Facts Do Not Cease to Exist Because They Are Ignored

Alternative Facts

Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway made a remark about “alternative facts,” a statement that dominated the news cycle for weeks to come.

The contradictory phrase evoked the infamous term “double think” from George Orwell’s dystonia novel “1984”, and within just a few days almost every imaginable mainstream media outlet, including USA Today, the New York Times, NPR, CNN, NBC and the Washington Times reported that the aforementioned novel had risen to the top of the Amazon bestseller list.

At best, these media outlets suggesting this narrative of a connection between the authoritative and blatantly propagandist regime described in “1984” and the Trump administration were irresponsible in their complicity, and at worst they could be considered guilty of an agenda-driven collusion.

Brave New World

The use of brute force, propaganda and constant state-sponsored surveillance as described in Orwell’s magnum opus is an inaccurate portrayal of contemporary America. Although there are certainly plenty of examples of those forces at work in our country, they are typically hidden from plain sight thanks to layers of bureaucracy and an apathetic populace.

If there is a dystonia novel to which a more precise comparison can be drawn, it would be that of the society described in Brave New World. The novel was written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, whereas “1984” wasn’t written until 1949. Following the publication of “1984,” Huxley actually wrote to Orwell congratulating him on his great literary accomplishment and proposed that his own theory of the evolution of power in the modern era would be a more likely scenario.

“Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient as instruments of government than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience,” Huxley said.

Systems of Power In the 21st Century

As opposed to the totalitarianism of the ruling classes in “1984,’ Huxley envisioned a world in which those who hold power could rule more efficiently by engaging in a combination of psychological operations and chemically-induced subjugation on their constituents.

He believed that systems of power would forever be changed if those who were in charge could convince the lower classes that they were each in control of their own destiny, that any misfortune that comes to them must be by the fault of their own incompetence (or at least due to factors that were completely out of their government’s control) and that there was not much more to life than the pursuit of personal pleasure.

To take Huxley’s ideas even further, these individuals who believed in the false reality of their individual liberty would be in a constant state of competition with one another because of the inevitable concentration of wealth and power that creates a shortage of resources, financial and otherwise, and the impossible and selfish pursuit of maintaining a personal state of constant ecstasy in a world so obviously plagued by corruption, injustice and misfortune.

Doesn’t this all sound hauntingly familiar?

*The headline is a quote from Aldous Huxley.