Recently the term that has been preoccupying me is “doublethink”. It seems to apply to so much of what goes on nowadays. Orwell invented the term in his novel 1984, and one definition he gives is: “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Doublethink is also described as: “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies.”
The more I think about it, the more I feel we are sinking in a morass of doublethink. One of the most well-known recent examples is the rationale for starting the Iraq war. The evidence did not prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the government of the day knew that, but this did not stop them seeking to convince the population that he did.
The Prime Minister referring to ‘swarms’ of migrants disgusted me as well as many others. But equally disturbing is the way that the term ‘migrant’ itself is nowadays used in a highly pejorative sense. The Oxford dictionary definition is ‘A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.’ So that could be a refugee or an economic migrant, but somehow that distinction is lost in current media references. Sometimes the articles are so hostile that the term ‘migrant’ seems to be second only to ‘terrorist’. The practice of doublethink makes this sort of mindset possible and prevalent.
Then there’s the economy and the famous deficit; the government is consistently trying to convince us that they are managing the economy well, despite having missed all the targets for debt reduction that they set. This particular piece of spin is of course closely linked to the story that was nurtured by the Coalition government that the 2008 global financial crash was entirely the fault of the Labour party. Actually, a report commissioned by the US Senate concluded that it was the result of “high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.” It is well known that these excesses went well beyond Wall Street and permeated the UK banking industry. The numerous large-scale financial scandals that have been uncovered in the ensuing years on both sides of the Atlantic pond have only served to confirm this. The Chancellor, even though he seems to have a very poor understanding of economics, is quite aware of the real causes, but he chooses to perpetuate the lie for political reasons.
The media frenzy surrounding Jeremy Corbyn is provoking a considerable degree of doublethink. There are many people who are loudly voicing their support for this man of principle, when at the same time they have severe doubts about his ability to generate a following from a broad section of society, so what do they really think? The press itself is also preparing to follow suit – apparently applauding this fresh, new, honest approach while we all know what fun they will have should Mr Corbyn actually be elected leader of the Labour party. If there are any doubts about that I recommend a reading of Chris Mullin’s A Very British Coup.
Yes, I know August is the silly season in terms of media, I just don’t seem to find much of this silly at all.