NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR CAME A BIT LATE, BUT ITS BRAVE NEW WORLD ARRIVED JUST THE SAME
ANALYSIS, 12 Apr 2010
If, in the 1950’s, you had referred to George Orwell as being naïve, how do you imagine you would have been received? As a complete and utter nut? A communist? Or maybe as just plain paranoid?
Or what if you warned of an incoming brave new world? Would your claim be greeted with consternation or contentment? With a “this is f’d up” or by a coffee shop subscriber to the Democratic Party claiming: “Oh, a brave new world would be so peaceful and harmonious. Mmm, yes — I’m so liberal,” while sipping on cappuccino and glancing at the New York Times, just for effect.
Well, in this century of change you can rest easy, for you might not scare off your friends so easily by fearing that 1984 or a brave new world seems to have shown up in the last two years of the first decade of the 21st century. In fact, they might indeed share many of your concerns. Whether or not they have the capacity to care is a different discussion.
Some of the most astute western authors of satire over the 20th century have, for many, turned out in today’s climate as just that: naive. This, to be sure, is hardly a result of their own imaginative shortcomings, but more-so the awesome totality by which three dimensional renderings of their dystopic and fantastic settings, arguably on a much grander scale, have been translated into reality.
I’m not writing on the way in which the blue screen life, where, from nine months old, images on television and in the movies transpose loaded symbols and ideas on us, has out done past forms entertainment and media handed us by the consciousness industries. Instead, I am calling George Orwell, Aldus Huxley, and Kurt Vonnegut out for their naiveté! I mean, when do we start up the debate about what “post-Orwellian” looks like?
Yes, Hollywood has captured the imagination and directed the cognitive orientation of a great many people. And, in fact, the general attitude of recent Hollywood films has been quite catastrophic and pessimistic. Maybe the violent flux in the markets has taken the studios for a fatal roller coaster ride, on which those who end up holding on the longest might inherit a radical oligopoly or, what’s more, a monopoly in the consciousness industry. At the same time as studio collective output seems certain to fall by one-third, its biggest films feature extraordinarily austere dreamscapes.1
The film District 9 centers on an alien race stranded above Johannesburg, South Africa. Eventually, the humans get to talking and they decide (I don’t recall a vote) to board the ship. The aliens inside are a pitiable lot, suffering from sickness and malnourishment. The humans label the aliens Prawns (perhaps an extraterrestrial version of Orwell’s Proles) and forcibly relocate them to the overcrowded and militarized District 9. The area is policed by Multi-Nation United (MNU), a private military industrial corporation.
The man in charge of the re-location operation, der Merwen, is exposed to an alien engineered substance which begins changing him into an alien. He is taken to a hospital where it is revealed that one of his arms has transformed into an alien arm. They take him to a MNU laboratory, where unethical scientific experiments are conducted on Prawns, and force him through torture in order to test fire alien weapons. Through the years of testing, MNU discovers that the alien weaponry is bio-engineered so that only beings with correct DNA are capable of using the weapons. Because der Merwen matches such DNA criteria, the multi-national decides to harvest his body for organs while he is alive as a means of reproducing his DNA structure and developing a method of bio-engineering other humans so as to be able to use the alien weapons.
Before he is dissected, der Merwen escapes. His body, however, has become an important asset to MNU. As a part of the manhunt, the corporate controlled media uses incessantly a portrait of his face, claiming that he has acquired a sexually transmitted disease that they say resulted from intercourse he had with an alien.
Whether or not the alien was consenting is not revealed. It is safe to say, that it would be hard to catch an alien and then have intercourse with it.
Additionally, 3-D films took the box office by storm early in 2010. These films, which seem innocent enough, bring audiences literally into the film’s setting. Instead of peering in on a two-dimensional world, from which there exists a specific disconnect and therefore a comparatively scant blending of reality and fiction, audiences exist within the 3-D film. In the future, expect audiences to go see three dimensional renderings of war and other forms of extreme violence, which will be happening all around them, not just in front of them, thereby normalizing the carnage. Similarly invasive, one marketing device used for the District 9 was advertisements on city benches, stating “Bus bench for humans only.” In this day-and-age, media transcends the screen and takes its seat in our daily lives.
Even if Hollywood has outdone the books of the 20th century to portray the world crumbling, nobody has done a better job than that of the policy planners themselves — known as technocrats — who turn the screws above politics.
To give these classic authors due credit, many of these social engineering technocrats admire, or admired, their work. Early last year, for example, the Queen of England gifted Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico, a first edition of George Orwell’s classic, 1984.2
The next year, Barack Obama tipped his hat to George Orwell while giving his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama, it turns out, is multilingual, with quite the proficiency in Doublespeak:
The instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace,” that “all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace,” and that imperialist troops should be honored “not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.3
Remember: down is the new up.
Orwell despised totalitarian governments. In Animal Farm, he attacked collectivism and Stalinism. In 1984, he helped us to imagine the definitive totalitarian bureaucracy stooped in force and force only. Any orthodoxy, he believed, could be taken to an extreme version of itself, and give rise to a despotic world system. He warned us of the future: “If you ever want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face…forever.”
But, it seems, the Queen might have interpreted the work a bit differently than most, and President Obama incorporated the morals into his own life a bit too literally. Maybe Kurt Vonnegut was on to something when he stated: “There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.”
The Queen and a coterie of like-minded global elites — President Obama included —have seemed to see the book more as a template from which to borrow than a warning about a historical movement hell-bent on centralization and domination. For them, Orwell’s novel is a blueprint by which to mold the future. Her country has been dubbed the closed-circuit TV camera capital of the world, with more than 5 million cameras recording the everyday lives of the average Brit.4 Recently, the government announced plans to install 20,000 of these cameras inside private homes so as to make sure kids are doing their homework, getting to bed early and eating their vegetables. The British “nanny state” seems to be growing bitter and crockety in her old age.5
Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed — would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper — the essential crimes that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever.
In this age of social networking, private daily diaries have been replaced by online profiles. On Facebook, where people’s daily actions, thoughts and relationships are catalogued — sometimes on a daily basis — the CIA and FBI use ads, tailored to individual users, to recruit. To think they also aren’t using social networking sites for intelligence gathering purposes would — you know, considering the twentieth century — be really stupid.
One big difference between Orwell’s dystopia and the present reality is the abundance of worthy news mediums on the internet. While the corporate-controlled media sees its ratings tank, alternative news programs and websites celebrate a ballooning in their audiences. Steps towards dubbing bloggers as terrorists, however, have many worried that internet freedom is under a sustained attack.6
The US already data mines blogs as a means of finding terrorists in order to prevent a terrorists attack. They have developed massive computer systems, capable of collective stupefying amounts of data, to help them in this endeavor. American internet providers have indeed helped foreign countries to jail bloggers for posting undesired content on their blogs. Just a couple of examples: Microsoft shut down the website of a dissident Chinese blogger, and Yahoo provided Beijing the name of a dissident Chinese journalist, who received ten years in jail for his web postings.7
In the United Kingdom and European Union, efforts to regulate the internet focus on persons who use the internet to spread propaganda. A rather dubious concept, the word propaganda, itself, could mean, well, just about anything. You are, after all, being propagandized this very second, aren’t you?
Although brain scanners have yet to be rolled out on a large scale, they do seem to be a natural progression from body scanners, which represent virtual strip searches for everybody who wishes to board a plane. Not to mention a nice shot of radiation, certainly a danger to frequent travelers. By the way, the brain scanners, known as the Malintent system, have been designed and are in their test phase.8
In Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World, mass use of the drug soma is used to ensure a “stable” citizenry, who conform readily to societal norms. From Brave New World:
“Stability,” said the Controller, “stability. No civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability.”
In 2007, according to Medco’s Health Solutions Inc., 51% of American children and adults were using one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition, most of which are taken daily. Medication use for chronic problems was seen in all demographics: Almost two-thirds of women 20 and older; one in four children and teenagers; 52% of adult men; three out of four people 65 or older.
Further, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has apparently uncovered a new sort of disease: Oppositional Defiant Disorder — known by parents and children everywhere as temper tantrum and/or growing up. Symptoms include:
• Frequent temper tantrums
• Excessive arguing with adults
• Often questioning rules
• Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
• Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
• Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
• Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
• Frequent anger and resentment
• Mean and hateful talking when upset
• Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking9
The academy cites medication as a possible solution for this new and vexing problem. “Because I told you so,” might actually start working on your children! Now, that’s stability.
In Brave New World, “everyone belongs to everyone else.” Citizens of the brave new world are conditioned to be sexually promiscuous: everyone is expendable. Although, in the real world, many young people celebrate the joys of sexual liberation, Huxley outlined the way in which sexual promiscuity cheapens love. Sex appeal in advertising, a ubiquitous marketing tool, promotes a non-romantic and promiscuous sort of love: screw like rabbits, don’t settle down with a partner for life. Also, don’t have children, because babies are carbon monsters and the world is over-populated.
Well, maybe not — just get an abortion. That will take care of the so-called “carbon problem.” Take that, carbon based life!
In 2008, More magazine polled 2,000 young women about their sex lives. The magazine found that one in four young, British women has slept with more than 10 people, whereas only one in five men have matched that “impressive” tally. Half of those questioned revealed that they had been unfaithful.10
The editor of More, Lisa Smosarski, said: “Our results show that after decades of lying back and thinking of England, today’s twenty-something women are taking control of their sex lives and getting what they want in bed.”
The majority of young women are losing their virginity at 16. Seven out of 10 said they had had a one-night stand, and 60 percent said they would “kiss-and-tell” or sell their account of a one-night stand with a famous person for 20,000 pounds. You see, people are expendable.
According to the study, young women are taking large risks with their health. 38 percent do not use a condom with a new partner and 16 percent have contracted a sexually transmitted disease.
But, are these young women really “getting what they want in bed,” as Ms. Smosarski claimed. The respondents said they are not having as much sex as they would like, with 13 percent claiming their love life is “disappointing.”
Cheap jokes about male ineptitudes in the sack aside, it seems that “sexually liberated” attitudes might not be fulfilling people as some persons would like to think they might. If sex with multiple partners — on average three times a week, says the survey — is not fulfilling these young women, then why do they prefer to do it five times a week? Is sex being used as a means to escape? Is screwing serving as much as a distraction as Must See Television? Plus, once you get bored, you can always just change the channel for some new and instant gratification.
From Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano,
Here it was again, the most ancient of roadforks, one that Paul had glimpsed before, in Kroner’s study, months ago. The choice of one course or the other had nothing to do with machines, hierarchies, economics, love, age. It was a purely internal matter. Every child older than six knew the fork, and knew what the good guys did here, and what the bad guys did here. The fork was a familiar one in folk tales the world over, and the good guys and the bad guys, whether in chaps, breechclouts, serapes, leopardskins, or banker’s gray pinstripes, all separated here.
Bad guys turned informer. Good guys didn’t — no matter when, no matter what.Here it was again, the most ancient of roadforks, one that Paul had glimpsed before, in Kroner’s study, months ago. The choice of one course or the other had nothing to do with machines, hierarchies, economics, love, age. It was a purely internal matter. Every child older than six knew the fork, and knew what the good guys did here, and what the bad guys did here. The fork was a familiar one in folk tales the world over, and the good guys and the bad guys, whether in chaps, breechclouts, serapes, leopardskins, or banker’s gray pinstripes, all separated here. Bad guys turned informer. Good guys didn’t — no matter when, no matter what.
While there are valuable truths to arguments both for and against the “them vs. us” view of the world, those days do come in history when we have to choose between a well-defined right and wrong.
Today in the United States, more than 23,000 persons from private industry work also with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. This rapidly growing group, InfraGard, receive secret warnings regarding terrorists threats before the public, and sometimes even before elected officials. All they have to do is provide information to the government. InfraGard members also have permission to “shoot to kill” in case of martial law.11
Maybe it is a good idea to hold off on those cubicle decorations you were saving up for, and get it bullet-proofed first.
1. Pilkington, Ed. “Hollywood film output likely to fall by a third.” Guardian, 18 October 2009. [↩]
2. “Mexico’s president given George Orwell’s 1984 by the Queen.” Telegraph, 20 March 2009. [↩]
3. Obama Nobel Prize Speech. [↩]
4. O’Neill Brendan. “Watching you watching me.” New Statesman, 02 October 2006. [↩]
5. “Britain: CCTV Surveillance into Thousands of British Homes.” Global Research, 31 July 2009. [↩]
6. Pareene Alex. “Government Declares Bloggers Potential Terrorists!” Gawker. [↩]
7. “Bush Tags Bloggers as Terrorists.” Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse via Daily Kos, 12 February 2006. [↩]
8. Elsworth, Catherine. “New airport screening ‘could read minds.’” Telegraph, 23 September 2008. [↩]
9. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, June 2009. [↩]
10. Beckford, Martin. “Young women ‘have more sexual partners’ than men.” Telegraph, 08 December 2008. [↩]
11. Rothschild, Mathew. “Will NorthCom Takeover in Swine Flu Outbreak?” The Progressive, 29 April 2009. [↩]
Justin O’Connell blogs at The Handshake Times. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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