I have always wondered where Derren Brown learnt his skills – they are not in the average psychology textbook nor in a conventional hypnotherapy handbook. However, I’m now also questioning the existence of a similarly secret school for world domination.
Because there is a remarkable similarity between George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four dystopia and the pattern that the global elite and Cameron’s Conservatives seem to be trying to create.
Eton is the obvious answer because Cameron, half the cabinet and Orwell were all educated there but Eton was not the ‘playing field’ of Obama and the American contingent of the Washington consensus/global elite… PPE at Oxford or a Masters at Harvard??
What are the parallels?
Obviously, the Edward Snowden revelations of Big Brother mass surveillance spring to mind, and also the lack of reaction from the broad swathe of the UK media (apart from the Guardian).
“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.” Nineteen Eighty Four
But on top of mass surveillance, we find that the Conservatives are currently trying to purge the internet of their speeches and videos prior to 2010, just like the Ministry of Truth.
If you remember, Orwell’s Winston Smith worked in the Ministry of Truth as an editor, revising historical records to make the past conform to the ever-changing party line and deleting references to unpersons, people (video clips?) who had been “vaporised”, i.e. not only killed by the state, but denied existence even in history or memory.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group:
“The suspicion has to be that at the point they are engaged in a huge debate about mass surveillance … they are removing the videos where they criticise Labour for doing the same thing. That’s why it’s absolutely important that that material remains available.”
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” Nineteen Eighty Four
Then there are Cameron’s veiled threats to the Guardian over their publishing the NSA/GCHQ activities leaked by Edward Snowden. (Alan Rushbridger should think himself lucky that he just had to destroy his hard drives. It could have been ‘his worst nightmare’ culminating with his loving Big Brother Dave… but in the future?)
In the Britain of Nineteen Eighty Four, 2% of the population were the upper class ruling elite (probably an over-estimate in 2013 UK). The majority, the 85%, were the ill-educated working class, or lower-class Proles.
“So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.” Nineteen Eighty Four
In addition to being kept busy, misinformed and badly educated, the Proles were seduced by the Lottery:
“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made their living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being nonexistent persons.” Nineteen Eighty Four
It has to said that Michael Gove certainly seems committed to diminishing the educational prospects of the majority of state educated schoolchildren… and we’re told that many dream of winning the lottery/‘celebrity’/’getting rich quick’ which is fostered, coupled with the misinformation purveyed by the oligarch-owned so-called ‘free press’.
Interestingly, the remaining 13% of the population, the Outer Party, were the focus of the surveillance – not the Proles. This fits with Chomsky and Herman’s contention that government ‘propaganda’ is aimed primarily at the middle classes. ‘Bread and circuses’ are the fare of the red tops and are intended to distract the working class.
In Nineteen Eighty Four, Britain or Airstrip One, is part of Oceania, one of three inter-continental superstates that divide the world among themselves after a global war. There is a perpetual war with the other two superstates, Eurasia and Eastasia, over disputed lands which include the Middle East and North Africa.
This is disturbingly close to truth, not only in terms of geography and physical warfare. Significantly, Obama’s priority has been the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and that together with the EU-US Free Trade Agreement would form a single market which would basically include ‘everyone but China’… with the potential for a new cold war? However, many including James Galbraith, contend that these Western trade agreements are not about trade at all, but more like an attempt to take-over and control the foreign country’s economy on behalf of the transnational corporations.
The financial-corporate-political nexus is the hidden arm of any war-based economy. Orwell again:
“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed.” Nineteen Eighty Four
Which brings me to a final point, Cameron’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet:
Cameron talked about a “leaner, more efficient, more affordable state”. He argued that austerity could be a permanent government policy; a way of trimming down the administrative excesses of some public services. He framed it in the context of the current tough living conditions – a minimising of state spending, as it “comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers whose living standards we want to see improve”.
In other words, Cameron admitted that the cuts were exactly what he had always intended, and not (as he had suggested in the culled speeches) an unfortunate necessity.
In way of explanation, Orwell writes:
“It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.” Nineteen Eighty Four
In other words, when Cameron says ‘austerity could be a permanent government policy’, he is aiming to preserve the same type of unnecessary privation experienced by the Proles in Nineteen Eighty Four, and it’s fair to suggest, for many of the same reasons.
One of the contradictions identified by Marx, is the tendency of capital towards overproduction, and essentially, the main function of the unwinnable, perpetual war in Oceania was to ameliorate their ‘overproduction’ without threatening the maintenance of the power of the upper class elite. Hence, instead of the wealth of their labour being fairly distributed to the Proles, it was consciously and deliberately destroyed by staging unnecessary wars.
Overproduction and Underconsumption
The term “over-production” is often used to describe that situation which initiates a period of capitalist crisis or recession, whereby too many goods have been produced, the goods cannot be sold, production grinds to a sudden halt, people lose their jobs, demand drops even further, and the downward cycle accelerates.
It is clear, that another way of describing ‘over-production’ is under-consumption or a lack of demand, which is identified by many as the real problem in the Western economies. The overt problem is that real wages have not increased since the 70s, and are now decreasing further, which sets up a spiral of people not being able to buy goods, so production is cut back, further lessening the available income and decreasing demand.
However, underlying the ‘lack of demand’ is that industries and companies are not investing in jobs or expansion. Jobs create income which is spent thus producing demand. But big businesses are on strike… in spite of holding an estimated £800bn in ‘savings’ … because the profits that they can make from investing in the real economy do not match the profitability of fictitious capital.
Fictitious Capital is value, in the form of credit, shares, debt, speculation and various forms of paper money, above and beyond what can be realised in the form of commodities.
For example, car production is a minor activity on the part of General Motors, and this is the pattern across the large corporations.
However, fictitious capital has to be fed by the surplus extracted from workers and this grows to be more and more of a burden on the backs of the workers until profitabilty can no longer be maintained, and slump takes over.
Unfortunately, even George W Bush knew a resolution for this contradiction of capitalism – ‘The way out of a recession is war’… even if the method of war on people/nations is financial and corporate.
So perhaps there is no need for a secret school teaching ‘world domination’. The global elite just need to have a thorough understanding of Marx’s contradictions of capital, and devise strategies, regardless of detriment to the 99%, to retain their power. The Left should have followed the model of the Magic Circle and kept Marx’s analysis a close-guarded secret.