01 April 2013

Airstrip One, A.D.2014

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Thirty years after the passing of 1984, Oceania found itself in an extraordinary position. The state — that entity which, according to theory, exists for the benefit of its citizens — had grown into a thing of nightmarish size and scope.

Decades earlier, an academic named Eric Nordlinger had warned that the government apparatus of a democracy would automatically try to expand itself and its powers, at the expense of the individual — but his work had been dismissed.

It became clear that the state was no longer in any sense the servant of those who ‘voted’ for it, but an autonomous agency which, like any corporation, was focused on its own interests and agenda. These involved increasing its powers, and its revenue, against what few constraints remained.

The full horror of what had been allowed to happen slowly began to dawn on a small minority. Meanwhile, the vast mass of ordinary citizens appeared neither to notice nor care.

Beneath their facade of indifference, many had negative reactions to what was happening, ranging from discomfort to terror and despair. They were kept mute, however, by their obeisance before an ideology which decreed that all was done for the good of the ‘needy’ and that anyone who opposed it was ‘uncaring’. Some wondered why the lives of the ‘needy’ never actually got any better, failing to realise that the point of the concept was purely a narrative one, intended to justify ever-increasing intrusion and confiscation.

The ideology cleverly co-opted groups such as women and ethnic minorities to its cause by convincing them that it served their interests, and that enemies of the ideology were their enemies too. In reality, those who were taken in by this were mere fodder to be exploited.

Many found it difficult to accept that the state had essentially become an instrument of evil, because such a large proportion of the population was employed by it. What was not appreciated (until too late) was that the absolute power of the state automatically corrupted anyone working for it. Even those sceptical about the state quickly converted to its point of view once they began carrying out its orders.

People were also befuddled by the fact that while sex and money had been heavily flagged as sources of negative motivation, the more dangerous lust-objects of power over others or (worse) ability to frustrate had been carefully avoided as topics for discussion.

* * * * *

The apparatus of Oceanic government was divided between eleven distinct Ministries (four having been found to be not nearly enough), with free exchange between them of files, database records and other information on individual citizens.

Ministry of Peace
Responsible for involving citizens in opportunistic wars supposedly promoting ‘justice’ and ‘peace’. These distract attention from domestic failings, and provide justification for greater powers of snooping, intrusion and incarceration.

Ministry of Health
Primarily responsible for (a) ensuring that citizens do not survive beyond their allotted lifespan, and (b) allowing practitioners to experiment on human subjects.
Regularly employed euphemisms include: ‘care pathway’ (starving patients to death in order to free beds), ‘informed consent’ (extorting a signature), and ‘in their best interests’ (doing the opposite of what patients or families want, including invasive treatments, sometimes for the mere thrill of exercising power over another person’s body).
The Ministry of Health is also responsible for the prescription of brain-deadening medication on a widespread scale — as only the thick-skinned are able to tolerate a society this grim without anaesthetics — and for enforcing compliance with the drug regime.

Ministry of Learning
Responsible for exposing children to damaging environments, in order that they avoid acquiring the skills which would enable them to see through falsehood, while instilling ideology to ensure the resulting frustration in later life is (ironically) turned to anger against opponents of the state.

Ministry of Knowledge
Responsible for running ASLCs (after-school learning centres), formerly called universities. Goal is to ensure that intellectual output is restricted to material supportive of the state, and world views compatible with increasing state control.
It is vital to the health of the state bureaucracy that intellectuals should always express sympathy with pro-state trends, and that no dissidents be given a platform — except those clamouring for even more radical forms of state control.
Applicants for ASLC courses are screened for ideological suitability, with those evincing independence of thought diverted to the less prestigious ASLCs, or denied access altogether.
Graduates of ASLCs join the Outer Party — an elite class of writers, media controllers, bureaucrats etc. — and work for one of the Ministries. Outer Party members are permitted to live in relative comfort, as insulation from the common herd is thought to make it easier for them to compose unrealistic sermons and pseudo-analyses.

Ministry of Plenty
Responsible for ensuring government finances are always in deficit. It was realised some time ago that getting massively into debt is not bad for the state in making it appear inept, but good, in that it provides a more compelling rationale for confiscating citizens’ property.
Middle-class competition can be usefully exploited in this regard, with richer members proclaiming ‘no really, please tax us more!’ as a devious means of impoverishing their poorer rivals and thus enhancing their own relative advantage.
New, creative methods of taxation are regularly proposed — mansion tax, bedroom tax, fat tax, granny tax, banking tax, airport tax, etc. — but when it gets tired of such game-playing the state simply confiscates a percentage of everyone’s savings accounts.

Ministry of Fun
Outer Party members working for the Ministry of Fun are responsible for producing and disseminating cultural products for the masses that will insidiously instil the dominant ideology. This process includes the rewriting of history, a goal best achieved using tendentious docudrama.
Cultural products should be entertaining in a suitably mind-numbing way, and reinforcing of the correct ideological messages. They must be free of bourgeois content, celebrating instead the glorious proletariat, who should be shown demanding more intervention and rebelling against a snobbish and exploitative bourgeoisie.
Audiovisual dramas are required to portray certain practices as necessary and tolerable, e.g. betrayal, aggression, theft, torture, murder, involuntary euthanasia.

Ministry of Protection
Responsible for providing criminals with education and other forms of social support, and for protecting them from persecution by property owners.
Also responsible for implementing laws against thought and speech crimes, and for collaborating with the Ministry for Families in the removal of children.

Ministry of Love
65 years earlier, George Orwell had written that the aim of the Big Brother state
was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control [but] to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much as eroticism was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it.
In practice, however, sex had not been found a threat to state authority, but instead had become a useful outlet for energies that might otherwise generate dissatisfaction or unease.
Sex now functions as an analgesic, and the search for sex as a usefully distracting counterirritant. Pursuit of sex is therefore encouraged, as is the breakage of existing relationships in favour of new ones.
It is loyalty to one’s partner, and genuine affection or empathy, that are seen as threatening. Relationships built on trust are discouraged in favour of ‘designer love’ — a consciously phoney and ‘ironic’ imitation of an earlier model, in which the parties regard sentiment as a slightly embarrassing means to a necessary end.
The idea of innate feeling or thought is seen as atavistic, proven by biology and psychiatry to be a cognitive delusion.

Ministry for Families
As a result of the prevailing love/sex model, even apparently stable family units are blatantly founded on contingency and cynical pragmatism. One side effect of this is that sensitive individuals tend to be traumatised, soon after emerging from the womb, by the harsh atmosphere prevailing in the home, so that many take refuge in emotional flight — a condition explained away as ‘autism’.
In general, the attitude to families is negative. ‘Support’ is used as a euphemism for coercive intervention aimed at destabilisation. Children are readily taken into state ownership, where they can be forcibly exposed to the ‘real world’ (e.g. sexual suffering). It is mandated that the business of child rearing cannot be entrusted to biological parents, who are perpetually scrutinised for signs of ‘abuse’.

Ministry of Truth
Responsible for publishing misleading data about examination success, falling crime rates, improving citizen health etc; and for issuing gagging orders.
Passes information about undesirable whistleblowers to the Ministry of Protection (see above).
Also responsible for authorising torture of prisoners to reveal ‘information’ — whether real, or invented under pressure.

Ministry of Justice
The really frightening one ...
The Ministry of Justice upholds a system of arcane and opaquely worded laws and regulations, numbering in the tens of thousands, which are interpreted in whatever way best suits the authorities.
In particular, the Ministry makes frequent use of an instrument called a closed material procedure, a term that strikes terror into the hearts of those prosecuted under it, for they know then that their doom is upon them, whether they are guilty or not.
In a closed material procedure (CMP) case, your fate is determined in Kafkaesque fashion by authority figures deliberating behind locked doors, and neither you nor your lawyer is allowed to be present or to know what evidence is being used to convict you.
The CMP procedure for civil litigation cases had been sneakily introduced by Airstrip One’s perfidious premier and his dishonest deputy, during a time when the public’s attention was distracted by hoo-hah about gay marriage (an issue which, these two personages claimed, validated their PR-manufactured reputation as ‘liberals’).
The legislation was drawn up in response to demands from leaders in New York Territory, and was inspired by a popular TV series about intelligence officers devising creative ways to torture suspects.

image source: SovietBuildings



● A number of journalists have expressed sympathy with Vicky Pryce, said to be one of the cleverest women in Britain, who was given an eight-month prison sentence for taking speeding points for her then husband, LibDem minister Chris Huhne — a punishment somewhat like using a bulldozer to crack a nut. Her career is supposedly over, and the “terrible waste” of her abilities is bemoaned.

Celia Green’s career was also ruined, and her considerable talents largely wasted, though she broke no laws. Her only crime was to incur the hostility and jealousy of other people, including officials at Essex County education authority and the former principal of her Oxford college.

No journalists have enquired about Dr Green’s position or her problems. This may be because her story would not sell papers in the way blather about the Huhne-Pryce affair does. But perhaps it also reflects squeamishness on the part of the media about criticising the establishment in fundamental ways, as opposed to merely exposing its members’ sexual and financial shenanigans.

Those who have written about Professor Pryce no doubt assume that she does not want to be in prison, that she has a strong desire to make use of her abilities, and that she will find it frustrating to have no opportunity to do so. Strangely, this logic is typically inverted in the case of Dr Green. Those who respond to her complaints reveal a belief that she cannot be suffering particularly, or even that she ought to enjoy her position of being a struggling, unfinanced intellectual — did she not choose it? But Green no more chose her present life style than Einstein chose to be a patent clerk.



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