In order to control millions of people, totalitarian or proto-totalitarian governments find it necessary to somehow prod their subjects into accepting that which is not true. Intelligent people will naturally see the truth and thereby comprehend when government lies to them – and so that’s the rub – how does totalitarian government deal with intelligent people when they must be lied to?
George Orwell provides the answer: intelligent people must be conditioned to reject self-evident truth, to reject the sanity of common sense, to accept the insanity of Orwellian Doublethink, to accept the lie and the truth in their minds simultaneously: “with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”
How do Dictatorships lie to intelligent people and get away with it?
1. In the early stages of totalitarianism the use of Orwellian Newspeak is preferred to blatant, in-your-face lies because Newspeak (otherwise known as Doublespeak) is the clever manipulation of words which mean one thing to the speaker and something very different or its opposite to the listener, thus one may plant a false idea into another’s head by lying to them directly, or by using the tricky technique of Doublespeak.
For example, a politician utters support for a woman’s “right to choose” – Orwellian Doublespeak for supporting a woman’s right to kill.
Another politician is an advocate of “climate change” – Orwellian Doublespeak for belief in man-caused global warming and a denial of solar–driven climate change which results in both global warming and global cooling. In the mind of a co-believer the words “climate change” evoke an image of man-made global warming. In the mind of a naive man the words “climate change” evoke an image of the natural changes that occur in weather – both warming and cooling. Mission accomplished – simply by uttering the incantation “climate change” the politician may win the approval of both – each with opposite mental images, one false and one true – hopefully gaining the vote of both.
The politician does not advocate natural, solar-driven climate change, but the naive man now thinks he does because that is the image painted in his mind by the Orwellian Doublespeak words “climate change.” This rhetorical technique is superior (in the wrongful sense) to the direct lie because, at the end of the day, the naive man will possess the same false idea that would occur had the politician lied to him directly. Through the use of Orwellian Doublespeak there is the advantage of plausible deniability regarding the implantation of a false idea.
The naive man may be intelligent enough to figure it all out (that the politician does not advocate natural solar-driven climate change), but the politician hopes the man has been conditioned by Orwellian Doublethink into acceptance of the lie and the truth simultaneously, and still have his vote.
2. Doublespeak lies tend to confuse or escape the notice of unsuspecting people.
For example, a government which confiscates middle class property through excessive taxation, while lining its own pockets and redistributing the stolen property to a lazy, so-called proletariat class in return for votes is deemed to be a provider of “Equity” and “Social Justice.” Never mind that forced equal property outcome destroys the work ethic of both the middle class and the so-called proletariat class leading to economic collapse.
And never mind that forced equal property outcome is a big Orwellian lie because, like the Pigs of Animal Farm, the self-serving government class empowered to take (collectivize) the people’s property always ends up with the lion’s share of the people’s property – the worst form of inequity and social injustice. Greed and theft by the people who administer totalitarian government cannot be publicly identified as greed and theft, so the injustice is called “Social Justice” – Orwellian Doublespeak for government greed and theft.
Another example of Doublespeak is the term “Affirmative Action” – words used to describe the destruction of a student’s right to gain graduate school admission based on being part of an out-of-favor ethnic group or skin color, rather than admission based purely on academic achievement and studious preparation. Thus “Affirmative Action” is a politically correct Doublespeak term for affirmation of wrong action.
We also have the phrase “Living Constitution” – Orwellian Doublespeak for Dead Constitution. The “Living Constitution” is law which is not derived from We the People, law not derived from the American majority, but law arbitrarily derived from a small judicial or administrative minority. The so-called “Living Constitution” does not take its breath of life from the people’s amendment process (the real life and breath of our Constitution) but from the minds of a small effete class of “Philosopher Kings.” Constitutional law derived exclusively from a small governing minority means the Constitution is living for them – but dead for the rest of us – the opposite of what our Founding Fathers intended.
“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure… If ‘the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government,’ … then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de so… The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please [‘Living Constitution’].”
— Thomas Jefferson
Doublespeak government lies are cleverly disguised in rhetoric – lies which can be received and accepted by otherwise intelligent people via the insanity of Orwellian Doublethink – a simultaneous and irrational mental acceptance of both the lie and the truth. Taken together, Doublespeak lies of totalitarian government, and Doublethink insanity on the part of their subjects, the rejection of truth within human minds can occur on a colossal scale.
3. Insanity (or psychosis) is the mental state where reality (the truth) cannot be separated from falsehood (the lie). Since totalitarian states lie to their intelligent subjects using Doublespeak, and since such government requires them to accept the lie and the truth simultaneously via Doublethink (with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth), totalitarian government becomes engaged in the business of “Controlled Insanity.”
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously [the lie and the truth], and accepting both of them [Insanity]… with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth… Those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is; in general the greater the understanding the greater the delusion; the more intelligent the less sane… If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality… If human equality is to be forever averted; if the “high,” as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently; then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.”
The lies of totalitarian government must also be accepted by the less intelligent – no problem.
George Orwell realized this was a much simpler dilemma to solve.
4. This segment of society can be made to accept “the most flagrant violations of reality” without too much trouble – just expose them to 8-12 years of foolishness in government schools – and simply lie to them – even flagrantly – through an out-of-mainstream mass media – our new versions of Soviet Pravda and Izvestia.
Since the out-of-MSM passes along disinformation without question, the lies of a totalitarian government can be taken in and digested by dumbed-down, gullible fools. Doublethink insanity is a requirement for the intelligent while the sanity of stupidity is needed for the rest:
“Crimestop…includes the power of not grasping analogies; of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc [Socialist Principles of Oceania], and of being bored or rebelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop in short means protective stupidity… The world view of the Party imposed its self most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm because it left no residue behind; just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”
Totalitarian government can only exist through a clever or blatant use of lies which must be accepted through the controlled insanity of Orwellian Doublethink or the controlled sanity of Crimestop stupidity.
Orwell’s 1984 character Julia, an enemy of Big Brother’s totalitarian government, “did not feel the abyss opening beneath her feet at the thought of lies becoming truth” where “the heresy of heresies was common sense.”
One way free people can remain free is to think, to recognize and accept self-evident truth, to reject the labyrinthine world of Orwellian Doublespeak and Doublethink, to reject the depraved world of Orwellian Crimestop stupidity, to exercise the sanity and intelligence of common sense. Common sense means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously (the truth and the lie), and accepting only the truth, with the truth always one leap ahead of the lie.
Please join the discussion with us on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-third in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle
- Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek
- Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
- Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
- David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
- Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
- Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
- Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
- Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
- Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
- Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
- Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
- Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
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- Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
- Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
- Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
- David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
- Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
- Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:
2014 – Starting the Discussion…
- Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
- David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
- Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
- Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
- Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
- Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
- David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Liberty Island on November 22nd, 2014: A Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers
- Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
- Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
- Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
- Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
- Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
- Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose
January 2015 – Volume I
- Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
- Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
- Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
- Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
- Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
- Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
- Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
- Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
- Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
- Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
- Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
- Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
- Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
- David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
- Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
- David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
- Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
- Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
- Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
- Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
- David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
- Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
- Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned