“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance-it is the illusion of knowledge.”-Daniel Boorstin

In George Orwell’s 1984 the Outer Party comprised a mere thirteen percent of the population and was subject to the ideological filters in play at the Ministry of Truth and the broader bureaucratic structure. A specific language and way of thinking were closely adhered to. Given their political import, Outer Party members were the most heavily indoctrinated and controlled inhabitants of Oceania. The majority Proles who constituted the remainder of the population was of little consequence so long as their political awareness remained underdeveloped.

While its members withstood more austere conditions, 1984‘s Outer Party is roughly tantamount to those who in our society are the well-informed, college-educated professionals; those whose duty it is to adhere to the ready-made opinion available in the major agenda setting journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio, where news is carefully selected, crafted, and presented. Such information is then disseminated to the masses via actors in summary capsule form on cable and broadcast television platforms.

Mystified by its own credentials, surrounded by peers who conceive of reality along similar lines, and underscored by the corporate media’s overwhelming tide of disinformation, much of today’s professional class is impervious to “rumors” and “conspiracy theories” that all too often captivate the sordid masses—from unreasonable suspicion over mysterious terrorist attacks to the poorly-informed questions surrounding their leader’s hidden background. Much like the expert officials and agenda setting outlets they look to for prepared interpretations of the world, the opinion leading class’ constituents understand themselves as above all well informed, similarly disinterested and unmoved by groundless passion.

In fact, the programming necessary to attain such a degree of self-assuredness often tends to distance one from reality. For example, revulsion towards war in the United States has historically tended to run strongest among those who have escaped the heavy indoctrination of the professional class—those members of the non-or semi-skilled, working class majority. As historian Howard Zinn observes,

“[I]n surveys of public opinion during the [Vietnam War], it was inevitably shown that people with the highest education—college graduates—were the most supportive of the war. People who had not graduated from high school were the ones most against the war. This is a surprising figure because most people thought the anti-war movement consisted of intellectuals and students and college professors. While those people were most visible in the anti-war movement, public opinion against the war was concentrated in the least educated classes.”

Recent public opinion indicators point to the enduring nature of antiwar sentiment. For example, a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press shows that on March 19, 2011, one week before President Obama announced the NATO bombing of Libya, 77% of the US public opposed the destruction of the country’s air defenses. Polling one year later revealed a 62% majority against NATO “bombing Syrian military forces to protect anti-government groups in Syria,” even though almost the same percentage (64%) admitted to having heard “little” or “nothing at all” on “recent political violence in Syria.”

May we thus safely conclude that a majority of the population despite ceaseless propaganda still recognizes how war remains the supreme crime and the greatest demarcation between master and slave? “If there was hope, it must lie in the Proles,” Orwell wrote, “because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.”

Republished at GlobalResearch.ca on August 26, 2012.

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6 thought on ““If There was Hope, it must Lie in the Proles””
  1. Forty five years ago employment prospects were hardly as dim as they are today, this before years of deindustrialization and reduced buying power for US working people. Is there really a difference between de facto and de jure conscription, aside from the potential for a social movement?

  2. Gidday James

    To my knowledge, you are the first of the ‘educated class’ to comprehend the real (demographic) nature of opposition to the Vietnam War. NZ withdrew from that war a year before Australia, which was two years before the US. Australia had conscription but NZ did not, which is significant. It should have been the other way around. This is because the anti-war movement in NZ was led by young working class kids, known as the Progressive Youth Movement (the dreaded PYM). The media and government were convinced PYM’s revolutionary membership was around 35,000 and there were police attempts to kill us. We won over the young police (working class, once again), the military vets and, eventually, the public. Most of our marchers in the protests were uni students but few had any idea what it was all about. They were our cannon fodder. We made sure that we had an irresistable mistique (we looked like Hells Angels), which attracted girls like flies to honey; therefore, all male humanities students quickly realised that to not grow ones hair and protest was to be celibate.

    In addition to the PYM, there were the anarchists… violent working class guys who knew how to terrorise military bureaucrats and installations, and even Skyhawkes; and there were also fringe working class kids whose only asset was charisma (ironically, one of these is now the mayor of Invercargill, NZ; Tim Shadbolt).

    Now for the truth… the three linchpins of PYM were Communists, and my brother and I infiltrated the Communists to learn a few protest techniques. We enjoyed the irony of that, but, Jeez, these guys really knew their stuff. Two were trained by the Albanian Communist party.

    We pressured the right wing government ministers to alienate the public with their extremist views, and on national TV one of our girls beat the government in a debate. I was the one who won over the police, which led to a massive punch-up in Police HQ; but the Commos were the stars and organised us into a platoon and we precision-marched out of the bush at dawn to join the ANZAC parade (we all had school military training). The vets thought we were the new SAS. That day eventually took NZ out of that war.

    And the real numbers of PYM? 12 of us. Three still at school. We were masters of media manipulation, even if we say so… ahem. 35,000! We are still laughing.

    The relevant message today?… I play guitar, write music, and I am writing songs and designing concerts that will politicise our Australian working class kids; 45% of whom have no employment future, aspirations, or even youthful dreams. The music is Metal, R&B, hip hop and bush boogie blues (which ain’t actually been overtly invented yet). This will also precipitate an Aboriginal rebellion out bush, possibly also influenced by the Indonesian killing of Free Papua activists.

    So, James, you are so bloody right. Well done. By all means, if it taakes your fancy, analyse the looming war in Australia. PS: US Prof John Kozy (Ivan) would like your article. Our own academics are useless. Tony, http://www.oziz4oziz.com/

    Tony Ryan

    1. Greetings.
      Thank you for your contribution. Fascinating experiences and observations. You might consider writing a handbook to inspire the “Occupy” and subsequent movements seeking to advocate change. The media are central. I don’t believe many young Americans recognize themselves as working class (or as political, historical beings at all)–perhaps “liberal,” possibly “progressive”–but not working class–which is likely part of the problem. Until such activists realize the extent to which they’ve been hoodwinked and appropriated they’ll repeatedly be led down blind alleys that will tend to disillusion and deter subsequent engagement. Please share info if possible on where we may find out more about your musical endeavors.

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