Welcome to Part Two of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, our latest audio adventure in Tales for Our Time. If you seek a respite from the woes of the world, if only for twenty minutes before you lower your lamp each night, you may prefer its predecessor tale, Psmith, Journalist by P G Wodehouse. Whatever your taste, we have plenty of other yarns in all genres over on our Tales for Our Time home page.
Still, these are serious times, and it helps (indeed, it is necessary) to be able to get off the hamster wheel of breaking "news" and take a sober look at how we got here and where we're headed. Orwell's masterful forensic examination of the panopticon state is essential to that.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was assumed that Big Brother was the designated baddie. As Sal Tessio, a New Jersey member of The Mark Steyn Club, reminds us:
Quite ironically it was Apple that produced the 1984 inspired TV commercial shown in January 1984 during the Super Bowl in which the narrator states that if people buy the Macintosh (presumably as an act of defiance against Big Blue IBM) then life in the year 1984 won't be like life in the book 1984. Thirty-seven years hence Apple is Big Brother...looking down...judging...erasing...
Here's that 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four ad, made for Apple by Ridley Scott:
Well, 1984 wasn't like Nineteen Eighty-Four. But 2021 sure is: as Sal says, Apple is ever more openly Big Brother; it vaporizes you with nary a thought (ask Parler if you can find a means of communicating with them - maybe a telegram?) and its smartphone, as I said in my introduction last night, is a portable telescreen that improves on Orwell by tagging along and watching you wherever you go.
So Apple would never run that 1984 ad today, would it? Because fear of state control has been superseded by fear of wrong thoughts and "sensitive" content.
Tonight's instalment of Nineteen Eighty-Four opens with the daily 11am "Two Minutes Hates", which features as always Emmanuel Goldstein, "the Enemy of the People":
The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure... Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even--so it was occasionally rumoured--in some hiding-place in Oceania itself...
Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party--an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it...
The sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically... But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were--in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police.
Orwell is presumed to have based "Emanuel Goldstein" on the real-life Leon Trotsky during his exile in Mexico. Likewise, Goldstein's tract The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism ("oligarchical collectivism" is not a bad term for our own times) is the merest gloss on Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed. Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929 and eventually settled in Mexico, until Stalin had him icepicked in 1940. In exile he had an affair with Frida Kahlo and took up gardening, but Moscow still spent a decade publicly blaming him for everything going wrong back home.
It is not necessary, though, for the All-Purpose Enemy to be that real. The Deep State decided five years ago that "Russia" was behind anything that advantaged Trump: The Kremlin had bought a hundred grand's worth of Facebook ads and a bunch of "Macedonian content farmers" and loosed them on the presidential election to devastating effect. An entire election cycle later, the Democrats and the media declared as one that they would not be addressing the matter of Hunter Biden's laptop because it was "Russian disinformation". Which is, in Orwell's very well-chosen words:
...an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it.
And so tens of millions of apparently sane Americans believe Trump is a Russian agent and that Putin somehow dropped off a fake laptop at a Delaware computer shop.
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