One of the most important novels of the 20th century is George Orwell’s
social justice warrior handbook warning against totalitarianism entitled 1984. In it, he gives us this exchange between O’Brien, the Inner Party torturer, and Winston Smith, the Ministry of Truth bureaucrat who got caught having unapproved thoughts.
“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently.
“How can I help it?” he blubbered. “How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
O’Brien contends that two plus two equals whatever the Party says it does. There is no objective reality–there is only the expression of power, and the ability to force people to submit to the Party’s version of it.
What brings this to mind is the winner of the Tweet of the Year Award (I don’t care that it’s only July–this is unsurpassable). It comes from a Rutgers University graduate student named Brittany Marshall. This is what she posted:
And wouldn’t you know it: she’s seeking a Ph.D from the Graduate School of Education, and her area of specialization is “Mathematics Education.”
She wants to prepare a future generation or two of math teachers to tell their students that 2+2=4 is a cultural construction imposed by “western imperialism/colonialism.”
In the words of Star Trek‘s Dr. McCoy, she wants to return us to the age of “stone knives and bearskins.” We’ll have to go back that far to undo all the evils of rational thought and empirical investigation. But it will be a different “way of knowing.”
I’ve been saying for a while that those SJWs who have actually read 1984 (few if any of them, I’m sure–Ms. Marshall would probably say that 1984 is an imperialist number, and refuse to read a book with that title) take it as an action manual rather than a warning about the evils of totalitarianism. The fact that Ms. Marshall could so closely mimic O’Brien (the only real difference is that she talks about cultural imposition, while he talks about political imposition) demonstrates this in a chilling fashion.
Please understand: Ms. Marshall is not an outlier. The ideology that motivates her to embarrass herself in public is the driving force behind the current wave of insanity griping America. It declares in no uncertain terms that there is no objective reality. All reality is culturally determined, and as such is just as malleable as all culture is.
Furthermore, all truth is political, in the sense that it serves power arrangements, meaning that truth is determined by how well it conforms to a pre-determined set of political ideals and goals. Those ideals and goals, meanwhile, change so fast the news cycle can barely keep up. (Remember when it was only Confederate statues that were being targeted? Then came Grant, Churchill, Washington, Lincoln, the Massachusetts 54th [the first black troops to fight in the Civil War, for the Union!], and then–the final indignity–Stevie Ray Vaughn! Next it will be the Pieta, the Mona Lisa, and the Sistine Chapel, all products of Western civilization, and therefore bad by definition.) And when those ideals and goals change, as they inevitably will, who defines them, and thus provides us with our new version of reality?
the Party the far Left activists that created this new form of political solipsism, who else?
Oh, yes, this is about power, all right. Power, and revenge, and self-righteousness combined with overweening ignorance at levels rarely seen before in human history. If it means using O’Brien’s methods to get what they want, the far Left will gladly do so. After all, wasn’t it Comrade Stalin who said that to make a revolution omelet, it was necessary to break some eggs?
And why should we be surprised? After all, it was the far Left about which Orwell was warning us.