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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Animal Farm Shrugged

I just read chapter seven of Animal Farm, George Orwell’s allegory for the disastrous early years of the Soviet Union, and noted this passage:

One Sunday Squealer announced that the hens, who had just come in to lay again, must surrender their eggs….When the hens heard this, they raised a terrible outcry….they protested that to take away their eggs now was murder.  For the first time since the expulsion of Jones, there was something resembling a rebellion.  Led by three young Black Minorca pullets, the hens made a determined effort to thwart Napoleon’s wishes.  Their method was to fly up to the rafters and there lay their eggs, which smashed to pieces on the floor. 

After which the tyrannical leaders cut their rations and starve the hens into submission.  So much for striking!

But the manner of their strike seems especially interesting to me: they deliberately destroy the beloved products of their own industry rather than see them fall into the hands of the looting collectivists.  The centralized authority that arrogates to itself confiscatory rights is clearly the villain here, and the heroes must make “a determined effort to thwart [the government’s] wishes.”  Further commentary on eminent domain or punitive taxation is probably unnecessary.

So there you have it: mildly socialistic George Orwell writing a scene that would have made Ayn Rand proud.

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.