The thing about totalitarianism is that as a lifestyle it can be pretty grim, but when it comes to rhetoric it has some solid comic potential. Orwell may have been the first to recognize this (Animal Farm) and I wonder what he would say about the recent call by the Internet Society of China for the suppression of “Unhealthy information” online. Now what do they mean by that? A list of MacDonald’s in Shanghai? A parody of the Chuck Berry classic? (“Unhealthy information down in Memphis,Tennessee…”) I guess it depends on what your definition of “unhealthy” is. According to our friends at Xinhua, the group called for its 2,600 member companies to supervise content, delete “unhealthy” information and oppose acts that undermine “Internet civilization.”
Ah, now there’s the clue to what they mean – “Internet civilization.” Has the ring of “lost worlds” about it, doesn’t it? Lost worlds like … say…. Tibet. Now there’s an example of “unhealthy information” you won’t find on a “right-minded” organization approved by the totalitarian state like … say… Google China.
(On third thought, I realize Orwell was far from the first to recognize the comic potential of fascists. Aristophanes beat him to the punchline a couple of thousands years before.)
UPDATE: But speaking of Tibet … and giving the dog his due … here’s something they probably wouldn’t have had under the Dalai Lama. But who knows?