Our Corporatist Two Party System is Rushing Us Toward Totalitarianism
In the current election cycle of 2012, we have an excellent example of how both of the dominant political parties, Democrat and Republican, continue to propagate the lies and misinformation that allow them to maintain total control of the political system. Both candidates for election to president, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, are not only willing participants but active representatives of this process.
The two parties are raising at least a billion dollars directly and much more indirectly from Pacs and non profits spending with the private sectors. They are simply each promoting and marketing their propaganda and pretending to be concerned about the welfare of the people. And it tends to work as we know from past experience, but never quite to this extent because the corporate forces are now fully involved without shame, conscience and without full disclosure. In 2010, the Supreme Court in its Citizen’s United decision ruled that money was free speech and corporations should be treated as persons. But also, one should remember something from past history, that lies which are repeated will often be regarded as “Truth” from constant repetition and brainwashing. The Third Reich in Germany perfected this in the 1930’s with Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, using complete control of the media.
Using a “weapon of distraction” in the political sector is not new or unlike the strategy that bank robbers used in old western movies that we might have watched. If you want to rob a bank, then start a fire on the edge of town to get people’s attention, then rob the bank in the middle of town. In our current political situation, these political operatives create a ruckus on something of minor importance to most people, attract the corporate media to dwell on it, and then proceed to enable their corporate friends to continue to rob the banks. And amazingly, many of us are drawn to these distractions and forget about the really important issues. We tend to be “distracted” either to be “entertained” or from the “disgust” of it all. Both lead to denial and/or total neglect of our civic responsibilities and protecting our democracy, such as it even now exists.
In the U.S. one way this works is to sharply divide “social” issues from economic issues and issues of imperialism such as who we should declare “war” against next. Of course, now we don’t declare it as representing war because we have drones, or flying robots, to do our dirty work in foreign countries. We’ve simply replaced people with technology. After all, we’ve learned to adapt to video games haven’t we? We can do this from a remote station with absolute “denial” of responsibility and no conscience or human characteristics.
Now what is the source of this rot that has infested our society? There are several but I would maintain they are rooted in several basic ideologies or values, and some of these are learned and even adopted from some popular literature of the past, including people like Ayn Rand and the lessons that George Orwell tried to teach in their novels. In this essay, I will attempt to show the connections to George Orwell’s novel “1984”; I will discuss Ayn Rand’s influence in a subsequent paper.
George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, born in 1903 in colonial India. He attended border school in England, and it was there that he first became aware of the hurtful class prejudice that plagued British society, developing an early sensitivity to the uses and abuses of power. Upon graduating from Eton in 1921, Orwell signed on with the Burmese Indian Imperial Police, about which he commented. “In order to hate imperialism, you have got to be part of it.” His time in Burma affected him profoundly, and he quite without explanation five years later, announcing that he was to become a writer, (From the front page introduction to the book, “1984” Centennial Edition, used as an important resource.)
In George Orwell’s most famous novel, “1984”, he describes a totalitarian nation which he called Oceana. From Wikipedia:
“Nineteen Eighty-Four is a novel by George Orwell published in 1949. It is a dystopian and satirical novel set in Oceania, where society is tyrannized by The Party and its totalitarian ideology. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes. Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.
“As literary political fiction and as dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and memory hole, have entered everyday use since its publication in 1949. Moreover, Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor’s list, and 6 on the reader’s list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC‘s survey The Big Read.
The structure, social and political, of Oceana is as follow: (Just to remind people here, does this structure below remind everyone of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the 99% issues?)
- (I) the upper-class Inner Party, the elite ruling minority (less than 2% of the population)
- (II) the middle-class Outer Party, and (about 13% of the population)
- (III) the lower-class Proles (from proletariat), who make up 85% of the population and represent the uneducated working class.
As the government, the Party, controls the population with four ministries:
The role of Big Brother and the Party is to continue to feed lies to the masses to communicate the opposite meanings of what they “say” and what they actually “do”. Thus, three primary slogans Big Brother and the Party use are “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength.” People who resist or protest are arrested and subject to brainwashing and get their mind “right” or be “vaporized.” It was often thought that Orwell was describing Stalinism but he could well have been describing Nazi fascism, too. In any event he was describing what it is like to live in a totalitarian society. And what Big Brother and the Party were doing was to intentionally constantly lower the standard of living for people while constantly emphasizing their strength. Does that sound familiar?
Now what might a study of Orwell have to do with what is happening in the U.S. today? One only need look at the incredibly dangerous trends that have been proceeding with rapid speed since 2001 and the total paranoia developed regarding “terrorism” in this country. It is being steadily promoted by both major political parties at huge expense to “we the people”, lessening their security, and with huge profits for the corporations.
Naomi Klein has described that process beautifully and with several examples in her book, “Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. The U.S. is incredibly weaker today compared to the rest of the major nations except in military matters and we are being regarded by much of the world as just being Big Bullies. Both Bush and Obama have “led” us down this path by promoting fear as a primary motivator for their reelections. What a contrast to FDR, who in the height of the Great Depression and throughout the Second World War, became famous for his expression, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!” Obama and Bush might both say, “We have nothing to fear but terrorism.”
Let me give you some specific examples. Recently I compiled my list of Orwellian propaganda that is being continually delivered from the mouths of Washington propagandists and their corporate media they include:
1. Budget cuts are good.
2. Spending cuts are good except in defense.
3. Fighting endless terrorism is good.
4. Tax cuts create jobs, especially when for the rich.
5. Universal Healthcare creates more disease and costs too much.
6. Arrest and incarceration equals freedom for all.
7. Carbon Dioxide helps you breathe better and stay cool.
8. Big banks just want to help you.
9. Assassinations are OK but Drone attacks are better.
10. Deprivation of civil liberties and especially indefinite detention protect you from terrorism.
As per David Letterman does with his top ten list each night, these are only a sample and the list is much longer, of course, and I’m sure everyone can improve on it. But the primary focus for Americans is what might we do about these atrocious conditions? Personally, I have been attracted to Chris Hedges’ advocacy. Chris has also defined our fundamental problem in our political system in this very brief segment just posted here and I highly recommend it. In the current election cycle, we must stay committed to movements like the Occupy movement, particularly Occupy Wall Street which addressed these directly in September 17, 2011. Secondly, we must connect those efforts to a political effort like “Third Party” candidates Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson have done from the Green Party and the Justice Party. Quite beyond this election we cannot allow this situation to proceed on its current path. It is certain to lead to our destruction, the decay of our political system as can be predicted. It is as certain as the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the Law of Entropy) from physics and chemistry, my original profession. It is certain as the old fable of “Humpty Dumpty” who could not be put together again. It is as certain as Paul Revere’s ride through the country shouting “The British are Coming.” If we don’t address this then we are only fools and the corporatists will win with no resistance and this nation will decay.
I began this essay with talking about elections and have discussed that in more detail and the disastrous consequences of our “corporatist two party duopoly” recently elsewhere. We have a fundamental systems failure on our hands; it is, in my opinion, a fundamental problem with the system which must be addressed. My recommendation is simply take to the streets, protest at the local level at least and for God’s sake get involved and use your civil liberties as expressed in the First Ten Amendments to the Constitution. As the founders said, we were given a Republic and now it’s up to us to keep it and to rescue it from distress. Nothing of significance will be decided from this election because it has become so corrupt and elections only still exist to put you back to sleep for four years. As reflected in the Congressional “approval” ratings, the people are extremely unhappy with our elected officials who are bought and owned by the corporatist “party”.
Thomas Baldwin, Ph.D. has a doctorate in Physics and a Masters degree in Management. He has had long careers in both physics and management consulting including university appointments as a professor both at the Southern Illinois University and Colorado Technical University. He has been a corporate consultant to many well known large firms in project management and is current “officially” retired. In the last four years or more he has been focusing on applying his skills to better understand the political sector including socioeconomic conditions which are affecting our welfare and basic economic health.
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