Hail, Oceania!

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

Do those quotes resonate? Do they make you uncomfortable? How about queasy, uneasy, want to look away, or fearful? Do you feel as if you’ve heard them before? You should. George Orwell wrote them in 1948 when he published his now famous novel “1984”, about the dystopian Oceania, a superstate in perpetual war. It’s most famous words are, of course, “Big brother is watching you”, but did any of us ever dream that we would actually live in a world where we would actually start to see this fastasy become our dark, twisted reality?

We’ve already seen the start of impingement on the fourth estate. Threats to who is allowed in the White House press room, press conferences are becoming less Q&A sessions and transitioning to briefing sessions with reduced opportunities for the press to ask questions and challenge inconsistencies, tweets about climate change removed from national park websites with the fllimsiest of excuses. The accusations of “fake news!” were heard recently when our new President would not accept being challenged, in stark contrast to his predecessor who said “it’s your job as the press to challenge me. I may not like it, but it’s your job and it makes me better as a person and as your president.” Now if a member of the media dares to challenge the status quo, they’re belittled, pointed at, scolded like a child,  and told they’re being rude, knowing all the while the press room is filled not only with fellow members of the press, but also with something called a “claque”.  From The Washington Post:

“In the description of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, a claque is: an organized body of professional applauders in the French theatres. The hiring of persons to applaud dramatic performances was common in classical times”

So President Trump has apparently arranged to bring along a group of individuals, whose job it is to start the cheering and the clapping. And of course if you’re in that room, when others are cheering and clapping, you’ll probably do so as well, because after all you don’t want to end up being the only one who isn’t, right?  Now the President has slammed a reporter and told him he’s nothing and reporting fake news, and the claque begins the clapping making it sound like they approve. How much longer before the only press that is left is the government controlled press? And the only information we recieve is that which we are given when the government wants to give it to us, selecting what limited information they want us to know?

This week we were introduced to alternative facts. I can’t help but wonder if we’ll hear that thrown out now every time we have the audicity to to question what we see, or make a statement about something. What happens when Congress votes on a bill, and it doesn’t go the way President Trump wants? Will he present the results as alternative facts and say that there were other votes we didn’t know about, or count, or should discount for this or that reason?

Let’s call an alternative fact what it is. It’s a lie. I’m not attaching malice or intent to the word, but it is a lie. What scares me, and what should scare each and everyone one of you,  is what happens when the impact of the lies moves further out? When it’s not about how many people attended the inauguration, but when he gets into a war of words with North Korea’s leader and tensions start to escalate? What about if his words seem like he will start to make moves in some of the countries that we’ve sworn to protect in Europe and the Middle East? Countries where there is oil, and where he now says we should have just taken it? Folks in these countries are a mite twitchy about this, and aren’t likely to just let us take their precious resources. (If you want to learn more about this, especially if you have family members in the military, please watch this video from The Rachel Maddow show. She does a fantastic job explaining this and why this is a terrifying scenario.)

Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible, without any respect for human rights.

Remember the old saying “when the shoe fits”? Well, get used to that word folks. It’s feeling suspiciously like a shoe that might fit, and I’m starting to think we haven’t heard the last of it. Before too long, maybe this really will be our world:

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