The Kochevik Future -- Part 2, Inverting 1984

"Inversion" is a big part of what's required to understand the Kockevik Vision.

Their version of Libertarianism is an inversion of liberty. Their version of democracy is an inversion of democracy. Their version of creative destruction is an inversion of Marxist understanding. So on and so forth.

Chris Hedges is one of those who has come to the conclusion that the United States, for all intents and purposes, operates on the basis of "Inverted Totalitarianism."

Right here and right now. It means that in many ways we're already living in the Kochevik Dystopian Future. The question is, how do we get out of it.

1984 of course is George Orwell's vision of a dystopian future based on what he could see from his perspective in Britain during and after the Second World War. The trend toward some kind of totalitarian future was very apparent at the time, and the strongest example available -- apart from the internal operations of the His Majesty's Government, which Orwell was very familiar with from personal experience -- was that of the Soviet Union.

Using his considerable skills and imagination, he engaged in a "what if" exercise positing a Future Britain, as part of a EurAsian Union, that practices a particularly British form of Stalinism. It's been a fascinating exploration ever since the publication of the of the book in 1949.

So often we point to factors in our contemporary reality that seem to resemble Orwell's long ago vision of 1984, but remember: Orwell was basing his vision on what he knew was already in place in the Ministries and Offices of His Majesty's Government. It's not that it was Stalinist (even under the heaviest Labour boot, it was never that, and it isn't now). It was that it was tending to adopt the forms and practices of totalitarian regimes, particularly that of the Soviet Union, but influenced by the recently defeated German Reich as well.

This is something we might forget: the core of what isnow was in place long ago. And where we are now is not necessarily where we think we are.

Here's an RT video interview of Chris Hedges from, I believe, January 2010, in which he discusses his notions of what's really going on and the idea of "inversion". It's well worth the time to watch it:

But then I think most anything Chris Hedges has to say these days is worth the time and trouble to read or listen to.

Hedges, like Orwell, speaks from his experience on the Inside. Experience and knowledge is something the Kocheviks reject, and anyone who expresses an opinion from a basis of personal knowledge and experience of our institution, be they corporate, media, or government, is failing to show appropriate "humility", and thus is subject to accusations of "arrogance" and "condescension." You can see the outlines of this contempt for actual knowledge and experience in the attitudes and behavior of many of the characters in 1984. "Knowing things" was in many ways a crime. "Ignorance is Srength."

That is a part of the KochoVision of the Future. Review Charles Koch's 1997 speech in which he says that:

If the free market is a discovery process then discovery institutions are needed — ones whose structure and culture are conducive to discovery. To bring about discovery, people must be selected, first and foremost, on values and talents, rather than credentials or how well they test. Among the values critical to discovery is humility. Humility is required for learning and sharing knowledge. As Daniel J. Boorstin put it: "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."

It's a not-so-subtle way of discounting actual knowledge, skills and training and substituting amorphous qualities such as "values" (and that means?) and "talent" (unspecified, of course). Using the typical inversion trick, the correct interpretation of the Boorstein quote is that "Knowledge IS illusion."

Humility is a "value" critical to discovery? So in the inverted world of the Kocheviks, their heroes, like Columbus and Newton, were "humble." The bully-boys over at Reason magazine are "humble." The Kochs themselves are "humble." This is difficult to reconcile with their behavior unless you understand "humility" the way they do: maintaining a low public profile until "discovery" is announced and confirmed.

Actions and behavior isn't "humble". Humility is a matter of staying out of the spotlight glare of the public. You can't make "discoveries" if you're focused on your public profile. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't have any public profile. It's merely a message not to make it the focus of your life, and not -- in any case -- to reveal too much too soon.

By reflecting on so much that has gone wrong in recent times, or on the incompetence of the Bushevik regime (which seemed to be following quite a few of the Kochevik dicta) we see that Ignorance is really and truly valued by those at the Top; they seem to revel in it and to encourage the maintenance of Ignorance in their underlings. We see, too, how "humility" works with people like John Yoo and David Addington who stayed in the shadows while "discovering" whole new bodies of law and legal interpretations that enabled an authoritarian torture regime operated out of the White House itself.

We see it too in the monumental failures of the financial sector and its Government regulators. Ignorance and humility were rampant, as they still are.

We can go on and on and see that the concept of "Ignorance Is Strength" is everywhere in government and the financial sector. And all of us are suffering for it. Well, not all. Wall Street and the Financial Sector are doing fine. Better than ever. Which is the point.

Orwell gave us a vision of the future based on what he saw and knew in 1949; the Kochevik Future Vision comes from what grampa Fred knew directly of the Soviet Union under Stalin (it made him rich for one thing, and that can have a profound influence on how one sees the Future); it's based on how he inverted Marxism and Stalinism in his Vision for the John Birch Society. As bizarre as it was back in the '50's and '60's it was more or less (mostly less) comprehensible as a warped mirror image of the Soviet Communism -- and its many bizarrities -- at the time. Birchers were just as authoritarian, just as mindless in their loyalties, just as determined to "Take Over the World." Birchers saw themselves as the opposites of Soviets but they were more like an Inversion of them.

Orwell's 1984 is a straightforward version of a Totalitarian Future. The Inverted Totalitarianism we're in now does not resemble the Totalitarianism of the past; no, it resembles the democratic republic we've always known. Except it doesn't work. Not from ground level at any rate. Of course. It's not supposed to. All it does is resemble the democratic republic we used to have (I'm so old I remember!).

It is actually ruled from as exclusive a politburo as the Soviet Union once boasted, and the People's Republic of China still has. Rule is not a matter of Party any more, it is a matter of status. One achieves Rulership when one acquires a certain level of wealth, sway over the masses, and an interest in political matters. As long as the task is approached with Ignorance and Humility, what's to worry, right?

We are already living in the Kochevik Dystopian Future. It almost seems normal if a bit daft. But that's the point.