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2004: One Year Closer to Nineteen Eighty-four Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Nima Shirali, Canada Aug 25, 2004
Human Rights   Opinions
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As history is being written in our current trends, George Orwell’s vision of totalitarianism is further nearing realization. Indeed, many, as do I, believe that his forethought has already been actualized. A close scrutiny of the current state of the world would reveal that today is indeed a disdainful day for humanity. Today is a time of indoctrination, propaganda, suppression of free will, and marginalizing the masses. It is a time for the further concentration of power, a time for silencing the many. I am of the opinion that the majority of the world’s population is perpetually experiencing what seem to be endless oppression, deceit, and a shared sense of hopelessness, which all lead to their contempt for life. However, it is imperative to shed light on the causes responsible for the current state of things. Knowing the causes will allow us, the masses, to organize and aim to change things effectively in order to create popular institutions, public participation in the decision-making process, and a true, genuine sense of freedom.

Firstly, it is important to point out that the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the few is a cause culpable for our oppression. The “concentration of power” means that the elites are progressively accumulating more and more authority and control over the majority of the human race. Elites exist in both the private and public spheres and they share the common interest of violently preserving their position of dominance by suppressing any threat which may jeopardize their power. In the private sphere, transnational corporations have formed formidable alliances which have unprecedented influence over policy making that affects us all. Needless to say, the decisions that are being made on our behalf do not represent our interests. In fact, they are against our interests and for the interests of those who hold power.

For example, Tony Blair’s decision to partake in the occupation of Iraq was clearly notwithstanding popular British opinion about the war. Similarly, the pressure that the military-industrial corporations such as McDonnel Douglas and Boeing have had on the Bush administration led to a war which serves not the interests of the American public, but those of the American elites. In fact, the war has clearly worked against the interests of the American public because the United States is now increasingly more vulnerable to terrorist attack as a response to the resentment caused by the war. I think we can all vividly recollect the Madrid train bombings, which were undoubtedly in response to Spanish participation in the war. This memory allows us to see that the decision of the Spanish government to go to war worked against the interests of the public and against the interests of the country as a whole.

It is necessary to point out that any government represents a hierarchical system of control in which power is heavily concentrated in the hands of the few. In addition, a brief look at history would reveal the reality that any system of power, whether private or governmental, has the preservation of that power system as its first priority. The interests of you and I are secondary. History reveals that there can be no such thing as a “democratic government”. In fact, the juxtaposition of these two words creates an inherent contradiction because there can never be a democratic government. Governments can only claim to be democratic and create the mere illusion of popular control over the political process. However, the actualization of a democratic society is possible through the exercise of free will, along with free cooperation and association. As Noam Chomsky points out, the people are the first enemy of any hierarchical power system and in order for that system to stay intact; the people must be marginalized to the point of impotence (1). The people’s realization that a hierarchical system of subjugation exists is the first step to challenging the concentration of power and forming popular institutions which serve our interests, not the interests of elites who find it necessary to oppress us. Because popular institutions do not exist after having been violently suppressed in Spain, Algeria, Yugoslavia, Russia, and other places (2), I cannot provide an existing example. However, I can give an imaginary example.

How about democracy as a popular institution? What I refer to here is an institution which serves the popular interest, not the interests of wealthy men wanting to become wealthier at the expense of our safety, freedom, and happiness. This institution would allow for real public participation in decision-making and would empower the many. If such a system were to exist in the United States, the “champion” for democracy and human rights, its population would choose to have universal health care and education instead of irrational annual war budgets (3).

The money from the war budgets has been transferred to the bank accounts of corporations which produce weapons of mass destruction at the expense of the well-being and safety of the American people. The question which needs to be asked is, would the war budget be this high if the American public had a choice between building a space warfare program [such as the Strategic Defence Initiative] and having universal health care? There is a simple answer to this question. Health care benefits every ordinary American. Having missiles in space exploits every American by using tax revenues for paying companies like Lockheed-Martin to put technology in space in order to counter a “threat to national security”, whether this threat is posed by the Russians or by Al-Qaeda (4).

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