Thursday, 10 December 2009

Obama, Nobel & Hope

“With your feet on the air
And your head on the ground,
Try this trick, and spin it. Yeah. YEAH!”

Pixies – Where Is My Mind?

We are truly living in the age of Newspeak. In the novel 1984, Orwell’s Big Brother reinforced his message that “War is Peace.” Throughout the War on Terrorism the American population has been continually reminded that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are being waged so as to assure peace in the Homeland. War is Peace. It is no different in the UK; Brown habitually speaks of “the security of our country” in relation to the ongoing hostilities in both theatres.
When announcing the deployment of 30,000 extra troops to fight in Afghanistan, at the Military Academy at West Point, that nursery of belligerents, President Barack Obama gave us a Newspeak twist on a familiar phrase. He stated,
“We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes."
Right makes might. He was quoting the closing lines of Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Cooper Union Address concerning the abolition of slavery. It is a clever reference point, Lincoln went on to take the presidency and abolish slavery, now, 149 years later, the first black president uses his words to strengthen the morality of his decision to deploy troops.
“Might makes right” was first used by the American abolitionist Adin Ballou in 1846 to deride the warmongering of politicians. Ballou was a pacifist. His distillation of human nature into a three-word sound bite has now been contorted so as to reinforce the message of war. This is spin at its most devious, take a well-known sentiment and twist it so that its sense is reversed. But, what is truly impressive about this piece of spin is the fact it gives the audience the illusion that the government’s course of action has been morally sanctioned. We all know that “might makes right” is wrong, but “right makes might” gives the casual listener the impression that the use of force has been justified. We are in the right. This is a just war.

It is no longer just words that are being spun; events are contorted so as to buttress the new world order. Obama has accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace. The surge was officially confirmed in the weeks between the announcement of his winning, and his receiving of the award today. Not an auspicious beginning to this laureate’s record. Ostensibly we are told that the Nobel committee chose Obama in recognition of his agenda, believing that to award him the prize now will anticipate the realisation of his intentions. It is an award of hope, the very idea that carried Obama’s election campaign. Hope, all that remains in the jar after the evils and ills have already been released.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Cuckoo's Post

I have always wanted two passports but for now I content myself with my many email addresses. Four at the last count. And then there are the sites I manage, a blog, a myspace page, the authonomy profile. For each of these locations an avatar, a screen name, a password. It gets difficult to keep track of all this information, perhaps our children are already adapting, but I began with pen and paper – and it wasn’t that long ago.
Now, what are the odds that one of my sign in names and another of my passwords, to me unrelated, in fact correspond to those chosen by a different web user? Highly improbable perhaps, but not impossible.
Let us for the moment imagine that I mistakenly enter these corresponding units of information and arrive at someone else’s page. Would I click back and try again, or would I snoop? Would I tinker? What would you do?
Of course I haven’t actually written this entry, not the “I” you think I am. The owner of this page is in for a surprise.
Maybe he will like it.