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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We were always at war with Iran

The General speaks

Just another day at Minitrue From the Orwell classic, 2006*:

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of web pages had been identified, that number would be edited and republished, the original html code destroyed, and the corrected pages placed on the web site in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to the web site, but also to official photographs, video, documents, reports, transcripts, films, audio files, graphics, -- to every kind of data or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All official history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of reports, fact sheets, press releases and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of electronic files which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Our Leader, have been rewritten a dozen times still existed in protected files bearing their original date, and no other copies existed to contradict them. Reports, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the emails which Winston received, and which he deleted as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.

But actually, he thought as he reframed the video of Our Leader's speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, it was not even forgery. It was merely the omission of another piece of nonsense. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie.

Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Army's recruitment forecast had estimated it needed 8,050 recruits for the month of May. The actual figure came in at a little over 5000. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the projected figure down to 6,700, so as to lesson the Pentagon's embarrassment. In any case, 8,050 was no nearer the truth about what was needed than 6,700, or 10,000 for that matter. Very likely no number of recruits would save the Army from being destroyed by incompetent leadership. Likelier still, nobody cared. All one knew was that every month astronomical recruitment numbers were produced on paper, while soldiers were deployed for their third or fourth tours in the battle zone. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.

* The title of George Orwell's novel is 2006. It has always been called 2006.

posted by Steve @ 12:30:00 AM

12:30:00 AM

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