George Orwell got a lot of things right, and one of the things that I think he got right, [along with the other, more talked about insights of his], was the way that he ended what is arguably his most famous book, 1984.
At the end of the novel, there is no hope for political reform or the return of liberty, the hero, Winston Smith, has been broken, his personality evacuated, crushed, made to be as pliable as putty.
This was deliberate, I think. Orwell knew something it has taken me years to realise, namely, that all apparently variant streams of political ideology tend to converge.
The form this process takes is one of a deliberate and concerted move towards totalitarianism, this is not to be understood as some mere metaphor, and it’s not to say that there are discernible similarities between apparently opposed political parties, no, it’s to say that every state, and therefore the world, is heading towards an almost homogenous totalitarianism, subdivided, but essentially the same everywhere.
In 1984, Orwell paints the picture of the world as being divided into three monolithic, post-nuclear war, super-states, roughly along the lines of the continental divides, this is actually what is happening, albeit slowly, and barely noticeable without intensive study, but it is happening nonetheless.
I don’t obviously think it’s possible for the version of this nightmare that Orwell gives us in his novel to be reproduced, except on the small scale. It’s not necessary to have 24-hour surveillance of every individual, having cameras in all the places that matter, is enough, in terms of state surveillance and control.
But the political reality is that everywhere is trending to the same point, that of totalitarian politics, one that is concerned almost exclusively in dealing with and working for, large-scale industries, finance, private security firms, and multinational service companies.
The workers are to be bent into shape by the economic blackmail-pressures of ‘recession’, out-sourcing of jobs, and the changes to employment and welfare laws that we see overtaking western democracies. That reform is needed, is rarely disputed by any sensible observer, but that the reforms taking place are beneficial only to large corporations and specific financial elites, is not about to be admitted to by government.
The slow ebbing of the political tide in western democracies, belies a sea-change that is just sub-surface, the next few decades are really going to be something people will look back on and wonder why they didn’t see it coming.
All across the north western hemisphere, states that have been liberal democracies, have sunk into the mire of oligarchical collectivism, the central topic of Goldstein’s book in Orwell’s dystopian novel. Oligarchical collectivism, is when politics and business become one and the same thing, not overlapping, not strongly connected, actually the same.
The politicians we see now are not ideologues, they are not revolutionaries, they are not social reformers, no, they are corporate lobbyists who have got into political office to further their own careers. The few that are not like this don’t matter, they have no power, and none of the corporatists will allow them space in the political playground.
This means that the days of genuine politcal reform are virtually over, the word ‘reform’ when used by politicians now, has no positive connotations, it is a euphemism for legal change that will benefit the corporatists and the security services, and not the common people.
Everyone will work for corporations, it is nearly the case already, and when it is the case, and when the corporations have finally and fully become the governments of the world, then the new-old adage of being the victims of our own systems will become actually and completely true.
Corporations will not be voted out, they will not institute reform that may affect profits, corporations will only support a minimum standard of living, and the only alternative will be to starve. Corporations will go to war for resources, corporations will become the law, as well as the state. The police, armed forces, security services, and health service, are all being privatised as I write this, (this is in the country formerly known as Great Britain).
The ruling class in Britain are in the forefront of this changeover, leading the way in modern corporate totalitarianism. In many ways, most people do not need to have realised any of this to still be, unwittingly, working towards it, just doing the job they do to pay the bills, is supporting corporate designs by working for them, which, for the vast majority of people, being employed by a corporation, is pretty much unavoidable.
Accountabilty, and social justice, are the first noticeable victims for the TV goggling majority in the west. Jobs, infrastructure, and any kind of even remotely secure economy, are all subject to where the greatest profits are to be made.
Controlling the disenfranchised, disillusioned poor of the west has become, and will be more and more, the job of global security companies, who are being empowered to ‘save the police time’ by taking over the detection, apprehension, and incarceration of people, who may then become convicted of crimes befitting a custodial sentence in one of the many private prisons that have sprung up here in the last three decades, while more are planned to eventually replace the state run prison sector entirely.
It is no coincidence that the same firms that have taken work from the police, are running the prisons. Sections of the British police have become privatised, not the front line, and not the top brass, but the middle section, the bureaucrats are now all civilians, accountable to their employer, rather than to the public and the crown.
The trend towards totalitarian control is easy to spot once one has noticed certain things, it’s as if it becomes a knack, like spotting the next jigsaw piece, the news items that seem innocuous, the political statements where what remains unsaid is the important thing, as it so often is anyway. I don’t think we’re headed to a ”Brave New World” – I think we’re headed towards a dystopia of such proportions as even Orwell would probably have been shocked at, one that will take maybe thirty years to become solidified, but it’s already on its way, of that I am sure.
Well said. It’s been coming for a long time.
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