Whenever people refer to George Orwell’s 1984 they are generally making reference to Orwell’s depiction of a surveillance-based, police state. Big Brother and all that.
A much more neglected theme of the novel is the suggestion that the supposedly opposing regimes in Orwell’s world are ideologically indistinguishable and not really enemies. They are engaged in a perpetual, unwinnable war whose only purpose use up human labour and the fruits of human labour so that each superstate's economy cannot support a decent standard of living for every citizen.
According to 1984, it is perfectly possible that the entire world is controlled by a single entity.
Orwell was a pretty smart cookie.
And if you buy into Orwell’s implication that our world works like that, one of your conclusions will be that all major political parties, all the supposed differences between them, all the supposed political debate that they engage in, is bullshit, staged to bamboozle the masses and keep them out of the loop.
And, surprisingly or not, when you start to scratch at the issues of our times and the parameters imposed on their debate it’s quite easy to reach the conclusion that the bulk of us are having their collective chain yanked.
I saw this poster in the Carphone Warehouse yesterday
I must confess to having a big problem with the coverage of the AIDS issue…
I live in area with the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe and the UK in general is suffering from record rates of sexually transmitted diseases, so it would be reasonable to conclude condom use is not all that it should be.
So why isn’t the country swimming in AIDS?
Our case numbers are up, sure enough, as certain pressure groups like to remind us, but only if you include recent migrants who arrived with AIDS.
If you read around a little you discover that there is some serious dispute about the very nature of HIV/ AIDS and its transmission mechanism. And if you start to consider possible reasons why debate may have been stifled you start coming up with some pretty unsavoury answers concerning the AIDS lobby and the drugs companies.
So, Stef looks at the poster from the Carphone Warehouse and thinks it sucks arse because
- he instinctively reacts to the unholy alliance of multinational corporations, consumerism and worthy causes and the mindset of people who could conceive of and buy into crap like that
- he is genuinely worried that the entire approach to the treatment of AIDS may be a colossal con
But then, of course, a less cynical person could come along and say ‘Well, it’s better than nothing. What are you doing to change the world?’
Well, actually, if something like St Bono’s ‘Red’ campaign is merely offering a band aid to patch up white middle class western guilt about the third world, provide a veneer of social conscience to large companies and use its funds to enrich drugs companies then it is worse than nothing. Much worse
Ditto for Live 8
In case it’s escaped anyone’s attention much of the additional debt reflief that was promised is linked to ‘economic reforms’ in the recipient countries. The kind of economic reforms that kill labour rights and turn over local utilities, infrastructure and natural resources to those lovely, caring multinationals.
And, yes, I did laugh when I discovered that the Make Poverty History bracelets were made in a sweatshop that failed to meet even China’s skimpy workers’ rights legislation.
I laughed because it exposed the Lie and all the ‘Well, it’s better nothing’s in the world couldn’t hide that
The climate change lobby?
Currently engaged in drumming into the people that they, not companies, are to blame and that the only solutions to the problem lie in implementation of ‘global’ solutions i.e. global government.
Yes, very accountable. Power to the people and all that.
And, of course, we're going to have to pay those big companies a lot more for a lot less in future. Ever-larger corporate profits are a proven cure for global warming don't you know.
And, curiously, no mention whatsover that climate change is inevitable whatever we do.
The adoption of the Euro by the UK?
A little less global than my previous examples but I just adored the way the two opposing points of view was phrased in terms of ‘cool, young inclusive’ people wanting the Euro and ‘reactionary old farts’ not wanting the Euro.
Of course, the fact that implementation of the Euro would make movement of capital much easier, further enabling companies to hold workers over a barrel with the threat of closing their workplaces down, barely figured in the ‘debate’.
And so on, and so on
Not only is the debate over key issues phrased in terms that frustrate objective consideration, opinions relating to key issues are also conveniently packaged into mutually exclusive ‘Right Wing’ and ‘Left Wing’ mindsets.
So, if you’re Left Wing in this country you read the Guardian newspaper. You read the Guardian rather than anything else because you don’t want to be exposed to anything that challenges your worldview. And you rely on the Guardian and its supposedly Left Wing opinion-forming journalists on their six figure salaries to tell you what your position is on the issues of the day. You rely on them because you are either too busy to think for yourself or you simply cannot be arsed.
The same applies to Right-thinking people; though Right Wingers have little more choice as they can select from a number of newspapers ranging from conservative with a small ‘c’ to the downright demented.
And there we have it; the entire spectrum of human personalities essentially packaged into one of two or three opposing teams all participating in a rigged game.
You’ve got maybe 1% of people running our world and they do a pretty respectable job of splitting the other 99% into two or three parts and setting them at each other’s throats, fighting over crumbs.
It’s so elegant a solution it’s almost beautiful.
Orwell would have fucking loved it