Understanding Trump: Why We Need a George Orwell in the Internet Age

1984Perhaps Trump’s Team finds inspiration in Orwell’s two main books Animal Farm and 1984. Trump read neither book. He did not have to. He’s a demagogue at heart and recognized how he could achieve control instinctively.

From 1984 we get the terms “Big Brother”, “doublethink” and “newspeak.” It has been called “the definitive novel of the 20th century.” We know the term “Orwellian is now a universal shorthand for anything repressive or totalitarian.” The protagonist belongs to the Ministry of Truth whose purpose is to lie.  In an interesting historical note a colleague of Orwell said that during the Tehran Conference of 1944 “that Orwell was “convinced that Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt consciously plotted to divide the world” at Tehran.” How true that turned out to be as we saw with the Yalta Conference the following year.  He would now be saying that of the Trump/Putin alliance.

Orwell writing about Animal Farm said: But I did mean it to have a wider application in so much that I meant that that kind of revolution (violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power-hungry people) can only lead to a change of masters. I meant the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job.” A little bit later he ended the letter saying: “You can’t have a revolution unless you make it for yourself; there is no such thing as a benevolent dictat[or]ship.”  Orwell would today say  that let Trump do his thing for a bit then throw him out of office.

As I said Trump has not read either book but I am positive people like Steve Bannon who are running the show behind the scenes “the unconsciously power-hungry people” are aware of Orwell’s books. They were drawn to Trump by his Big Brother-like aspect. They saw in him a man who lied with ease and had the facility like dictators to draw large violent crowds to cheer he every word of hate like “lock her up” and “build the wall.” Here was a man who with his doublespeak and newspeak had a strong following who believed whatever he said. It was the perfect set up by them for the revolution that they wanted to bring about.

The major force behind Trump is Steve Bannon. Ronald D. Radosh wrote  about a conversation he had with him in November 2013. He wrote about the man who replaced Russophile Paul Manafort on Trump’s team: “we had a long talk about his approach to politics. He never called himself a “populist” or an “American nationalist,” as so many think of him today. “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. Shocked, I asked him what he meant. “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” 

I’ve already pointed out how Trump tells the Big Lie and then has his lackeys spending countless hours justifying them. Here’s a good article on how his voter fraud claim which he would admit was made up out of whole cloth came to be adopted by his witting followers.  That is what Orwell warned against the extraordinary number of people who will grasp at an obvious lie and then work feverishly to justify it.

I lament the lack of a present day Orwell. Perhaps there is one out there who can cut through the miasma and fog pouring out of the Trump White House. Orwell told of the Ministry of Truth which disseminated its lies over the televisions in every home. A huge Trump supporter, Tadzio, who comments here identified how Trump modernized this ministry. He has done it with his Twitter account. I criticized his use of that means of communication when he became president.

I missed the power of it badly. He tweets out to 23 million followers. Many of those retweet to others. His tweets then are repeated through all other media sources. He talks directly to the people using his lies and doublespeak to attack others. I am sure Orwell could have predicted this if he lived an made us alert to this new and compelling form or demagoguery.  He also would tell us not to be caught up by it and identify it by its right name: an Orwellian time.

20 thoughts on “Understanding Trump: Why We Need a George Orwell in the Internet Age

  1. ‘Formalism’ as political offense[edit]
    In the Soviet period under Joseph Stalin, the authorities further developed the term’s pejorative associations to cover any art which used complex techniques and forms accessible only to the elite, rather than being simplified for “the people” (as in socialist realism).
    One of the most sophisticated critiques of the Formalist project was Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution (1924)[citation needed]. Trotsky does not wholly dismiss the Formalist approach, but insists that “the methods of formal analysis are necessary, but insufficient” because they neglect the social world with which the human beings who write and read literature are bound up: “The form of art is, to a certain and very large degree, independent, but the artist who creates this form, and the spectator who is enjoying it, are not empty machines, one for creating form and the other for appreciating it. They are living people, with a crystallized psychology representing a certain unity, even if not entirely harmonious. This psychology is the result of social conditions” (180, 171). The Formalists were thus accused of being politically reactionary because of such unpatriotic remarks as Shklovsky’s (quoted by Trotsky) that “Art was always free of life, and its color never reflected the color of the flag which waved over the fortress of the City” (164). The leaders of the movement suffered political persecution beginning in the 1920s, when Stalin came to power, which largely put an end to their inquiries.

  2. The attached comment comes from a colleague of mine and it fits in to what the press has failed to report…….The McCarran-Walter Act.
    Wonder if Acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates ever heard of the McCarran-Walter
    Back in November, a colleague of mine forwarded to a group of us a description of this act.
    I’m sending it out below as a refresher that might be timely now.
    Ever heard of the McCarran-Walter Act Of 1952?
    And if any of you are wobbly about voting for Trump, I have just two
    words for you to ponder: SUPREME COURT!
    Wouldn’t it be interesting if, at some point during his Presidential
    campaign Donald Trump asked, Oh, by the way has anyone in Washington DC
    ever heard of the McCarran-Walter Act Of 1952? I did not know of this Act
    until recently, but it has been a law for almost 65 years. Here are the
    historic facts that would seem to indicate that many, if not most, of the
    people we elect to work for us in Washington DC do NOT have the slightest
    idea of what laws already exist in OUR country.
    After several terrorist incidents were carried out in the United States,
    Donald Trump was severely, criticized for suggesting that the U.S. should
    limit or temporarily suspend the immigration of certain ethnic groups,
    nationalities, and even people of certain religions (Muslims). The
    criticisms condemned such a suggestion as, among other things, being
    Un-American, dumb, stupid, reckless, dangerous and racist. Congressmen and
    Senators swore that they would never allow such legislation, and our
    illustrious [former] President called such a prohibition on immigration

    As Gomer Pyle would say, “Well, Surprise, Surprise!” It seems that the
    selective immigration ban is already law and has been applied on several
    Known as the McCarran-Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of
    1952 allows for the “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by
    the President, whenever the President finds that the entry of aliens or of
    any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the
    interests of the United States. The President may, by proclamation, and for
    such a period as he shall deem necessary, may suspend the entry of all
    aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose any
    restrictions on the entry of aliens he may deem to be appropriate.”
    And who do you suppose last utilized this process? Why it was Democrat
    President Jimmy Carter, no less than 37 years ago, in 1979, to keep
    Iranians out of the United States.
    But he actually did more. He made ALL Iranian students, already in the
    United States, check in with the government. And then he deported a bunch
    of them. Seven thousand were found in violation of their visas, and a total
    of 15,000 Iranians were forced to leave the USA in 1979.
    So, what say you about all of the criticism that Donald Trump received
    from the Democrat Senators, Representatives and the Obama
    Additionally, it is important to note that the McCarran-Walter Act also
    requires that an “applicant for immigration must be of good moral character
    and in agreement with the principles of our Constitution.”
    Therefore, one could surmise that since the Quran forbids Muslins to
    swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, technically, ALL Muslins should
    be refused immigration to OUR country.

  3. Frothy and saucy Ms.Freeh … Only two sentences ? Such … restraints !
    Remember Ms … tense your muscles when they put the straitjacket on. That allows you … wiggle room. UGH 🙂 Seriously Ms… do send a Flying Pond Variety update whenever you get out . Your wicked wit still amuses.

    1. The Trumpsovik are consolidating the dictatorship. If McConnell uses the the nuclear option, the Republicans will have to stay in power, indefinitely, since, should they lose power in an national election, they would never get it back again. Examine Hitler’s fist year in office. It took him little over a year, to stifle dissent, and, take over the political machinery of the Reich.
      General Strangelove was just on the tube threatening Tehhran. Look’s like we’re headed for a war with Iran. Glorious Leader needs a foreign war to establish the police state.

  4. This blog provokes thought and thoughtful responses, left and right! Food for thought all around. What better goal. Keep the thoughtful and artful writing coming, pro and con. The more the merrier! This is one of the few places where you get a true diversity of opinions, and we all have Matt to thank.

  5. Matt

    Have you set any goals for what
    you want to accomplish with your blog?

    All I see is a lot of strutting and fretting
    mixed with foaming and saliva, eh?

  6. Trump fired Sally Yates who refused to defend his Executive Order. Two liberal constitutional law professors, Allan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley, said Sally was wrong. They said this before she was fired. After she was fired, they said her refusal to defend the EO was a de facto resignation.
    How did the Orwellian media cover it: They called her dismissal: “A Saturday Night Massacre”
    How will the Orwellian Left continue to portray her illegal insubordination? With more big lies!
    National Review and others published lengthy articles describing how both the Constitution and Congress clearly gave the President the power to enact the EO, how the DOJ pre-approved the EO, how both Carter and Obama had issued similar EOs, and how Kennedy’s 1965 non-discrimination immigration law had zero bearing on any of those EOs.
    Bottom line: Yates was wrong!

      1. Irregardless, but it does render those accepting of the previous EOs in silence and then complaining with high decibel level outrage, as only a daddy’s wittle pwincess snowflake can scweam, at President Trump’s order, hypocrites.

      2. Dershowitz and Turley said they were legal, as did the DOJ! Now some judges have issued temporary restraining orders on their enforcement, raising constitutional issues. We’ll see how it plays it. I’ll bet on the Constitutional Law Professors!

  7. Great pick for the Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s mother worked for Reagan. Trump is a promise keeper and his selection of the Appeals Court judge proves it.

  8. I too have read both Animal Farm and 1984. They perfectly describe the thinking of the Left.
    Orwell wrote in 1984, “the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought.” And what more perfectly describes the narrowing of thought, than the Left’s regime of Hate Speech and Political Correctness rampant on college campuses, in the MSM and in Government. If you disagree with LGBT goals you suffer a disease “homophobia” and are silenced. If you are a pro-life woman, you are excluded from the Woman’s March. Mario Cuomo says, “pro-life conservatives” are not wanted in New York. Orwellian!
    The Left’s inventions of Affirmative Action and preferential treatments are perfectly encapsulated by Orwell’s “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
    Newspeak and Doubletalk?
    – – – Obama admits he has no power to change Immigration Laws, then passes Executive Orders expressly changing Immigration Laws.
    – -Obama says “No boots on the ground in Syria”, then sends hundreds of Special Forces;
    – -Obama/Hillay: “A no fly zone in Libya” then Obama/NATO bomb Khadaffi’s compound (his house, like the Kennedy compound) and they bomb trucks in the field. Trucks can’t fly! Houses can’t fly. They called the “compound” a “command and control center”, as they would call the Kennedy or Bush compounds; were the trucks command and control centers? )
    – – -Or go back to JFK’s “military advisers” in Vietnam. Or the Gulf of Tonkin, etc. The Big Lies!
    – – -Look at Academia, how people like Condoleeza Rice are prevented from speaking off campus (even Obama condemned the Rutgers students) and student/faculty mobs prevent many other conservatives from speaking on college campuses. Look how the left’s storm troopers assaulted Republicans on campus and people wearing Trump hats. You missed the videos of people with Trump hats being pummeled during the campaign and the Left’s mobs smashing store fronts and destroying property after the campaign.
    It’s the Left that’s attacking free speech; freedom of religion; freedom of association. It’s the left that perpetuates the Big Lie: Trump is Hitler. As Mr. McDonald said, The Big Lie di tutti Big Lies.
    P.S. I’ve cited the peer reviewed article estimating up to 2.5 million illegals voted in the 2008 election. That article has been criticized; and that article’s authors have rebutted the critics.
    Of course, in Orwellian times, the Wash Post and Politifact omit the authors’ rebuttal.
    We are told: “There is no evidence of fraudulent voting”; keep telling that to those of us who lived through JFK’s election! (By the way: I cheered for JFK)

    1. All you heard from the right regarding obamas executive orders was that he was trying to rule by fiat. Talking head after talking head repeated this line. When trump does it he is getting things done. The right’s level of cognitive dissonance is astounding.

  9. Take a look at the timing of the sale of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant.Trump dossier said the owner offerred trump associates a19% stake if they lifted Russian sanctions if they win election. 11/7 Russia announces its taking bids. Early December it is sold with investors from Cayman Islands involved, who cannot be traced. Part of the 19.5% stake passed on to these unknown buyers. My comment that was not approved for some reason on yesterday’s post provides much more detail. Trump refuses to release the tax returns. Coincidence or conspiracy?

    1. Back to the debunked fraudulent dossier? Do you think that Mr.Cohen, when he wasn’t in Prague, got a piece of that deal? And of course, we always have the anonymous sources. The plot doesn’t thicken.
      Of course, some people think Trump and Putin are divvying up the world – – – right now – – -they’re doing it, so obviously General Mattis, General Kelly and West Point grad CIA director Pompeo must be in on it. Wasn’t Benedict Arnold a West Point grad? Now it’s all falling into place in the Orwellian mind of the Left.

        1. Sometimes people manufacture smokescreens.
          Dave, I just can’t give any credence to any of this. I think these are pipe-dreams. Remember, the dossier you cited said that Cohen was in Prague meeting with a KGB agent . . . Demonstrably wrong! And you still give it credence?
          I remember the MSM saying, Well, someone else named Cohen landed at the Prague Airport that same August when a KGB agent was in town. So, that was supposed to validate it?

          1. It’s an intelligence report….often times intelligence is not 100% accurate. The Steele document is a 35 page report that covered a multitude of subjects. You discredit the entire report because it is not 100% accurate on some of the issues.

            The following information is independent information available on news websites such as Reuters: The Russian govt. announced approval of the sale of a 19.5% stake in the Russian oil giant Rosneft on 11/7, the day before the election. Early December the sale was announced for 19.5%, bought buy a number of companies for 10.2 billion euros. 75% of the investment funds can be allocated to publicly known corporations. However, 25% of the investment funds can only be traced to an unknown shell corporation in the Caymans. Carter Page is the founder of investment fund Global Energy Capital, and has many years of investment experience in Russia. He went to Moscow in July of 2016, when it was revealed he went on that trip in Sept. 2016, he took a leave of absence from the Trump campaign. Page publicly complained that the U.S. sanctions were “morally sanctimonious.” After Trump’s elections Michael Flynn is on the phone with Russia. Rex Tillerson has known Russian ties. Paul Manafort, Page, Cohen, the list goes on.

            These are reported facts that were posted before the Steele report came out. Pg. 30 of the Steele report claims Page met with Rosneft President Igor Sechin in July of 2016. It also alleges in the report that Sechin stated he offered up to a 19% stake to Page and Trump associates in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions should he win elections.

            The bottom line is there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Trump has colluded with the Russians financially and politically. Perhaps a release of his tax returns could ease the public’s mind a little bit. Oh wait, he has refused to do so. It is not unfair to take a negative inference based on that decision.

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