Tag Archives: Orwell

Review of George Orwell’s “1984”

This is one of those books that is hard to do justice with a review. The copy that I read, borrowed from my best friend, has a preface by Walter Cronkite written in 1983, and an afterword by Eric Fromm in 1961. I’ll share a little bit of each of these before I write my own review. I’m only not sharing the full preface or afterword to at least try to preserve a little of their copyright.

Here’s various passages from Cronkite’s preface:

“‘Big Brother’ has become a common term for ubiquitous or overreaching authority, and ‘Newspeak’ is a word we apply to the dehumanizing babble of bureaucracies and computer programs.”

“Seldom has a book provided a greater wealth of symbols for its age and for the generations to follow, and seldom have literary symbols been invested with such power. How is that? Because they were so useful, and because the features of the world he drew, outlandish as they were, also were familiar.”

“What Orwell had done was not to foresee the future but to see the implications of the present – his present and ours – and he touched a common chord. He had given words and shapes to common but unarticulated fears running deep through all industrial societies.”

1984 is an anguished lament and a warning that we may not be strong enough nor wise enough nor moral enough to cope with the kind of power we have learned to amass. That warning vibrates powerfully when we allow ourselves to sit still and think carefully about orbiting satellites that can read the license plates in a parking lot and computers that can tap into thousands of telephone calls and telex transmissions at once and other computers that can do our banking and purchasing, can watch the house and tell a monitoring station what television program we are watching and how many people there are in the room. We think of Orwell when we read of scientists who believe they have located in the human brain the seats of behavioral emotions like aggression, or learn more about the vast potential of genetic engineering.”

“Critics and scholars may argue quite legitimately about the particular literary merits of 1984. But none can deny its power, its hold on the imaginations of whole generations, nor the power of its admonitions . . . a power that seems to grow rather than lessen with the passage of time. It has been said that 1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a warning – Orwell’s terrible vision has been averted. Well, that kind of self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. 1984 may not arrive on time, but there’s always 1985.

Still, the warning has been effective; and every time we use one of those catch phrases . . . recognize Big Brother in someone, see a 1984 in our future . . . notice something Orwellian . . . we are listening to that warning again.”

Here’s some highlights from Fromm’s afterword.

“The Christian thinkers of the late Middle Ages emphasized that although the ‘Kingdom of God’ was not within historical time, the social order must correspond to and realize the spiritual principles of Christianity. The Christian sects before and after the Reformation emphasized these demands in more urgent, more active and revolutionary ways. With the breakup of the medieval world, man’s sense of strength, and his hope, not only for individual but for social perfection, assumed new strength and took new ways.

One of the most important ones is a new form of writing which developed since the Renaissance, the first expression of which was Thomas More’s Utopia (literally: ‘Nowhere’), a name which was then generically applied to all other similar works. Thomas More’s Utopia combined a most penetrating criticism of his own society, its irrationality and its injustice, with the picture of a society which, though perhaps not perfect, had solved most of the human problems which sounded insoluble to his own contemporaries. What characterizes Thomas More’s Utopia, and all the others, is that they do not speak in general terms of principles, but give an imaginative picture of the concrete details of a society which corresponds to the deepest longings of man. In contrast to prophetic thought, these perfect societies are not at ‘the end of the days’ but exist already – though in a geographic distance rather than in the distance of time.”

“This hope for man’s individual and social perfectibility, which in philosophical and anthropological terms was clearly expressed in the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth century and of the socialist thinkers of the nineteenth, remained unchanged until after the First World War. This war, in which millions died for the territorial ambitions of the European powers, although under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy, was the beginning of that development which tended in a relatively short time to destroy a two-thousand-year-old Western tradition of hope and to transform it into a mood of despair. The moral callousness of the First World War was only the beginning. Other events followed: the betrayal of the socialist hopes by Stalin’s reactionary state capitalism; the severe economic crisis at the end of the twenties; the victory of barbarism in one of the oldest centers of culture in the world – Germany; the insanity of Stalinist terror during the thirties; the Second World War, in which all the fighting nations lost some of the moral considerations which had still existed in the First World War; the unlimited destruction of civilian populations, started by Hitler and continued by the even more complete destruction of cities such as Hamburg and Dresden and Tokyo, and eventually by the use of atomic bombs against Japan. Since then the human race has been confronted with an even greater danger – that of the destruction of our civilization, if not of all mankind, by thermonuclear weapons as they exist today and as they are being developed in increasingly frightful proportions.

Most people, however, are not consciously aware of this threat and of their own hopelessness. Some believe that just because modern warfare is so destructive, war is impossible; others declare that even if sixty or seventy million Americans were killed in the first one or two days of a nuclear war, there is no reason to believe that life would not go on as before after the first shock has been overcome. It is precisely the significance of Orwell’s book that it expresses the new mood of hopelessness which pervades our age before this mood has become manifest and taken hold of the consciousness of people.

Orwell is not alone in this endeavor. Two other writers, the Russian Zamyatin in his book We, and Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World, have expressed the mood of the present, a warning for the future, in ways very similar to Orwell’s. This new trilogy of what may be called the “negative utopias” of the middle of the twentieth century is the counterpoint to the trilogy of the positive utopias mentioned before, written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.1 The negative utopias express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self-confidence and hope of post-medieval man. There could be nothing more paradoxical in historical terms than this change: man, at the beginning of the industrial age, when it reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production – nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it. It is the essential point of all three negative utopias not only to describe the future toward which we are moving, but also explain the historical paradox.”

(Here was a footnote in the book. 1. It should be added that Jack London’s The Iron Heel, the prediction of fascism in America, is the earliest of the modern negative utopias.)

“…can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love – that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one? It must be noted that the three authors do not take the simple position of psychological relativism which is common to so many social scientists today; they do not start out with the assumption that there is no such thing as human nature; that there is no such thing as qualities essential to man; and that man is born as nothing but a blank sheet of paper on which any given society writes its text. They do assume that man has an intense striving for love, for justice, for truth, for solidarity, and in this respect they are quite different from the relativists. In fact, they affirm the strength and intensity of these human strivings by the description of the very means they present as being necessary to destroy them. In Zamyatin’s We a brain operation similar to a lobotomy is necessary to get rid of the human demands of human nature. In Huxley’s Brave New World artificial biological selection and drugs are necessary, and in Orwell’s 1984 it is the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing. None of the three authors can be accused of the thought that the destruction of the humanity within man is easy. Yet all three arrive at the same conclusion: that it is possible, with means and techniques which are common knowledge today.”

“The importance of Orwell’s concept of war lies in a number of very keen observations.

First of all, he shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function. Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents [emphasis mine]. Orwell’s picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a ‘stable’ deterrent. This soothing picture ignores the fact that with increasing technical ‘progress’ (which creates entirely new weapons about every 5 years, and will soon permit the development of 100 or 1000 instead of 10 megaton bombs), the whole society will be forced to live underground, but that the destructive strength of thermonuclear bombs will always remain greater than the depth of the caves, that the military will become dominant (in fact, if not in law), that fright and hatred of a possible aggressor will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society [emphasis mine]. In other words, the continued arms race, even if it would not lead to the outbreak of a thermonuclear war, would lead to the destruction of any of those qualities of our society which can be called ‘democratic,’ ‘free,’ or ‘in the American tradition.’ Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war, and he does so imaginatively and brilliantly.

Another important aspect is Orwell’s description of the nature of truth, which on the surface is a picture of Stalin’s treatment of truth, especially in the thirties. But anyone who sees in Orwell’s description only another denunciation of Stalinism is missing an essential element of Orwell’s analysis. He is actually talking about a development which is taking place in the Western industrial countries also, only at a slower pace than it is taking place in Russia and China. The basic question which Orwell raises is whether there is any such thing as ‘truth.’ ‘Reality,’ so the ruling party holds, ‘is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else . . . whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.’ If this is so, then by controlling men’s minds the Party controls truth.”

“An American writer, Alan Harrington, who in Life in the Crystal Palace gives a subtle and penetrating picture of life in a big American corporation, has coined an excellent expression for the contemporary concept of truth: ‘mobile truth.’ If I work for a big corporation which claims that its product is better than that of all competitors, the question whether this claim is justified or not in terms of ascertainable reality becomes irrelevant. What matters is that as long as I serve this particular corporation, this claim becomes ‘my’ truth, and I decline to examine whether it is an objectively valid truth. In fact, if I change my job and move over to the corporation which was until now ‘my’ competitor, I shall accept the new truth, that its product is the best, and subjectively speaking, this new truth will be as true as the old one.”

“Truth is proven by the consensus of millions; to the slogan ‘how can millions be wrong’ is added ‘and how can a minority of one be right.’ Orwell shows quite clearly that in a system in which the concept of truth as an objective judgment concerning reality is abolished, anyone who is a minority of one must be convinced that he is insane.”

“Related to this is another example of ‘doublethink,’ namely that few writers, discussing atomic strategy, stumble over the fact that killing, from a Christian standpoint, is as evil or more evil than being killed.”

“Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.”

Reviews such as these are enough to destroy a young man’s confidence, and make him wonder why he’s writing a review at all. But the point, I suppose, isn’t to write a “better” review, but, merely, to write a personal one. I think that’s worthwhile.

The first time that I read any of this book was in high school. It was an assigned reading. Which means that I didn’t read it.

I tried to read parts of it, but I was quite stupid back then, and didn’t understand what the “Party” was. I didn’t understand “political” parties. Yes, I had almost graduated high school without realizing that. That was really my first experience with the book. That’s it. Depressing, I know.

I came to get an idea of what the book was about by frequently hearing terms like “Orwellian”, or even phrases like “straight out of 1984”, mixed with varying contexts. I didn’t need the book “1984” to realize that politicians were crooked and liars. So, through context clues, I came to understand a little of the general theme of the book. Nowhere near enough, but a minor taste. Funnily enough, I tried to fill in the gaps, and, after reading the book, realized that I failed. I knew of the word “doublethink”, but never thought of the phrase that often. Instead, I thought of something called “doublespeak”, which I interpreted to mean as just plain old lying. I’m glad I read the book, however, because it’s a much deeper story than just “lying”. Over and over and over, things felt eerily similar to today. Today, where Americans are “thankful for their freedoms” while they keep getting trampled upon. Celebrating American nationalism while ignoring domestic tyrannies. Yes, “doublethink” is alive and well in America today. Internet “meme” culture makes these instances of “doublethink” all too aware; particularly among libertarian “social circles” online.

I’ll start with a couple of critiques, then, attempt to give it at least a miniscule of the praise that it deserves. I know that the book is “dystopian”, but I enjoy poetic ways of saying things. I hope, as a writer myself, to be able to express poetically. I also eagerly await finding other “poets” (I know I can read poems, but I want poetic ways of saying things within prose as well). But the book is dystopian, and I guess it’s a little much to expect poetry in a dystopian novel. And it is only a minor critique, anyway. But I also get the sense that Orwell, like Cronkite, is a little “anti-technology”. I think it is evident that Orwell didn’t like television (as all of the “telescreens” in the book were used for spying and for barking out orders), while all of the books were rewritten to fit an agenda.

I also am not a fan of television. At all. I don’t pay for cable, nor satellite. Just “the internet”. I grew very tired of television, particularly advertisements, over the years. Also, it is very easy to get frustrated with “news-watchers” or “TV gorgers”, but, in my opinion, there’s too much focus on attacks of the technology itself. As I said, I do find television to be deplorable, particularly the way advertisements occur on them. And it does deserve critique. But let’s not become so blind by hatred of technology that we attack technological progress itself, and forget all of the good things that technology does for us. There’s a temptation to do just that; particularly among Conservatives, but I’ll get into that in a second. But focus more on the deplorability of the “proles”, not so much the technologies with which they entertain themselves.

Sure, it is one thing to bash atomic weapons, and some of the torture devices that exist in the book. It’s acceptable to bash technologies which exist solely to destroy, especially in particularly inhumane ways or at particular scales of destruction. But television isn’t an atomic weapon. I suppose that I don’t read enough to warrant giving a defense of “moving pictures”, but I’ve studied economics for a little while now, and I’ve started to really appreciate the technology that we have today. It certainly makes sense to me how one would praise books over television. I wouldn’t be able to successfully argue against that, and I’d agree with that. TV just does things in front of your eyes, including brain-deadening advertisement after advertisement after advertisement (although, thanks to technologies such as TiVo and DVR, people aren’t subjected to them as often as they used to be). Whereas books are far more engaging of the brain. So I can understand defending books against “telescreens” (in the realistic way screens are today, even though, increasingly, our devices are spying upon us, with “Big Business” and “Big Government” teaming up against us all. There’s that word again: “Orwellian”).

But I have also spent basically all of my life around old Conservative grumps who complain about “kids these days” and the technology that they have. These old people enjoy the fact that they have smartphones, but hate the fact that children do. They’ll say “Technology is corrupting our youth”, or whatever. In truth, it is really envy on the part of these old people. Many of these old people really did have difficult childhoods, and they are envious that children today don’t have it as badly as they did. That’s not a satisfactory indictment against technology. One has to wonder if many Conservatives, who claim that guns are “just a tool”, feel that way about video games, or smartphones, or what have you. Of course they don’t. They can’t apply their “tool” logic universally. That’s a major problem with Conservatives. I know that Cronkite and Orwell had deeper meanings than that when they criticized technology in the way that they did, but that has to be in one’s mind: How much of their critique is just old grumpiness?

However, even though, on one side, there are Conservatives who unfairly bash “technology” simply because it is “new”, or whatever their justification ultimately is, there is an opposite, although still negative, side of that coin. And that is “scientism”. “Scientism” is the belief that humans can be subjected to the scientific method such as a pool stick is to a cue ball. I’m not talking about, say, the effects of medicines on cells, or whatever. I’m talking about “social engineering”. I think Orwell discussed this brilliantly. Some people have a fallacious belief that we are better than we’ve ever been, as in morally superior to those in the past. I can understand that belief to a certain extent (as, for instance, slavery is more universally regarded as repugnant today than it has ever been), but these people go way too far with that idea. They’re the exact opposite of Conservatives, but they are still dangerous, if not more so than Conservatives. They treat the passage of time, and technological progress, as ipso facto improvements upon man’s ethics. This isn’t really “new”: it’s been around for a long time now. “If it is scientific, it can’t be immoral.” Ignoring, say, inhumane, unethical scientific testing which has been done historically, or attempts in the early 20th century to replace God with “science” (more specifically, the State’s application of “science”), leading to the deaths of countless millions. Science doesn’t eliminate man’s natural inclination towards hubris. “Science”, in fact, seems to ignore “man’s nature” constantly. It basically comes right out and says “There is no such thing as human nature”. And this was even before the “sexual Progressives” of today had taken over as they have now. Science-minded people seem to have an aversion to the concept of “human nature”. Unless, of course, they’re talking about how scientifically stupid most people are. But the pride of “science-minded” people is still alive and well today. Trying to push us more and more into statism, while, ironically enough, the “traditional, old-fashioned” Conservatives are their “biggest enemy”. It just makes one wonder why so many people think similarly. Interesting. It also makes you wonder how any ever thinks differently.

For more discussion on “human nature” and “apriorism”, check out some Austrian-school thinkers such as Murray Rothbard and David Gordon.

Of course, I didn’t even go into detail of how else “science” has replaced “God” with how it is fearfully preached by people who don’t even understand what it is that they are preaching. They are afraid of being “heretics”; afraid of not being accepted by their peers. So they scream “science” constantly, not understanding it themselves, but putting the utmost faith in anyone who calls himself a “scientist” (legitimate or not), much like faith was put into the clergy before the Reformation.

But, to continue with “1984”: The main character, Winston Smith, is old enough to remember a time before “the Party” took over. This also made me think of Conservatives lamenting a “bygone” era. Now, within the context of the book, I was fine with this lamentation. But in “the real world”, it’s annoying. Old Conservatives seem to think that the ’50s were the holiest generation on God’s green earth. With each passing day, they complain about how much more lost the world is becoming. Never mind the fact that in the very book that they claim to “believe” in, the Bible, one of the very first siblings ever created here on earth killed the other one. No, still yet, there’s some bygone era that was holier than today. No, the truth is that these Conservatives are full of shit. This, of course, is not to say that there aren’t legitimate lamentations of a bygone era. Of course, as tyranny increases, it is perfectly understandable and acceptable to think of a past time more free than currently. But that’s not all that Conservatives do. They have rose-tinted glasses for the past, regardless of how horrible the past really was. But, then again, don’t Conservatives complain about the past as well? Conservatives complain about today, and the technology that exists. Which, I suppose, is a complaint that the technology didn’t exist back then. But they are supposed to be “authorities”: they can’t admit to the young ones that they are jealous of them. Let’s just spank them and condemn them for playing video games. You know, the “responsible” thing to do. In fairness, once again, I don’t believe this was the gist of Cronkite’s discussion of technology. I think Cronkite was mainly concerned with how government (or cronies in connection with government) could use the growing technology for nefarious purposes. Also, he has some legitimate concerns about privacy. Google Earth is kind of frightening. Most of the time, when I use it, I’m just interested to see how accurate things are where I live. But it doesn’t bother me that much. Who cares if satellites can see my neighborhood? I can see my neighborhood when I go outside. I can see my neighborhood online if I take pictures of it and post them. The only concern that I have with it, in truth, is the fact that Google and the government are in each others’ pockets. I think that is a legitimate concern with technology, and I know both Cronkite and Orwell thought about technology in that same way.

But, “Conservative” analysis of technology aside: What did I think of the core message of the book, about Statism taking over the world? The book is excellent. I greatly envy Orwell. “1984” is a book that I wish that I had written. The book is obviously transcendent. While reading the book, I felt a combination of dread and hope. I really think it would be hard for anyone to view the book any other way. The dread is obvious. It is obvious to anyone who isn’t a “prole”; to anyone who isn’t a “knave” or “dupe”. People have spent, and continue to spend, their whole lives making careers out of warning about tyranny (and countless other “screamers” who aren’t doing it professionally). Fromm did an excellent job of contrasting pre-WWI writing with post-WWI writing. Most certainly, people continue to warn against tyranny today. Crediting Orwell the whole way through. Praising “1984” seems futile, because it really speaks for itself. It spoke, and the world continues to carry it on. It is a libertarian torch. The only differences between the passings of the torch are the specific words used, but the praise is universal among people who value freedom. The dread runs parallel to conclusions drawn to today from the book. If one looks hard enough, one can see that every day is a step towards 1984. And it is very easy to see 1984 when one takes account of how many of his fellow citizens don’t see 1984.

So 1984 is very clearly a tale of the human condition. About the conflict that exists within us. The desire for freedom, and the desire for control. It is a ceaseless ping-pong game with no winners, and where everyone dies at the end of it. Control is futile, and control is Hell. There’s very little solace for a man who has a gun pointed to his head, and there will always be someone in the future who faces a barrel, just the same. There will always be someone ignorant of the barrel, someone staring down the barrel, someone holding the barrel, someone trying to wrestle away the barrel, someone trying to destroy the barrel. There’s no end to evil on Earth. Not ultimately. There’s only fighting it, or perpetuating it. You can’t “ignore” it away. It will consume you.

But the ultimate takeaway that I’ve drawn from “1984” is a reinforcement for a developing belief of mine that I’ve had for a little while now. And that belief is to enjoy freedom when you have it. I spend a lot of time listening and talking about liberty and tyranny. I get something from it. Despite the similarities between America today and “1984”, there are significant differences. America is freer than “Oceania”, “Eurasia”, and “Eastasia”; the three “countries” in “1984” (I think it is fair to say that this holds true, even though the story only takes place in “Eurasia”, specifically, in what used to be London). Appreciate it. Don’t be so foolish as to believe tyranny an impossibility, but enjoy your freedoms while you have them. It isn’t 1984 quite yet. And don’t let it get there. Who knows how to alert the proles, if it is even possible to do so. But regardless of who is listening, scream out. If the heart desires freedom, scream out about it. It doesn’t matter who finds you odd when you’re screaming freedom. Do it while you can. As much as you can stand it. Express yourself, as much as you want to, while you are able. Make it whatever you want to make it; as serious, or as silly. Just do it. Despite trends toward it, there still isn’t a Ministry of Truth just yet. I’m sure there’s aspects of the Ministry of Love that the public doesn’t know about. And the Ministry of Peace remains in full effect, as always.

Overall, my takeaway is simple. Yes, 1984 can happen anywhere, anytime, including “here”. Don’t be so naive as to believe that your “country” is different. But take full advantage of any freedoms that you have. Exercise your humanity while you are still human. Enjoy your freedoms. And just read the book for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you have, well, maybe read it again.

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Gray hair from a civil/revolutionary war probability. (Gray from tyranny = granny?)

If one doesn’t find enjoyment or pleasure out of trying to eliminate injustices or right wrongs, one should find something else to do that he or she enjoys.

There’s a reason why people who stay at home to watch football on Sundays are happier than those that go to church.

And why does happiness matter? Well, if Heaven is so great, what does that really mean unless it brings one complete joy?

Is Heaven sitting around griping about the gays? Is it a never-ending Bible read? Do they sit around, constantly complaining about how corrupt the young people in Hell are?

The idea that happiness on Earth doesn’t matter spits in the face of the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was a perfect paradise. Doesn’t that mean that Adam and Eve had to be happy? Of course, if they were perfectly content, why did they eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Well, to use an analogy, is it not the case that one can be having a great time, but make a grave mistake that directly affects his or her life negatively forever? Can’t a man, driving to the beach to go on vacation, accidentally strike and kill a child with his car, and thus, spend significant time behind bars?

Of course, Adam and Eve disobeyed a direct commandment. But they did not know just how negatively it was going to affect them, and the rest of the world (for the entirety of its existence). This does not mean that they should not have been punished. One, of course, can lament about “why they [we] were ever doomed to failure”, much like one can lament “why the child ever ran out in front of the car”. But what happened happened. Nothing can change it.

In saying all of this, I am very thankful that I am [no longer] like most religious conservatives. To the religious conservatives, the entire world is a lost cause. All of us sinners are going to Hell (except for the 30 or so that meet in this specific building every Sunday). The rules and regulations to live by to avoid Hell are simply impossible to live by. It is the equivalent of a government with hundreds of thousands of various laws, most of which no citizen really understands (or is even aware of), and many of the rules are so nonsensical that it truly takes a fear of punishment to make one ever even consider abiding by them. You live in constant fear of violating even one of the countless laws, and the government of God will have no mercy on a law-breaker after one dies (which one is never sure of, so this anxiety continues in perpetuity). But the difference between government and God is that, at least to many, an unjust government is possible. But the idea of an unjust GOD is NOT possible to Christians and conservatives.

I am ashamed to admit that I used to BE one of those religious conservatives. My life was anxious and Puritanical seemingly constantly (I was lucky enough to get minor breaks from my own self-torture every now and then). It truly was Hell on Earth. I know you probably won’t believe me, but I was fucking MISERABLE. More miserable that I can describe in this piece (but I discuss it a lot here). But by divine intervention, my life changed completely, and forever. I know how that sounds, because I know how typical conservatives use it. But I can only say that I am being genuine, and it is up to you whether or not you believe me. I understand skepticism. It is warranted (thanks to religious conservatism that I used to be a part of).

It is only by the grace of God that I value my happiness here on Earth. (I understand many will say “Well, I’m not religious, and I value my happiness”, or “But you never would’ve gone through that had you never been introduced to religion in the first place.” I’m not going to debate it here. Agree to disagree? Call me a “dumbass believer” on your own blog?) I may never know why He saved me that Hell, of believing that my suffering somehow created my path to Heaven (thus making me purposefully torture myself psychologically), but I am eternally grateful for it. Clearly, there is a difference between the paradise that Eden was and what happened to the world after the fruit was eaten; a difference between me driving to the beach, and me killing a child with my car accidentally. Me killing a child with the car didn’t create the happiness that I had when I envisioned what the beach was going to be like. Clearly.

I get to experience the goodness of God, without EVER being ABLE to “repay” Him in any way, shape, or form. There is no gift that I can give to the Almighty. I was merely given the gift of eternal life through Christ. And it wasn’t because of anything I did: it was merely because God cares about me.

I think this will, ultimately, be the only thing that keeps me from pulling my hair out when I notice government becoming more and more tyrannical, with, seemingly, not enough people realizing it. I think this will be the only thing to keep me sane if I am unfortunate enough to live through a revolutionary war, or if I am kidnapped by my government. Thankfully, if they kill me, they will have only freed me.

#Calexit (#Brexit, etc.).

More and more people waking up to the inherent injustice of government. History repeats itself.

This is how revolutions happen.

The time to speak out is NOW.

Creepy FBI encounter.

Anarch.

Murray Rothbard.

Voluntarism and Capitalism.

On Writing with Nothing to Say

Why do I desire to write when I have nothing to say? Or, rather, why do I have something to say when I don’t desire to write? I constantly find myself in one of these two camps as a writer. Sometimes, such as right now, I desire to write. I open up my works of fiction in progress, then quickly close them. “Oh yeah. I don’t know how to write. The fiction that I’ve written up to this point isn’t very good, and I still haven’t even fixed those. Why would I start something new?” So I make a note, to remember to do the new idea eventually, open up the current works in progress that need to be fixed, and then think “Oh yeah; this sucks”, and then close it out.

Then I try to find other things to occupy my time. Music, video games. Anything but writing. Or, at least, if I do write, it needs to be something simple, and easy. Like a status update on Facebook or Twitter. Then, when I desire to write things that have more meaning, I think of all of the writers of history, and all of the writers of today. “Oh yeah. There’s a lot of people that have had things to say. And I haven’t read them. Surely those writers are much better than I. So why don’t I spend time reading them instead of writing myself?” And so, I read a little. I read what I’m interested in. Read about economics. But it starts to become repetitive. “Oh yeah. I already believe this. I already know this. So why am I rereading it?” Then, I think “You know, I’m not sure if some of this stuff written by others is ever going to be read by others. Who is ever going to read Rothbard?” I rarely think of all of the people that have read Rothbard. Just all of the ones that have no idea who he is, or those who levy character assassinations against him, purposefully (or unintentionally) misconstruing his words. And I get very dejected. What’s the point of writing if that is going to happen to you, ultimately? If it happened to Rothbard, a much better writer and thinker than I, then why would I write at all? That line of thinking prevents me from writing quite often. Indeed, with regards to fiction, the likes of King and Rowling create the same line of thought within myself. “I could never write as much as Stephen King does. I’ll probably never be as good as either one of them. So why do it at all?”

My personal philosophy regarding doing what you enjoy is that you have nothing to lose by trying to make a career out of it. You have nothing to lose by trying to sell your passion. Even if you never do, you have nothing to lose by trying to do so. So that’s my attitude, with things that I love to do. Writing, acting, comedy. My belief is: why not treat it as a business? If I’m going to do it anyway, without getting paid for it, I might as well treat it as a business. I realize this is counter-intuitive to many business-oriented people. Of course, economic activity exists because trade takes place. If not enough people are willing to trade for your services, you’ll have to adopt your services to something more lucrative if you decide it is worthwhile to do so. And many people do. Everyone does, to a certain extent. We all have to live. Shall we grow our own food? Or join retail (or any other line of work that isn’t directly “growing our own food”) to buy the products of those that do grow food in exchange for other goods and services? But I love to write. I do it for free. So I might as well dream of attaining “professional status” someday, regardless of how realistic or unrealistic that dream is.

I often get dejected as a writer. I write something that I think to be good, and it goes undiscovered. Of course, considering all of the writing that exists in the world, this is no surprise. It’s part of the fun of being a writer. Or of doing anything, really, that you wish to become a “professional” at. I think of all of the famous writers that I’ve read very little or none of. All of the “classic” authors in the world. The best writers the world has ever known. I’m entering into this field. I am a writer. They are writers. I am competing for attention. For readers. They’ll always win. And that’s fine. But I still write. I still want to get involved. I still want readers. “Professional” status. Regardless of how much better the writers are than I, I still want in. I’m a child that wants to play with “the big boys”. And I enjoy it and love it.

I get pretty exhausted with reading. I prefer to write than read. Despite the fact that I’m sure my words are not going to be as good as others, I still desire to write more often than read. I guess I’m just relegated to writing shitty words. I guess, as long as I love them, that’s what should really matter to me.

So if I desire to write, and love to write, what should I do when I know my writing sucks? When I’m not willing to partake in the “literary world”? What should I write when I have nothing to say? I don’t know. I write things like this. My writing will, more than likely, never be widely read, and, when actually read, will probably be criticized instead of enjoyed. I’m not saying that’s unethical, of course. I’m just merely stating the fact, and that dejects me. Does my writing deserve to be enjoyed? Of course not. I wouldn’t suggest that anyone enjoy shitty writing. But it’s my desire to not be shitty that motivates me. It’s not necessarily the reason why I write, but why wouldn’t that be an end goal that I wish to achieve through writing?

Of course, all writing is thoughts. So if there is a good book, there was a good mind behind it. Clearly, my mind pales in comparison to many of the great minds of history, and of the present. So if I want to write, it has to come from within my own mind. What is in my mind? Well, the only way I can convey that is through words, and that’s what I struggle with the most. I struggle with explaining what is in my mind. And, of course, that is necessary for writers to do. Writers must explain what is in their minds.

One problem currently, that I’m slowly attempting to remedy, is that I’m not educated enough. I don’t know enough. What do I want to write? And how do I want to write it? I’m slowly developing these things, but the main thing that I know is that I just love to do it. I love to write. It matters little what it is, as long as I’m writing. But, clearly, every piece of writing has to be about something, so I have to figure out what I’m going to write about. It’s kind of odd to me, in a way. I love writing more than what it is I’m writing about. That feels very odd. Of course, there are times when what I want to write about is more enjoyable to me than actually writing it out itself. In fact, this is the case quite often, as I can’t figure out how to start, elaborate, make it better, etc. Or I get bogged down with what I mentioned above (how many writers there are, how much better they are than me, etc.). It’s a constant conflict. I either love the act of writing, with nothing to say, or I have things to say, but don’t feel like I have the ability to say them the way that I wish to. Deep down, I know this is in the heart of every writer, if not all of the time, at least a significant percentage of it. All creative types struggle. We have a desire to create, but often, we struggle. We struggle in our technical abilities, or through an internal conflict of visions. We always struggle. This is part of being a creative type.

The answer, for me, is going to come very slowly. Very slowly will I begin to read more often. I’ll be able to figure out my personal philosophies regarding reading. I’ll develop my thoughts into more concreteness, and then, work on developing the tools to express them as effectively as I would wish to do.

There are, of course, many obstacles. Getting better as a writer is a giant obstacle. My own personal thoughts about where I “fit in to the grand scheme of things” is a giant obstacle. Justified self-deprecation is an obstacle. My hopes and dreams are an obstacle. My personal beliefs are an obstacle. All of these are obstacles. Ultimately, I’ll have to find my way through them. Contemplation is one of the only ways to do this. It’s all up to me. All up to my own fucking little head. I have to do this all by myself. I have to figure out which books to read, what personal philosophies I wish to adopt, what I wish to write, how I wish to feel about my finances, how I fit into the “writing” market (and other markets). It’s all a process, and this is merely a step in it. Despite my lack of financial success, I’m very happy with my work up to this point. I wouldn’t trade it to be more successful, because the purpose of starting out on this journey of my work was doing what I enjoyed doing. And I have enjoyed it. I do enjoy it, immensely, even if I’m not making any money from it. I am confident this will change with time and practice, regardless of how “unrealistic” it is in the eyes of others. But the point is that even if they are right, I am also right. Of course, I’d love to make a living through writing, comedy, and acting. It is one of my goals to. But even if I don’t, I kind of don’t care. Once again, I have nothing to lose by adopting an attitude of optimism regarding financial success in my arts. But even if I don’t, I’m still going to do them. I don’t understand why more people don’t adopt this attitude. I’m sure there are many that do have that attitude, and that’s a good thing. And, of course, values differ from individual to individual, and yes, we all do have to “make a livingsomehow. But individual value scales come into play. Some are willing to work less hours to paint pictures that never sell. Some are willing to sacrifice hours of leisure for more money. It’s all up to each individual to decide what values he or she has, and creating, through writing and comedy, is certainly something that I value very, very much.

It may be asked why I don’t go to school to learn to be a better writer. My answer to that is that I enjoy being my own teacher; completely in control of my own education. Deciding who to read, and when. I want to do everything by myself. That’s also something that I value very, very much. My own independent education. I’m not saying that people who choose to go to school aren’t acting “independently”. I just prefer to do things by myself, and I don’t want to go to “school” for things that I can learn for myself through reading, practice, and self-contemplation.

It remains to be seen what will happen, as is always the case. What I read will shape me. What and when will it happen? I read a little, as I said. About economics, particularly. It’s definitely influenced me. I’ve read a little fiction. In the process of reading a “classic”. I hope that I can learn something from it. Not only do I want to be entertained by it, but I read it as a teaching tool. I read it in the hopes of absorbing what makes it “good” for myself, so I can regurgitate it in my own way. That will probably be what leads me to read more often, as I think is the case with my best friend. He’s fully entrenched in the “reading/writing” world, and I haven’t been up to this point. But I am desiring to get better as a writer, and I can hear his voice in my head as I write that. I think we both want to become better writers through reading. And I think we both recognize the seeming futility of our endeavors. I’ve heard him speak many times about the number of writers there are in the world; the number of books, written by living and deceased. And he’s always talked about how behind he is with reading. How many books there are that remain unread. How he’ll never be able to figure out how to deal with it all. There will always be books, authors, undiscovered. Where do you begin? What perspective do you develop about it all? It’s always bugged him, and now, it’s starting to bug me. The things I have written here, have been discussed by him, to me, for quite some time now. Seems as if he’s influenced me; or, rather, that we were more alike than I realized back then.

So, I suppose, that we both, and all other writers alike, are stuck in the writing struggle, where we read, write, and try to figure out our place among all of the other readers and writers in the world.

A small note: in addition to what I’ve said about historic and current authors, one thing that I also think about is the fact that “history repeats itself”. Especially in economics, my particular subject of interest in reading about. On the one hand, it all feels so futile. We’re all just going back and forth about the same arguments that have always existed. But on the other, if evil won’t rest, neither should good. It’s all just exhausting, ultimately.

Writer.

Writing.

Don’t Mess With My Head

Devin Stevens Presents Literature

In the post modern era of literature (1950’s and on), American writers wrote of classic struggles between tyranny and liberty, some from fears of Stalin’s Soviet Russia, others from the demoralization caused by America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was important, these writers thought, to show people just how horrifying government despotism could become. The British writer, George Orwell, had already spoken of the evils of totalitarianism, inspiring later writers to dwell on the horrors of politcal absolutism. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, John D. MacDonald’s Nightmare in Pink, and Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan each deal with the fear that governments can use neuroscience as a means to control people’s minds. Once the mind was manipulated in a certian way, writers dreaded that the common people would be subjected to the ideals of ruling parties and think nothing of it, all due to brain manipulation. Only stored information in books could…

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Doublespeak.

Thank God that The Drug War is protecting our liberties…

Politics.

More politics.

Economics.

Voluntarism and Capitalism.