Landschlacht, Switzerland, 7 December 2016
“Those princes who do great things have considered keeping their word of little account and have known how to beguile men´s minds by shrewdness and cunning.” (Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince)
What is truth?
Above: Walter Seymour Allward´s Veritas (Truth) outside the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
What is fact?
There are moments when what I felt I knew as certainty proved to be not so sure.
“Politicians have always lied.
Does it matter if they leave the truth behind entirely?
Consider how far Donald Trump is estranged from fact.
He inhabits a fantastical realm where President Barack Obama´s birth certificate was faked, the President founded ISIS, the Clintons are killers and the father of a Republican rival was with Lee Harvey Oswald before he shot President John F. Kennedy….
And Trump is not alone.
Members of Poland´s government asserted that a previous president who died in a plane crash was assassinated by Russia.
Turkish politicians claim that the perpetrators of the failed coup were acting on orders issued by the CIA.” (The Economist, 10 September 2016)
We may argue, as Tom Cruise did in A Few Good Men, that we deserve the truth.
Only to have those above us counter that we can´t handle the truth.
“That politicians sometimes peddle lies is not news….
That truth is falsified is not news….
What is news is that the truth is of secondary importance…that feelings, not facts, are what matter…
It doesn´t matter whether the story bears any relation to reality, so long as they fire up the recipients.” (The Economist, 10 September 2016)
4 April 2084, Ministry of Truth transcript of guided tour of facilities
O’Brien: Hello and welcome to the Ministry of Truth or MiniTrue.
Please follow me closely as it is easy to become lost in the 600 levels, 300 above ground and 300 below ground that make up the MiniTrue complex.
My true name is unimportant, but you may call me “O´Brien”.
It is our sworn duty here in the Ministry of Truth, or MiniTrue, to supply the citizens of Oceania with every conceivable kind of information, instruction or entertainment, regardless of whether it be a rock carving, a statue or a slogan, a lyrical poem or a biological treatise, a children´s spelling book or a Newspeak dictionary.
MiniTrue is the one and only reliable source for every newspaper, film, textbook, TV program, play and novel, and we tirelessly work to ensure that everything and anything with any political or ideological significance that reaches the public is 100% accurate and consistent with the principles of International English Socialism (or IngSoc).
Please let me demonstrate how we function on a daily basis.
Let us enter one of the cubicles here in the Records Department Branch.
Mr. Smith is responsible for editing and writing for the New York Times.
Mr. Smith? If you will…
Winston is seated in front of a speakwrite, into which he dictates the necessary changes or modifications required by speaking directly into the microphone in the centre of the console before him.
Winston receives on his monitor a list of the back issues of the New York Times that require modification to ensure that the record of the past corresponds with the reality of the present.
Past events have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories, so the past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon.
The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons:
- The present becomes tolerable if there are no standards of comparison and contrast by which to examine the present. Citizens must believe that today is a far better place than yesterday was and that life is gettting better and better every day.
- There must be no doubt in a citizen´s mind of his need for the Party and no doubt in his mind that the Party is infallible. If the facts say otherwise then the facts must be altered.
Control of the past maintains the harmony of the present and the certainty of tomorrow.
Winston inputs the dates of the appropriate issues of the New York Times needing alteration.
The instructions Winston has already received on his monitor inform him what articles or news items which for one reason or another it is thought necessary to rectify.
In the walls of Winston´s cubicle are three slots:
On the left wall is the slot where Winston receives the material that requires alteration.
Winston uses the keyboard and monitor at his station to edit and examine the materials he must labour on.
When Winston is satisfied with the results of his efforts, he instructs his computer to both print a copy of his final draft while the vocal transcription of his work is automatically recorded.
In the middle wall, just below Winston´s microphone and monitor, is the slot where the altered material is deposited for examination before being stored into our historical data banks.
To Winston´s right the final of three wall slots, nicknamed a memory hole, is for the disposal of the original materials requiring rectification which are devoured by flames erasing all memory of the original´s existence.
Next to Winston in the adjacent cubicle is Sandy.
Her job is to track down and delete from the media the names and images of people who the Party has deemed counterproductive to the needs of IngSoc (unpersons) and ensure that they never existed.
This Records Hall where Winston and Sandy work along with 50 other Party workers is only one subsection, a single cell within the huge bureaucracy of the Records Branch.
Beyond this cell on this floor and both above and below this level are swarms of other workers engaged in a multitude of jobs.
Here at MiniTrue there are huge printing shops and elaborately equipped studios, where photos are altered and skilled actors perform in honour of the Party.
Within MiniTrue are vast repositories where corrected documents are stored and huge hidden furnaces where original materials are destroyed.
And, of course, in the heart of the building lies the Directorate which coordinates the whole operations of MiniTrue and lays down the lines of policy which dictate what should be preserved, what should be altered and what should be obliterated out of memory and existence.
You, ummm Mr. Blair, Arthur, is it?
Arthur: How did MiniTrue come to be?
O´Brien: Much of our origins and the details that shaped the Party remain classified information, but what I am authorised to tell you is that our great leader Big Brother realised that democracy was dangerous for citizens to embrace, for individual thought and emotion, though useful for creative endeavours, was detrimental to the overall happiness of the citizenry.
So it was decided that the policies enacted by the societies that existed before IngSoc were mostly invalid and required modification.
Big Brother realised that harmony within Oceania was only realisable when the emotions and thoughts of the populace were successfully manipulated.
Experiments prior to the Party´s ascension to power had been successful in showing that fear can drive people to act in ways desireable to the State.
If information was carefully selected and often repeated, and if efforts were taken to distract deep thought away from consideration of the veracity of the information, then the common man, the proles, could be easily persuaded through their instinctive love of country.
For those with instincts to rise above irrational emotion and able to analyse and think beyond basic impulse, Big Brother realised that the way to control the intellectuals was to control the information they received.
Thus out of this necessity MiniTrue came into being.
Arthur: But, Mr. O´Brien, in the initial years of MiniTrue, wouldn´t this control of the independent thinker be difficult?
O´Brien: This is where the concept of doublethink came into play.
Mr. Smith, can you pull up for me a copy of The Guardian, dated 23 March 2016?
Now, watch, Arthur, how doublethink works in this example of a controversy that took place over a stone carving on the grounds of Tintagel Castle in England.
Now we all know how doublethink works, this power within each one of us to hold two contradictory beliefs in one´s mind simultaneously and accept both of them.
A MiniTrue worker knows memory must be altered.
He knows that this alteration plays tricks with reality.
But this alteration of reality has created a new truth.
This new truth becomes memory.
The old truth/memory is swept out of existence as if it had never been, by conscious effort and will to forget that which was once truth and reality.
Doublethink is the child of what was once called post truth.
Post truth in practice was quite simple…
Create a myth that appeals to the heart and a person´s best intentions, regardless of the facts and evidence that tell that person that the myth is a falsehood or untruth.
The person´s desire to want the myth to be true makes the myth a reality in that person´s heart and mind and naysaying facts and evidence to the contrary to be false because they are denied believability.
Post truth dictated that feelings were paramount over facts and reality an opinion that one felt to be true.
Doublethink took post truth and molded into the concept that if we eliminate comparison then we eliminate dissatisfaction and a need to question the validity of the reality our senses perceive.
By isolating the citizens within Oceania so they have nowhere to compare Oceania with and removing from them the ability to compare truthfully the past with the present and restricting them to only one source of information that is never contradictory, thus Oceania has achieved harmony.
Back in the Old Calendar Year 2016 AD (Age of Digital?), a group of 200 Cornish historians, unpersons, criticised plans by English Heritage (now part of MiniTrue of IngSoc) to turn Tintagel Castle into what they called a “fairytale theme park” based on the legend of King Arthur rather than highlighting its true past.
These unpersons, calling themselves the Cornwall Association of Local Historians, said they were appalled that the head of the wizard Merlin had already been carved into a rock face at the wind and wave battered site.
The CALH asked English Heritage to rethink other plans they had for Tintagel Castle, which included a larger-than-life sculpture partly inspired by King Arthur and a compass installation that would remind visitors of the Round Table.
In a statement the CALH said:
“We are appalled at what English Heritage is doing to Tintagel, one of Cornwall´s most historic sites.
As an organisation of over 200 local Cornish historians, we view with alarm the plans to turn Tintagel into a fairytale theme park….
Focusing on the mythical fantasies that King Arthur was conceived at Tintagel guarantees the eclipsing of the real story of the site…
We accept that many people visit Tintagel because of the Arthurian legend, but it should not be the role of English Heritage to further the fantasy.
In fact, it should be the function of EH to help visitors learn the true history of this Cornish place, to begin to better understand what has gone before and to preserve that heritage.
The idea of carving even a small face of a mythical druid into one of the stones of Stonehenge or adding an 8-foot statue of a legend to the scene would be beyond any historian´s imagination.
If English Heritage wants to combine history and fantasy it should hand the site over to Disney.
This is a historical site for Cornwall and we urge EH to look elsewhere to increase revenues.
Above: Cornish flag
Don´t tamper with Cornish history.” (Guardian, 23 March 2016)
So, Arthur, what do you think we should do about this article?
(Transcript ends…failure in range to record full conversation in all MiniTrue locations)
Memorandum from the Directorate of the Ministry of Truth, 6 December 2084:
guardian 28.03.2016 (OC) reporting controversy Tintagel doubleplusungood refs unpersons doubleplusungood thoughtcrime untruth unconcepts rectify all
Eric Arthur Blair unperson thoughtcrime rectify all refs
George O´Brien unperson thoughtcrime rectify all refs
Sources: Wikipedia / http://www.orwelltoday.com / The Economist, 10 September 2016 / The Guardian, 23 March 2016 / George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four