This seems to be a balanced article – Orwell, Huxley and the Emerging Totalitarianism. It is a subject that preoccupies me. I have read both 1984 and Brave New World, and have read William Shirer’s monumental The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany. I have a profound sense of foreboding about the world we live in, and a feeling that things just won’t carry on in the same way. I know zilch about economics, but I do know that what passes for money these days is no longer value, but debt. National debts run into the kind of figures that we just cannot comprehend – something like the number of matchsticks needed to build a structure as big as a skyscraper or a modern aircraft carrier. Something is going to crack.
We see the threats in front of us: big money and complicit governments, Islamic organisations like ISIS capable of taking over whole countries and making them into a living hell. The term borrowed from Orwell – political correctness – is now used in mainstream commentaries by the press and people who notice the ever-increasing curbs on free speech. I am careful what I say on this blog, making a careful distinction between what people are and what they do.
I understood much more about the psychological dimension, apart from the habitual historic approach, when I read Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. This book is difficult to follow, and I have no way of discerning how much of it is quackery or pseudo science. The theme of psychopathy is cogent, if it is not seen as removing the subject’s moral responsibility in evil acts. A bunch of bad eggs, like the Nazi war criminals (including those who committed suicide and avoided judgement), were capable of poisoning an entire country and much of the European continent. We seem more or less to have the mechanism of a totalitarian hell. Hitler and Nazism were not alone. There was also Stalin’s Soviet Union, and many other dictators since then. In earlier times, it was men of the Church and the Aristocracy who were doing then what ISIS is doing now in Iraq and Syria: killing, enslaving and exploiting.
Are we also going to get it in the neck in our “democratic” countries, in the USA, England, Europe, Australia and many other places? We have had a cushy ride since 1945, and I wasn’t born then. I’m a baby boomer and had an easy time, and if there was another war and a call-up, I’m probably old enough to get put in the Reserves, Dad’s Army or something of the sort! I probably wouldn’t even have to cut my hair! That would be on the assumption that we are citizens of the country in the right and not belonging to the Axis of Evil. In the current situation with Russia and the Ukraine, I begin to feel about my native country as a German would have in the 1930’s. It’s all about big money and the west’s staggering burden of debt. Drug addicts get desperate when they don’t get their fix!
On the other hand, many prophecies of doom have failed and continue to attract derision and scoffing. I try to get information from “alternative” as well as “mainstream” sources, and I know no better because I have an innate mistrust in everything. The way things are going, I begin to draw inspiration from Bernard Moitessier and the freedom of the sea. Orwell and Huxley were not prophets. They simply observed their own times and extrapolated into the future. If it goes on the way it is doing, the result will be… The same process has been going on at least since the mid eighteenth century with the Industrial Revolution and the Machine. We may loath machines, but we use them. The system is a part of us all. Tyranny has been around since the dawn of history, and the Church was once as bad as the bankers, big businessmen and politicians rolled into one. Atrocities in Spain in the fifteenth century were no different from their counterparts in Iraq today. We secular and democratic moderns are merely looking at the stark reality of our own middle ages and our human bestiality.
Should humanity cease? God seems not to have reached such a decision. The nuclear holocaust we feared in the 1960’s and 70’s didn’t happen. No significant meteorite has ever hit the earth at least since the era of the dinosaurs. Hitler was beaten in 1945 and Soviet Communism collapsed in 1989. Anything collapses in time, as did the Church and the French Aristocracy. Many of us look forward to the collapse of capitalism and the possibility of a new beginning, painful as that would be to our way of life. Most of us would not be able to adapt to returning to eighteenth-century technology and farming! History teaches us about the plagues, wars and revolutions that separated the conventionally named eras.
If our world goes totalitarian, we will not have long to suffer. We internet users, intellectuals and thinking folk would be the first to be picked up and promptly bumped off. There would be no resistance, given the technology they have (and even what is accessible to most of us with computers, cell phones, etc.). We are deluded if we think we can escape.
Perhaps we can break out now, sell our homes and run away. There used to be places to go. Perhaps there still might be. We would still be confronted with ourselves and be seeking meaning to life. People in other parts of the world don’t want the people who once colonised them. We are left with the idea that we are better off where we are rather than elsewhere. We remain dissatisfied and break our hearts searching for meaning. God shows little inclination to change things.
If totalitarianism comes, whether it is the big money bunch or those who would have us return to the days of the Spanish Inquisition (with the boot on the other foot), there won’t be much we can do about it. That is where we thank God for the finiteness of our terrestrial existence and that something better awaits us elsewhere after “weeping and wailing in this valley of tears“.