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Belmont Club

The Secret Chord

March 27th, 2012 - 9:49 pm

Hence, beneath the veneer of ostensibly rational discourse which outfits like Media Matters professed to espouse was an enormous need to hate. Given a photo, they just had to hate Drudge for it. They couldn’t help themselves. And now that it didn’t work out they’ll find something else. It was an itch they needed to scratch.

An itch.

Therefore the wise dictator gives his dupes the periodic opportunity to throw off their thinking selves and momentarily indulge themselves in a tribal frenzy if ever they hope to stay in power. How Orwell put it:

The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself …

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were — in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State.

Every myth is like that. Paradise and the Fall. The Villain and the Hero. Except with Marx the cast of characters has been changed to suit. But it’s the same deal. What the Party participants who emerged drunken with hate never realized was that Two Minutes Hate was a potion used to control them. They were administered a jolt aimed at misdirecting and ultimately dulling the mind, not so that they could eventually become free — but so that they could keep enjoying the Two Minutes Hate.

Was there ever a Goldstein? Was Eastasia really ever at war with Oceania? What is crazy perhaps, is to inquire after the facts as if they mattered. They never really mattered outside of math and engineering and, perhaps, real spirituality. Did they ever?


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