posted on Jun, 10 2011 @ 11:00 AM
Who controls the past controls the future Who controls the present, controls the past
-George Orwell, 1984
If George Orwell were alive today, he would be astounded, but not by the fact that so many of his predictions came true. The fact that there is at
least one television for every person in the United States would not surprise him, of course. The presence of televisions in airports, rail and bus
terminals, and even subway stations would also be expected. The lack of two-way interactive television would puzzle him, though he might correctly
assume that the technology was being developed. What would really stump him is the total absence of coercion. "Where are the thought police?" he
would ask, confused. Nothing could possibly prepare Orwell for the enthusiasm with which Americans embrace Big Brother. Truncheons are rarely
required, and sudden disappearances are almost unheard of. Complete, voluntary conformity to the ideals displayed on television is observed. Instead
of Double-Think, No-Think. Instead of the Ministry of Truth, a corporate media system. Instead of the Party, a liberal elite who actually believe that
they are free. Freedom is American, and Americans are truly free, in a limited sense, free to consume. Human rights are reduced to freedom of choice.
McDonald's and Burger King, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Democrats and Republicans, the choices are all without meaning.
Why did the Soviet empire fail, while the American empire survives? Because mind control under freedom is more efficient! There's no need to waste
money torturing dissidents. Fears of nakedness and excrement are instilled during infancy, and are soon followed by strict gender roles. The boys
practice competition, aggression, and conquest, while the girls wear dresses and learn to play house with dolls. The schools teach that what is
unmeasurable does not exist. Fear of the unknown becomes fear of life, and death. The student is encouraged to regard those beneath him with contempt,
and those above him with envy; success is measured in terms of winners and losers. Sophisticated advertising carefully reinforces the desired belief
system. "The one who dies with the most toys wins," reads a popular bumper sticker. So long as the flow of merchandise is uninterrupted, law and
order prevail. In Orwell's world, dissent led to Room 101. In America, dissent is merely ignored, or sold, if it's popular.
One of Orwell's great maxims was that control of the present enables control of the past, which in turn controls the future. But here there is no
need for armies of bureaucrats revising old newspapers, adapting history to the changing party line. In America, the present is controlled by reducing
the attention span. The invention of television wasn't enough by itself. It was the introduction of the hand-held remote that finished the job.
Before the seventies, people had to get up from their chairs to change the channel. Laziness was an extremely powerful deterrent. People might watch
the same channel for an hour, or more! In the age of remote control, concentration drops steadily. The attention span of the average adult now
approaches thirty seconds, by coincidence the duration of a typical advertisement. Among teenagers and children, attention spans reach single digits,
as they become synchronized to the pulsating hypnosis of MTV. When the attention span finally reaches zero, there is no past, and no future, only the
endless, instantaneous gratification of the present.
Ancient military strategy says "divide and conquer." Where have humans been more completely divided than in America? Land once occupied by the same
tribes for thousands of years is paved over, to become cities and sprawling suburbs. How many of the inhabitants will know their neighbors?
Citizenship becomes a series of numbers in computer systems. Deaths and births are recorded, and taxes paid, by mail. Leaders are selected
anonymously, in tiny booths, from lists of names. How many citizens know their leaders personally, or have even met them? How can a society that never
interacts be expected to select its leaders? Youth is worshipped, and the elders, once the most respected members of society, are banished to
"nursing homes." They die miserable deaths of loneliness and boredom, abandoned by their "families." Wisdom cannot survive where there is no one
to remember it. In the ultimate triumph of individualism, even the family is atomized. Single mothers are commonplace, and children are entrusted to
institutions at the earliest possible age. Americans become a nation of orphans, with no allegiance to anything but themselves. Complete alienation
makes them ruthless, and thirsty for power. "Everybody wants to rule the world," goes the popular song.
The fourth Key of the Tarot is Heh, The Emperor. He signifies reason, and sight. In the age of reason, technology eliminates the senses, one by one,
leaving only sight, the most detached, impersonal, "objective" sense. Smells are eliminated with deodorants and climate control. Taste and touch
turn into commodities, to be marketed. The universal acceptance of the telephone substitutes the disembodied voice for physical presence. The advent
of computers completes the sterilization: communication is reduced to words on a flickering screen. To avoid misunderstandings, it becomes necessary
to introduce a system for representing sarcasm on computer networks, using combinations of punctuation known as "smileys." In the words of computer
guru Paul Hoffman, "the Internet offers a great deal of anonymity, but weakens the social bond between the people using it." Welcome to the
Orwell's two-way telescreens become widely available, hooked up through telephone lines to every imaginable service. Americans no longer have to
leave their living rooms, let alone their houses. Every conceivable need is satisfied, at the click of a mouse. Viewers are able to project themselves
into "virtual reality" and interact with their entertainment programming. Elaborate games promote a state of permanent masturbation, in which
selfishness, domination, and violence have no consequences. For a species without a past, there can be no consequences, no sense of responsibility.
Without continuity, and rootedness, the future makes no sense. Without hope, humans become like a swarm of locusts, scouring the earth from their
living rooms, destroying their host. The native Americans taught that the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. Their truths die
with them, and the world spins out of balance.
To the future or to the past, to a time when men are different from one another and do not live alone--to a time when truth exists and what is done
cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother...greetings!