Can Totalitarianism Corrupt a Non-Totalitarian Country?
Stephen Quinton's extensive research in the education sector spans 30 years and he is published globally. Stephen was born in Pambula NSW in 1952. He is now retired in Perth Western Australia. His website and blog address is: http://www.ctec-think.com.au/
My last essay identified contemporary examples of control that align with George Orwell’s marxist inspired novel 1984. It ended with a brief synopsis of the goals of the sinister Ingsoc (English Socialist) ideology.
This essay focuses on the first two of the three pernicious slogans that shaped the dystopian world of Oceania to reveal more examples of how today’s world is not as it appears. All three slogans execute the principles of doublethink to exploit the innate destructive power of the Ingsoc ideology: WAR IS PEACE + FREEDOM IS SLAVERY + IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
WAR IS PEACE: The Inner Party promotes this paradoxical precept in order to retain absolute power. By staging perpetual war with a constantly changing enemy, the citizens of Oceania never know if the enemy is real or even if it is a different war. As few question a government in times of war, a counterfeit ‘peace’ prevails.
Superstates are enemies or allies, or the reverse. This keeps citizens in a state of heightened fear and confusion, and consolidates permanent social order. Citizens surrender their lives to a nonstop industrial program to serve the war effort, and comply with repeated demands to increase productivity without additional reward or improvement to their living standards. The war also provides a cogent target for redirecting hatred and displeasure, and affirming patriot fervour.
To survive under such conditions, the people of Oceania believe and act as though peace prevails. In keeping with doublethink, citizens accept that war and peace coexist. This contradictory state of mind accords with the goals of the Inner Party. How the Party achieves this illusory equilibrium requires an understanding of the power of war.
War elicits patriotism and devotion to the country; it also invokes the need for individual sacrifice by placing the needs of the State first. Therefore, in a climate of constant war, the people passively contribute their labour and pledge devotion to the government. Such acquiescence keeps the population under control, and therefore, peaceful.
War is Peace Today
The world is now engaged in a decade two of a ‘war on terror’. The enemy is a borderless, non-state group of terrorists comprised of Islamic proponents and nonpartisan mercenaries that are intermittently referred to as al-Qaeda, ISIL, ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, and the politicians’ latest favourite, ‘Daesh’.
Would it be wrong to ask if they are the same enemy; or if they are different in some way; or whether they actually exist? More to the point: is there an actual war on terror, and if so, when will it end? Correction, a recent report stated that the war on terror will continue for a further thirty years.
Of the little that is certain, there is a mutable, faceless enemy (or not), accompanied by an endless supply of amorphous justifications that have produced widespread societal fear, unprecedented restrictions on civilian liberties, interminable propaganda, paranoia, and debilitating confusion with no end in sight.
Parallel to all this, there are little known factors that portray an even more ominous picture. Since WWII, the United States has engaged in more than eighty wars and conflicts. In effect, there has always been a war since 1945. When the US concedes peace with one nation, they declare war or threaten another. This recurrent practice has ensured the perpetuation and expansion of the US defence industry. In the wake of the elimination of US military spending cuts, war has become unstoppable.
Moreover, Western countries promote the concept of ‘war is peace’ while they engage in preemptive wars. Although the justification for such incursions is to establish ‘peace’, the claim itself is a paradox as it is not possible to start a war in order to prevent it. Of great concern, is the recent revelations of support and funding from western sources, including international banks, certain NATO countries, and the CIA.
It is now evident that the reasons given by Western leaders to justify the first invasion of Iraq (twice) and thereafter Afghanistan are indisputable lies. Yet those responsible are not facing trial and appear to be immune from prosecution. Readers will recall how Colin Powell solemnly declared that Iraq was in possession of vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and illegally concealed weapons materials and related manufacturing facilities.
The United States has acknowledged torture as a valid method for gaining information. US authorities arrested Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib and kidnapped him to Egypt where he was tortured. He endured electric shocks, drugs, beatings, and ordered to admit to actions he had not committed. The US fully indemnified the torturer against prosecution. When the torture finished, the US authorities locked Habib in solitary confinement at Guantanamo Bay. Eventually the US deemed Habib innocent and had to release him. To make matters worse, Australian authorities had sanctioned the entire affair.
An Indian doctor working in Australia, Dr Haneef was luckier. Although arrested, locked up in solitary, and “interrogated” for a month, the authorities claimed he was not “tortured” (is not solitary confinement torture). As in Mamdouh’s case, Haneef was completely innocent and subsequently it became necessary to release him.
Then there were the small group of bikies arrested in Queensland for walking down the street to buy ice cream. After spending one month in solitary confinement for twenty-three hours a day, they finally received bail and went to court only to find that the prosecution had no case to present. The fact is that being innocent today does not guarantee free passage.
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY: Citizens of Oceania learn to accept that total freedom leads to uncontrolled entrapment by their senses, weaknesses, and vices. They are overtly discouraged from pursuing individual freedom for fear of the dangers of sensory and emotional pursuits, which lead to a form of slavery. In addition, during times of war, citizens must forgo individual freedoms in favour of the imperatives of the collective. Such assent plays directly into the hands of the Inner Party.
Complete submission to the Party’s mandates means that citizens surrender their identity and the impulses that arise from independence, and passively accept everything they see and hear. The watchful eye of Big Brother is a persistent reminder of the perils of ‘unfreedom’ and 'inequality', the fear of which unites all in a shared delusion of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ that serves to stifle riots and avert revolutions.
Freedom is Slavery Today
Many Western people today are highly indebted and often forced to work in unsatisfying jobs to repay their loans and purchase what they need and want. When not working, the majority prefer to engage in carefree entertainment and relax in effortless distractions such as reality TV (ironically Big Brother) and social media. Most seek an escape from the day-to-day pressures of life.
Debt now drives the financial engines of western societies and is a major source of anxiety for people living in these so-called democracies. Government, business, and personal debt throughout the Western world have reached unprecedented levels. Quantitative easing poses an inestimable threat to the future of western people. Too big to fail banks (TBTF) ensure that the rich not only stay rich, they increase their wealth. Paradoxically, the majority of western citizens earnestly believe they are free simply because they live in a democracy.
Even the words freedom, democracy, and Christian values have lost their intended meanings and have become tools for distorting truths and promoting agendas that are incongruous to the accepted definitions. In a classic doublethink twist, the US claims that it has done “more to create the conditions for individual freedom than any other country in the world” (US Undersecretary of State John Bolton). Thus, the meaning of the word ‘free’ is no longer as clear as once presumed.
Western citizens view freedom as having the opportunity to pursue their personal goals without fear or threat or obstruction. They view their rights as being able to obtain and do what they think is best for their well-being without undue hindrance, and that governments exist to facilitate such desires. They also believe that true democracy is a process in which citizens can voice their views on matters that affect their lives.
Compare these notions of freedom with the results of marxist inspired agendas listed below and ask if freedom still exists today. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list:
Australians are no longer inclined to voice their opinions and express their needs out loud. It seems only minority and special interest groups receive special attention. When exercising the ‘right’ to protest, mandated exclusion zone laws prevent protesters from speaking their mind. As a result, there is a predominant sense of powerlessness to effect change.
Mainstream media exercises overt control over news, media, film, and television. The MSM censors all unfavourable content and is the principle propagandist arm for government authorities and business interests. Furthermore, a proliferation of unsubstantiated information and 'facts' leads to misinformation, fragmented opinions, and consequently, negligible coherent consensus.
Large sections of the community are heavily dependent on costly government welfare benefits. This places huge burdens on budgets and ultimately taxpayers.
Multiculturalism has engendered continual social unrest and change, and given rise to reverse discriminations. In turn, a climate of confusion, resentment, and fear has emerged.
Incessant climate change warnings announce dire consequences for humanity if 'green' technologies do not replace the use of fossil fuels. The fear of an unknown future paves the way for new taxes and bill rises that increase the cost of living.
Legal systems across the country hand down inadequate and inconsistent verdicts. Perpetrators receive biased judgements that often debase the severity of the crime and ignore the needs of victims. Increasing crime rates, early paroles, and ineffectual sentences result in emotional and financial trauma and injustice for victims and society.
An entrenched undermining of schools and teachers’ authority has led to declining standards of academic skills and scholarship. A ‘dumbing down’ of students’ learning skills has diminished their capacity to apply and transfer information and knowledge in constructive ways. Tertiary students incur large debts to gain a qualification, yet governments generously fund private schools.
The traditional family unit is under serious threat. The family law court has all but removed parents’ rights, encouraged single parent families, and undermined fathers’ rights as parents. Wives and mothers work to make ends meet and then must cope with exorbitant childcare fees. Children display hatred and disrespect towards their parents and older people, and are particularly uncaring when their parents reach old age.
The long-standing institution of marriage between man and wife is now under challenge by the inclusion of same sex marriage.
Religions of all persuasions have let the entire community down in countless ways. The physical and sexual abuse of young children is just one example.
Political correctness and racialist laws are forms of thought control that inhibit free speech, undermine public opinion, weaken democratic values, and impose the redesign of curricula to include doctrine that contradicts that of their parents.
Australian parliaments have passed numerous laws that affect common law freedoms of speech, association, and movement, the right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of arbitrary detention. At present, more than 350 laws encroach on our basic rights. See: http://www.cla.asn.au/News/legal-assault-on-australian-democracy/
In hindsight, we can see that our liberties and rights no longer resemble what they were twenty years ago.
Without fully realising it, we have paid a significant price each time a new law has infringed on our liberties and rights. When governments and corporations impose increasingly restrictive laws and rules; and, when the pursuit of personal dreams become contingent upon subservience to these same entities in return for benefits, handouts, subsidies, bailouts, and even services; the rewards are invariably ephemeral and the returns seldom compensate.
This is because genuine freedom rarely accompanies such transactions. Instead, laws and rules have chipped away at freedom piece by piece, until little remains of the original meaning. Once freedom is reduced or restricted, even slightly, inner security and well-being are no longer possible. Real freedom and absolute democracy sit comfortably side-by-side. Therefore, involuntary or even voluntary subservience to any entity is a form of slavery and inevitably, the first step toward totalitarianism. Accordingly:
To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country. (Orwell and Politics, 2001)
In the next essay, I reflect on Orwell’s easily misconstrued third slogan to show that despite the apparent inconsequence, it in fact signifies the most destructive and deceptive stratagem to undermine Western thought and social cohesiveness:
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH