the availability of decent-paying unskilled jobs. For those of us who manage to have a retirement fund, wall street bankers are currently gambling with them. Shoving most of our discretionary spending to defense takes money away from other things, like you know, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, supporting colleges, and keeping track of what ever the fuck they were doing at the EPA office in Flint. But… go ahead and tell me again how the gays (the whole whopping 5% of the population we command) getting married is destroying everyone’s life. And quite literally, this will/is one of the things the media will go hysterical over.
Orwell botched this part. He suggests that Big Brother is able to achieve complete control of Oceana via socialism. Big Brother crucifies the capitalists, and the society that enabled them to live off the labor of the rest of the population. Orwell was so close to the real truth, which is that power only seeks to further itself and will do so regardless of the prevailing economic system. This is why 1984 will be relevant well into the future.
February 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm
When I read this, fifty years ago, I knew that we were moving in this direction. However, I can now say we have arrived and most people have no idea how restricted our lives have be one especially I ally in the ,at twenty years. Kate your analysis is right on target, as usual.
February 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm
What got me thinking about this was homeless people.
February 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm
There are tons of homeless people out here (Seattle). They set up little tent cities all over, under over passes and in vacant lots. Seattle has slightly kinder laws regarding where they congregate, so they can find spots where it’s legal to set-up home outdoors.
February 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm
And while I know many of them are off their meds or have addiction issues, I wonder. I wonder if some of them have simply decided to check out of the commute work commute consume cycle.