Ministry of Truth
“George Orwell warned six decades ago that the corrosion of language goes hand in hand with the corruption of democracy. If he were around today, he would remind us that ‘like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,’ this kind of propaganda engenders a ‘protective stupidity’ almost impossible for facts to penetrate. But you, my colleagues, can't give up. If you do, there's no chance any public memory of everyday truths—the tangible, touchable, palpable realities so vital to democracy—will survive. We would be left to the mercy of the agitated amnesiacs who ‘make’ their own reality . . . in order to maintain their hold on the public mind and the levers of power.
"You will remember that in Orwell's novel 1984, Big Brother banishes history to the memory hole, where inconvenient facts simply disappear. Control of the present rests on obliteration of the past. The figure of O'Brien, who is the personification of Big Brother, says to the protagonist, Winston Smith: ‘We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.’ And they do. The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Truth destroy the records of the past and publish new versions. These in turn are superseded by yet more revisions. Why? Because people without memory are at the mercy of the powers that be; there is nothing against which to measure what they are told today. History is obliterated.”
—Bill Moyers, newsman and commentator, in address to TV news broadcasters, “America Can't Deal With Reality— We Must Be Exposed to the Truth, Even If It Hurts,” alternet.org, Feb. 14, 2011
• Editorial Comment: We can't handle the truth.
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