The older I get, (48 already???), the more amazed I am at the prophetic insight of the book "1984" by George Orwell. Am I growing paranoid? Maybe....
This dark, weird, fictional dystopian story offers surprisingly insightful clues on how to get normal people to gladly surrender their personal autonomy & independence for basic security and peace. Orwell believes that the "many" that make up the majority of any given nation, will overtime be seduced, manipulated and placed into bondage by the ruling "few." The few is composed mainly of government leaders, the intelligentsia and the "old money" rich - - they have the power and will do anything to keep that power.
The objective: To keep the many serving the few...and Orwell in his book, suggests some ways it is done:
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” (Hmmm....anyone hear of historical & literary deconstruction?)
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” (Have you ever noticed how Twitter and Facebook is filled full of people expressing their innermost thoughts not realizing anyone can read them?And when they do read them it could be cause for banishment. Anyone hear the name of Donald Sterling?)
"Big Brother is watching you!" (Anyone hear of the NSA or IRS?)
“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” (Marriage no longer really means marriage, adultery has become an affair, gay has been changed from an adjective to a noun.)
“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” (Has America promised the "pursuit of happiness"or "right to happiness?" The answer really does matter.)
"...petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.” (Thursday Night Football anyone?)
"Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable." (Remember..."You can keep your doctor !")
And my personal favorite insight of Orwellian thought is the idea of "groupthink!" This is when a group of people in society want to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision for the goal of harmony in fulfilling Big Brother's goals. What is not allowed in "groupthink" is critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, you must actively suppress dissenting voices, and stay vigilant against credible outside influences.
As one expert on "groupthink" explains: "Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the "ingroup" produces an "illusion of invulnerability" (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the "ingroup" significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the "outgroup"). Furthermore groupthink can produce dehumanizing actions against the "outgroup".
Hmm, I wonder if any of that exists in our society? Nah, we are perfectly free to express our own thoughts, right?
* Global warming, right? Than why is it so cold out? Because the heat is blocking the warmth, dummy!
* I wonder, am I allowed to disagree with two men kissing; am I not allowed to criticize ESPN's overexposure of a report when Michael Sam is drafted on live TV?
* Am I allowed to call the antics of Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and the strange sexualized marriage of Beyoncé and Jay-Z as foolish and dehumanizing to women - - or must I fawn all over them like the rest of "enlightened" society? (Honestly, why do grown men still use teenage nicknames? Don't ask questions, we are all supposed to smile and say "how nice for Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, 50 cent, Tum Tum and Ya Boy!")
* And I guess I am to open-wide and swallow Obamacare in one big gulp and say, "Mmm, mmm, good!"
The problem with "groupthink" was made vividly clear to me this past week with the Ray Rice domestic violence case. This past February, Ray Rice and his then-fiance were involved in an early morning fight in an Atlantic City casino. The news was released without video that "he hit her and dragged her out of an elevator." The report was terrible in itself, and as a result they decided together to start attending couples therapy. On March 27 Rice was indicted in a court of law, on a third-degree aggravated assault charge. They eventually married, she regretted her part in the fight, and the NFL announced a two game suspension of Ray. All seemed right in the world.
And then, the video was released! That is when "all (you know what) broke loose." People were outraged, the President said "he's not a real man," people called for Roger Godell's head, and Rice was then put on indefinite suspension by the Ravens. Questions, criticisms and judgments started swirling everywhere about how unjust the NFL is, our society is, men are, and your upbringing must have been. Her beating was all our fault collectively because we didn't do something earlier. If you happened to listen to sports radio, TV talk shows, it seemed like everyone was outraged, and everyone was on their moral high-ground pointing down at Ray Rice screaming, "Banish him, throw the bum out, good riddance!" "Groupthink" won the day!
Yes, I completely agree that domestic violence is no laughing matter. The man committed a horrendous crime; but the way judgment was decided in his case scares the heck out of me! If all that needs to happen is for people on TV and radio to raise their voice to get a harsher punishment, we are all in trouble. Once opinions override the law, it is time to start making sure your home is not bugged and your phone's aren't tapped.
In order to stay free, we must let due process work!
But what if I don't trust the process? What if the process does not distribute justice to the same degree as my outrage? What if I think somehow the way our legal system has been set up, only favors European white men? "Groupthink" believes there is only one thing to do, "yell, scream, convince 'the court of public opinion' to demand more!" If we can override the process to placate our outrage, we as a nation of laws is done for. Game over!
You see, that is the point of "groupthink." If the "few", our leaders, can convince the "many" that one viewpoint is morally superior to another, law no longer matters, they will win the day through domineering public opinion. He who controls the minds, controls the power.
Andrew Fletcher, a Scottish diplomat in 1653, once wrote, "Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." Here is how I would change it in American society, "Let me write the scripts of the television sit-coms, news reports and journalistic talking points; I care not about laws or songs!"