Celluloid Doublethink

From George Orwell’s 1984, written over sixty years ago:

‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’

Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O’Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

‘For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?’


Tim Blair notes how easy it is for the modern left to live in doublethink:

In his obituary for actor Pete Poslethwaite, former UK deputy Prime Minister John Prescott captures perfectly – if unknowingly – the clash between traditional and modern leftist values:

I first saw Brassed Off – the tale about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit – in June 1997. The story, loosely based on the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was moving but it was Pete Postlethwaite’s speech right at the end that had a deep effect on me.

His character, band leader Danny, after spending his life wanting to win the national brass band trophy, symbolically turns it down because he knows it’s the only way he can get publicity for the 1,000 miners who were sacked from his pit.

The line that got me was: “This government has systematically destroyed an entire industry – our industry. And not just our industry – our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of ‘progress’. And for a few lousy bob.”

You can watch it here. I defy you not to cry.

Obviously, both fictional Danny and real Prescott would have preferred to keep the mines open. Prescott continues:

Pete’s other defining role for me was his part in the environmental movie Age of Stupid.

He played a future survivor of the 21st century’s climate apocalypse, who looks back at documentary footage and asks why we failed to save ourselves while we had the chance.

By closing down coal mines, for example.


The community organizer and pop culture admirer in Obama would likely have cheered Poslethwaite’s acting in the role of a frustrated coal miner himself– just before the environmentalist in Obama cheerfully bankrupted the coal mine, being cheered on by some of Hollywood’s biggest — if most sclerotic — stars.



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