Orwell and Huxley: Prophets still.

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In the middle of the last century a pair of writers wrote monumental novels about government's worst potential. The author's were George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Their novels respectively were "1984" and "Brave New World". These two books were required reading in elementary and high school social studies classes in a large number of schools around the country in the early 1960's. At the time, given the conclusion of WWII and the Cold War with Russia already underway with its dictatorial type of government, the books were viewed as indictments of authoritarian regimes.

Decades later, they are being viewed in a new context as an indictment of how democracy can achieve the same ends as authoritarian regimes. I highly recommend these two novels to readers here who are concerned about American and international politics and ask why our own democracy is working against us so often. Pick up these two short novels and read them in light of our contemporary governments and their actions. George Orwell predicted what is happening to language and history at the hands of those who control government in America. Our cost of living adjustments are being called tax increases and wage increases. Patriotism is being defined as not turning a critical eye or mouth on what our government and its dictators do or say. Abortion is called murder while state sponsored executions are called 'saving lives'. And anyone receiving tax sponsored payments from the government are touted as lazy, indolent, and lacking in character.

When soldiers of Viet Nam are called traitors for speaking out against that war some 30 years later, a kind of revisionist history takes place that negates the fact that the majority of Americans at the time were critical of that war, including a very large number of representatives in government. When the American Indian is no longer referred to as the original Americans, when the government refuses to acknowledge or honor 100's of treaties with them and history books begin to reflect a kind of Noblesse Oblige treatment of American Indians by our government, when we treat ANWR the same way we treated Indian treaties, when schools refuse to teach America's open arm policy toward Nazi's after WWII if they had some knowledge or expertise our leaders wanted, the kind of revisionist history that Orwell warned about is in fact, coming to pass.

This history revision and language distortion which Orwell termed NewSpeak and DoubleSpeak has become commonplace in America. It is a form of brainwashing of the voters to make them pliant to the will of the dictates of those controlling government. Listen to Ann Coulter call those on the left traitors or the Vice President stating critics of Bush are giving 'aid and comfort to the enemy' as just a couple of examples of how language is being redefined toward political ends as we live and breathe.

One of the greatest attempts at Newspeak and Doublespeak is taking place out of our President's mouth. On the one hand he states Social Security is in crisis. Factually untrue (it will be in crisis sometime after 2042 or earlier if private savings accounts are implemented), but let that slide for a moment. On the other hand he preaches private accounts as a solution. Also, factually untrue. Private accounts add not one cent to the needed revenues of the Social Security system to help it over the hump years after 2042 or later when revenues will fall short of meeting outlays. Bush says the crisis results from the lack of revenues after 2042 - yet his solution adds not a dime to the revenues needed to address the shortfall.

Private Accounts constitutes an entirely different program than the Social Security program Pres. Bush says he wants to save. Yet, his private accounts plan actually will divert revenues needed after 2042 to keep Social Security solvent. Therein lies the DoubleSpeak. Private Accounts is doublespeak for phasing out the Social Security program entirely by bankrupting it sooner than 2042 by diverting current revenues going into the SS away from the SS plan.

Webster's dictionary defines doublespeak with these words: evasive, ambiguous, high-flown language intended to deceive or confuse. In his bestselling book Doublespeak, William Lutz notes that doublespeak is not an accident or a "slip of the tongue." Instead, it is a deliberate, calculated misuse of language. Lutz provides several defining attributes of doublespeak:

  • * misleads

  • * distorts reality

  • * pretends to communicate

  • * makes the bad seem good

  • * avoids or shifts responsibility

  • * makes the negative appear positive

  • * creates a false verbal map of the world

  • * limits, conceals, corrupts, and prevents thought

  • * makes the unpleasant appear attractive or tolerable

  • * creates incongruity between reality and what is said or not said

"The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought." 1984

Hence, Private Accounts is also Newspeak in that it seeks to eliminate not only the word "social" from its replacement program, but, the very concept of "social" in terms of government programs. There is nothing social about each person saving for themselves. And there is nothing social about breadwinners dying or disabled and leaving their loved ones to fall into poverty since the Social Security Insurance plan will have been eliminated.

This is the aim of the GOP and President Bush. But, what of Medicare? Didn't the GOP and Bush pass expansive new Medicare legislation? Good question. But a better question is: if a political party wanted to end Medicare without losing the voting public's support, how could that party achieve both ends? The answer becomes almost immediately evident. Increase the size, scope, and cost of Medicare to the extent that it becomes a repulsive program to voters by virtue of the huge deficits it creates. Voila! The GOP and Bush have accomplished this very efficiently. The Pres. said the legislation would cost 350 billion initially. After it passed, the Congressional Budget Office determined the cost would be closer to 450 billion. Now, after implementation, the costs appear to be headed toward 3/4 of trillion dollars.

When the time comes to raise taxes to deal with all this debt and deficits, taxpayers will look back and say the Rx program and even Medicare itself is responsible and agree then, that the program is unaffordable. And all the while, if the GOP and Bush had allowed the government to acquire competitive bids from the pharmaceutical companies for the program's prescriptions, which was forbidden in the bill, the Medicare Rx program would never have ended up approaching the 3/4 trillion dollar cost it is currently on track toward. When the legislation passed, the majority of Americans thought it was good thing. Now a few are learning it was not, as implemented. And when the tax comes due to pay for it, likely most Americans will view it as a bad program by virtue of its unsustainability.

These are just some examples. A great many more are evident. The Bankruptcy reform which experts now say won't reduce bankruptcy filings nor interest rates. What it will do is increase credit card and bank profitability (like they are hurting now, right?) and at the same time move many thousands of Americans each year out of the middle class, into barely subsistence living as a result of medical expenses, lost jobs, or divorce or disability. It is reform. But it is not reform that will help the majority of Americans. It will harm large numbers of Americans over time however. It would be different if the current 30% interest rates charged legally by credit card companies would be lowered drastically, or the total number of bankruptcies would be cut in half. But, neither will be the case, so the benefit to Americans will not follow.

Huxley's "Brave New World" has many parallels with what is happening today in the implementation of technology to order society and alleviate fears. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into it here, though. A national ID falls right into such a parallel as does the religious right's efforts to deny women their right to choose via government.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on March 14, 2005 8:04 AM.

News: The Good, Bad, & Ugly was the previous entry in this blog.

News: Good, Bad, & Ugly 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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