Saturday, September 4, 2010

Doubleplusgood!

George Orwell ends his prophetic novel, 1984, with an “Appendix” devoted to the long-term bureaucratic task of reshaping the English language into “Newspeak” so that by 2050 the tyrants who ruled Oceania would have accomplished a sort of “voluntary” thought control by preventing its people from having even the capacity to formulate, let alone understand, potentially disruptive humanizing concepts that were once commonplace. In the United States this process was put into place in the early 1950s far more subtly and persuasively than even Orwell could have imagined by the Psychology Strategy Board, whose mandate remains classified. Whereas Newspeak deprived those who used it of virtually any conceptual sophistication or nuance, the current rulers of our world have managed to keep intact the capacity for nuance and subtle concept formation, but to selectively deprive those whose welfare is most affected by certain concepts of the capacity to understand their meaning. “Class warfare” is one of those concepts. The ruling class, by contrast, understands perfectly well what this concept means, and wages it ceaselessly.