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Newsletter


August 2003

Contents


Bruce Taylor's Editorial

Newspeak

(From: 1984 by George Orwell, page 32)

“The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case, must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed - if all records told the same tale - then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’. And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it - in Newspeak, ‘doublethink.’

‘Stand easy!’ barked the instructress, a little more genially.

Winston stood, his arms to his side, and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away from the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible ilk and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment it was needed, then, promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself - that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”

*     *     *     *     *     *

“Well, we knew they had Weapons of Mass Destruction“ - Secretary of Defense Rumsfield

“It was just sixteen words” - Condalizza Rice re: false information about Iraq buying uranium from Nigeria

*     *     *     *     *     *

Looks like everyone in the Bush administration has had lessons in Doublethink or “Dubyathink”. And why have so many people bought it? Well, it works, doesn’t it? Gotta say this about George Orwell: he’s a writer who makes a huge difference. How was he to know what he wrote back in 1948 would end up defining the politics of America today?

Whenever you feel daunted or discouraged by an artistic project, take note of George Orwell and the wise prophesy of his work. Ironically, by reading George Orwell’s 1984, we understand the politics of “Dubyathink” today.

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Bob Olson's Thoughts

“The trouble with the world is that
the stupid are cocksure and the
intelligent are full of doubt.”

Bertrand Russell

I agree with Bertrand Russell. In the article “A Question of Trust”, Time Magazine, July 21, 2003, misinformation conveyed by President George Bush is compared with the truth.

To quote President George Bush:

  • “We know that Iraq in the late 1990s had several mobile biological-weapons 1 labs. These are designed to produce germ-warfare agents.”

  • “Our intelligence sources tell us that he (Saddam Hussein) has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear-weapons production.”

  • “Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.”

    What we know as the truth:

  • “U.S. forces found two trailers that could be bioweapons but no trace of pathogens. The CIA claims they’re labs, but some State Department intelligence analysts disagree.”

  • “In May an Iraqi scientist led U.S. troops to centrifuge blueprints that he buried in his rose garden in 1991. But no evidence of a recent nuclear program has been found.”

  • “U.S. and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq destroyed camps belonging to Ansar al-Islam, linked to al-Qaeda, but found no proof of the ties to Saddam that Bush alleged. Al-Qaeda deputy Abu Musab Zarqawi, who sought medical attention in Bagdad, is still at large.”

  • Far too many Americans remain cocksure of George Bush’s statements justifying our preemptive war in Iraq. Why can’t we look at “what we know”?

    Now that we have put our service men and women in harm’s way, perhaps we can make some intelligent decisions for their safety in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan. A team, organized by a Washington think tank, the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, went to Iraq at Pentagon expense between June 27 and July 7th 2. This team makes 32 recommendations for rapidly improving conditions in Iraq. They fault the Bush administration for its failure to adequately involve the international community and the United Nations. By vesting all reconstruction authority in the Pentagon the administration chose a new model for postwar management that removed experienced agencies in the field, rejecting their expertise and instead relying on the Defense Department’s “relatively untested capabilities”.

    The immediate action recommendations of the Center for Strategic and International Studies include:
  • U.S. led forces need to quickly establish a street-level presence in key areas of conflict to provide basic security.

  • Money must quickly be pumped into the economy by hiring Iraqis and bypassing red tape to do so.

  • Most ordinary Iraqis must be given a political stake in their future. Give everyone a bank account to hold earnings from oil export.

  • Former Iraqi soldiers need to be absorbed into the economy. They must receive pay to prevent them from becoming a direct threat.

  • Bremer’s U.S. occupation office is “isolated and cut off from Iraqis”. To change the Iraqi mood from suspicion to trust, intense marketing and “town meetings” need to encourage cooperation.

  • I pray that the intelligence of these findings change the course that our administration has set.

    Besides the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continuing War on Terror and commitments in Africa and elsewhere, most Americans are underemployed or unemployed in a sinking economy. And we guarantee tax benefits to the rich that undermine the prosperity of working Americans for generations. Already we have curtailed our funding to rebuild Afghanistan and failed to provide bankrupt states with funds to meet requirements for the “War on Terror”. Obviously, America cannot meet the commitments of President Bush. Why does he continually make promises he cannot keep? How can we pay for his mistakes?

    The Pentagon under George Bush has an idea - “starting an investment market for wagers on world events." 3 The Pentagon has already initiated a commodity-style market to use real investors to help generals predict terrorist attacks, military coups and other turmoil through futures contracts. These will be bought and sold on world events with profit for investors having savvy predictions. They will collect from the investments of those whose predictions fail. Registration for these investments began Friday, August 1 with trading to start October 1. What’s to prevent terrorists from funding their successful activities through these investments? Or, on the other hand, government secret services from determining the source of terrorist predictions in covert investigation of investors. We are assured that “government agencies will not be allowed to participate and will not have access to the identities or money of traders.” I really question the assurances of my government under George Bush. This Pentagon project is the brainchild of retired Vice Admiral John Poindexter, who was convicted of lying to Congress in the 1980’s Iran Contra debacle. (This conviction was later overturned.) Poindexter also heads the computerized Terrorism Information Awareness program capable of compiling records of any person’s financial, travel, credit-card and health history.

    Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota sum it up by stating, “Spending taxpayer dollars to create terrorism betting parlors is as wasteful as it is repugnant. The American people want the federal government to use its resources enhancing our security, not gambling on it.”

    Under these circumstances how has President Bush maintained a following? Renana Brooks, (a clinical psycholgist in Washington D. C. who heads the Sommet Institute for the Study of Power and Persuasion) states the “power of presidency resides in language as well as law” 4. To comprehend George Bush we need to understand his mastery of negatively charged emotional language - as a political tool. Bush’s public statements and speeches reveals his intentional use of language to dominate others. One Bush technique is “empty language”. This refers to broad statements that are abstract, mean little and are impossible to dispute. In his 2003 State of the Union address Bush used 39 examples of empty language. Example: rather than explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and health care costs, Bush summed up: “No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit.” Another Bush dominant language technique is “personalization” or localizing the attention of the listener on the speaker’s personality. “I will not forget this wound to our country. I will not yield…..” Contrast Bush’s “I will not yield” with John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Bush rarely uses “you”. Bush’s “I” and “we” statements personify the charm of his personality through folksiness, confidence, righteous anger or determination. Perhaps an explanation of George Bush’s support is his ability to perpetuate a constant state of crisis through our “War on Terror.” Indeed, George Bush has created a condition of “learned helplessness” throughout America. “Helpless” Americans feel the need for a popular, strong, determined leader - despite his failings.

    Political opponents to George Bush cannot win against him simply by proving the superiority of their ideas. People do not support Bush for his ideas, but out of the despair and desperation that he has created in their hearts. Bush’s opponents need to oppose his dark imagery with hope. They can profit by heeding the optimism that Reagan used against Carter and the “national malaise”, or the hope conveyed by Franklin Roosevelt challenging the Great Depression (following Hoover’s administration) with the statement, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

    I pray that we may find hope in our future as the stupid become less cocksure and the intelligent become outspoken leaders with a positive message.

      Footnotes:
    1. “A Question of Trust”, Time Magazine, July 21, 2003
    2. ” Rebuilding Effort In Danger Of Failure, Advisory Group Says,” The Seattle Times, Friday, July 18, 2003
    3. “Pentagon May Start Market For Wagers On World Events”, The Seattle Times, Tuesday, July 29, 2003
    4. “Power Of Presidency Resides In Language As Well As Law - BUSH: Profiting From Perpetual State Of Crisis”, The Seattle Times, Sunday, July 13, 2003

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     Last updated:  March 7, 2002