All Government is Propaganda: The Prevention of Liberty
This little diary has no hidden agenda. It is offered in the most cheerful and polemical spirit, as a attack on those of both parties pushing an anti-liberty progressive agenda, that is to say the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, and Media branches of our modern American ruling class, and the plunderous voters who support and shield them in those efforts. (1)
“Attack” actually overstates it a bit, this is really more of a warning from the not so distant past about the road we are on, namely the demise of The Great Republic into a totalitarian-istic façade of its former self. To paraphrase A. Lincoln, “If Obamacare isn’t totalitarianism, then nothing is totalitarianism.”…and that’s just the tip of the blue state agenda iceberg.
Those well-read enough to decipher my title above already know I am going to Orwell, yet again, and this time it is the essay The Prevention of Literature from All Art is Propaganda. It would be worth your time to go straight to that source (I found it much more intriguing than the more often cited Politics and the English Language) and ponder his thoughts and observations on the characteristics of Totalitarianianism (vs. literature and writers) as projected onto present day America. Alternatively, I aim here to selectively reproduce some of the highlighted passages from my copy and add my two cents worth.
But first, especially for those who recognized and appreciated the Hitchens-ian tone to the opening paragraph, I cannot resist a proper and appropriate quote:
“It is told of Huey Long that, contemplating a run for high office, he summoned the big wads and donors of his great state and enlightened them thus: ‘Those of you who come in with me now will receive a big piece of the pie. Those of you who delay, and commit yourselves later, will receive a smaller piece of the pie. Those of you who don’t come in at all will receive – Good Government!’” (2)
Mr. Hitchens then referred to this understanding of American politics as “manipulation of populism by elitism”…I prefer to call Mr. Obama’s current perfected incarnation Crony Socialism but fully recognize it had many compassionate fathers and enablers (i.e. silent opposition and incurious media) long before the current administration. Unfortunately, we are not talking today about only the current pie but several future pies that don’t belong to us. Huey Long stories like this aside…they come off as legendary and exaggerated…why do we hear very little about how Harry Reid made his millions on a Senate salary or about Tom Daschle’s “questionable” non-lobbying lobbying since leaving office. I suspect there’s a lot of winking and nodding within ruling class circles about these and countless lower level shenanigans that we will never hear a peep about. At least we’re getting the “Good Government!”…?
Now, on to Orwell from 1946…I’ll start with the great progressive duplicity:
“What is new to totalitarianism is that its doctrines are not only unchallengeable but also unstable. They have to be accepted on pain of damnation, but on the other hand they are always liable to be altered at a moment’s notice. Consider, for example, the various attitudes, completely incompatible with one another, which an English Communist or ‘fellow traveller’ has had to adopt towards war between Britain and Germany. For years before September 1939 he was expected to be in a continuous stew about ‘the horrors of Nazism’ and to twist everything he wrote into a denunciation of Hitler; after September 1939, for twenty months, he had to believe that Germany was more sinned against than sinning, and the word ‘Nazi,’ at least so far as print went, had to drop right out of his vocabulary. Immediately after hearing the 8 o’clock news bulletin on the morning of June 22, 1941, he had to start believing once again that Nazism was the most hideous evil the world had ever seen.” (3)
Simply substitute “American Progressive or rent-a-mob protester” for “English Communist or ‘fellow traveller’” and consider the litany of ignored hypocrisies frequently provided by Victor Davis Hanson…”Guantanamo Bay detention facility, renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, predator drone targeted assassinations, preventative detention, and the war in Iraq”. All were unquestionable evils under President Bush that became acceptable or required media silence just moments after Mr. Obama promised (or was it ordered?) to close Gitmo. It seems so long ago that Progressive Senators (and countless New York Times front pages) shunned the term “Terrorist Surveillance” for the more threatening “Domestic Spying” just to embrace and expand such policies when promoted or rubber stamped into Executive branch positions in January 2009. (It’s interesting that none today can muster the use of “Domestic Spying” to reports of USG drones flying over Nebraska farmland.) To this list I’ll only add the phony outrage over a “leak” nominally known as Plamegate compared to the acceptance / silence with respect to all of the classified leaks under the current administration. At least a quick check of Presidential party affiliation at any given moment will inform us whether leaks of classified material (or the plight of America’s homeless but, I digress) are an important topic of the day. Orwell continues:
“Totalitarianism, however, does not so much promise an age of faith as an age of schizophrenia. A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial; that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud. Such a society, no matter how long it persists, can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. It can never…permit the truthful recording of facts…” (3)
Here, I stand by my previous thoughts on the charades presented to us during current and recent budget / debt ceiling negotiations…I’ll resist either of Orwell’s “f” words for now but “artificial” is certainly suitable to my perception. We get irrelevant budgetary charades and not a single serious Presidential budget plan while our financial demise is driven by entitlements that no one is willing to touch at the risk of losing their status…Yes, I’d say our “ruling class has lost its function”. And does anyone believe our monthly employment or housing reports? (…or the revisions?) He expands on the “poisonous effect” of this feature of totalitarian-istic governments:
“… facts are suppressed and distorted to such as extent as to make it doubtful whether a true history of our times can ever be written. … The organized lying practiced by totalitarian states is not, as is sometimes claimed, a temporary expedient of the same nature as military deception. It is something integral to totalitarianism. … In our age, the idea of…liberty is under attack from two directions. On the one side are the theoretical enemies, the apologists of totalitarianism, and on the other its immediate, practical enemies, monopoly and bureaucracy … the immediate enemies of truthfulness, and hence of freedom… are the Press lords, the film magnates, and the bureaucrats, but that on a long view the weakening of the desire for liberty among the intellectuals themselves is the most serious symptom of all.” (3)
The Progressive ruling class, the bureaucracy, the media, the cultural drivers…it’s easy to read all of them into this enemies of liberty list. It is the “weakening of desire for liberty among the intellectuals themselves” that I want to focus on here. While invoking “intellectuals” probably quite different than Orwell had in mind, I cannot help but cringe when I hear company executives, financial analysts, and/or market pundits begging for “a compromise” not because its good policy but because it would offer the least bit of stability on which to work in spite of ongoing “Good Government!” Thus, those – the honest and ambitious alike – that operate on the boundary between citizen and ruling class find themselves bartering away our liberties for just a bit of short term solid ground from which to advance the intended capitalistic republic. Yet, our ruling class insists on maximizing instability as long as possible before compromising into bad policy which they will then lie about though the next election cycle. Ain’t America beautiful?
Maybe today is no different than at any other time in the history of civilization and just the pretense of hiding it is now completely gone but, as fed to us from inside the American beltway, all government is propaganda…and nothing but propaganda.
“The fact is that certain themes cannot be celebrated in words, and tyranny is one of them.” (3)
And with the support of blue state America…we now have the government we deserve.
Ntrepid – Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?
(1) This entire paragraph is an adaptation of the opening sentence of the Preface of No One Left To Lie To – The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton by Christopher Hitchens…the formatting and some of the phrasings are obviously plagiarized.
(2) From Chapter 1 of No One Left To Lie To – The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton by Christopher Hitchens
(3) From the essay: The Prevention of Literature from All Art is Propaganda by George Orwell (Compiled by George Packer)