So You Think 1984 Is For Liberals? Let’s Ask Instapundit.

Orwell-c-cIn January, the New York Times gleefully reported, “George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Is Suddenly a Best-Seller.” Their angle was clear: the URL for the story includes “george-orwell-donald-trump.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m always happy when liberals start reading classics. But as usual, the “progressive” interpretation of things is completely devoid of historical context.

I’m not just talking about the anti-communist criticism underlying the book’s commentary. Of course we can’t expect American SJWs to catch on to that.

I simply mean their tacit assumption that this text is uniquely tailored to their snowflake-friendly conception of the world, tunnel-visioned as it is.

Just ain’t so, I tells ya.

For every clever parallel some 2017 progressive draws between Orwell’s masterpiece and their jaundiced vision of the contemporary political landscape, conservatives have drawn dozens of far more meaningful comparisons over the years.

Consider this: the excellent, conservative news aggregator Instapundit got tons of mileage out of 1984 references all throughout the previous administration. Searching for 13 salient terms there produces these results:

memory hole” : Number of uses during Obama administration–84

always been at war” : Number of uses during Obama administration–13

doublethink” : Number of uses during Obama administration–12

thought police” : Number of uses during Obama administration–25

Newspeak” : Number of uses during Obama administration–51

Anti-sex League” : Number of uses during Obama administration–10

thought crime” : Number of uses during Obama administration–13

doubleplusungood” : Number of uses during Obama administration–9

Ministry of Truth” : Number of uses during Obama administration–24

Two Minutes Hate” : Number of uses during Obama administration–4

war is peace” : Number of uses during Obama administration–13

prole” : Number of uses during Obama administration–39

Big Brother” : Number of uses during Obama administration–90

Can liberal news commenters equal this litany of allusions during the Trump years?

 

 

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Pocket Classics Comics From 1984

booksThis was a series of books produced in the 70’s by Pendulum Press. They were comic book versions of classics, done in the style that I always think of as soap opera-serious: severe black and white line drawings meant to communicate reality, accompanied by typed, not printed, dialogue.

In 1984, their parent company Academic Industries released the whole collection–including a sub-series of biographies–as a giant 100-volume or so set of tiny paperbacks.

My older brother got it for me, and that was my introduction to the world of literature. (In fact, I remember him keeping the Beatles biography for himself, and it was searching for that part of the set that finally led me to finding this info online now–so thanks!) Man, I loved those books. Many of them I read until they literally fell apart (the glue in their small spines, alas, was not strong).

These little comics were not dumbed down “Classics Illustrated” titles–they were mature and serious (or at least they felt so to elementary me). I feel like reading them legitimately prepared me to understand the original classics as I got older. Believe it or not, they truly were educational and fun.

At some point, I felt that such a set was childish and they were given away, but I’d love to have them again now. I wish my own children had access to these. I’ve checked, and nobody seems to have a set of them, not eBay, not any vendor–no more than just a handful at a time. It was a beautiful set, but it wasn’t built to last, I guess.

Isn’t this what Google Books is for? Where are they?

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Neil Postman’s Trenchant Social Criticism, Now In Convenient (And Ironic) Cartoon Format!

Stuart McMillen at Recombinant Records takes some text about the realized visions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, from Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, and sets them to an illustrated format that perfectly summarizes how each has actually appeared in the real world. 

It also leaves little doubt which kind of dystopia is more prevalent in our modern world–the repressive dictatorship or the fascist, benevolent nanny-state.  Still, the irony of using the Internet to view this cartoon commentary should not be lost on anyone. 

Please also see my post about de Tocqueville and despotism yesterday.  Complements this post nicely.

An Old Man Looks Back On The Obama Administration

“Grandpa, tell me again about the Hard Times.”

“Oh, Jimmy, I love telling you stories, but I just told you that one yesterday!”

“I know, Gramps, but that was just the same stuff they tell us at the new school–the constant experimenting, the violence, the confusion and chaos–but you were there.  Tell me what it was really like, please.”

Grandpa sighed and ran a hand through his thinning hair as he sank into his comfortable chair by the window.  “The Hard Times?  You know, nobody thought of calling it that until it had been around for years.  The name first popped up on the underground web sites of traditionalists–‘the haters,’ most people called them at the time; people who ‘hated’ subversion, hedonism, socialism, who wouldn’t ‘tolerate’ the demands of others for radical, unprecedented change in the name of ‘fairness.’  The government took a cue from China and shut down most of those sites just as quickly as they shut down the talk radio shows those rebels started out on, but still, the resistance lingered.

“I was never a part of that resistance.  It wasn’t that I was too young to join in, but that I was too young to know that I should join in.  Especially when so many of my elders sanctioned that radicalism with their zealous endorsements, also all in the name of ‘progress.’  I was taken in by the idea of generations, centuries, of wrongdoing about to be undone by an earth-shattering revolutionary who would finally get everyone what they had been taught by the media their whole lives they deserved.  It was exciting, it felt righteous, it was this mass mob mentality that you just can’t understand unless you were part of it–totally convinced that the more you taunted and censored the ones you labelled the ‘enemy,’ the more just you were.  It was like a contest to see who could be coolest by being the most extreme.”

Grandpa paused for breath and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, seeming to search for words to give his thoughts form.  His face looked lost.  “Good grief, how did we get so far that the majority of a country could fall for such a childish scheme and think we were saving the world?”

He leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees, and when he didn’t speak for a minute, Jimmy tried to get him to continue with a question: “So President Obama was evil?”

Grandpa’s face instantly looked up.  “Evil?  Heavens, no.  Not ‘evil,’ just very, very wrong.  He genuinely thought he was doing the right things, there’s no doubt that he sincerely wanted to do the most good for the most people, with no ulterior motives for his own aggrandizement…but they say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  No, Obama wasn’t evil…but his policies had that effect.  And some of the people around him…yes, some of them were evil.

“They haven’t taught you in school yet about the law of unintended consequences.  That’s one of the very best reasons to be cautious when people want to change what has obviously worked for hundreds of years.  You never know what all the effects of a new action will be.  But in retrospect, I think we should have seen what would happen.  Yes, the chess pieces were all moved into place by 2008.  When the last of our defenses was removed, endgame was ready.

“As soon as Obama was elected, the marginalized anti-social goons came out of the woodwork.  Up until then, there were restraints on public conduct; the leftist fetishists almost reveled in being underdogs.  But the minute they sensed that, after forty years of seeping into the American consciousness, the reigns of power were theirs, what with the Unholy Trinity of Obama-Reid-Pelosi in power, they sprung the trap.

“By the end of the first year, bills fast tracked through the legislative and executive branches mandating that we would never fight another war for any reason, because all violence is always a tool of corporations to exploit peace lovers, that nobody would ever be able to be excluded from anything–especially marriage or citizenship–for any reason, because setting any criteria for anything is discrimination, and that’s an ugly word and always bad, and that everybody would always be able to call on the government to have the exact same quality of life that the most well off Americans could conceivably enjoy, because, again, anything less was clearly evidence of some kind of discrimination, and if ‘all men are created equal,’ then nobody should have to suffer anything that everybody doesn’t have to suffer.

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