Thursday, April 28, 2011

Iraq can avoid U.S./U.K. Orwellian state

Dallas Darling writes at World News (click the title of this post for the entire piece):

By the time former President George W. Bush ordered massive and deadly bombing campaigns over Iraq, followed by a preemptive military invasion that killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, there was no need to burn books. Neither was there concern over public demonstrations, anti-war rhetoric, acts of sedition, or Americans disrupting Congressional hearings and televised news accounts of the war. In a nation that no longer reads books, there is no need for book burnings. In a society that no longer knows how to think, there is no need for the thought police. In a country that speaks only in euphemisms — words and phrases devoid of any meaning and reality and facts — there is no need to suppress speech. In a state that fences and cordons off areas for protesters, the Gestapo and secret police are not needed. Furthermore, in a society socially engineered to consume manufactured, yet illegal, wars and high-tech atrocities, brutal occupations and collectivized murder becomes entertainment. Reality in an empire, or what appears to be reality dictated through illusions, is much more comfortable and easier to digest and to live with than moral convictions, moral courage, and moral outrage.

This is exactly the kind of totalitarian society and state George Orwell warned and wrote about in his book: "1984." ... Even though Orwell warned of such thought control and mass persuasion, referring to it as "brainwashing" and "protective stupidity," he believed that the State's sophisticated and subliminal control over the masses could never ultimately penetrate the heart. In other words, Orwell believed the inner workings of the soul would somehow remain mysterious and impregnable. The heart of humanity could never be completely mastered. There would always be some form of political dissidence and resistance to totalitarian regimes.

But Orwell never foresaw a corporative and market-oriented society, especially one that has been deeply internalized, and a society and culture in which addictive consumerism and mindless entertainment replaces thinking and ethics and universal principles of goodness and the importance of human life. He could not have realized that through global capitalism and neo-liberal policies, a new mentality and humanity could be fashioned and formed, that selfish unconscious desires could perpetually override more global conscientious morals and behavior, and that ideals like freedom, mercy, love, justice, and equality, and events and actions like preemptive invasions, wars, torture, murder, and rape, could be packaged and then advertised and sold. For Orwell, this preemptive invasion of the mind and the continued occupation of the heart and the very essence of "being" was foreign, nearly impossible. But in America, the pacification of civic engagement and thinking and the moral concepts of right and wrong has become sloppy and impoverished and in many cases, nonexistent.

In "Politics and the English Language," Orwell prophetically wrote: "This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases ... can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits." But in a consumerist and market-oriented for-profit culture and society, like that of America, selfish and materialistic and dystopian habits are difficult to overcome. ... Within this Americanized and inhuman environment, it is no wonder demonstrations are considered disturbances and dissenting voices and ideas are treason. Blatant lies are merely unfortunate mistakes, torture is useful and needful, revenge and militarism are glorified, and political indifference and aloofness are virtuous.

... In a disturbing twist of fate, Orwell's nightmare is Britain and America. Not only have Americans and Brits become their own thought police, but they have become their own demonstration and speech and petition police. By allowing their thoughts and ethics to be purged by the state and corporate powers, they have built their own "cages," their own Guantanamo Prisons, their own secret black sites.

Some Iraqis are aware of an American and British-like Orwellian state being established in their nation and around the world. Recent attacks against U.S. military bases and personnel were in response to America's continued support for a totalitarian regime in Bahrain and its crimes against humanity. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has courageously denounced the ban on public rallies, calling it "undemocratic" and based on fear. Sadr further added that the Iraqi government claims democracy but is undemocratic by allowing massive anti-U.S. protests to only be held at three stadiums. Nor have other Iraqis submitted to the extreme spectacles of preemptive wars and high-tech atrocities. They have not drunk the bitter waters of global capitalism, nor consumed and internalized its images and false realities. Dissent is not only imaginable but still a possibility. They have rejected "herd intoxication" and well honed psychological appeals to the basic instincts of humanity. And Orwell would have probably agreed with El-Baradei's words and ideas when he said, "Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happened again?"