Yesterday the Republican Party officially redefined "legitimate political discourse" to include sedition, violent coups, attacks on police and murder. In censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the RNC voted for a resolution that slammed the two Republican members of Congress for "participating in 'persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.'"
Working to redefine reality has always been a hallmark of authoritarian regimes-- whether the Nazi's "welcome" sign at the Auschwitz concentration camp: "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work sets you free") or George Orwell's 1984. We'll come back to Orwell in a moment but I do want to point out an observation in the Washington Post this morning, namely how Trump is trying to re-define racism, Cleve Wootson wrote that "After years of being branded a racist for his inflammatory comments and actions, Trump and some of his allies are attempting to turn that label back on their critics. In the process, they have wielded their own definition of racism, one that disregards the country’s history of racial exclusion that gives White people a monopoly on power and wealth. To make America more equitable, they argue, everyone must be treated equally-- and, therefore, White men must not in any way be disadvantaged. This diverging definition of racism-- often coupled with imagery, symbolism and quotes from the civil rights and other movements-- reflects deep and often partisan divisions about what, if anything, needs to be done to produce a more equitable America."
Wootsen noted that "Trump’s claim referenced what he said were three “radical vicious, racist prosecutors”-- one in Georgia, one in New York, one in Washington, all of them Black-- who are investigating his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and examining his business organization’s finances. But his comments made him the latest in a line of conservatives claiming, loudly and frequently, that White men are also victims of racism... Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield, Mass., chapter of the NAACP, said: 'It is gaslighting on steroids for White men who have always been the most privileged segment of society to think that America offering to non-White males the privileges that they have always had from birth is somehow discriminating against them. For that demographic to be out in public, screaming racism and pretending to be victims is one of the most clownish disingenuous acts that I’ve ever seen.'"
If MAGA stands for any kind of coherent doctrine, it's grievance-- particularly how blacks are lording it over whites. This may sound insane, but among MAGAs critical thinking is in extremely short supply. It's much easier to just accept whatever Trump (Big Brother) says at face value. Trump may be a functional illiterate but his advisors aren't and even if he didn't, they certainly read 1984, published in 1949, 3 years after Trump was born. Unquestionably, Trump is the most Orwellian politician in American history.
Based in Spain, Rocio's Blog deals with all things Orwell. About a dozen years ago, he wrote that "Orwell believed that totalitarianism and the corruption of language were connected. He focused especially on political language where you distorted events and concepts by calling them something else. You said things in such a way that you avoided producing an inner picture of them. As an example, in Politics and the English Language. He said that 'If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts.' This idea would eventually lead to Newspeak."
One of Orwell’s most important messages in 1984 is that language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing. If control of language was centralized in a political agency, Orwell proposes, such an agency could possibly alter the very structure of language to make it impossible to even conceive of disobedient or rebellious thoughts, because there would be no words with which to think them. This idea manifests itself in the language of Newspeak, which the Party has introduced to replace English. The Party is constantly refining and perfecting Newspeak, with the ultimate goal that no one will be capable of conceptualizing anything that might question the Party’s absolute power.
When it is necessary to manipulate with history and your own memory it is equally necessary to forget that you have done so. This is accomplished with a mental technique, which in Oldspeak was called reality-control and in Newspeak is called doublethink:
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
...The Party barrages its subjects with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the mind’s capacity for independent thought. The giant telescreen in every citizen’s room blasts a constant stream of propaganda designed to make the failures and shortcomings of the Party appear to be triumphant successes. The telescreens also monitor behavior—everywhere they go, citizens are continuously reminded, especially by means of the omnipresent signs reading “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” that the authorities are scrutinizing them. The Party undermines family structure by inducting children into an organization called the Junior Spies, which brainwashes and encourages them to spy on their parents and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party. The Party also forces individuals to suppress their sexual desires, treating sex as merely a procreative duty whose end is the creation of new Party members. The Party then channels people’s pent-up frustration and emotion into intense, ferocious displays of hatred against the Party’s political enemies. Many of these enemies have been invented by the Party expressly for this purpose.
The idea of “doublethink” emerges as an important consequence of the Party’s massive campaign of large-scale psychological manipulation. Simply put, doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time. As the Party’s mind-control techniques break down an individual’s capacity for independent thought, it becomes possible for that individual to believe anything that the Party tells them, even while possessing information that runs counter to what they are being told. At the Hate Week rally, for instance, the Party shifts its diplomatic allegiance, so the nation it has been at war with suddenly becomes its ally, and its former ally becomes its new enemy. When the Party speaker suddenly changes the nation he refers to as an enemy in the middle of his speech, the crowd accepts his words immediately, and is ashamed to find that it has made the wrong signs for the event. In the same way, people are able to accept the Party ministries’ names, though they contradict their functions: the Ministry of Plenty oversees economic shortages, the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth conducts propaganda and historical revisionism, and the Ministry of Love is the center of the Party’s operations of torture and punishment.