If you have not read “1984“ then you may want to do so. If you have, it may be time to read it again. Orwell (1903 to 1950) lived through some of the most traumatic political events of the 20th century. His statue at BBC headquarters in London has an inscription with his words: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Considered to be one of the greatest British writers of the 20th century, he coined the terms “Big Brother” and “Doublethink“.
In the age of “The Donald,” the current belief that facts no longer matter and the rise of “Fake News,” it is worth renewing our acquaintance with his writings.
George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Blair, a British citizen with an Eton education who served in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma in the early 1920’s. In 1936, like Ernest Hemingway, he went to Spain to fight in the Civil War against Fascism, where he was seriously wounded. He worked for the BBC during World War II. After these wars, he wrote his two famous books, Animal Farm and 1984. Both were strongly influenced by his personal experience with Fascism in Spain, as well as the course taken by German, Italian and Russian dictators.
Donald Trump’s “facts” were widely disputed by fact-checkers throughout the 2016 campaign. Such statements as “I’m the only one who can fix our problems” have been taken by many as election hyperbole, not indicative of a Fascist leader. Some have said that anything goes in campaigns, but it is a more serious matter now that Trump has been in office for a year.
Trump’s argument that he knows the pain of the common man was bought by a sizable number of voters in economically distressed states that are being left behind by an increasingly high-technology global economy. But his cabinet choices do not reflect this concern.
The extent to which the Russian intelligence agencies influenced his election is a very serious issue. The open discussion by our most sophisticated foreign intelligence agencies and the Congressional debate as to how much to investigate this election interference will tell us much about whether we are still a government of “checks and balances” or a Fascist plutocracy.
Will the Republican Congress provide the administrative oversight that the American people deserve? Will they be as critical of President Trump as they were of President Obama or Secretary Clinton? Have we unintentionally elected a Russian Manchurian candidate under the strong influence of a Russian oligarch?
These are serious questions that must be addressed over the next three years. It is the obligation of the free press to investigate and expose the truth. President Trump’s efforts at “Doublethink” and “Fake News” regarding the popular election outcome are of concern. His constant refusal to receive the morning intelligence briefings and denial of our intelligence agencies reporting on Russian hacking creates a riff in the trusted relationship that must exist between our national leaders and our intelligence professionals.
What are, and what will be, the conflicts of interest between the Trump and the ExxonMobil corporations and our national interests? Will the leaders in the Oval Office and the State Department betray the trust needed with our national intelligence agencies for an effective working relationship?
Some have expressed concern that this could be the most corrupt administration since Warren Harding and Ulysses Grant. We will not know that for several years, and I certainly hope not. We do know what has happened in Europe in the 20th century. We never thought that it could happen in the USA.
Even if both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans, it is up to the legislative and judicial branches of government to make sure that these mistakes do not happen here. First and foremost they must act as loyal American citizens and not as party hacks.
George Donohue is a Prof. Emeritus of Systems Engineering at George Mason University and the president of the South County Democratic Club. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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