This is just like 1984

Syme's near-monologue about Newspeak is one of my go-to references to see if someone's actually read 1984.

'Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,' he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. 'Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?'

The whole conversation carries on for quite a bit. 1984 is a tough read, but worth getting through.

Syme would love to see you yelling "this is just like 1984!" not having read it because the goal of Newspeak is to create a set of thought-terminating cliches that preempt rebellious notions. If you can't reason about rebellion, you can't communicate about it. If you can't communicate about it, you can't organize. The state has only gotten better at crushing disorganized rebellion.

1984 was inspired by the politics of Orwell's time, and his understanding of the history and nature of politics. To see it as a prediction of the future and not a rough map of human tendencies is to miss the point. 1984 did what great science fiction does: build a mirror in the shape of a future or alien society to entertain us, then reveal that it was a mirror all along.

All parties, all factions, all ideologies, and all ways of life are vulnerable to the dark patterns of politics that drive normal people and entire societies to monstrous acts.

There's always a new Two Minutes Hate trying to rope us in and we're at risk if we aren't mindful.

'The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.'

Is it too on the nose to point to the violence of January 6th?

Moving on...

It's easy to sit here and lecture about not falling prey, but what can you do? I have a useful heuristic I apply to ideas: if you can't say where you got it, you should be skeptical. I had a lot of bad ideas before I started applying this.

For example: One time I shared what was basically white replacement conspiracy with enough cover to give it plausible deniability. Specifically: commentators' love of focusing on Japan's population decline. Enough people dig Japan as a culture and/or (more often) as an aesthetic detached from the culture, and enough racists are happy to go along with it while it's useful, that it's the perfect target for this sort of laundered hate.

A friend pulled me aside to talk about it, and I realized what I was saying. No idea where I picked it up. The panic about declining birth rates is more about fear of becoming a minority than about fear of population decline. Some of it is sincere concern about not being able to fund social programs that depend on growing population, but not enough to account for the entire thing. We're probably going to hit an equilibrium point where the population is stable and the liberatory forces and rising fortunes that, in part, led to fewer people having babies can continue toward a better future. Unless we screw it up.

This is just one example of a modern Two Minutes Hate. Pause any time you feel the need to opine and run the heuristic on the ideas that underlie the argument forming in your head. Where did they come from?