Orwell, the 'truth' and a troubling trend
Ronald Reagan famously joked that “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.”
Unfortunately, these days the joke is starting to sound like a broken record — and it doesn’t just apply to “our liberal friends” either. More and more, we ALL know (or repeat as if we know) so much that isn’t so that I have to wonder whether many of us haven’t fallen victim to what George Orwell called “doublethink,” the ability to substitute one reality for another because it is politically expedient to do so.
As described by Orwell in his famous novel “1984,” the Ministry of Truth works constantly to update the past to bring it into alignment with the ruling party’s current propaganda. They do this through a massive campaign to falsify public records and to delete opposing ideas.
Anything that no longer corresponded with the official version of reality was discarded by employees of the Ministry of Truth by sending it down a chute to “enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.” These chutes that led to collective amnesia were known as “memory holes,” and if you are starting to have the feeling that what you read and hear in the news no longer corresponds to what you remember, it may be because your old truths have gone down Orwell’s Memory Hole.
Winston Smith, the hero of “1984,” works at the Ministry of Truth, editing newspaper articles so they conform with the needs of the Party. Mind you, he does not work on the articles that will appear in tomorrow’s paper, but the ones that appeared in yesterday’s paper, or last year’s. It is his job to tidy up the past to make the world look like a place where nothing would work without the absolute control of Big Brother to guide us and protect us. And as a faithful apparatchik, Winston Smith is expected to edit history and then promptly forget that he has done so because to recognize his own deceit would mean disloyalty to the Party.
As Orwell explains, "Doublethink lies at the very heart of the Party, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing them and to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”
If that doesn’t describe the state of modern political discourse, I don’t know what does.
It is virtually impossible that educated people could sincerely believe some of the things they routinely say, but they sincerely believe they believe it. A case in point from recent history is the lead-up to the Iraq War.
After the Ministry of Truth also known as the Democratic Party got through with it, there has been a common acceptance of the “fact” that President Bush claimed Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and used that as a justification for war. He didn’t, and yet almost no one bothers to go back and examine the printed record to verify what really happened. Instead, we just listen to the repeated mantra of the major media that “Bush lied and people died,” and start to assume it is true.
This is an ominous national occurrence of doublethink. Millions of people who lived through the same traumatic experience were somehow convinced to shed their collective memory of what happened, and substitute a plausible, yet totally manufactured narrative that better fitted the needs of a political agenda.
In the world of “1984,” such a massive manipulation of reality involved a dedicated bureaucracy in the Ministry of Truth, >>>
Compulsive liar and Sociopath are part of the ruling class liberal skill-set. So this is only natural to the Socialist Democratic Party apparatchik.