Tag Archives: 1984

Close to Realizing a Brave New World

Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, says everyone’s reading 1984 to see the parallels with current events, but Trump is not Big Brother and America is not Oceania. He’s not trying to control everyone or tap everything down so it all looks orderly on the surface. But there are dangers to watch for.

One of the most endearing (and infuriating qualities) of Americans is that they don’t like to be told what to do. We retain a fierce streak of independence, even when it leads us astray. But make no mistake: we are killing our own sense of industry and independence on both the right and the left—yes, across the American political spectrum—and thus are far more at risk of sliding into the affluent but illiberal “Brave New World” than the regimented and disciplined world of Oceania.

In the Washington Post yesterday, Nichols says the constant media outrage over every little bit of news coming from the White House is only deadening our ears to honest critique or curiosity over actual policies.

This continual panic is short-circuiting any reasonable debate about the president’s policies by indulging Trump’s fiercest opponents in the belief that something could destroy his presidency before it has a chance to govern. Still furious over the outcome of the election, Trump’s critics seize on every move as if there is a Watergate moment to be found if only they look hard enough.

Catching up with Orwell

Today, I happened to think of the Party slogan from George Orwell’s 1984:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

And it occurred to me that we’ve reached the age of the second line.

How can freedom be slavery? How can a political culture devoted to the concept of human freedom turn around and call freedom slavery?

We’re seeing it happen now, I think.

The problem of freedom, from the progressive point of view, is that it makes inequality inevitable. Leave any group of people free to do whatever they want, and inequality will be the result. Some people have more talent or intelligence than others. Some have better work habits. Some did a better job picking their parents. It follows inevitably that the competition will have winners, losers, and lots of people in between.

The Left is convincing itself, more and more, that such inequality is unacceptable. Inequality is unjust. Inequality, it seems to them, is exactly equivalent to slavery.

Thus, freedom is slavery.

And we can’t have that. Freedom will have to go.