Saturday, November 1, 2014

George Orwell on totalitarianism

Passed along in email:
"A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud. Such a society, no matter how long it persists, can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable..."  -- George Orwell
As time passes, I become increasingly irritated by enunciations that are perfectly true, my own included. Doesn't the usefulness of such analyses or bon mots lie in whatever action it precipitates? And when little or no action is precipitated, smugness begins to pass for wisdom. Hey Ma! -- watch me analyze this!

A combat soldier knows first-hand that "war is insane," but when perpetual war is the name of the governmental game ... well, who cares if "war is insane?"

You can sort of see where the Tea Party and its simplicities is coming from ... and perhaps imagine a self-immolating bloodbath yet to be.


  1. You would hope folks would hear, digest, and engage in actions appropriate to that bon mot. But, as in the case of this one, the ruling class will invest in the campaign to install their protectors, misinform the public with fear programs, etc. They divide and conquer, another bon mot we should learn from, but don't.

    Every generation doubts the wisdom of the last, and so experiments with disaster. They have great energy for it, and big plans. And somehow there's always a wealthy class pulling strings. And population growth just means that many more who aren't properly informed and so easily manipulated.

    All in all it's about trying to people proof samsara. Still on my first coffee here, and i can tell you the previous sentence hurts my brain to try and understand.

  2. "You are old, Father William," the young man said,
    "And your hair has become very white;
    And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
    Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

    "In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
    "I feared it might injure the brain;
    But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
    Why, I do it again and again."

    "You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
    And have grown most uncommonly fat;
    Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
    Pray, what is the reason of that?"

    "In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
    "I kept all my limbs very supple
    By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
    Allow me to sell you a couple?"

    "You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
    For anything tougher than suet;
    Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
    Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

    "In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
    And argued each case with my wife;
    And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
    Has lasted the rest of my life."

    "You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
    That your eye was as steady as ever;
    Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
    What made you so awfully clever?"

    "I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
    Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
    Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
    Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

  3. I remember that poem from the childcraft books of my youth. Had to look it up to realize it was Lewis Carroll.