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Monday, 12 November 2018 10:10

The Future of Humanity

Written by  Bob Serody

George Orwell (1903 -1950) was an English novelist, essayist, and journalist. His works are known for lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism. He is well known for his books, Animal Farm, and 1984. Animal Farm had used animals to depict a fable that showed how pigs used cunning and lies to control barnyard animals by hoarding excessive amounts of food and comfort at the expense of the other animals. These pigs emulated the worst instincts of humans.

His next classic dystopian novel, 1984, was a horror story of the future. While Frankenstein was an outgrowth of nineteenth century science, and Godzilla was a creature born of twentieth century nuclear weapons, 1984 was a description of the all-intrusive totalitarian state that controlled its minions by depriving them of their most precious attribute, privacy. Recall the phrase, “Big Brother is Watching You.”

We see that Orwell was warning that the Twentieth Century barbarism of the axis powers could repeat itself.  He also warned that Communism would be a repeat of totalitarian ideology in the post-war period. The great victory of the allies in World War II did not prevent Stalin’s encroachment over the briefly liberated countries of Eastern Europe. Rather than bringing forth a time of peace and prosperity, it foreshadowed the next cycle of human misery. The latter part of the Twentieth Century would introduce a new generation of nuclear, chemical, biological, and cyber-attack weapons. Warfare on a global level was now a zero sum game for all of humanity.

When the 1980s came and went and the Soviet Union suffered an economic collapse, many of us felt that 1984 did not accurately predict the apocalyptic future when compared with other science fiction novels, such as Brave New World, in which people would be controlled by the state through conditioning and pleasure, without the need for psychological and physical torture.

The progress of mankind through science and technology has been exponential. Beginning with the mid-nineteenth century, we’ve passed through the industrial, electrical, and electronic revolutions. Air and ground transportation have completely shrunk the world. Now we are reaping the benefits of computer technology, which have allowed us to solve complex problems using high speed processing. We are now engaged in another revolution as a result of the Internet- the information age.  The benefits are obvious, but as part of this latest advance, we are viewed by Silicon Valley as resources to be mined and exploited. One might think again of Orwell by reading The Circle, a novel by Dave Eggers, who recast 1984 by comparing it to Silicon Valley.  The title refers to a perfectly shaped circular building sheathed in curved glass being constructed by a company called The Circle. It might be thought from this shape that no piece of information is irrelevant when peering into our lives. The author’s view is that the Valley’s corporate efforts will ultimately damage our personal freedoms. According to a top executive of this company, not only ‘should everyone have a right to know everything, it would lead to a more moral way of life’.

Unfortunately, today’s modern technology has also introduced new and effective techniques of spying and utilizing cyber-warfare. They are in the arsenals of the United States, China, and Russia. The Internet has become a tool that permits modern-day villains to control our thoughts in making decisions, such as who we will vote for.  The movie, Manchurian Candidate, was really another takeoff on 1984.

The United States uses remote-controlled drones to target and kill people with which it is not officially at war. They are called “signature strikes” and are directed by armchair controllers operating from halfway around the world. “Metadata” – the manipulation of billions of bits of information to recognize previously unseen patterns – allows governments to quietly compile dossiers on the behavior of millions of individuals. A person’s cell phone conversation can be monitored and his location tracked in real time.

It is no longer necessary to utilize the cruder forms of torture, brain washing, and physical violence when attempting to overcome the enemy. We have become so efficient with the flow of digital data, that a country’s leaders can achieve personal wealth and power without the need to conquer other countries using the primitive methods of physical force. Why bother? Just look at Putin, who pretends that his power and enormous wealth come from the people through ‘popular elections’. He is even able to exert influence on another country’s elections, such as the recent 2016 U. S. Presidential Elections.

1984 exposed how the state of Oceana used two-way telescreens, propaganda, torture, and brain washing to subjugate the people. The ultimate purpose was mind control. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a perfect example of the techniques described in 1984 to force the masses to love ‘Big Brother’. Today it is significant that another threat to our freedom does not need to come from overseas, but from our own government. Look at voter suppression. Look at the laws passed by crooked legislatures to satisfy the financial interests of corporations and families within the top one percent at the expense of the people.

The presidency of Donald Trump now threatens our democracy. His purpose is to decrease taxes on the wealthiest Americans while reducing the benefits going to the working class. He has done nothing to end the stagnation of wages or support a livable increase through the minimum wage. For many citizens, advanced education comes with the burden of long-term loans. As the federal deficit spirals upward, the Party of Trump calls for reduction of entitlements and health benefits as the solution to reduce the budget.  He even denies the consequences of climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels while California burns out of control.

He is able to introduce lie after lie on a daily basis to his supporters, not because he thinks his base actually believes him, but because these lies are what they want to hear. His executive orders and his control over Congress and the Supreme Court have been used to convince his followers that he is operating in their best interests. His ability to say outrageous things and raise the emotions of fear and hate to divide us is typical of the way demagogues operate. His ideology is that of a totalitarian state.

A very recent example occurred when best-selling author J.K. Rowling tore into White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday, adding to the growing number of accusations that Sanders shared an edited video to justify the Trump administration's suspension of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials. The “Harry Potter” author shared a line from George Orwell’s dystopian classic, “1984,” on Twitter alongside the press secretary's tweet that featured the video.

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth,” Rowling wrote on Twitter.

Orwell saw that people might become slaves of the state to benefit those at the top, but he probably did not foresee that corporations would eventually manipulate us as resources of data in the information age (another form of mind control), and that the accumulation of power and wealth could be accomplished without the need for physical violence. 

Those possessing great wealth have an obligation to do their fair share. When greed becomes the motivating force for the creation of lopsided laws, and so many of us are forced to struggle for very little return, that leads to a government that disregards human rights. That in turn leads to a fascist state, where Capitalism is out of control. This is where we are today.

The way to prevent this form of dictatorship is to give everyone the opportunity to succeed. Each time that Orwell faced a difficult chapter in his life, as when he fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, he insisted on first gathering the facts, and then acting on them on the basis of principle rather than expedience. This two-step approach helped Orwell in deciding that both Communism and Fascism were bad political choices, and that Democratic Socialism was needed to regulate the excesses of Capitalism. The preservation of individual liberty is a progressive ideal. The struggle to see things as they are and then move forward allowed Orwell to write novels that became great classics in describing how totalitarian regimes operate to overcome individual freedoms. It is advisable to follow in his footsteps when making our own choices, as when we select our leaders, and to preserve our freedoms by using this two-step approach. 


 Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.


Last modified on Monday, 12 November 2018 20:29
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