Friday, August 7, 2009

Orwell and Pinochio

I don't usually make statements of record about politics. Most of my comments are oral, made mostly to friends. After this melange, I'll probably have fewer of them (friends, not comments). Sometimes, though, a man has to stand up in public and say what he feels. To quote Whorf from First Contact, as his ship is about ready to be broken up by the Borg, "Perhaps today is a good day to die! Give me ramming speed!"

George Orwell was a socialist and an atheist; I am neither. He was perhaps the most brilliant essayist of the 20th century. With the exceptions of 1984 and Animal Farm, his novels were less successful--and less well-received--than his essays and criticism. Though I sometimes disagree with his starting points or his objectives, I can seldom criticize his reasoning. Once he got hold of an idea he squeezed every drop of juice out of it--and usually found something to do with the pulp. The two novels mentioned above embodied almost all of Orwell's ideas about socialism--and his fears. Animal Farm is satirical and allegorical, but 1984 is nightmarish, a reductio ad absurdem of war and tyranny. Orwell is not really concerned with showing us the process and progression of collective socialism; he shows us the gritty end result of unchecked power exercised by oligarchy. Winston Smith, a tired everyman, knows--has always known--that he will be caught and tortured. O'Brien, his teacher-inquisitor, helps him to understand that there is no point to this process other than conformity and extinction. The central truth is: "The object of power is power." The other truth is that the collective is immortal; there is no need for God. The novel resembles one of those unpleasant dreams you can't escape from.

Barack Obama, in my opinion, is trying to force us in the direction of collective socialism. He is a member of an oligarchy. Whether he is making policy or just carrying it out does not matter. The recent institution of a Whitehouse website to encourage people to tattle on those who oppose Obama's health-care plan strikes me as ludicrous and ominous at the same time. I call it the"rat line". No representative democracy needs a system of informers, although the occasional whistleblower can be a good thing. I'm not going to get into specific proposals or policies right now. I believe the electorate, the people in general, need more input into the process of government than they're being given. You can't lie to them or bury things in thousand-page bills and not expect a backlash.

Pinochio comes to mind here: the myth of the puppet boy who would be real. The longing of the old clock-maker and puppeteer for a real boy is the quest for the miraculous. Pinochio had already been given free will, though he was still wooden. When he lied, he grew asses's ears (hmmm). We go through our lives trying to cut our strings and become real. Our Puppeteer has always given us free will; the Clock-maker wants us love Him as Father and, by believing, be real. He wants you to love Him, Obama, as your earthly father did not. Go to Jesus, Barry.