Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most influential novels of all time. In it he predicted with uncanny accuracy our current state of affairs. Big Brother has become a metaphor for the surveillance state erected around us without our permission.
In a true democracy, one actually ruled by the people, such an entity would never exist. But since we live in an oligarchy, and more specifically a paranoid plutocracy, we the people have no say, except when we join together in solidarity. In this article we will break down the four main culprits of the mass surveillance state, using the four overreaching and insidious tentacles of Big Brother as a metaphor, and see if there’s anything we can do to overcome them.
The so called Ministry of Truth
“The problem of our day is an inner deadening, an increasingly deployed defense against living in an overbuilt industrialized civilization saturated by intrusive advertising and media, unregulated toxic chemicals, unhealthy food, parasitic business practices, time-stressed living, and a heart-warping culture of perpetual war and relentlessly mindless political propaganda.” –Buzzell & Chalquist, Ecotherapy
The Ministry of Truth controls information: news, entertainment, education, and even manipulates recorded history to benefit the current established order. It oversees propaganda and historical revisionism. Here, “ignorance is strength.” In the novel this is all taken to the extreme. Although our current system doesn’t take it that far, there is a fine line between truth and doublespeak.
Just think about the bought and paid for media outlets (Fox News, CNN). How the truth is twisted by prostitute reporters who are paid off by plutocratic government agencies to spread fluff news and corporate interest propaganda. Their bait is money. Most journalists give into the carrot dangling from the plutocratic stick. And though a few good journalists still exist, they are anathematized and demonized.
Think about how entertainment manipulates us into being more materialistic and superficial. Think about the bad shape our education system is in. Think about how Columbus Day is revered through historical revisionism. Think about how history books rarely mention the Native American holocaust. And these are just a few examples.
So what can we do? Well, we all know that the mainstream media is wholly owned and manipulated by the ruling elite. We all recognize that they are nothing more than a propaganda machine and a form of mind control. Even the people who still listen to it like it was gospel must know this to a certain extent. They are just apathetic, fearful and beat into submission is all. Corporate media is a puppet regurgitating a corporate agenda, nothing more.
We just need to remember the wise words of Henry A. Wallace: “With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.” We need to think about who these fascist groups might be, seek alternative ways of receiving news, and question it all to the nth degree. Like Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
The Ministry of Plenty controls food, goods, and deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation). It oversees shortage and famine. Here, scarcity is abundance. In the novel, this ministry falsely claims to have raised the standard of living, when it has, in fact, reduced rations, availability, and production.
In the real world, we are faced with a global epidemic of abundance for some and scarcity for others. Statistics show that there are an estimated 925 million hungry people in the world, which would imply that food is scarce. However, the world produces 2,720 kilocalories per person per day of food, more than enough to feed everyone on the planet. Food is not scarce. Belief can be a terrible thing; such as the belief that it’s okay that billions die from starvation when there are millions of tons of food locked up in stores the world over.
Like I wrote in Five Things the Powers-that-be Don’t Want You to Know About Monsanto, There’s a reason why more than 50 countries around the world have either banned genetically modified foods all together, or are at least labeling them. That reason is freedom of choice. Nobody wants to be force fed anything. The amount of trust we put into our food industry is baffling, but the food industry should at least respect our trust by honestly labeling their food products.
The Monsanto Protection Act, passed in March 2013, essentially allows Monsanto to sell GM products without federal permission, thus dodging any judicial consequences. It strips federal courts of the power to halt the illegal planting of potentially hazardous crops. This is an outrage. If Monsanto needs a bill passed that protect them from legal action, then surely they know what they’re doing is illegal. It’s not so much that these companies are making scary food that is potentially harmful; it’s that, with acts such as these, our basic human right to choose what we want to eat is being violated.
So what can we do? We can become more aware of what we are consuming, for starters. We can seek alternative methods of consumption. We can leave the outdated system of consumption behind and seek a more updated and sustainable system. Easier said than done, sure, but necessary. Like Richard Neville said, “What’s needed are battalions of eco warriors with science degrees, gardening skills, and the capacity to create zones of survival. We need to move beyond the world of the possible, and the maybe, and prepare for what may soon be urgent and imminent. Are we preparing “safe passage” for climate change refugees? Are the tents being tested and the food kitchens assembled? If not, why? From where will food and freedom come?”
The so called Ministry of Peace
“Our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.” –General Douglas MacArthur
The Ministry of Peace is all about war. It oversees conflict and atrocity under the banner of security and peace. It boldly claims that war is peace, while obliterating peace through incessant war. It claims that the only way to maintain peace is to remain at war perpetually, which sounds like the ideology of a cancer cell.
Cancer begins with a group of cells that fail to communicate with the conscious signal of the host. Collectively, among every human, vanity leads to segregation and competition, competition leads to fear and greed, greed leads to deceit and immorality which leads to a breeding ground for the illness of waging war on earth. Every act of hatred and self-destructiveness in our world begins with self-hate and self-destructiveness. And it all begins with a cancerous breakdown in communication. Like Diane Di Prima said, “The only war that matters is the war against imagination. All other wars are subsumed by it.”
As it stands, we are a kind of militarized republic. Militarism is instrumentalism applied to nationalism: it is a principled rejection of eco-centric explanation… and so militarism is inherently anthropocentric – which is not surprising, since it regards parochialism as a virtue of being, rather than as a hindrance toward healthy progress.
It also suffers from another fatal flaw, which is that it assumes that the military has some sort of privileged access to the people it “protects” which it doesn’t want the people to have over it, as well as to the lands of other countries. Amidst this ominous hyper-militarized shadow, the rest of the world is subjugated to paying a tithe, not dissimilar to the way imperial Rome was paid, “trusting” that the military will “protect” them from terrorism.
So what can we do? We can break the chain of obedience for starters. We can become sacred activists who persistently attempt to spread the lighting of the third fire. We can become peaceful warriors who determinedly dismantle the war machine. Above all, we can teach those who love peace how to organize as effectively as those who love war.
The so called Ministry of Love
“Most of us have no idea that we are no longer fenced in. We’ve been so thoroughly brainwashed and intimidated and socialized that we stay huddled together, waiting for instructions, when we have the first, best, and once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something extraordinary instead.” –Seth Godin
The Ministry of Love controls and monitors potential dissidents. It oversees torture and brainwashing and deals with law and order. It arrests and converts anyone who steps out of line, until love for Big Brother replaces dissension. Here, Freedom is slavery. People are a slave to the system that keeps them fat, comfortable, and safe. It is madness upon madness. And, sadly, not too far off what we are experiencing in the world today.
“To efficiently control the human farm,” writes Stefan Molyneux, “you need a majority of broken, self-attacking, insecure, shallow, vain and ambitious sheep, forever consumed by inconsequentialities like weight, abs and celebrities –and a minority of volatile, angry and dominant sheepdogs, which you can dress up in either a green (military) or a blue (police) costume and use to threaten and manage the herd.” And so it goes with the state of affairs today.
It’s dangerous being surrounded by a herd of well-meaning fools who believe that the law must be followed at all costs, even at the expense of goodness and morality. Even Thomas Jefferson realized the need to break unjust laws, writing, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only correct to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
Are we not also obligated to do so? What gets us off the hook of being responsible, proactive citizens? Nothing gets us off the hook. There are consequences to not being responsible with our power: having our power stolen and used to manipulate us. There are consequences to not being proactive citizens: we become easily ruled. But, paraphrasing Herman Hesse, the unwritten law will always defeat the written one.
What is the unwritten law? Love, health, and justice. And so we should stand up with full hearts, clutching the unwritten law to our chest, and dare to shame the powers of Big Brother (and those who blindly follow) while mocking its unjust laws. We should lead by example, and dare to show others what courage really looks like. Perhaps this is what Plato meant when he said, “For a state in which the law is respected, democracy is the worst form of government, but if the law is not respected, it is the best.”