Welcome to Part Twenty-Two of our current Tale for Our Time - my too timely serialization of George Orwell's classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. In tonight's episode, Winston Smith reads to Julia more highlights from Emmanuel Goldstein's political tract The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism:
Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other...
The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable.
My fellow Torontonian Charles Rackoff writes:
You say, 'Orwell did not get all the details right but he saw pretty clearly the underlying psychology.'
Do you really think that the reason we are still in Afghanistan, for example, is in order to destroy wealth, so as to perpetuate the existing social/economic hierarchy? This is Orwell/Goldstein's main point. And maybe also that of Marx.
I think the reason we are still in Afghanistan is because leaving would lose more support from the military and the populace than staying. (I'm assuming that leaving would effectively be surrendering the country completely to the Taliban; whereas staying entails leaving some unstated part of the country to the Taliban, and the rest to some other entity that we choose to know absolutely nothing about.)
Orwell/Goldstein's "main point" is the permanent emergency and the advantages that gives the state. The Afghan war can never end because it has no war aims, which means the conditions of victory and defeat are unknown and unknowable, and can never be met. Why America chooses to wage war that way is a question for another day, but there are certainly economic elements at play: Many people have grown rich on an outmoded model of national strength that puts carrier groups in every pond around the globe - the "Floating Fortresses" of Orwell's vision - while China takes over the planet unencumbered by such things.
Marc Swerdloff, a Floridian Steyn Clubber, writes:
Never let a crisis go to waste was Rahm Emanuel's axiom.
Here Orwell explains the reasons that the left is always manufacturing new crises and is never satisfied with each social victory. To keep the psychological effect of the people to be willing to give up some rights and privileges for security. Climate war is the perpetual war that deviates limited resources to an unattainable goal without the proximate bloodletting. Gender warfare has the same effect of misdirecting resources. (Communist unleashed BioWarfare is not so clean but certainly effective.)
Our political economic elite will not let outsiders from Queens NY or flyover country (deplorables) gain knowledge or power. This 'boring' part of the novel is fascinating as applied to the political currents of the last half century.
Tales for Our Time began as an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proved very popular, and is now in its fourth season. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the comments section below. But, either way, do join me tomorrow evening for Part Twenty-Three of Nineteen Eighty-Four.