[cryptome] Re: Brutal Ageism of Tech

  • From: Ryan Carboni <ryacko@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: cryptome@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:32:52 -0700

Excerpt from 1984's book within a book: (it's a pity that people read a
book of several hundred pages, and conclude "surveillance")

It was only after a decade of national wars, civil wars, revolutions, and
counter-revolutions in all parts of the world that Ingsoc and its rivals
emerged as fully worked-out political theories. But they had been
foreshadowed by the various systems, generally called totalitarian, which
had appeared earlier in the century, and the main outlines of the world
which would emerge from the prevailing chaos had long been obvious. What
kind of people would control this world had been equally obvious. The new
aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists,
technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists,
teachers, journalists, and professional politicians. These people, whose
origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the
working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of
monopoly industry and centralized government. As compared with their
opposite numbers in past ages, they were less avaricious, less tempted by
luxury, hungrier for pure power, and, above all, more conscious of what
they were doing and more intent on crushing opposition. This last
difference was cardinal. By comparison with that existing today, all the
tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. The ruling groups
were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to
leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act and to be
uninterested in what their subjects were thinking. Even the Catholic Church
of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason
for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its
citizens under constant surveillance. The invention of print, however,
made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio
carried the process further. With the development of television, and
the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit
simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end. Every
citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching,
could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police
and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of
communication closed. The possibility of enforcing not only complete
obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion
on all subjects, now existed for the first time.

After the revolutionary period of the fifties and sixties, society
regrouped itself, as always, into High, Middle, and Low. But the new High
group, unlike all its forerunners, did not act upon instinct but knew what
was needed to safeguard its position. It had long been realized that the
only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism. Wealth and privilege
are most easily defended when they are possessed jointly. The so-called
'abolition of private property' which took place in the middle years of
the century meant, in effect, the concentration of property in far fewer
hands than before: but with this difference, that the new owners were a
group instead of a mass of individuals. Individually, no member of the
Party owns anything, except petty personal belongings. Collectively, the
Party owns everything in Oceania, because it controls everything, and
disposes of the products as it thinks fit. In the years following the
Revolution it was able to step into this commanding position almost
unopposed, because the whole process was represented as an act of
collectivization. It had always been assumed that if the capitalist class
were expropriated, Socialism must follow: and unquestionably the
capitalists had been expropriated. Factories, mines, land, houses,
transport--everything had been taken away from them: and since these
things were no longer private property, it followed that they must be
public property. Ingsoc, which grew out of the earlier Socialist movement
and inherited its phraseology, has in fact carried out the main item in
the Socialist programme; with the result, foreseen and intended beforehand,
that economic inequality has been made permanent.

But the problems of perpetuating a hierarchical society go deeper than
this. There are only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power.
Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that
the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented
Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own self-confidence and
willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule
all four of them are present in some degree. A ruling class which could
guard against all of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately
the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.

After the middle of the present century, the first danger had in reality
disappeared. Each of the three powers which now divide the world is in
fact unconquerable, and could only become conquerable through slow
demographic changes which a government with wide powers can easily avert.
The second danger, also, is only a theoretical one. The masses never
revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are
oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of
comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed. The
recurrent economic crises of past times were totally unnecessary and are
not now permitted to happen, but other and equally large dislocations
can and do happen without having political results, because there is no
way in which discontent can become articulate. As for the problem of
over-production, which has been latent in our society since the development
of machine technique, it is solved by the device of continuous warfare
(see Chapter III), which is also useful in keying up public morale to the
necessary pitch. From the point of view of our present rulers, therefore,
the only genuine dangers are the splitting-off of a new group of able,
under-employed, power-hungry people, and the growth of liberalism and
scepticism in their own ranks. The problem, that is to say, is educational.
It is a problem of continuously moulding the consciousness both of the
directing group and of the larger executive group that lies immediately
below it. The consciousness of the masses needs only to be influenced in
a negative way.

Given this background, one could infer, if one did not know it already,
the general structure of Oceanic society. At the apex of the pyramid comes
Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful. Every success,
every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, all
knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue
directly from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen Big
Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen. We
may be reasonably sure that he will never die, and there is already
considerable uncertainty as to when he was born. Big Brother is the guise
in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world. His function is
to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which
are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization.
Below Big Brother comes the Inner Party. Its numbers limited to six
millions, or something less than 2 per cent of the population of Oceania.
Below the Inner Party comes the Outer Party, which, if the Inner Party is
described as the brain of the State, may be justly likened to the hands.
Below that come the dumb masses whom we habitually refer to as 'the
proles', numbering perhaps 85 per cent of the population. In the terms
of our earlier classification, the proles are the Low: for the slave
population of the equatorial lands who pass constantly from conqueror
to conqueror, are not a permanent or necessary part of the structure.

In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary. The
child of Inner Party parents is in theory not born into the Inner Party.
Admission to either branch of the Party is by examination, taken at the
age of sixteen. Nor is there any racial discrimination, or any marked
domination of one province by another. Jews, Negroes, South Americans of
pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and
the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of
that area. In no part of Oceania do the inhabitants have the feeling that
they are a colonial population ruled from a distant capital. Oceania has
no capital, and its titular head is a person whose whereabouts nobody
knows. Except that English is its chief LINGUA FRANCA and Newspeak its
official language, it is not centralized in any way. Its rulers are not
held together by blood-ties but by adherence to a common doctrine. It is
true that our society is stratified, and very rigidly stratified, on what
at first sight appear to be hereditary lines. There is far less to-and-fro
movement between the different groups than happened under capitalism or
even in the pre-industrial age. Between the two branches of the Party
there is a certain amount of interchange, but only so much as will ensure
that weaklings are excluded from the Inner Party and that ambitious
members of the Outer Party are made harmless by allowing them to rise.
Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party. The
most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent,
are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated. But this
state of affairs is not necessarily permanent, nor is it a matter of
principle. The Party is not a class in the old sense of the word. It does
not aim at transmitting power to its own children, as such; and if there
were no other way of keeping the ablest people at the top, it would be
perfectly prepared to recruit an entire new generation from the ranks of
the proletariat. In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a
hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition. The older kind
of Socialist, who had been trained to fight against something called
'class privilege' assumed that what is not hereditary cannot be permanent.
He did not see that the continuity of an oligarchy need not be physical,
nor did he pause to reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been
shortlived, whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic Church
have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. The essence of
oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of
a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon
the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate
its successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but
with perpetuating itself. WHO wields power is not important, provided that
the hierarchical structure remains always the same.

All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that
characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of
the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being
perceived. Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move towards rebellion,
is at present not possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared.
Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and
from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without
any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world
could be other than it is. They could only become dangerous if the advance
of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly;
but, since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the
level of popular education is actually declining. What opinions the masses
hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can
be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party
member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on
the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.

A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought
Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone.

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 4:44 AM, John Young <jya@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> True. But with a backlog since the beginning of humans,
> a huge counterbalance is needed, not just ending it. The
> prejudice disease erupts repeatedly, all too often during
> crises, real or imaginary.

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