George Orwell’s concept of doublethink

September 19, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

I recently read George Orwell’s concept of doublethink and was impressed with how well he foresaw the way we would become:

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Beautifully terrifying given its prevalence in these times. Here’s a recent example: Selective Deficit Disorder. Now let’s get it straight. Are large budget deficits terrible or not? The answer is that it depends:

Where, for instance, were the conservative protest marchers when President George W. Bush vastly expanded the deficit with his massive tax cuts for the wealthy? Where was Sen. Lincoln’s concern for “deficit neutrality” when she voted to give $700 billion to the thieves on Wall Street? Where was Obama’s “dime standard” when he proposed a budget that spends far more on maintaining bloated Pentagon budgets than on any universal health care proposal being considered in Congress? Where were demands for “fiscal sanity” by Brooks and other right-wing pundits when they cheered on the budget-busting war in Iraq? Where were the calls from these supposed “deficit hawks” to raise taxes when they backed all this profligate spending? And where were the journalists asking such painfully simple questions? They were nowhere to be seen or heard, because those plagued by Selective Deficit Disorder (as the name suggests) are only selectively worried about deficits.

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Category: ignorance, Language, snake oil

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Jay Fraz says:

    Quick! Catch the subway! Socializing medical care is evil! Complain about the lack of public transit to protest!

    Doublethink?

  2. Tim Hogan says:

    Recently a Seattle area insane killer was allowed to go on an outing to a county fair and disappeared.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2

    Before the insane killer was allowed to go he was asked two questions; here they are:

    1. Is President Obama a native born American?

    The insane killer answered, "NO!"

    2. Is President Obama a Communist socialist from Kenya who wants to pull the plug on grandma and give free health care to all illegal immigrants and free abortions to anyone anytime they want them?

    The insane killer answered, "YES!!"

    Before being released to the community, the authorities made sure the insane killer had a fully loaded and operational AR-15 to protect himself in this foreign country.

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