February 2017
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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. I have gotten into the habit of leaving out full names and email addresses; I have had too many people think better of something they said fifteen years ago. If you want your name and email included, let me know. Flames, however, will be published with full name and email address.

Dear Mr Wallace,

Id like to extend some questions about George Orwell Was Wrong.

What do you think of the United States today, in contrast to 1984?

What are your thoughts on fascism in government today, if you think there is any?

What also do you think is the message in 1984, is it a warning, a retelling, or a plain example of good storytelling? Or perhaps is it something else entirely.

As I feel I am bombarded day after day with the dogmatic teachings of my teacher overlords I must state that i have no qualms about sharing my disdain towards our current system of education. Not that I have the power or a plan to do anything about it. How do you think would one go about combating the looming inevitability of repetition in the face of an everlasting cycle of history? And by that I mean that all I've seen so far is one person rise into power after the next. Though the power that they hold seems to be a fleeting one. One which continues to wane in the face of ever growing enterprises and corporations. So really I suppose my question is what do i do about being powerless to bring about change?



(Bragging alert:) I am impressed when I re-read my stuff from twenty years ago. I rarely find an inference or a prediction to which I say, "that was completely wrong".

The prediction I made in the George Orwell piece, that "humans bend back to their original shape, like the grass after the hound has arisen from its sleep" (patting myself on the back for that phrase), is being played out again today. On Election Day, shocked by the outcome, I thought I was wrong, that humans can be brainwashed. Today, seeing the press, the courts and huge crowds of demonstrators pushing back, I think we are trying to revert to common sense. We will know in a month or a year or two.

Two other quick thoughts. I highly recommend a book I am reading right now, Benjamin Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld, published in 1995 (not long before my Orwell essay)about the dueling forces of nationalism and globalism, both of which dissolve democracy (think of a lion and a tiger fighting over a lamb). The book gives a lot of insight about what just happened.

Also, I concluded long ago that the long term prospects are not very good, that sooner or later, there will be a new dark age (at best; if we don't actually make ourselves extinct). I started to think of everything I write as a letter to an intelligent twelve year old a thousand years from now, giving her (very tentative) advice how to avoid our mistakes.

This helped me arrive at a solution, to live as if I were an optimist. I didn't know til later, but this is actually a version of Pascal's Wager https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager

As a young woman from Italy wrote to me twenty years ago, "I hope for one best world".