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.


Jon said...

Dan, Still your friend. I disagree on particulars. However, to use a brutally misused word, things have been looking "orwellian" for some time now. We are ceaselessly fed infotainment that whips up to frenzies of fear and hate then "amused" into numbness. We are constantly told that hopelessness, despair, groveling before our betters and trampling on the inferior is "realism". A tiny elite goes to less trouble than ever before to conceal the fact that they rule in their own interest without any other consideration. Society, such as it is, comes more and more to resemble a panopticon. The "socialism" you fear may be what I would call wholly corporatized capitalism.

I'll have to admit that I don't consider Obama's feeble and disorganized attempt to "reform" the health care system much of a threat. While we might have a system, it does not seem to be in the business of providing health care. If any health care is provided it's a sort of accident, brought about by the goodwill and resistance of some medical professionals.

And there's where I see some reason to hope. People continue to resist the agenda of realism and behave as though our purpose in this world is to love and serve one another.

As to public intellectuals, lately I'm enjoying Marilynne Robinson's 'The Death of Adam". I've heard her denounced by idiot leftists as right wing ideologue. I've heard her denounced by moronic wingnuts as a socialist demagogue. Sounds like she's espousing "the foolishness of this world". She seems to see herself as a Presbyterian.

Jon said...

PS, put it this way Dan, despite your wrongheadedness, through your kindness, you are stuck with me as a friend.

desertdan said...

Jon--"Wrongheadedness"? Forsooth! With friends like you . . . Seriously, I may not always be right, but I'm turning into a decent shit-disturber. I consider Orwell wrongheaded, but he's still my man. I'll check out Robinson; you sound perplexed by her, a little. She must be intriguing! Still your friend--Dan