Tomislav S. Šola
Has Orwell been too optimistic?
Orwell has been with us ever since. But, though a journalist and social analyst, he may have been writing his novel „1984“not as a prophecy but as a warning. Any warning is a suggested possibility, a try to prevent the bad development. Besides, he published it in 1947 and being himself a socialist, it might have been an act of care. Inspired by the failure of communism, he thought that socialism of the same gloomy variety he saw in USSSR might be the fate of the world and perversely sophisticate in the process. Well, as he had the West or rather England in his mind (naming it though Oceania), he missed the ideological framework but was right about all the rest.
One of the three omnipresent Party ‘s slogans "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength" in the realized prophecy is not distributed on billboards but installed in minds. The general aim of mind control is also being worked upon. The „double thinking” is realized: constant wars are the new normal, freedom is dangerous and expensive. Freedom thus turns into freedom to consume or obey, or can be used for politically smearing others or intentionally ignoring the rise of actual slavery in the „fourth” world.
Privatized education has devalued knowledge while manipulating that only STEM orientation matters, avoiding the need for free thinking and creativity as suggested by social a humanist knowledge. In some countries educational system is conspicuously producing ignorance.
Upon all, the masses, the crowd, have been reduced to a mob, - the ready victim and the happy beneficiary and spreader of all manipulation. The Machine (L. Mumford) floods their minds by manipulating their minds with fake news, post-facts, post-truths, spinning, trolling, false myths, vicious idols, and fabrication of conspiracy theories. Once miserable, insecure and frightened, the mob enjoys the chaos as their strength. They take part in the ritual of staged democracy and elect infallibly and exactly one of the few possible social and ethical monsters that the Machine has proposed to them so that the chaos continues thriving. Such new barbarians will always have the euphoric feeling of strength.
Like Orwell proposes in his vision they are in the state of mind in which they believe most readily what is most improbable: again, the religious absurdity „Credo quia absurdum” triumphs over free and rational mind, overall probability, logic and wisdom.
Can museums do anything about it? Yes. Some can. Some even may, but for the most, they will remain science-based and aloof enough to secure their basic survival in the worsening times. To be worth of the effort any money, museums and other public memory institutions must first of all explain the present to their users! This, in turn, cannot be done without interpreting the past. The only meaningful way to do it is doing it as a profession: strong, autonomous, objective, idealist and efficiently counteracting the problems of society or community. The useful one.
The Machine takes subtle forms as it often speaks the melodious and pretentious language of politicians well filtered and trained for their illusionist séances called elections. So, instead of the hidden Orwellian party vrhuskha, we have different power groups of the 1% elite and their vassals creating the world in which only them are logical and necessary. What Orwell was not grasping in his hidden optimism is that humanitas and the human condition can become unimportant or even optional.
© Tomislav S. Sola; this text is going to be re-published within a book format