George Orwell authored the nightmarish “1984” in 1949 as an indictment against all governments, which he thought uniformly authoritarian.Given the current political climate, it is not entirely absurd to liken the world of Orwell’s Oceania and Bush’s America. Such a comparison yields hauntingly solemn reminders of our current frustrations.
The Orwellian agenda of our president is quite authentic, permeating every ebb of policy. “1984’s” first chapter introduces the reader to Big Brother with the party slogans “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” and “ignorance is strength.” “War is peace” is a common theme in this administration. Dick Cheney equates Iraqi subjection to terror to our closeness to victory. The increased attacks in that country are the fruit of the terrorists’ frustration, he says, but not their increasing or potency or numbers, I suppose. This theory evaluates our success through our casualties, hardly a cogent argument.
It is also interesting to note the oxymoronic phrase, “war on terror.” War is terror. Nearly 11,000 innocent civilians have perished in Iraq, dead through “violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” (terrorism: Oxford Dictionary). The horrors of 9/11 were exemplified to those victims and their families in Iraq, without logical reason.
“Freedom is slavery” is most apparent to the citizens of Iraq. They are now “free,” in theory, despite the military occupation of their country, the near civil war, the restrictions on movement and curfew, the absence of habeas corpus, and the infiltration of al Qaeda. Otherwise, let freedom ring.
“Ignorance is strength,” especially for the Bush administration. Upon the invasion of Iraq most Americans believed in Iraq’s involvement with 9/11. Popular support was high and the invasion went forward. The population believed that Saddam had nuclear weapons despite CIA reports. Fear was rampant and the invasion went forward. Would the war have been as supportable if the president had claimed Iraq owned no WMD’s, no connection to al Qaeda and that democratizing Iraq was our motivation? Probably not. However, ignorance was strength when it was most needed by the hawks.
Orwell emphasized the censorship of Oceania and the amount of power it ensured the government. Howard Stern once supported Bush; he now vehemently opposes the president and is probably the most popular and powerful Bush-denouncer in the entire country. Consequently, Clear Channel, a country store style mom and pop operation and one of the top contributors to the Republican Party, pulled Stern from six of their stations, most notably in Ohio and Florida, the two most important states in the coming election. If Ohio and Florida vote in unison, then that candidate will win. If policy fails, let censorship win the presidency for Bush! “Obviously, it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship,” Orwell wrote in his preface to “Animal Farm.” I wonder if the FCC would find “Animal Farm” indecent and hold similar hearings in its honor?