We’ve Been Warned

Died 21 January 1950 – George Orwell, an English author who wrote, “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.” I invite you to consider Orwell’s statement in light of what are often incredibly misguided but widely-held views concerning (to name just a few examples) the environment, jobs, energy policy, science, education, and religion in the United States. Orwell’s point: The blame for the disparity between rhetoric and reality in American life cannot be placed on politicians, who are, after all, merely the spokesfools for the electorate that keeps sending them to office. Put bluntly, we are stuck with a slate of absurd candidates largely because they best articulate our collective delusions about the world and our place in it.
I have two recommendations: First, as soon as possible read Orwell’s ever-timely essay “Politics and the English Language.” Second, read and then ponder seriously the quotations from Orwell posted below. Doing so will help inoculate you against some of the more egregious expressions of intellectual and cultural nonsense currently being touted as “truth.”
“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”
“As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory
beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.”
“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.”
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
“In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”
“Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.”
“Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless it can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell.”
“Many people genuinely do not want to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.”
“Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.”
“Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism.”
“One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up.”
“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.”
“Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
“Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”
“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

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