In her new book What Happened, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a shot at literary interpretation — and twisted George Orwell’s book 1984 to mean the exact opposite of what it really means.
“Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism,” Clinton wrote. “This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered.”
So far, so good. Then Clinton draws the exact wrong message from Orwell’s classic. “The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves,” she bizarrely added.
But Clinton wasn’t done. “For Trump, as with so much he does, it’s about simple dominance,” she concluded.
Writer and lecturer James Heartfield noted that Clinton’s interpretation is a “bizarre misreading.”
— JamesHeartfield (@JamesHeartfield) September 12, 2017
One Twitter user cleverly pointed out how Clinton’s own interpretation of 1984 uses “doublespeak” to subvert the very message of the classic work.
Literary analysis pic.twitter.com/NoVYTisgpF
— Sigh Hersh, Persuasive Authority (@Ugarles) September 13, 2017
This literary analysis of Clinton’s paragraph hit the nail on the head. The former secretary of State started out by correctly explaining Orwell’s point — authoritarianism does indeed try to redefine reality.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is famous for the term “doublespeak” — a powerful form of propaganda that deliberately obscures, disguises, or reverses the meaning of words. In the book, the government destroys the very purpose of language by insisting that “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.”
Both the Left and the Right have pushed narratives that dismiss and demonize the other side, but Clinton’s use of propaganda here was rather obvious. Again, she wrote, “The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.”
In 1984, every single one of those groups besides “ourselves” is in on the propaganda game. The political leaders are controlling the narrative, erasing history and even words from existence. The press is an arm of the state, pushing the big government’s propaganda (sound familiar?). A powerful group of “experts” use their position to oppress the people, and Orwell reveals this system directly, as the main character works in the administration.
Orwell’s point in 1984 was that the very kind of technocratic progressivism which Hillary Clinton praises as the solution to all social ills is itself the deep and abiding threat. Since the late 1890s onward, progressivism has placed tremendous faith in scientific “experts” to reshape society, and the governing administrative state is a direct result of this movement.
Clinton, as leader of the party of big government, is infamous for pushing the all-consuming liberal narrative of political correctness, which brooks no opposition or question. She unequivocally embraced “intersectionality” during the campaign, championing “oppressed” groups which actually exert political power and dismissing those who would dare to disagree as “deplorables.”
None of this is to say that President Donald Trump is innocent of twisting the truth — he obviously has engaged in some of his own “doublespeak.” (The size of his inauguration crowd, Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” and Trump’s double-pivot on Charlottesville come to mind.) But Trump and his administration are far from alone in twisting the truth, and they lack the institutional support of a fawning media and administrative state.
Last November, then-President Barack Obama declared, “I’m extremely proud of the fact that over 8 years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations.”
What about the “Fast & Furious” gun-running scheme, or the hundreds of millions in government grants given to the lying solar firm Solyndra? What about the veterans dying while waiting in line for care at the VA, or the conservative groups targeted for adverse treatment by the IRS? What about Obamacare: the disastrous roll-out, the Orwellian redefinition of a “mandate” as a “tax,” and the disgrace of the U.S. government taking the Little Sisters of the Poor to court?
To Obama, “War is Peace, Freedom is Surveillance, Scandal is No Scandal At All.”
The main difference between Trump and Obama is that after January 20, 2017, when the president lies, the press calls him on it. The administrative state is in open revolt. The Left has recovered its healthy skepticism of power — at least until the next Democratic president arrives.
This is why Hillary Clinton’s misreading of Orwell is so dangerous. So many liberals see themselves as being on the side of the angels, and they cannot come to grips with the fact that millions of Americans disagree with them, for rational reasons that have nothing to do with racism or “hate.”
Instead, they try to push a narrative of institutional discrimination which actually harms reason and pits groups of people against one another. When seismic political events like Brexit or Trump’s election break their fragile worldview, they lash out, rather than re-evaluating their premises.
As Allahpundit over at HotAir pointed out, Trump is no totalitarian — when his immigration order was challenged in court, he went to court rather than enforcing it anyway. When James Mattis suggested Trump keep the ban on waterboarding, he listened. Trump is nothing close to a real fascist, and it is quite telling that most of the violent protests under his administration have been instigated by the horridly misnamed “antifa.”
Contra Hillary, Americans are not living in a modern version of 1984. If Hillary had won last November, however, it might be a different story. But don’t take PJ Media’s word for it — here’s a video produced by Barack Obama fans in 2007.