War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Contradictory, right? This little slogan is Orwell's primary example of "doublethink," from his book 1984.
Another piece of Orwell:
"How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."
"Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."
2+2=5,or 2+2=4, depending on what The Party wants you to think at the time. The sane person is able to think what he is told, not what seems to be true, or right. Believing truth outside of Party lines is the definition of insanity, in the upside-down world of 1984.
Doublethink was the absolute requirement of the Party; a citizen was not permitted to obstinately refuse to accept truth as it was handed down. Each person must conform. But mere lip service is not enough. It was not enough to save Winston from torture. No, one must truly conform. One must truly believe. The Party demands it.
If The Party says red is blue, it is so. If the past is changed, let it be so. If two and two is five, it is five. Those are the facts, created by fiat, authorized by absolute power, and enforced by any means necessary.
Does that sounds familiar? Does that sound like your life? Not really. But Wednesday morning, it kind of felt like that was my life. I got on the ol' Twitter, early in the AM, and was surprised to see this story: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/us/politics/transgender-christine-hallquist-vermont.html about the Vermont Democratic candidate for governor, "Ms. Hallquist."
*Before diving in here, let me just state that, as much as I care what people in my circle of influence do and say and think (that's part of being a friend, neighbor, etc.), I don't really care what some person in Vermont wants to wear, or say, or do, or even think, at least not for my purposes here. I don't hate this person, I'm not angry at this person, I'm not trans-phobic, whatever whatever whatever. We are driving at speech here, not trans-genderism, so stick with me.
What shocked me was the picture in the article. The person is eminently male. Christine is a man, and it's obvious. What immediately came to mind was the parable called The Emperor's New Clothes. Let me remind you of the story:
A couple of "tailors" come to the imperial city, and enter the emperor's palace. They say they are fine tailors of the highest caliber, and offer to craft for the emperor a very special suit. This will not be like ordinary suits; it will be made of a fabric so special, so rare, so costly, it is invisible to stupid people. The emperor, intrigued, agrees to have a suit made.
Our con-men (the tailors) then pretend to labor long over the suit, spending days and days crafting each part. After much toil, they finally present it to the potentate. At the first showing, the emperor is startled to realize that he cannot see the suit. Implication: he is too stupid. After all, the fabric is said to be invisible to stupid people. Well, he might be stupid, but he's not dumb, so he plays it cool, and gawks at his new suit as if he could see it. His attendants follow suit, and also praise the new clothing.
To make a long story short, word gets out about the special clothes that are so high-class that stupid people can't even see them, and when the emperor goes on parade through town, everyone plays along, pretending to be impressed by the emperor's adornment, while watching an old man in his skivies be paraded down main street. Nobody wants to be the one called stupid; nobody wants to risk losing face, or being wrong, or being mocked, or worse. Nobody says anything about the simple fact: Not only has the emperor been duped, robbed, mocked, made the fool – conned – but he is currently riding naked through town in great pride.
Finally, a young child, too naive to understand pretence and conformity, calls out, breaking the spell: "The emperor has no clothes!"
Well, when I was on Twitter on Wednesday morning, and I saw the picture of this man (forgive me), the little child inside just screamed out: "That's a dude!" Then I felt the anger. The mainstream press, the pop culture, the thought-brokers of our nation, the "intellectuals" and "intelligentsia," and so many other "authorities" in our country insist that I call this man a woman. Everybody is playing charades, and they refuse to let you bow out of the game. To refuse to play make-believe is the great sin of our society.
That's the rub. I don't care if this man wants to dress in drag and do homosexual things. I don't care if he wants to mutilate his body. I am angry that my country at large is doing two things: First, they are pretending right along with him that he is a woman; and second, they are trying to force you and me (through psychological means) to do the same. But what if I don't want to play make-believe today? What if I want to play real life? So there's the conflict. Unfortunately, the bullies are in power right now (or maybe whoever is in power becomes a bully), so it's a little bit ugly out there.
So, leaving trans-genderism behind, let's get back to Orwell. Society is embracing doublethink. No, society is beginning to enforce doublethink. Our culture insists that you say and think what you may believe is false. Individual beliefs are not polite. We are still in the emperor's-new-clothes stage, but somewhere in the distance is the O'brien-sets-a-rat-eating-your-face-until-you-give-up-your-soul stage [*read 1984]. You can't quite see it from here, but I'm telling you, it's just over the horizon. Eroding free speech is not a game. It's the stuff of genocide.
Why do I say we are in the emperor's-new-clothes stage?
One simple reason: Most people know we are pretending. Some people really believe in trans-gender theory (that this man was born a woman trapped in a male body), but for the most part, people know that a dude is a dude is a dude. What's really going on is a giant game of make-believe, because that's what the people in charge are telling us to do. The powerful people say "play the game; shut up and call him a woman!" and society at large, not wanting to look foolish (or worse), conforms. Every now and then, foolish children (like yours truly) who don't know enough about pretense, still call out "The emperor has no clothes!" with little or no consequence.
Now, this is a hopeful place to be in, because it's possible that a loud enough call will spark a mass awakening, and an acknowledgment of reality. It's possible that enough people will see the sad humor, the pathetic nature, and the revolting dishonesty of their actions, that we will turn around and call a spade a spade, thus stopping the progression. I hope so.
Why do I say we are moving toward the Orwellian stage?
First, this sexual/moral/gender revolution (and the necessary erosion of freedom) is moving fast, moving strong, and moving forward. Second, it is self-conscious. The revolutionaries know it is a revolution, and they want it. So far the momentum is on their side. That bodes ill. Third, a large part of the political-societal machine of our country is either capitulating or propagating. Legislation limiting your free speech regarding trans people is not unthinkable, especially at the state level. Universities (the teachers of our teachers) are largely on board with the new gender paradigm. Pop culture is all in. Hollywood wants it bad. The "progressive" zeitgeist is almost ubiquitous among the loudest and most influential among us. Fourth, we are moving toward the Orwellian stage, I think, because that's the lesson of history. Totalitarianism has many ingredients, and here's a big one: Tell the people that their individual rights don't matter compared to the collective priorities, and then force them to conform, especially in their speech.
Why is that the stuff of genocide?
What I really mean is, this is the stuff of violence and aggressive domination. This is the stuff of secret police, gulags, labor camps, genocides, mob violence, book-burning, rallies, marching, revolutions, etc. Free speech vs. Thought-police is the big-leagues, folks. This isn't a scholarly article, so I don't have to cite anyone or prove anything – and therefore I won't take the time to here. But I don't really need to, do I?
What should we do, today, to stop the tide?
Consider this: If you won't risk offending people now, and looking foolish now, and being on the outside now, in this stage, what do you think you will do later, if we ever see the Orwellian stage? What will you really do when the police are hauling people to prison for hate crimes? What will you do when it's illegal to say what you believe? Will you say it then, if you won't say it now? Stop being polite, because that is a mask for laziness, passivity, or cowardice. Don't be ignorant and think it will be fine. Read a history book, wake up and smell the bacon, and then shout it out: THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!
Blog, write, facebook, tweet, whatever. I don't have trans-genderism in mind, either. I have all compelled speech, all compelled thought, in mind. Refuse to submit to the thought-police, because if we give them power, they will take it. Then there will be no refusing, no matter what they say.
If things keep going like this, something will eventually have to give. Someday blood will be shed. That sounds cliche', predictable, and ignorantly radical, sitting in a comfy chair in almost absolute safety, but it's not. History shows that your comfort and safety are what are radically unique – and the revolution surrounding us is threatening the world that allows that exceptional safety and comfort.
If you value individual rights, you are under obligation to fight. I don't mean fight trans-genderism, or fight the LBGTQ+ movement, or fight any people, really. I mean fight for your right to say and think what you believe to be true, regardless of what The Party says. The fight isn't getting any easier. We are losing ground daily. Don't be passive; communicate truth boldly.
Two and two makes four. Always has, always will. If we believe that, we should fight for our right to say it, for our right to think it, and for our right just to believe it.
**Why free speech and true speech are good things, and things we should fight for, is another question for another day.