Not again!

When you protest political decisions, please – pretty please! – have some perspective!

As bad as the new data retention decision is, it is not even in the same ballpark as 1984. There is no thought police, there aren’t thousands of people rewriting history books according to the political leadership’s whims, there is no newspeak whose vocabulary is constantly shrinking.

Nobody will take you seriously if you overreact. You only hurt the good cause.

11 thoughts on “Not again!

  1. I beg to differ on one account: there is newspeak. The vocabulary of this newspeak may not be shrinking but meaning is definetly redefined in ways that are appalling. Think of the words “piracy” and “theft” for instance. Also, it is not far from a thought police, if the authorities can access every word you send over the internet.

  2. I have tremendous respect for you, Tiedemies, and in just about any other discussion I would agree with you abot what you just said. But in this specific case, I cannot.

    I actually guessed someone might make that claim. Sheesh!

    “Newspeak”, in 1984, was the government-regulated language, the only one whose usage was allowed. Its expressed purpose was to make it impossible to talk about revolution, by successively reducing its official vocabulary. The stated intention was to eventually reach a state where the only thoughts expressible would be support of the state. Specialities such as sciences would be allowed to use special jargon specified in addenda to the official dictionary.

    So no, there is no newspeak.

    Most of the terms introduced in 1984, such as newspeak and thought police, are often used as growl words, attaching the despicable word to some real-world phenomenon which the speaker disapproves of. Like you say that the redefinition of “piracy” and “theft” is newspeak (and in another discussion I’d probably agree with you). But that doesn’t mean that our world actually had “newspeak” or “thought police” in the sense used in the book. Claiming that it is reveals the same sense of prespectivelessness I was lamenting in the original post (please follow the link I gave in the posting to see what prompted that posting).

  3. Sam:

    Sorry it took so long to get your posting off the moderation queue. It took me a while to figure out it wasn’t linkspamming ūüôā

    Certainly, I agree with your point, but it’s not really relevant to what I was saying here.

  4. I think you are missing the point of “1984” (and similar dystopian fantasies) completely. The whole point is to make explicit the implicit and “hidden” powerstructures within our own society. Of course it is not exactly as in 1984, but is a step in that direction and steps have been taken earlier in the form of redifining words.

    This kind of mentality that we should be watched and information collected is a step in the direction. Disregarding these threats by saying that “it is not in perspective” is itself lacking in perspective; These kind of changes take place in small steps, each of which is small and insignificant. At some point – a lot before the actual dystopia becomes a reality – there is a backlash, when people realize where things are going. It will never take place, because people recognize the steps.

    And that is exactly what drawing parallels between 1984 and this EU-legistlation is all about. It is a big deal, in my opinion. And the parallel is justified.

    For all evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

  5. No, I get the point (and I agree that your description of it is correct). I am not objecting to talking about the dangers involved, or to drawing parallels to 1984.

    What I am objecting to is blatant overreaction. Saying “1984 is a joke compared to this” (direct quote, BTW, from the blog posting I linked to) is the same kind of perspective loss as the infamous Hitler card. Yes, the situation is bad, but it’s not nearly that bad (yet). The problem with that kind of perspective loss is that one loses credibility with the people who are not already convinced. As I said in the original posting, this hurts our shared cause.

    (As I said, in any other discussion, I would have agreed with you about “newspeak”, but not in this one. In this one, where we are talking about “1984”, the words have their original Orwellian meaning, not the usual doubleplusungood meaning.)

    By all means, draw parallels between the legislation and 1984, but do it well.

  6. Pingback: Uwe Hermann
  7. Bush co. quite effectively sidestepped the whole rewriting history problem. They’ve been busy redefining science so there’s nothing solid left to write down in the first place. The only thing that stands above the postmodern quagmire of disinformation is war is peace, err, i mean, fight terrorism & support our troops, yee haw! or you’re against us, right? C’mon, tell me patriot hasn’t become newspeak.

    aside from the opening, your post could actually be taken as satire pointing. well, the thought police thing is pretty hazy. course this is all US side…

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