An interesting dichotomy; on one hand you have the word collectivism, which implies collective national ownership by the people, then there's the antithetical oligarchy--the rule by the few.

If history hadn't provided us with so many examples of this inversion in practice, I might reserve some doubts. Sadly, one need only look at the PRC for evidence of a society wherein everyone has been assimilated into the collective (read: the state), under the rule of a small governing body (read: the military elite).

Orwell employed this term in 1984 in the chapter entitled, "Goldstein's Book; The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism."

Orwell stretched the conventional meaning I've outlined above to include a further betrayal through the collusion of the leaders of the world's superpowers against their own people--that their main interest is the preservation of their supreme power, and the continuation of the status quo; to pretend to be at war with one another, all the while these wars only take place in buffer zones. These mock battles, or war games serve the purpose of expending the surplus of national labor on military hardware so as to keep the citizens impoverished and powerless. The idea being, if the citizenry is kept at the survival level, they will be unable to educate themselves to the level wherein they could understand and challenge the system.

This is the essence of the concept of "big brother." What is curious, is that Orwell's relative lack of skill as a writer made this vision a bit too crude; consequently it's difficult for people to draw adequate parallels to the present state of affairs--The fact is, there are many viable parallels between Orwell's paradigm and modern society.

The promises of the industrial revolution were less work, more free time. Machines would supplant human labor, leading to a utopian society where everyone is educated and happy.

Where we are now is somewhere in between that Utopia and Orwell's dystopia--what I like to think of as a bastardized hybrid of the Roman Empire and totalitarianism. You see capitalism has a lot of commonalities with the former Roman Empire, foremost of these being population pacification methodologies. In Roman times they pacified the people through bacchanalian orgies and brutal spectator sports; through this corruption, they undermined the upper and middle classes' ability to question or challenge the system intellectually (as was the case in Socratic Greece). From a religious standpoint, one could label this phenomenon as the Babylon factor – the moral corruption of a nation's populace through materialism and hedonism; the worshiping of false idols, and the celebration of wealth and possessions above spirituality. If eat, drink and be merry be the order of the day, then there's no room to foment the sort of internal dissent that is characteristic of totalitarian regimes which repress such liberties.

However, this is not to say that such Babylonian societies aren't restrictive of liberty, sometimes it's just hard to hear the sound of jack boots and machine guns above the noise of the party--a noise that many may hear on some level, but what's important is what you do when you hear this sound. Dr. King wrote of this problem in Letter from the Birmingham Jail:

... the white moderate
who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a
negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive
peace which is the presence of justice...

The question of "order" versus "peace" is an old theme. Will you trade your liberty for the security of Order, for trains that run on time--or do you risk your liberty for a just society, for true Peace. For many this question doesn't consciously manifest itself; Life inside the fishbowl being an all consuming thing, after all.

to be continued...

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