Thursday, January 17, 2013

Le Monde 100: Nineteen Eighty-four.

Does anyone at all remember this from a post in 2010?

Here is Lenin and Trotsky having a grand old time ringing in the Bolshevik Revolution:

And here's Trotsky being "extracted":

This was in a post loosely connecting Jorge Luis Borges with Wikileaks and the Russian Revolution and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. After reading 1984 by George Orwell, it hit home to me just how tiny the window of our perception is in the stream of time and how those with the power to limit the exposure of that perception can dramatically mold the entirety of an individual's existence. 

 I am reminded of Hubert Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God and his legacy. Over the course of his life, he built up a religion with a massive following, visiting heads of state from all over the world and influencing millions with his magazine "The Plain Truth." But, as soon as he died, his replacements denounced him as a false prophet and a heretic. They dismantled the structure of his doctrine piece by piece from the inside without hesitation. 

The result was rather predictable. The WCG lost more than half of it's membership. The detractors were aghast at the dilution of Armstrong's original interpretation of doctrine and left indignantly. However, the people that REMAINED will control the future perception of their religion. Their children will never fully comprehend the original vision of Armstrong. He will eventually become a footnote in their history.

The same is true, if not more so, for the Mormon church. There is a chilling parallel between the policies of the LDS and the policies and language of Big Brother in 1984. 

1) thoughtcrime: the holding of beliefs that are contrary to those of the party of the government.

This is not the act of just talking about or spreading contrary beliefs. The suspicion of dissent would bear the same penalty as the dissemination of that dissent. According to the protagonist, "Thought Crime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death." A belief is not an action. Therefore, the state of having one is the equivalent of being in the state of death according to the law.

Of the LDS, Wikipedia says:

the LDS Church retaliates against members that publish information that undermines church policies, citing excommunications of scientist Simon Southerton and biographer Fawn M. Brodie.[74] They further state that the church suppresses intellectual freedom, citing the 1993 excommunication of the "September Six", including gay LDS historian D. Michael Quinn, and author Lavina Fielding Anderson. The Ostlings write that Anderson was the first to reveal the LDS Church keeps files on LDS scholars, documenting questionable activities, and the Ostlings state that "No other sizable religion in America monitors its followers in this way".
The American Association of University Professors, since 1998, has put LDS-owned Brigham Young University on its list of universities that do not allow tenured professors sufficient freedom in teaching and research.

Of course, excommunication is not death. However, for Mormons, it is death in the social sense. 

2) memoryhole: the process by which any embarrassing or potentially negative document is attempted to be made as if never to have happened or existed.


An analysis of B. H. Roberts' work History of the Church when compared to the original manuscripts from which it is drawn, "more than 62,000 words" can be identified that were either added or deleted,. Based on this analysis, Jerald and Sandra Tanner contend that the church distorts its history in order to portray itself in a more favorable light. Specifically they allege that there was a systematic removal of events that portray Joseph Smith in a negative light.

3) Thought Police: every aspect of daily life is monitored by the authorities. Dissension can be determined through something as small as a facial gesture.
Richard Abanes and the Ostlings criticize the LDS Church for maintaining a group called the Strengthening Church Members Committee, led by two church apostles. According to the Ostlings, the purpose of this committee is to collect and file "letters to the editor, other writings, quotes in the media, and public activities" of church members that may be publishing views contrary to those of the church leadership.

Everyone can't be a historian. It's just not everyone's personality. Most of us just want to get on with the business of life, leaving all the boring worldview stuff to the authorities. But, when a narrative is trying to be created to support a current authority system, nothing will get in the way of their alignment of past facts to present interests.

Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World approach totalitarianism in two opposite manners, one through oppression and the other through sedation, but the common thread between them and all over-reaching authority systems is the denial of the individual.