History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes Mark Twain
Sometimes it’s kind of cute and funny when life imitates art. Other times it’s damn near terrifying, and this is one of those times Trump’s actions over the last few days have given an almost eerie authenticity to the novel ‘1984’.
For those who have forgotten Lit 101, 1984 is George Orwell’s iconic dystopian novel set in the year 1984. There are three superpowers, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. All media is strictly government controlled. The three superpowers live in a state of constant conflict to keep the masses fearful and subservient. Therefore, Oceania’s Goebbelsesque “news” announcer will screech “Oceania is at war with Eurasia, and has always been at war with Eurasia!”, only to scream the next week that “Oceania is at war with Eastasia, and has always been at war with Eastasia!”. To the population, it’s all “Whatever you say Jack.”
North Korea has literally been ‘1984’ writ puny for more than 50 years. Oceania was ruled by a stern but benevolent leader named “Big Brother.” Oceania was actually ruled by a shifting group of oligarchs, Big Brother was nothing but a recognizable and reassuring face on posters. The oligarchs may change, but Big Brother was constant.
North Korea has been ruled since it’s creation by “Dear Leader.” It is actually the three generations of the Kim dynasty, Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il, and now his Grandson Kim Jong-un. But all three have been graced by the title of “Dear Leader.” state media is strictly scripted, and reception or consumption of outside media is a punishable offense.
Starting in grade school, children are taught of the glorious struggle of the Korean people against the great oppressor, the United States. “We are at war with the United States, and we have always been at war with the United States!” One of the North’s greatest treasures of heritage is the USS Pueblo, as US spy ship pirated and shanghaied by North Korea in 1968,. It is now a national museum, and a great source of national pride.
But now, with the ascension of an addle pated moron to the US Presidency, Kim Jong-un sees an opportunity to explode onto the world stage, and legitimacy for himself and his country. North Korean press coverage of the impending summit between Kim and Trump has been a sight to behold. Overnight, the United States has gone from being an existential enemy to an acceptable recipient of North Korean largesse. The days of “North Korea is at war with the US, and has always been at war with the US” is fast disappearing, all drummed into the ears of a bovine populace. But should things falter, the old lines are waiting, ready to be screamed out again.
One would expect nothing more or less of North Korea, but the United States? For more than the same 50 years, Russia has been our greatest enemy and geopolitical foe. “We are at war with Russia, and we have always been at war with Russia” is the unspoken undercurrent. Canada, the UK, and the EU are our allies, and have always been our allies. Not anymore, the G-7 summit put a headstone on that grave. Now it’s all “Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?”, and “Russia should have a seat at the bargaining table” of the G-7. Now, you’re more likely to hear “We’re at war with Canada, the UK, and the EU, and we’ve always been at war with Canada, the UK, and the EU! They’ve been taking advantage of us for decades!” This is now the “official” mantra of the President of the United States, and his hand picked shills.
At this point, the only things that are saving this country from the fate of North Korea are the judicial system, and a robust and free press. The courts are pushing back hard at Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, and the press is finally beginning to use the word “lie” to describe pretty much every word that comes out of the Trump administrations mouth, and reminding the people that there are actually such things as “facts” out there. But the press is at best fighting a holding action. Polling shows that more and more people in this country are beginning to believe “The Big Lie,” Trump may not know jack shit about history, but he has media and emotional manipulation down stone cold. People are starting to succumb to the endless drumbeat of “No collusion!”, and “Witch hunt!” out of pure exhaustion. And now Trump is starting his revisionist history on international affairs. Kim Jong-un is “Honorable,” and witty,” and a “great leader,” and Justin Trudeau is “deceitful and weak.”
If you have never read ‘1984’, you might want to pick up a copy and give it a go. And if you only read it back in high school, you might want to reread it. Because, if Trump has his way, you’ll be reading our future.