Braving the New World Order
"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth."
Brave New World foreword to 1946 edition
"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power....Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.... If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
O'Brien to Winston
"National Socialism will use its own revolution for establishing a new world order."
Adolph Hitler during World War II
"What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea - a new world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law. Such is a world worthy of our struggle, and worthy of our children's future."
President George Bush
State of the Union Address 1991
"Hitler's dictatorship differed in one fundamental point from all its predecessors in history. It was the first dictatorship in the present period of modern technical development, a dictatorship which made complete use of all technical means for the domination of its own country. Through technical devices like the radio and the loud-speaker, eighty million people were deprived of independent thought. It was thereby possible to subject them to the will of one man..."
Hitler's Minister for Armaments (at his trial after World War II)
"The sacrifice of personal existence is necessary to secure the preservation of the species."
Mein Kampf 1923
Okay, so you read about it in "1984" and in "Brave New World," and now it's here. The controlled totalitarian society in which people are all brainwashed to think alike, to worship the state, regimented into a bleak existence dominated by continuous war. It's a world of doublespeak, doublethink, nuspeak, thoughtcrime, sexcrime, where history is altered daily, the government keeps an ever-changing stream of lies streaming into the minds of its subjects, the population is conditioned to love its servitude, kept docile by various sorts of chemical or electronic opiates. Privacy is suspect. Nonconformity is aberrant behavior. Originality is a crime.
Doublethink is a form of paradox that stymies logical processes and conditions the mind not to think: "War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength," were the slogans of the Party in Orwell's 1984. And in 2001, they tell us that in order to fight for freedom and democracy, we must abolish freedom and democracy.
When the real year 1984 came, a huge media blitz proclaimed that "Orwell was wrong! The year 1984 is here and his prediction didn't come true!!" I was never sure what part of his prediction they were referring to that didn't come true. Surely not every detail of his fictional world was played out in real life America, but the essential principles of population control portrayed so artistically by Orwell were being employed in a most sophisticated fashion by the U.S. government under Reagan.
Perhaps one could argue that the Orwellian world had not yet been consummated in 1984. The process of concentrating wealth and power among a tiny elite was in a relatively early phase, compared to where we have come since. Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to refine the barbarous form of American capitalism of the early 20th century with social reforms were not yet entirely reversed, buried and forgotten. But huge strides were made in that endeavor on many fronts during the Reagan years. Perhaps the most spectacular of those were in the realm of media control. Once information control is consolidated, taking power is a natural progression. Once the mind of the country is enslaved, the bodies follow.
It was George Bush I who introduced the term "New World Order" into the American political culture at the time of his great Gulf War and began the effort of conditioning the public into liking the idea. Recently the New York Times published a special edition incorporating the phrase "New World Order" into the title. It seemed as if the Newspaper of Record were proclaiming the official arrival of Bush Senior's vision. It seemed to be an aknowledgment, even an endorsement, or acquiescence. But it would be useful to remind ourselves that the phrase was used by Adolf Hitler to describe his vision of the Thousand Year Reich.
The Bush family's affinity with Nazism is as old as Nazism itself, established by George I's father Prescott Bush and his maternal grandfather George Herbert Walker, who as managing partners of the Union Banking Trust funneled $5 million into the Nazi arms buildup in the '20s, '30s and '40s until it was closed down under the Trading with the Enemy Act during World War II.
The present George Bush has expressed many times his appreciation for dictatorships, most recently during his trip to China when he told the Chinese dictator how much he admired the Communist Chinese government's authoritarian approach to press conferences. Very funny George.
The 21st Century arrived September 11 with the horror of the World Trade Center destruction. It is indeed a brave new world (a phrase borrowed by Huxley from Shakespeare's "The Tempest"). It's a world like a Philip K. Dick novel, in which you don't know who your friends are and who your enemies are - you don't even know what is real. In fear and panic, Americans traded away their constitutional freedoms for the illusion of security. And it is certainly an illusion. Does anyone believe that the American government has an effective way of defending the people against Anthrax in the post office? The government no more has it together to really "combat terrorism" than the Keystone Cops. They are winging it, and putting up a good front. Or not such a good one really. But people truly want to believe they can trust their leaders to protect them. It's a sadly misguided notion, and the trade off is a tragic deception. The people won't get security, but they will get a new country in which their civil rights exist only to whatever extent is convenient for the state.
The Homeland Security people are going to be checking your ID if you dare to drive around the country, pretty much like they used to in the Soviet Union. The FBI can search your apartment secretly. They can detain you without due process. They can seize your property without having to say why. Your civil rights been traded away in the name of the war on terrorism. If Americans want their rights back, they are going to have to start over from scratch and earn them.
The primary threat to freedom in America is not in Afghanistan. It's right here in America. What is in Afghanistan is access to oil. The Bush family didn't mind the Bin Laden family when it came to doing business with them through George W.'s Arbusto Oil company, which received a $50,000 investment from James Bath, the American representative of Salem bin Laden, the brother of Osama. George Senior likes the Bin Laden family enough to do business with them through his work as a consultant to the Carlyle Group. The Bush administration didn't mind the Taliban regime a few months ago when it sent $43 million in aid to it.
The threat to American freedom is in the giant multinational corporations who control the politicians who are rapidly dismantling the constitutional system to replace it with a corporate hierarchy. It's not in some religious cult in the Middle East. If Osama bin Laden is a danger to the American people, then he is only added to the list of dangers. Our biggest threats are from the corruption of our constitutional system.
Bush and Bin Laden, if they are indeed enemies, are adversaries drawn together in a conflict that springs from their affinity of temperament and interest, as much as from any strategic or material conflict. And both families will profit from war while the sons of poor families will die in the battle.
With the bombing of The World Trade Center, the Bush regime did not suddenly, miraculously transform into a trustworthy bunch of people who have the best interests of the mass of Americans at heart. No way on earth. These are the same people who stopped the vote count, pulled off an inside job to seize power in a way that was clearly in defiance of the most fundamental principles of a democratic republic. And they are now wasting no time exploiting the current situation to further the agenda they have pushed on the American people in spite of the fact that the vast majority of Americans are opposed issue by issue to their initiatives. They misrepresented their agenda during the election, and they did not receive a majority of the votes cast, even in Florida.
In spite of the fact that they cynically thwarted democratic principles to seize control, they made no effort to represent the majority once they took power. Right down the line, issue by issue, the Bush agenda serves the 10 percent or so that he works for, and no one else. The Bush II administration represents a grab by the 10 percent that controls 90 percent of the wealth for as much more as it possibly can get, and hell with what all the polls say the vast majority of the people want.
Nothing happened to suddenly turn the Bush regime into noble leaders. It didn't happen. The polls that showed Bush jumping from under a 50 percent approval rating to a 92 percent are saying one thing only: We are uniting as one people behind our leader to defend our country and our free society. It would be the same no matter who was president or how he became president - at that moment, after the shock of the attack. The sudden doubling did not measure a sudden increase in Bush's stature, it measured the magnitude of the atrocity inflicted upon America when the World Trade Center towers were obliterated.
But people aren't stupid. They caught on eventually that Poppy Bush's beloved Gulf War was a fraud. His mismanagement of the economy was not just ineptness of economic management skills, or even that he was too busy playing geopolitical control games to notice that things were falling apart at home. The main focus of a Bush government is to set the stage for the aristocracy to stuff their pockets with as much as time will allow, and eventually there isn't much left for the remainder of the population to divvy up. The richest 10 percent control 90 percent of the wealth now in the U.S. What kind of a society is that?
A close look at the polls that are constantly taken by a great many political and marketing agencies will reveal that what Americans really believe is not nearly what the corporate media tell us we believe. It can be clearly discerned in a very empirical fashion by studying real polls and comparing them with what the major media portrays as the middle of the political spectrum.
At a recent anniversary celebration of the end of the Vietnam War, Noam Chomsky described how polls of the American people about Vietnam showed that something like 85 percent of the population held an opinion that was completely off the screen in the media portrayal of the range of opinion on the matter.
In the mainstream media (including the New York Times, as well as the network news programs) the opinions on Vietnam ranged from the "hawks," who say, "It was a just cause and we could have won if we hadn't had our hands tied behind us by the peace queers back home," to the "doves." The doves are portrayed as saying, "It was a just cause, but the government made some mistakes." The American people, on the other hand, by a huge majority, believe simply that it was an immoral war and the United States should have never waged war in Vietnam.
The disadvantage of the greedy few who control most of the wealth in the U.S. and who are so insatiable they cannot restrain themselves from relentlessly pushing for more, is that they make themselves more and more of a minority. Gradually they actualize their barbaric, fearful world view by creating enemies of practically everyone.
Back when Oliver North was cowboying around with the full authority of the U.S. government behind him, the Reagan-Bush administration set up contingency plans for suspending the Constitution, declaring martial law and interning large numbers of people. With George W.'s record in Texas as the most prodigious executor of people since the death penalty was pulled back into the "Constitutional" column in the early '70s, we know that he won't stop with internment. These are very serious concerns and the only thing that will keep martial law from destroying constitutional rights will be the spirit of the American people.
Bush said that the perpetrators of the WTC atrocity underestimated the spirit of the American people. But he and his regime may have made the same mistake. Americans have gone along with a lot. But when someone seriously limits their personal liberties, it can only go so far before the sleeping giant's ire is raised.
Totalitarian control up close
Watching a series of events in the U.S. that parallels the Nazi takeover of Germany in the '20s and '30s -- the corruption of political processes by money, the suppression of the unions, the super-concentration of wealth, the sell-out of government to big business, the internment of certain ethnic groups or economic classes, the building of a military machine that fuels big industry, the use of electronic media for propaganda, etc. -- convinced me that I should bone up on the literature about living in a totalitarian society because I believe we are already in one, relatively speaking.
I pulled out Huxley's "Brave New World" and Orwell's "1984," which I dearly love, and also pulled out a book called "We" by the Russian Eugeni Zamiatin, which I had never read before. Published in the early '20s, it is a portrayal of a technologically sophisticated totalitarian world in which people are utterly brainwashed into thinking that "freedom" was some kind of primitive state of beast-like ancestors of ancient history. The history of mankind traced a contour from nomadic societies to more sedentary ones, it was reasoned, so the so the most highly evolved society would be the most sedentary. Their cities are encircled by walls -- built with garbage.
As I was gathering all these dystopian novels, part of me was thinking, "Are you crazy? Do you want to drive yourself crazy, to suicidal depression? Do you like self torture? Do you want to wallow in the most depressing aspects of the world?"
At the same time there was a part of me that was drawn irresistibly to the study. It was an impulse akin to the compulsion to glare at a car wreck. It is a morbid aspect of human nature, but it is paired like eros and thanatos with the instinct for survival. One needs to know what it is that threatens one's survival.
I do not subscribe to the simple Reagan-Bush fairy tale world populated with such mythic forces as "The Evil Empire" and a series of Bad Guys like Noriega, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, who all happened to been propped up in their rise to power, or somehow involved in transactions with Bush & Co. before they achieved the status of The Latest Satan. I don't for a moment get worked up over Baby Bush's attempt at stirring war rhetoric. But I see the signs. Cheney recently said the war "may not end in our lifetimes," and that is precisely the scenario portrayed in "1984."
So I felt compelled to study all these books for whatever insight I could derive from them. Oddly enough, as I dug into "We," I found myself not getting depressed, but feeling liberated. Zamiatin's use of a journal form to portray the subject's mental processes, provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of someone who is deeply brainwashed, and in a disturbingly familiar way. In the journal form, the storyteller does not implicitly know the end of the story at the beginning, as in a typical narrative. He experiences the changes along with the reader. We watch the character's mind transform as his conditioning is shaken loose and his inner nature surfaces.
At the beginning he writes, "…I shall try to record only the things I see, the things I think, or, to be more exact, the things we think. Yes, 'we'; that is exactly what I mean, and 'We', therefore, shall be the title of my records. But this will only be a derivative of our life, of our mathematical, perfect life in the United State."
He is a mathematician, he worships order, venerates non-freedom. Under the conditioning of the United State, freedom is considered a primitive, animalistic state of existence from which humankind was saved by the state. Artistic inspiration is seen as a form of epilepsy. The disorder of life in the ancient world, in which people had different color homes, wore different clothes and followed their own whims, is seen as horrifying. In the United State everything is regimented. People all dress alike. Their glass dwellings are all alike. They all rise at the same hour, go to work at the same hour, have a specified time for walking, and even certain times designated as "sexual hour," strictly controlled.
It is an encounter with a woman that disrupts the conditioning of the main character. At first he says she "had a disagreeable effect upon me, like an irrational component of an equation which you cannot eliminate." Gradually she puts a spell on him and he is wrenched out of his perfectly rational world. He experiences jealousy for the first time, a primitive emotion supposed to be eradicated in a world where all children are raised by the state. He discovers an individuality he never knew existed. His conditioning begins to unravel.
What was most liberating in reading it was the way it portrays how freedom is in the mind. It reminded me of Sly Stone's song "Stand," when he says, "Don't you know that you are free? Well at least in your mind if you want to be."
Ultimately, if you are not free in your mind, nothing exterior can free you. Conversely, if the power mongers have convinced you that their vision of reality is The Reality, then again, you have lost the battle for your own freedom before it has begun. That's why, as John Judge says, the powers spend so much money trying to control what Orwell called "the space between your ears."
While the American people have been asleep at the wheel, the politician-thugs legally and politically dismantled their constitutional rights and power. But power on paper and power in the real world are two different things. The politicians can get away with almost any plunder they want to most of the time. But there is only so far the public will be pushed. This isn't just a matter of the American spirit, it is really about the human spirit and the inherent love of freedom. In America, this tradition has taken root and grown. The republic formed by an elite through the American revolution gradually evolved into a more democratic country in which the rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence applied to a broadening spectrum of the population.
But democracy's opposite impulse has developed in parallel, the culture of nobility, feudalism, slavery, dictatorship and it has found a new power base in the growth of corporations that are so huge, they can override government by the people. The tension between the poles continues. There was some progression of Civil Rights, growth of the middle class and economic opportunity in the '50s and '60s, but today we find ourselves in a world of such massive wealth concentration it is growing to resemble a technologically sophisticated feudal society.
Now that the New Barons have locked down the political system and are moving to consolidating their takeover (do they ever stop?) - the battle moves from the political stage. It is now a culture war. Whenever anyone exercises freedom of expression, individuality, creativity, charity, or kindness; whenever someone speaks up for justice for the downtrodden or simply tells the truth, that person is engaging in a kind of dissent against the oppressive world being forced upon us by the new aristocracy.
So if music be the food of love, play on!