by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
The election of Barack Obama, with his immediate attention as president-elect going to his stimulus plan, boosted the sales of a particular book: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The Economist at the time wrote that with government “interven[ing] in the market” so much, readers “reckon that life is imitating art.”
Now? A web site called Vocativ recently wrote about “liberal preppers” boning up on supplies in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. Among them: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Presumably they also think life is imitating art.
There must be something to that, because The Mercury News is reporting that Nineteen Eighty-Four is now “No. 1 on Amazon.com and the publisher has ordered an additional 75,000 copies.”
I confess, however, I don’t see how a progressive relativist can read Nineteen Eighty-Four without suffering a soul-crushing bout of self-recrimination. Unless they have truly perfected doublethink.
DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.
The definition is George Orwell’s from Nineteen Eighty-Four.
I suppose they could read it as if Ingsoc is some beautiful fictional Shangri-La, with Winston Smith an ungrateful jerk of an antihero. But I hope for the realization against the full-flowered Socialism depicted in Orwell’s Oceania. So no more relativism, no more politicizing everything, no more demanding acts and public displays of fealty to the political cause du jour, etc.
Maybe, just maybe, it takes the prospect of a president inheriting the imperial powers they cheered in his predecessor — but now fear in him — for them to join the rest of us who advocate limited government, checks and balances, and individual rights given by God rather than bestowed as favors from government? One can hope.
Granted, they’d have to do a damn sight better than media supposedly fighting “fake news” — thinking “fake” means “counter to our politics” rather than counter to the truth, regardless of whose politics it transgresses.
I hope they will. Read on!