I SPY quoted a phrase from 1984 in a comment thread and it set me thinking, not for the first time, about the similarities between our current situation and that envisaged by George Orwell. With a bit of searching I’ve pieced together a manual for those of you who might wish to become evil megalomaniac dictators.
War is Peace: First and most important, you need an external threat.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.Ã¢â‚¬Â – Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann GÃƒÂ¶ring during the Nuremberg Trials.
Now that the Reds aren’t so scary, and the war on drugs isn’t commanding the attention it used to, we’ve got this fantastic new enemy. To make it seem more than a one off we’ve taken to haring off to beat up tin pot dictators who used to be our mates, plus we now arrest people for talking about bombing us. This new “endless war” is perfect.
“And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence,” Rumsfeld reminisced on November 18. “You may recall that. And ‘oh my goodness gracious isn’t that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.’ I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I’ll give you the corpse. There’s the name. You can have the name, but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.”
Of course it’s not really propaganda. It’s really a “non-traditional means to provide accurate information… in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation”. That means we planted stories with our tame journalists. Like this one about Jews being forced to wear yellow in Iran. Of course it makes things easier if the media sees things your way.
the Act’s hastily passed provisions not only violate the free expression and privacy rights of those using public libraries and bookstores; they also sweep aside constitutional checks and balances by authorizing intelligence agencies to gather information in situations that may be completely unconnected to a potential criminal proceeding.
But first and foremost, in your quest to rule the world, you’re going to need
a white cat to neuter democracy. Presidential signing statements are a good start, once you’ve appointed a compliant Supreme Court.
The fashionable modern evil genius doesn’t try to do it all himself. Get your friends to run important posts in the bureaucracy, and it helps to have the kleptocracy and a shadowy conspiracy behind you as well.