Penguin Group (USA)

The worst great guy I know


Picture two women dining in a restaurant that they have convinced themselves, for whatever reason, is the finest dining establishment in town. Time after time they are disappointed in the offerings. Nevertheless they return every week. And if anyone were to ask them, they would recommend the place without hesitation, touting it as the finest restaurant in town.

One day, one of the women looks up from her soup and says to her dining companion across the table, “This is the worst fine dining I’ve ever had.”

There is a kind of indoctrination that is so effective and complete that it is impervious to facts. A case in point is the present economic “recovery.” I continue to be amused as over time the so-called “recovery” that purportedly begun in 2010 is variously reported in the news as “weak” and “strong” and “mildly disappointing,” and “slower than expected.” But however dismal and bleak, the economic situation doggedly remains, in the rarified air of media land it is labeled a “recovery.” That we are experiencing a “recovery” is the one thing that is never doubted.

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My husband and I are currently rereading George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel 1984, which depicts a time when government indoctrination will be an institutionalized fait accompli. What follows is a selection, for your interest. I’ll let you discern whether we are well on our way to the protagonist Winston Smith’s grimly city life in Airstrip One, formerly London, where “war is peace,” and “freedom is slavery,” and “ignorance is strength,” and everything is the opposite of what it is reported to be:

“… a trumpet call floated from the telescreen just above our heads. However, it was not the proclamation of a military victory this time, but merely an announcement from the Ministry of Plenty. ‘Comrades!’ cried an eager youthful voice. ‘Attention, comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than twenty per cent over the past year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us. Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs—’ The phrase ‘our new, happy life’ recurred several times. It had been a favorite of late of the Ministry of Plenty. …”

My husband and I amused ourselves a while finding parallels between the Ministry of Plenty’s exuberant reports of increased production and President Obama’s Labor Department announcements on unemployment figures and, of course, our great “recovery.”

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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