Saturday, November 13, 2004
Are you free?
But the need to intake food and excrete feces is only one of the many biological needs that human animals have. There are numerous biological imperatives at the heart of the human animal. Every day, there are forces colliding that are greater than yourself, forces that are using the very humanity that is your lot, feeding you with lies that fill your need for belonging, forcing you to work long hours at meaningless jobs in order to feed your mouth with food which takes a car and housing and clothing, feeding you with the lies that give your very life meaning.... only once you realize that you are not free, then, and only then, can you step outside the box in which you have been placed by where you were born, how you were raised, what you see on your tv screen and hear on the radio and from family and friends, and begin in some small way to be free.
That is why the illusion of freedom is so important to the Soft Police State that we in the Party have been so diligently building for the past decades. As long as you believe you are free, you shall continue to be exactly what you are: a pawn, a tool, just another player in a game older than yourself and far larger. While I quote Orwell's 1984 liberally (if you read my posts, perhaps every other sentence is almost directly out of 1984), this is what Orwell got wrong. Orwell had just survived a war where oppressive censorship, restrictions on movement, and rationing was imposed on the populance in order to win the war against Nazi Germany. Even in 1948, when Orwell wrote, life in Britain was quite harsh. No dwellings had been built for close to a decade, so people were crammed multiple families to a flat. Gasoline was tightly rationed and there were no domestic automobile manufacturers operating anymore, so few automobiles were on the street -- they were predominently the domain of bicycles, motor scooters, and motor cycles. There were even shortages of food -- most basic food staples were rationed, and the calorie ration was around 2000 calories, supplemented by people's gardens whereever they could grow foods. The war had stripped Britain of its gold reserves, of its empire, of virtually all wealth that it had ever possessed, leaving Britons in the position of impoverished third world denizens, dependent upon the charity of others to get their economy restarted, and facing yet another war against yet another enemy, the Soviet Union.
Orwell's 1984 was his looking at 1948, and drawing it forwards. His mistake was in believing that this was the only, or best, way to motivate a people to behave in the way that the Party wished them to behave. It is quite possible, through skillful use of propaganda and encouragement of various behaviors, to cause large-scale movements of society without any explicit force. See, for example, the movement of women out of the U.S. workforce back into the home after World War II. There was no directive issued to companies telling them to fire their female workers. Rather, there was a lot of articles in the women's journals about the plight of the demobilized men coming home, how it was your patriotic duty to give these men a job, etc., and women who continued working when there were veterans who needed jobs were painted as unpatriotic and perhaps even un-American. The Party ordered not a single woman fired. Yet within 12 months of the end of the war, women's labor force participation had once again plummetted into the low teens, with women once again restricted -- by society, not by law -- to being nurses and teachers, a situation which lasted until the 1970's when it became obvious that paying for the retirement of the Baby Boom generation would require women's participation in the work force.
Anxiety, social pressure, keeping you too busy to think just doing the work that gains you your daily bread, rewarding you with silly trinkets such as pictures of dead people writ on paper if you behave in approved manner... all those are tools that the Party uses. We do not need oppression. The human animal, like all animals, is imminently trainable with the use of silly pictures of dead people on paper and other useless trinkets of that nature. The human animal performs better when not under the constant threat of punishment, just as a good hunting dog performs better when he has been trained via positive encouragement of desired behaviors, rather than by punishment. You are well trained, my friend. Well trained. And until you realize that, freedom is impossible.
Karl Rove O'Brien, Bush's Brain