The Poisoning of the American Mind


For those seeking to amass power, control over the thoughts of the individual is a crucial component in attaining the end result.

This same theme was masterfully woven throughout the pages of George Orwell’s classic novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

Penned in 1949, the book’s disturbing plot appears to have a degree of commonality with the storyline that our country currently appears to be living out.

Winston Smith, the main character and protagonist of Orwell’s book, is the allegorical narrator and quintessential everyman. The novel subsequently gave birth to two films, a 1956 movie starring Edmond O’Brien and a 1984 release starring John Hurt.

In the book as well as in both movies, the character of Winston is one with which audiences readily and willingly identify.

Orwell’s novel and its cinematic progeny depict a future dystopian totalitarian society in which elites control the thoughts of the populace by restricting language, manipulating media, and mandating beliefs and opinions.

Politically incorrect thinking is a crime that carries with it the fearfully anticipated enforcement that is meted out via the “Thought Police.”

In the fictional regime of Oceania, Winston works at the antithetically named Ministry of Truth. In carrying out the ruling party’s dictates, he is forced to systematically rewrite historical documents, alter information in newspaper articles, and modify photographs.

Winston’s doubts about the Party are shared with a fellow citizen named Julia. There is a mutual attraction between them that swiftly turns into a romantic love. The two find themselves becoming part of a group that is dedicated to overthrowing the Party’s dictatorship.

As fate would have it, there is a raid of the couple’s “secret” meeting place by the Thought Police. Winston and Julia are arrested and taken captive. The two are separated and hauled off to the equally antithetically named Ministry of Love, where they suffer intense interrogation for the purposes of being “rehabilitated” to the full.

Tragically for Winston, a Party member named O’Brien, whom Winston had previously incorrectly believed to be part of the resistance movement, is now forcibly indoctrinating him on the principles of “doublethink,” which is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in one’s mind at the same time.

O’Brien methodically reprograms Winston’s thinking, through the breaking of his spirit in the dreaded Room 101, where O’Brien tells him that he is about to be subjected to the “worst thing in the world.”

The “worst thing in the world” turns out to be a cruelty specifically created for the individual at hand, insidiously designed to trigger the individual’s most horrendous fear.

As human beings we believe that our deepest secrets are kept safeguarded within the confines of our inner sanctums. Not so in the world of Big Brother, who through years of constant prying secures all necessary knowledge of the hidden. Now, for Winston, Big Brother’s foot soldiers need only apply it.

The culmination of Winston’s reprogramming is the wholesale destruction of independent thought, which is made manifest in the acceptance of the imposed notion that 2 + 2 = 5, thereby demonstrating Winston’s adherence to the Party’s ideology rather than rational truth.

If some of the above has a ring of familiarity, it is because it pertains to our country and our present circumstances. Here are a few of the reasons why:

America has undergone a fundamental realignment: On one side are the governmental, institutional, media, and civic elites; on the other side, the people.

We know this because the branches of government are riddled with corruption; the educational institutions, with rare exception, are instilling minds with disinformation; the mainstream media have pledged allegiance to a single political party; political and corporate elites are pushing for open borders and putting our national security in jeopardy; and leaders from various facets of society are using relativism to nurture a collective “doublethink” mentality.

For months the voting public has been assaulted from all sides with false narratives, distorted news reporting, blatant lies from leaders and officials, and pernicious propaganda.

At his recent speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outlined his “Contract with the American Voter.” In the preliminary remarks before the unveiling of his 100-day action plan, Trump focused on the current state of news reporting in the United States of America.

Characterizing the nation’s mainstream media as “corrupt,” Trump said the following: “They lie and fabricate stories to make a candidate that is not their preferred choice look as bad and even dangerous as possible. They’re trying to poison the mind of the American voter.”

The poisoned mind no longer distinguishes fact from fantasy or proof from propaganda. As Orwell warned, “If all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

This entry was posted in Brave New World, Media Culture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.