Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
E-Mail: Enter 'Beacon' in subject box. Send to: Minnekota@Referencedesk.org
The current Bush administration and its political values and tactics so dear to the hearts of the ruling faction within the Republican Party has been identified as "Orwellian" to the point that the term has little meaning. In fact, the term is probably misleading.
The Bush administration does not emulate George Orwell's political stances. It emulates what Orwell tried to warn about and explain. Orwell understood the totalitarian impulse in people who seek power over other people. And he understood how technology can be used to enslave people rather than free them from oppression and drudgery. In probing that use of technology, Orwell also delineates how language can be subverted and perverted to deceive and manipulate people through forms of mind control so that they give up their basic rights and freedoms.
Orwell understood this process from personal experience. He allied himself with the Communist side in the Spanish Civil War and soon was confronted with the power-mad deviousness that drove the leaders of the Communist Party. Ernest Hemingway, by the way, also portrays this aspect in his work. Then Orwell examined how the Nazi and Fascist parties appealed to people of Europe and got their support in imposing totalitarian regimes on Germany and France. We Americans tend to honor the efforts of the resistance and underground so much that we forget that the Nazis had sympathizers, supporters, and collaborators in the countries that they took over. The Vichy French are a prime example.
From the time that Bush sent his propaganda shock troops to Florida during his contested election in 2000, we have been witness to a regime that shamelessly employs the tactics described by Orwell to hold the people in a mental thralldom.
The first thing it does is to make villains and miscreants out of its opponents. During the contested election in 2000, Bush and his totalitarian cronies vilified anyone who came down to Florida to look after Democratic interests in the election--the accusations of perfidy and nefarious purpose were aimed at Al Gore and his lawyers and any Democrat leaders, such as Tom Daschle, who went to Florida to see what was going on. That is the point at which we developed a strong antipathy to George W. Bush. We saw him and his minions using the propaganda techniques of massive slander and character assassination to make any members of the opposition into untrustworthy villains.
And, no doubt, their efforts worked. When the Supreme Court in effect appointed George W. Bush president, we knew we were losing America to totalitarian ambitions.
That is the first technique at which he was successful: to portray the opposition as enemies of the people. All one had to do is listen to Rush Limbaugh, or Pat Robertson, or any of the nighttime fascists on talk radio to hear the message and how many people fell for it.
The next thing Orwellian totalitarians do is create a war so that the people have a perpetual enemy on which to focus so that Big Brother can claim he is protecting them and making them secure and so that they ignore everything else by focusing on the threat constantly held before them. Bush got lucky. He got 9/11. And he was able to use the abstract and undefinable concerns of combating terror to create that war that people of his political orientation need to keep the nation in line. It was, indeed, a contrived war and a matter of wagging the dog. We even had film titled "Wagging the Dog" that chronicled how a power-mad regime could create a war that kept the people in fear and directing their hatred and energies channeled in the ruts of deception. But the Bush regime was successful. A majority of the people groveled before the regime for protection, and anyone who spoke out against the war was labeled unpatriotic, traitorous, and cowardly. And the people fell for it. Again, review the Thune campaign against Tom Daschle. South Dakota is under the rule of what we might call the Vichy Americans.
The hatred generated by the false accusations and malevolent contrivances against Tom Daschle won. And we knew again that America had taken a giant step into totalitarianism.
On the national level, we need not review the loss of civil liberties, the insistence upon vicious and cruel oppressions in the name of security, the massive deceptions, and the hate-based initiatives used to build the regime's hold on the people. On the state level, we need not review for the real democrats the most closed and repressive state government in the nation, the exercise in voodoo studies that produced a "task force" report that justifies the proposal to enslave and make brood sows out of pregnant women, or attitudes of malice and hatred that shape the state culture. Just read the regressive blogs, if you do need reminding.
And then we come to Bill Clinton. In the early nights of his presidence, the insidious voices of talk radio began circulating charges that he had assembled hit squads to murder his opponents. And the portrayals of monsterhood, upon which the right wing is so dependent, grew from there. Bill Clinton and his advisers, however, held to the idea that no charge should go unanswered. And if there is information that proves the falseness of the charges, no matter how ridiculous and outrageous, it should be stated. Eventually, the constant and low-key refutations of the night-radio nonsense, prevailed. But every other pretext for vilifying Bill Clinton was a major political industry. Unfortunately, His Horniness did not help matters when his personal assignations were revealed.
As a former president, he had enough. The Bush regime has tried to divert attention away from its war based on lies, its gross incompetence, and its devious politics by focusing on what Bill Clinton did and did not do to create the current state of affairs regarding terrorism. Clinton finally consented to be interviewed by the official Bush state news agency, Fox News. He knew he was being set up. He came prepared to answer.
The Bush regime assaults against anyone who disagrees with him have unfortunately produced demonstrations of cowardice among Democrats. People are so fearful of being called traitors, unpatriotic, obstructionists, liberals, and all those things that the conservative programs for perverting and subverting the language have produced in the national vocabulary, that they have submitted rather than resisted.
Bill Clinton made his case yesterday. That gives some hope that true freedom, equality, and justice might survive in America. But not a hell of a lot. Bush and John Thune were elected. A majority have chosen their sellouts to the power-mongers over a vigorous and honest examination of issues. Bill Clinton might remind us of what it is like to have leaders who do not simply hand the Bushites the Vaseline with the admonition to be gentle. But the quality of democracy depends on what the voters decide, and people who want true, American democracy instead of Orwellian wars and deceptions and revocations of freedom better get used to the idea that they might not get it in America. The people who want to cower behind and grovel before Big Brother outnumber them.
The greatest generation is dying out. And look what has replaced it. Just look at the war on Iraq. Just read the right-wing blogs. While we have honorable soldiers obeying their commander in chief and we have people who see this war as one of the greatest moral perversions in history, we have more Vichy Americans who hope to gain some security and personal gain by submitting to Big Brother.