#1101 – Dick Bernard: Iowa and what follows: Revisiting 1984.
Next Tuesday is the first Presidential Primary, at the Iowa caucuses. They will be as they will be, as they were in 2012, and 2008, and so on. Then will be New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Super Tuesday…. If one turns on the telescreen, it is impossible to not know about these elections, even if they are only local snapshots, many months from the main event.
Out of curiosity I looked up the Iowa caucuses for 2008 and 2012. As you’ll note, in 2008 the Presidential Republican and Democrat winners were Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama; in 2012, Rick Santorum and Barack Obama.
This seems to be the year that will prove that George Orwell had it right when he published 1984 in the late 1940s: people are easily manipulated, and control of visual media is the key.
A word about the “telescreen”, which more and more dominates the political conversation, in a moment.
As I write, Donald Trump is still the Republican front-runner. Of course, this can change in an instant, but….
We recently took a vacation in Hawaii which began with two nights in a higher end hotel on Waikiki Beach.
Sixteen year old Ryan, our grandson was along, and our first item of business was to take him Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona, and all of that.
We arrived late at night, and the next morning walked directly across the street to find something to eat before catching the tour bus. Ryan saw a sign on a building that he became somewhat fixated on: it was a Trump Tower. It was probably Ryan’s first photograph in Hawaii. “Trump” impressed. You can read and see about the Waikiki Trump here.
The Trump property was certainly not a homeless shelter. Ours was the building that was the “one building off of Waikiki Beach” that interfered with sight lines of the beach and the ocean from the Trump Properties on the lower floors of the building.
Donald Trumps base support, his fans, seem much closer to the homeless shelter, than to owning a condo in any of his towers.
Tomorrow night are the final debates before Iowa. Trump has declared he won’t show up, which hardly anybody believes. You can read a lot of the buzs about this here.
Actually, Trump reminds me a lot of a local professional wrestler who became Minnesota Governor in 1998: Jesse Ventura.
Ventura was some of the time, and in some ways, a fairly decent Governor…so long as he had his way. He knew how to maintain star status.
He didn’t run for a second term, didn’t support the party which gave him the public legs to run on in the first place, and was, as a satirical novel about him, “Me“, suggested, only about himself.
Trump is Jesse on steroids.
Of course, Trump may not “win” next Tuesday. Somebody else may dominate.
Iowa will be over, then there’s New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Super Tuesday….
But through it all is the tellyscreen, which was really the star of the show in 1984, will dominate, a purchased by megabucks available for political advertising of all kinds.
For Orwell, the telescreen was everywhere, and controlled what people saw and, as a bonus, reported back everything that they were doing.
We have essentially reached that point, now, in the U.S. We have become mesmerized by visual media; and anyone who thinks they can escape being recorded by someone with a camera, and reported, has scarcely a grip on reality.
Next Tuesday is the first demonstration of American Democracy in action, in Iowa. About nine months from now, local, state and national leaders will be elected by “we, the people”, by our action…or inaction.
What will we see when we wake up the morning after Tuesday, November 8.
The ball is in OUR court. What will we do with this responsibility.
To my knowledge, George Orwell really never got around to explaining what motivated him to do 1984. The book was published in 1949 and he died in 1950, at age 47.
It was published not long after WWII ended.
I’ve heard it said that it was a cautionary tale about the evils of Nazi Germany and its mastery of manipulation of the masses, or of the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union. Perhaps he was observing radical socialists in his home country of England.
Novelists really never say. It is for others to do their interpretation.
In the book, we never see Big Brother, who’s in charge of it all. We’re not even sure that Big Brother even exists.
It causes me to think of the leadership of today’s ISIL (ISIS). Most of us, without research, wouldn’t even be able to name the leader(s) of that short term attempt at domination; nor could we identify its capital city. It in itself has created a new world.
But in the end, it was the “Proles” I paid attention to in the book. I presume this meant “proletariat” the common people of the time, basically portrayed as clueless (if they were smart), or enemies (if they had the stupidity to be outspoken).
In my interpretation, the big resource for presumptive leaders that 1984 emphasized were the values of fear, and of having an invisible enemy.
It would be my bet that Orwells work has been a pretty persuasive teacher for many who wish to exert control.
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