sixty years ago, avowed and confirmed socialist george orwell released his brilliantly bitter novel 1984. the novel was orwell's warning of what happens when state power is unabated and unchecked - and the premise novel is no less nightmarish now than when it was first released.
set in the fictional police state of oceana where the image of "big brother" - the personification of "the party" - and the "thought police" ruthlessly suppressed any hint of dissent. in the book control is realized through constant surveillance, relentess propaganda and quick, sure annihilation of anyone who rebels against its authority, even if only in private thoughts or conversation. winston smith, the unheroic and unlikely hero of the story engaged in dissent from the party - in both thought and written word and he was eventually arrested, interrogated, tortured and broken.
shortly after the book was published, mr. orwell wrote "I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe . . . that something resembling it could arrive," and further "I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences." boy did he ever say a mouthful!
my good friend, z, from golly geeeez sent me a great little story - written by god knows who - that i think ties nicely into the above:
Once upon a time, I was invited to the White House for a private dinner with the President. I am a respected businessman, with a factory that produces memory chips for computers and portable electronics. There was some talk that my industry was being scrutinized by the administration, but I paid it no mind. I live in a free country. There's nothing that the government can do to me if I've broken no laws. My wealth was earned honestly, and an invitation to dinner with an American President is an honor.
I checked my coat, was greeted by the Chief of Staff, and joined the President in a yellow dining room. We sat across from each other at a table draped in white linen. The Great Seal was embossed on the china. Uniformed staff served our dinner.
"Sorry about that," said the President. "Andrew is very hungry."
"I don't appreciate..." I began, but as I looked into the calm brown eyes across from me, I felt immediately guilty and petty. It was just a dinner roll. "Of course," I concluded, and reached for my glass. Before I could, however, another waiter reached forward, took the glass away and swallowed the wine in a single gulp.
"And his brother Eric is very thirsty." said the President.
I didn't say anything. The President is testing my compassion, I thought. I will play along. I don't want to seem unkind.
My plate was whisked away before I had tasted a bite.
"Eric's children are also quite hungry."
With a lurch, I crashed to the floor. My chair had been pulled out from under me. I stood, brushing myself off angrily, and watched as it was carried from the room.
"And their grandmother can't stand for long."
I excused myself, smiling outwardly, but inside feeling like a fool. Obviously I had been invited to the White House to be sport for some game. I reached for my coat, to find that it had been taken. I turned back to the President.
"Their grandfather doesn't like the cold."
I wanted to shout- that was my coat! But again, I looked at the placid smiling face of my host and decided I was being a poor sport. I spread my hands helplessly and chuckled. Then I felt my hip pocket and realized my wallet was gone. I excused myself and walked to a phone on an elegant side table. I learned shortly that my credit cards had been maxed out, my bank accounts emptied, my retirement and equity portfolios had vanished, and my wife had been thrown out of our home. Apparently, the waiters and their families were moving in. The President hadn't moved or spoken as I learned all this, but finally I lowered the phone into its cradle and turned to face him.
"Andrew's whole family has made bad financial decisions. They haven't planned for retirement, and they need a house. They recently defaulted on a subprime mortgage. I told them they could have your home. They need it more than you do."
My hands were shaking. I felt faint. I stumbled back to the table and knelt on the floor. The President cheerfully cut his meat, ate his steak and drank his wine. I lowered my eyes and stared at the small grey circles on the tablecloth that were water drops.
"By the way," He added, "I have just signed an Executive Order nationalizing your factories. I'm firing you as head of your business. I'll be operating the firm now for the benefit of all mankind. There's a whole bunch of Erics and Andrews out there and they can't come to you for jobs groveling like beggars."
I looked up. The President dropped his spoon into the empty ramekin which had been his creme brulee. He drained the last drops of his wine. As the table was cleared, he lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair. He stared at me. I clung to the edge of the table as if were a ledge and I were a man hanging over an abyss. I thought of the years behind me, of the life I had lived. The life I had earned with a lifetime of work, risk and struggle. Why was I punished? How had I allowed it to be taken? What game had I played and lost? I looked across the table and noticed with some surprise that there was no game board between us.
What had I done wrong?
As if answering the unspoken thought, the President suddenly cocked his head, locked his empty eyes to mine, and bared a million teeth, chuckling wryly as he folded his hands.
"You should have stopped me at the dinner roll," he said.
what a perfect analogy for what is going on now. and if we don't do something to stop it - sooner rather than later - we will be way too far down the road to turn the ship and avoid the iceberg that threatens to sink us.
some of our politicians are waking up. check out representative michele bachman (r-minn) on the floor of the house taking congress, in general, to task. in part she says "Now weve moved into the realm of gangster government. We have gangster government when the Federal Government has set up a new cartel and private businesses now have to go begging with their hand out to their local hopefully well politically connectedCongressman or their Senator so they can buy a peace offering for that local business. Is that the kind of country we are going to have in the future?"
it is time to wake up people. the tea parties aren't enough. we must go further. at what point does civil unrest become the right thing? i think we're close to that point now - if not already there.
it's time to stop him/them. it's time to shut down the power grab. it's time to BRIDGE the gap that separates all freedom loving americans and restore our constitution. it's time to be responsible americans.
i leave you with another quote from orwell: "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. ... We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end."