It's sixty years since Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, in which he portrays a vision of a dystopian Socialist future where all aspects of life are controlled by an all-seeing, all-knowing state represented by the figure of Big Brother, a Stalin-like character peering down from flags and posters all over the country.
We pat ourselves on the back for having averted such a reality, and since the Wall came down in 1989 we have sat back and relaxed, knowing we are safe from the political monolith that was the Soviet Union.
But, let's imagine for a moment that, given the lessons we've learnt from history, we WANT to create a totalitarian state, free from the chaos of democracy and the uncertainty of a free market economy.
How would we seek to accomplish it?
Now the Soviet tanks lie rusting, there is nothing to roll into our cities to smash our nations with the hammer and sickle of Communism. More subtle ways would have to be found. It has been said that totalitarianism will not be brought in by violent revolution, but quietly, wrapping us all in the warm fuzziness of its motherly love.
Firstly, we would give up our 'freedoms' in the name of security, having been raised in a climate of fear to believe that our very lives are in danger from some unseen force.
We might seek to vilify our native populations, particularly the poorer classes, we would create new words of hate with which to beat our ideological foes, to shame and cajole them into going along with our project.
We might even begin to deny or to radically question our own history, banishing the heroes of the past as outdated, flawed characters whose importance has been greatly exaggerated.
We would certainly seek to break up the homogeneity of our communities, bringing in people from outside, who would be more inclined to live in a totalitarian state. We would also want to consider them as somehow better or more deserving than we are, thereby glorifying their tendencies to nondemocratic methods.
We would allow special interest groups to dominate our political discourse, because they might use the courts to achieve change rather than parliaments. This will raise the unelected above the level of the elected official, and would make ultimate takeover easier through strategically appointment of judges.
Special interest groups using 'identity politics' will also teach the populace that 'mob rule' is more effective than bland democracy, and that if you shout loud enough for attention like a spoilt child, you will get your way. Once equality is eliminated as a political ideal, and equal rights replaced by 'special' rights, the basis of liberal democracy will be suitably eroded to allow the state to assume more and more power.
And finally, we might find ways to counteract basic freedoms like freedom of speech or association, making new laws to qualify these freedoms, introducing clauses that give us these freedoms as long as we don't offend anyone in the process.
Using these methods, we could eradicate resistance to the state by making citizens more and more dependent on it, until citizens are unable to buy or sell without the permission and approval of some seemingly benevolent government department, which, after all, just wants to help...
Can anyone look at the above and say that this is NOT happening now? in the European Union, in the United States?
Big Brother is alive and well, only he doesn't glare down at us Stalin-like from a billboard. He smiles gently at us as the caring, well-meaning nanny smiles to a difficult child.
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