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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Obama Administration and The Government In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

George Orwell's classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four (or 1984), is a novel that needs no introduction. Its lucid vision of a dystopian future has ignited controversy, stirred the cultural landscape, and terrified Orwell's admirers as well as generations of freshman English classes since its first publication in 1949.

The following is a list of three of the most startling aspects of Nineteen Eighty-Four, along with their real-world parallels in the Obama Administration:

1. Doublethink

One of the most penetrating and astute criticisms of totalitarian government in 1984, is its use of "Doublethink" (sometimes referred to as "Doublespeak"), which is an active process of deliberate self-deception accomplished by ignoring the truth, believing lies, and entertaining contradictions in ones mind, or as Orwell described it in 1984: "to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself."

1984 and The Obama Administration:

Obama's administration, supporters, and rhetoric are rife with doublethink. It is amazing to consider just how many things the Obama camp says, meaning the exact opposite. They employ the word "Hope" ad nauseam while waging a campaign of shameless fear-mongering to pass bills like the Stimulus Package, Cap and Trade, and the Public Option.

Obama's campaign repeated the slogan "Yes We Can" when it really meant "No You Can't: No you can't keep your own hard-earned money. No you can't make your own decisions about health care. No you can't choose where to invest for your retirement. No you can't take care of yourself without the government's help. No you can't use those light bulbs. No you can't own that gun." Obama has made a political career out of saying the exact opposite of what he means.

2. Newspeak

From the novel:

"You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year? Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten."

1984 and The Obama Administration:

Rigid control of the language is always on the agenda of totalitarians. Selecting and defining the very words of our lexicon gives a tyrant an immeasurable upper hand in setting the terms of debate, staking the deck in his own favor. This is why Barack Obama, with the help of a complicit media, made the word "empathy" front and center in the debate on Justice Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court. The words you did not hear were: justice, impartiality, and rule-of-law.

This is why "global warming" has all but disappeared from the environmentalists' vocabulary after a decade of modest decreases in global temperatures. Instead of assenting to reality, conceding defeat, and admitting their mistake, the "environmentalists" simply changed the word to "climate change" and kept arguing as if nothing had changed. Words are powerful. That's why as a Senator during the 2008 Presidential Election, Obama carefully referred to the bailout package he voted for as "economic stabilization" and why he calls Henry Waxman's carbon tax bill "Cap and Trade." Make no mistake, the Obama Administration and its lackeys in the media are aggressively setting the terms of the debate by controlling the words we use.

3. The Four Ministries in 1984

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government is divided into four ministries:

The Ministry of Peace carries out the nation's wars, which it doesn't want or try to win. It prefers to stay at war to endear its people to their leaders and focus their attention on an external enemy to distract them from their oppression and poverty. The Ministry of Plenty purports to provide for people's physical needs, but most of them live in squalor because of its activities.

The Ministry of Truth keeps a stranglehold on information, "correcting" anything that it considers false by erasing it from public awareness, while disseminating "the truth" as the ruling party sees it. The Ministry of Love is the scariest of the four- it is the police force of the government, monitoring people's thoughts and ensuring that they don't commit "thoughtcrime." If they do, it takes "corrective measures."

1984 and The Obama Administration:

Like Bush, Obama has continued a foreign policy of aggressive military expansion without a clear plan for decisive and immediate victory. Instead our troops remained garrisoned overseas for years in harms way and with restrictive rules of engagement making it impossible for them to do their job. Meanwhile, Obama's "Ministry of Plenty" is on the move here at home, grabbing at the reigns of economic power in the banking, housing, farming, automotive, and health industries, promising "plenty" while ignoring the basic and uncontroversial economic principles which clearly demonstrate that Obama's policies will create scarcity and rationing.

Like Orwell's Ministry of Truth, the Obama Administration and its lackeys in the media spread the party propaganda and seek to hush dissent. Take for instance, the recent White House request that citizens report anything that sounds "fishy" about the health care debate to Or the media's unambiguous leap from the realm of bias to the realm of overt activism for Obama and the Democrats. Our own real life "Ministry of Love" doesn't seem too far off either when Obama claims the right to indefinitely detain terrorists not long after the Department of Homeland Security releases a report tagging Pro-Life activists, Ron Paul supporters, Army vets, and anyone that is too vocal about the Constitution as potential terror threats.


  1. A couple of slight quibbles:

    First, though it's technically true that the globe was cooler in 2008 than in 1998 (is that the stat you were referring to?), it's also statistically meaningless. More precisely, it follows from comparing outliers: 1998 was exceptionally warm (an El Nino year, I believe), and 2008 was unusually cool. Most reasonable smoothing procedures (of the sort that are standard in time-series analysis) will still show a clear upward trend over the decade. I saw a very well-argued piece on this a few months ago, but I can't remember where; otherwise I'd post the link.

    Second, the reason Obama calls the Waxman bill "Cap and Trade" is because that's what it is. If implemented correctly, a cap and trade plan would be theoretically equivalent to a carbon tax, but the two mechanisms operate through different channels (a tax affects price directly and quantity indirectly, cap-and-trade does the reverse). Anyway, cap-and-trade is the correct economics term for the Obama plan.

    Otherwise, good post.


    -Matt G

  2. I love 1984, George Orwell really had great insight and understood human nature very well. It is scary to see this happening before our eyes, but hopefully enough people will recognize this administrations attempt to control for what it is before it goes too far.

    I have often thought of George Orwell's other classic Animal Farm in regards to the UAW and their Union leaders. The workers think the union leaders will take them out from under the opression of the "evil" factory owners. What they don't realize is, like the animals in the book, they will be trading one tyrant for another. Same with the American people who expect Obama to be their savior. Once he gets enough power he will just be another dictator.

  3. Bush too Obama--out of the frying pan and into the fire. Obama campained on transparency but has now appointed 40 plus czars or commisars. They wield power and authority but are outside of our checks and balance answering only to Obama. The antithesis of transparency. A shadow Govt beyond the sight and control of the people. 1984 here we come.

  4. The fact that Obama is lifting a government ban on government sites being able to view personal information about you from your computer is about as 1984 as it gets. He is allowing the government the have the power to learn almost anything about you including hacking your email. He claims this is a "compelling need". The government being able to see everything that you do..sound familiar?

    "In short, the atomic bomb is likely "to put an end to large-scale wars at the cost of prolonging ?a peace that is no peace.?" The drift of the world will not be toward anarchy, as envisioned by H.G. Wells, but toward "horribly sta­ble . . . slave empires."