June 27, 2017

"Keeping his own gray suit immaculate and his tone emotionless, O'Brien calls intermittently on a team of hazmat-suited torturers, issuing such concise instructions as 'Fingertips' or 'Teeth.'"

"Bursts of strobing light and jackhammer sound effects follow those orders, but even though we see the bloody aftermath and not the acts, the carnage is not for the faint of heart. Even worse is the ghastly anticipation fed by O'Brien's one vivid description of the ultimate torture, which plays on Winston's pathological fear of rats to make him surrender all sense of self.... There's no doubt that this imaginative production conveys the claustrophobic terror of a totalitarian state. But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

From a review of a New York play based on Orwell's "1984."

From "Why Broadway's '1984' Audiences Are Fainting, Vomiting and Getting Arrested":
The cast knew how the shocking scenes would be presented, but “it wasn’t until we got in front of an audience, when I saw and heard people responding, that I was suddenly aware of how powerful it was,” said Reed Birney, who has previously yelled back at a ticketholder who pleaded for his character to stop the torture. Meanwhile, Tom Sturridge, whose character bleeds heavily while being electrocuted, told THR that he makes a point of staring into the eyes of individual audience members, calling them “complicit” as they watch him suffer onstage.
That seems to be inciting audience members to come up on stage and save the character. I'm thinking of that protest at the "Julius Caesar" performance recently where a woman went up on the stage and denounced the performance. Here, the actors are breaking the 4th wall and begging the people in the audience for help. 

114 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

"But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

"Us."

We know who we are.

I am Laslo.

Marc Puckett said...

Read about this in the Guardian yesterday, and don't recall the directors' comments there. They sound like... true pieces of work. But doubtless ticket sales are up.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

That sounds very unpleasant and manipulative.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

A single performance is a tragedy. A million performances is a lucrative career.

rhhardin said...

Goffman has a description of a stage show gone wrong somewhere in Frame Analysis. It's a big book, probably can't find it.

Ah google books. I remember the phrase "would have to be careful" and it's on p122

London - Actress Vanessa Redgrave, 30, stunned a packed theater here by ripping away the opt of her stage costume and dancing around half-naked.

Movie camera rolled, recording Miss Redgrave's dance and the embarrassed reactions of the richly-dressed audience - all paid film extras who had no previous hint of what would happen.

It happened Wednesday as one scene in her new picture "Isadora"...

Description here would have to be careful. The movie Isadora is a "real" movie, not a faked one, except for one bit in it which is not genuine cinema, having been produced by a real set producing not scripted response but the real thing. Indeed, a further twist can occur : it has been argued by poker players that the best bluff is an unintentional one, that is, an individual's playing conduct following upon his misidentifying his own holdings. Here, again, is straight activity which functions in the scene as a bluff.

_Frame Analysis_ p.122-123

read it in 1979.

Caroline Walker said...

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

roesch/voltaire said...

Jerzy Grotowski envisioned an emotional physical theater that would confront his audiences, as this play seems to do. I know several folks who can not attend any play because the physicality of the actors causes them great anxiety.

clint said...

This seems like a natural extension of the "torture porn" sub-genre of horror movies that followed in the wake of Saw.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Let's see: 1984 is about a totalitarian government which exercises ruthless control over every aspect of the lives of its' subjects. It demands they worship Big Brother, and by extension, the State. Winston works for the Ministry of Information, an arm of the government. The government divides the population into Party and non-Party members (working class degenerates) and Party members into the mindless drones and the comfortable elites. The Party spies on its members, even to the point of ensuring they do their morning exercises.

And the Left takes this as a statement about Trump.

The projection is simply astounding. The "deplorables" want mainly to be left alone. The fans of statism and bloated government are warning us about totalitarianism.

exiledonmainstreet said...

It's basically Grand Guignol given a predictably anti-Trump gloss.

"At the Grand Guignol, patrons would see five or six plays, all in a style that attempted to be brutally true to the theatre's naturalistic ideals. The horrors depicted at Grand Guignol were generally not supernatural; these plays often explored the altered states, like insanity, hypnosis, or panic, under which uncontrolled horror could happen.

Le Laboratoire des Hallucinations, by André de Lorde: When a doctor finds his wife's lover in his operating room, he performs a graphic brain surgery, rendering the adulterer a hallucinating semi-zombie. Now insane, the lover/patient hammers a chisel into the doctor's brain.

Un Crime dans une Maison de Fous, by André de Lorde: Two hags in an insane asylum use scissors to blind a pretty, young fellow inmate out of jealousy.

L'Horrible Passion, by André de Lorde: A nanny strangles the children in her care.

Le Baiser dans la Nuit, by Maurice Level: A young woman visits the man whose face she horribly disfigured with acid, where he obtains his revenge."

Titus said...

OMG, I have to go. Fuck Hello Dolly with Bette which seems to be a requirement with my friends.

Chuck said...

I recall "O'Brien" as a mythical character on a Seinfeld episode:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limo_(Seinfeld)

And speaking of New York fiction, I have to wonder if Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom were the producers for this thing.

n.n said...

It's a dramatic parody of Planned Parenthood, where business suits and dresses are replaced with hazmat attire.

If the truth were known. It is known. It has been exposed, repeatedly, over a multidecadal period. And yet, they persist.

Another parody that will not be named: She Chose. She conceived. She aborted.

YoungHegelian said...

But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

Snowflakes, who yearn for the dignity of one day graduating to broflakes.

@exile,

It's basically Grand Guignol given a predictably anti-Trump gloss.

Yep, that was the first thought out of my febrile cranium.

Twisted minds think alike.

traditionalguy said...

Orwell could not be more relevant than today. The Computer software has caught up to the hardware, and The State run by Big Brother explained by Orwell is at the door and ready to go. But then the difficult Donald came out firing American Nationalism , which is the enemy of Big Brother's Rome Redux. Great treatment in Churchill and Orwell, by Thomas Ricks. He goes into the individuals men who effectively branded Stalin's State.

Kevin said...

"Here, the actors are breaking the 4th wall and begging the people in the audience for help."

It's not the acts themselves which are the issue, only who is doing them and who we perceive is the receiver.

Our selective moral outrage on full display.

Kevin said...

"Orwell could not be more relevant than today."

Orwell was just as relevant a year ago. People were aghast if you suggested it however.

Fernandinande said...

Well, they waited all the way until the end of the first paragraph to mention Trump.

To the reviewer,

"You're so vain,
you probably think this play isn't about you."

Chuck said...

lol!

I looked up the script to the Seinfeld episode ("The Limo"). It is that episode where George and Jerry cheekily pretend to be people they did not know ("O'Brien" and "Murphy") to get a free cab ride back into Manhattan from the airport. Not knowing that "O'Brien" was the mysterious leader of an Aryan cult movement who was so secretive nobody knew what he looked like. And of course they eventually drove right into a massive protest, where people who Jerry and George knew from their neighborhood were protest participants.

While in the limo, George begins to read a bit of the speech that was intended for "O'Brien." This cracked me up, in 2016-17. From the online script to the Seinfeld episode, "The Limo":

Cut back to the limo, George is reading from O'Brien's speech.

George: ...and the Jews steal our money through their Zionist occupied
government and use the black man to bring drugs into our oppressed white
minority communities.

Jerry: You're not going to open with that, are you?


"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime... and some of them are good people, I presume..."
"The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day..."

Nonapod said...

My first thought when reading that title was, man, sounds like Conan O'Brien's show has gotten super grim.

That has seldom been truer than in Trump's America, where alternative facts are the new Newspeak... There are obvious reasons why the 68-year-old novel went racing back up the best-seller charts soon after Donald Trump's inauguration.

Yeah, we've totally become a complete dystopian hellscape and stuff. Good grief. I don't know why I'm still amazed by the utter and complete disconnection Hollywood has with reality. It's truly surreal.

traditionalguy said...

Orwell observed the re-write of History was the Controll method of The State. Boy has that come true. IIR he says he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past. (E.g., Global temperature data history) . Obama should pay Royalties to Orwell.

Again, don't miss an historian's excellent work, Understanding Trump, by Gingrich. It is far more than a light political book. It is good in depth historian's writing.

John said...

How many commenters here have a Echo or Alexa in their houses? Or a smart refrigerator that is always listening to you? Or a webcam either on laptop or other device.

How are these different from Orwell's telescreen?

Yet nobody forced you to have the devices, chances are you paid or paid extra for them.

There was an early film of 1984 which I saw as at 14 or 15 years old. There was a scene of the cage with the rats on Smith's face as Smith saw it. And a description of how, once the partition was raised, the rats would first go for his eyeballs.

Gave me nightmares for years.

What a bunch of pansies these theatergoers are.

Don't they know the first thing about Orwell's book?

For those who do not remember, the govt in the book was called "IngSoc" which was newspeak for "English Socialism". Socialism is always thus. It's baked into socialism's DNA.

John Henry

John said...

Speaking of the murderousness of socialism, perhaps I should point out that only one country has ever had an explicitly Fascist government. That would have been Italy under Mussolini.

He was no day at the beach and certainly murdered more than his share of people. But there was no mass murder on the scale of other socialist governments in Russia, Germany, China, Cambodia and other socialist paradises.

Perhaps Mussolini's Fascism is the exception to the rule that all socialist governments descend into mass murder as a political means. (Yes, Fascism was socialist by any definition of the word socialist)

John Henry

John said...


Blogger traditionalguy said...

he says he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past.

There was a good line in Fargo last week where Varga says "It is the past that is unpredictable." And attributed it to the Russians but also said he could have been making it up.

That was pretty much Orwell's point. Smith's job was revising the past to keep up with current political truths.


John Henry

eric said...

Blogger Chuck said...
lol!

I looked up the script to the Seinfeld episode ("The Limo").


For awhile I believed you when you said you voted for Trump.

But now I'm thinking, there is no way a guy who hates Trump as much as Chuck does ever voted for the guy. You're obsessed.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Actually, I've thought we're headed more in the direction of "Brave New World" rather than "1984." Here's your Soma. Be happy. Let us run things for you.

Virtually Unknown said...

It was nothing like 1984 when they blasted Democratic Party talking points at me the whole time I was at the airport.

Nor when Obama was using the IRS and NSA to spy on political opponents.

Democrat hyper-billionaire donors who have monetized our private lives? Naah!

But somebody tries to make the government smaller!

exiledonmainstreet said...

chuck thinks a guy with a Jewish SIL, a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren is an anti-Semite. Well, that's what MSNBC tells him, anyway.

Yeah, he's obsessed.

Bob Boyd said...

"Actually, I've thought we're headed more in the direction of "Brave New World" rather than "1984." Here's your Soma. Be happy. Let us run things for you."

That was the plan, but too many people won't take their Soma.

Achilles said...

"But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

The leftist continued to complain:

"We were so close! Hillary was ahead in the polls. The FBI, CIA, IRS, NSA, EPA and all the other necessary agencies were all on board. Obama had even been sending them after those deplorable irredeemable conservatives for years. A few more years and we would have had anyone who opposed us under investigation or in jail.

Now look at us. Our people in the FBI have been outted. Lynch is going to be investigated for whitewashing Hillary's server. We can't force people to by insurance anymore. And we were able to tap all of their phone calls and electronic communications. They are finding out just how far Obama had moved forward.

Why must they have a play where the state gets to torture and persecute conservatives... err political enemies... We were so close!"

Virtually Unknown said...

Trump got in hot water in Palm Beach for opening his club to Jews and Blacks when he bought it, but people who think cheap oil is making the big oil companies rich will believe anything. Anxiety, envy, class hatred, these are the base emotions the Democrats exploit.

Virtually Unknown said...

Adams is right, logic is irrelevant.

Virtually Unknown said...

I bet you would find very little daylight between Hubert Humphrey and Trump.

Paddy O said...

Are there any plays based on Animal Farm? I liked that book a lot better and it'd be fun having actors dressed as animals on stage, including a pantomime horse. Until the end of the play when it gets less fun, especially for the pantomime horse.

I think such a play would be instructive.

robother said...

Facebook, so much cleverer than the 1984 monitors. Everyone self-reports their political/social/familial selves which is monitored only by their friends, and of course Facebook algorithms. Thank goodness, Mark Zuckerberg has no interest in governmental power. Oh wait....

Ralph L said...

Strobe lights and jackhammer sounds would probably make me vomit.
Especially if I'd paid to have them inflicted.

Ralph L said...

Someday, someone will search this blog for vomit and urine posts, and Althouse has made it super easy for them.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread,...

That right there earns the vomit tag.

tola'at sfarim said...

cant they just stick to waterboarding?

Chuck said...

eric said...
...
For awhile I believed you when you said you voted for Trump.

But now I'm thinking, there is no way a guy who hates Trump as much as Chuck does ever voted for the guy. You're obsessed.


I promise you that I did. I swear it. If there were an easy way to prove it, and if it was worth my while to do it, I'd ask for a certified copy of my 2016 general election ballot (it is an absentee ballot, and so there is absolutely a hard copy) to prove it. I don't know why anyone would doubt it.

In fact, in Michigan, we are among that tiny minority of states that allow "straight-ticket" voting. And so not only did I vote for Trump-Pence, but I did it without having to put a mark next to Trump's goddamned name. I voted the straight Republican ballot in the partisan section.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Don't they know the first thing about Orwell's book?"
I don't believe that any of the journos who have tried to link Trump to Nineteen Eighty-Four has actually read the book. There is a hard break between Trump style populism and totalitarianism. Big Brother was not populist. That would have placed some arbitrary limit on his power. Big Brother's goal was absolute obedience. Big Brother wanted to look at the world and see nothing that was not Big Brother. That is why the crime of Winston was to love Julia. It implied that there could be a secret mental space Big Brother could not enter.
This is elementary.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

Bunch of BigBroflakes.

(In the audience, that is. But what are we gonna call the irrational fear of/taking offense at Trump, leading to demands for suppression etc. -- Doflakes? At which point -flake goes the way of -gate.)

n.n said...

Waterboarding?

Not without abortion and cannibalism to secure lucrative parts. Also normalization of weird and depraved orientations in order to reduce human beings to their base desires and debase human life. For a clean, green environment, fit for minority fitness, no less.

Think progressive liberalism as in long-term divergence with strategic ulterior motives.

n.n said...

current political truths

It's characterized as myths, which may be true in part or in whole, but resist assertions of truth or lies, and are adopted as articles of faith.

n.n said...

there was no mass murder on the scale of other socialist governments

Religious/moral philosophy (i.e. behavioral protocols) for people capable of self-moderating responsible behavior. Competing interests to mitigate the consequences of others running amuck. The progressive slope is a breakdown of morality and reduction of competing interests.

Michael K said...

How many leftists realize that Orwell got the idea for 1984 from working at the BBC?

n.n said...

I wonder how many refugees underwent a witch's trial while following the trail of tears from a chaotic Libya, Syria, etc.

TerriW said...

And yet, this isn't exactly Clockwork Orange. Everyone was there (more or less) by choice, and any showings after opening night had spoilers available.

I guess there's a healthy market for that sort of thing these days?

n.n said...

Our people in the FBI have been outted. Lynch is going to be investigated ... finding out just how far Obama had moved Forward

McCarthy could have only dreamed of such extraordinary arrogance and desperation that would force a progressive self-outing.

Still, don't discount overlapping, convergent, and self-interest to keep the narratives in play and hope that the ball of yarns will not unravel with catastrophic anthropogenic explosive force.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Michael K said...
How many leftists realize that Orwell got the idea for 1984 from working at the BBC?"

Also, the grimy, drab London of 1984 (chocolate rations, dull razor blades) was based on immediate post-war England, where austerity measures were in effect years after they ended in the US.

Although it could just as easily be based on the USSR, with the comrades lined up for hours to buy TP and cardboard shoes.



HoodlumDoodlum said...

"especially right now."

So predictable.

What did the Soc in IngSoc stand for, again? Nevermind, nevermind.

Mark said...

1984 -- the story in the book -- is not particularly bloody or otherwise physically violent. Big Brother uses instruments of mental torture, not physical.

Bay Area Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee said...

How could even the most clueless SJW read the Newspeak appendix and not instantly recognize themselves? Just incredible.

Bay Area Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bay Area Guy said...

1984" is an incredibly epic book. It's a legend.

Anytime it is read or made into a play or movie the forces of good get a small incremental victory.

Now, I hope, if it is made into a play, its message doesn't get lost with gratuitous violence. The message of the book isn't "violence is bad." That's trite.

The message of the book, is that there is a Communist country, the USSR, that had a policy and practice of destroying truth in order to destroy freedom. That's what Orwell was writing about -- the evils of Communism.

If you learn that lesson, you get a gold star.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Mark said...
. . . Big Brother uses instruments of mental torture, not physical.

But when violent acts by Big Brother are described, they are brutal and unrestrained.

pious agnostic said...

I'm reminded of that episode of Blackadder where the Prince is watching a production of Julius Caesar, and, not understanding the point of theater, kept calling out "Look behind you, Mr. Caesar!"

exiledonmainstreet said...

At least a few of the people who would faint and scream if they saw this production were indifferent, or positively gleeful about what happened to the young man who died after being tortured by the North Korean dictatorship - because of white frat boy privilege.

Is Winston played by a black Muslim lesbian? No? Well, then, stop your screaming.

buwaya said...

"The message of the book, is that there is a Communist country, the USSR, that had a policy and practice of destroying truth in order to destroy freedom."

Orwell was a lot more sophisticated than that. It wasn't the communists he was after (of course, they were one lot in his sights), but the overpowering and hypocritical welfare-state that seemed the modern trend. A lot of his dystopian details are from the postwar British government-managed economy and the consequent deprivations, plus the inescapable leftist-Labor party cant.

tcrosse said...

I'm reminded of that episode of Blackadder where the Prince is watching a production of Julius Caesar, and, not understanding the point of theater, kept calling out "Look behind you, Mr. Caesar!"

That's one of the conventions of childrens Panto in the UK. Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle used it, too.

Robert Cook said...

"Orwell was a lot more sophisticated than that. It wasn't the communists he was after (of course, they were one lot in his sights), but the overpowering and hypocritical welfare-state that seemed the modern trend. A lot of his dystopian details are from the postwar British government-managed economy and the consequent deprivations, plus the inescapable leftist-Labor party cant."

Nonetheless, Orwell was a leftist. There's no better critic of the failings of any system or ideology than one who is invested in it and knows it well.

Michael K said...

"It wasn't the communists he was after"

It was the soulless BBC.

Neville Shute Norway, a favorite author, wrote several novels about the Britain of the Socialists and finally emigrated to Australia.

He is still very popular almost 60 years after his death,

Robert Cook said...

"Also, the grimy, drab London of 1984 (chocolate rations, dull razor blades) was based on immediate post-war England, where austerity measures were in effect years after they ended in the US."

It's no wonder, given that England was physically devastated by German bombers, while America itself was not at all touched by any bombs or bullets of the war.

Michael K said...

"Nonetheless, Orwell was a leftist."

Early on, he certainly was.

Later,
In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

Oh yes. A man of the left.

robother said...

Fifty Shades of 1984.

Todd said...

Paddy O said...
Are there any plays based on Animal Farm? I liked that book a lot better and it'd be fun having actors dressed as animals on stage, including a pantomime horse. Until the end of the play when it gets less fun, especially for the pantomime horse.

I think such a play would be instructive.

6/27/17, 10:39 AM


Sorry, just like with the 1984 play and the Caesar play, a Animal Farm play would not be "gotten" by those that really need to "get it".

Michael K said...

"It's no wonder, given that England was physically devastated by German bombers"

Cookie, do you even know who was more devastated than England ?

Germany!

But they were not afflicted with Socialists like Attlee, who Churchill described as "A modest man with much to be modest about."

It was Socialism that kept England poor until long after Germany and Japan had recovered.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Robert Cook,

Nonetheless, Orwell was a leftist. There's no better critic of the failings of any system or ideology than one who is invested in it and knows it well.

The label is less important, but I disagree. Orwell was certainly liberal, and he genuinely had sympathy for socialism.

But, he saw what the Soviet Union was doing in the name of socialism (invading countries, murdering opponents, sending folks to Gulag, no immigration, joining with the Nazis, then fighting them, etc, etc.)

You can see that from his books "Homage to Catalonia" (Soviets causing trouble in Spain), "Animal Farm" and "1984".

So, I would say that Orwell was a liberal anti-Communist. The latter is much more important than the former.

Fen said...

"Back home at the Kit Cat Club you have to pay double for that" - President Walken, West Wing

The Left goes in for Fantasy Torture. And they call *us* deplorable.

Robert Cook said...

Michael K., I am not addressing the matter of politics in the countries devastated by war, but the comment about the lingering austerity measures that persisted in England well after the comparatively milder austerity in the U.S. was lifted at war's end. I'm inclined to assume austerity also persisted in Germany and Japan well after it was lifted in the U.S. Our austerity was really just rationing of resources, while the austerity of the European countries (and Japan) was a result of the physical devastation visited upon them by the war.

Fen said...

I wonder how much they will distort Orwell's work to pretend it is not what it is.

IngSoc doubleplus good - Bernie Sanders

Jim S. said...

That's nice. You're "complicit" if you don't actively do something to stop the bad things from happening. And what are the bad things? Fortunately he tells us: "There's no doubt that this imaginative production conveys the claustrophobic terror of a totalitarian state. But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?" So anything Trump does, basically. You have to actively stop Trump from doing things or you're complicit in the evil. I can't imagine how that could go wrong.

buwaya said...

"England was physically devastated by German bombers"

Not very. Not in any way comparable to the massive destruction in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and of course Germany.

One theory, in fact, for the poor British recovery in the post-war was that their pre-war industrial infrastructure was left intact and did not have to be replaced by new and more efficient technologies. If one wants to go to cases, you can see this in, say, railroads and rolling stock.

buwaya said...

In graphical terms, for comparisons of post-war economic growth, this is instructive -
It is by Brad De Long, who isn't generally a sound analyst, but the data is uncontroversial.

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/Econ_Articles/ucla/ucla_marshall2.html

Fen said...

"Grimey dirty England was based on post-war WW2 devesation and resulting scarcity"

Uh no. It was based on the corruption of Socialism decades into the future. Post war London was likely a good model that Orwell borrowed from to lend his "set" realism and credibility.

But the book was about WW2, it was about the Marxist Utopia the Left is driving us towards.

Fen said...

Book was NOT about WW2, it was about the Marxist Utopia the Left is driving us towards.

William Chadwick said...

"I wonder how much they will distort Orwell's work to pretend it is not what it is.

"IngSoc doubleplus good - Bernie Sanders"

This is the point where someone from the Stupid Left (where Saul Alinsky meets the Dumbest Generation) chimes in with, "You know Orwell was himself a socialist, right?" You know, because you can't quote or refer to an author unless, apparently, you agree with 100% of what he wrote, said and thought.

Fen said...

Oh my bad, whoever I quoted. On a closer read I see now that you didn't mean what I thought. Apologies.

tcrosse said...

"Grimey dirty England was based on post-war WW2 devesation and resulting scarcity"

After WWII Britain was dead broke, and its national debt was 200% of GDP. They owed a lot of money to the USA, and we weren't willing to cut them a break.

Titus said...

I love that Althouse shares stories with the flyovers about NYC. The reaction is so predictable.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Titus. I used to live on the East Coast myself. I was never so unsophisticated that I thought everything on the East Coast was fab just because it was on the East Coast.

You sound like a Wisconsin farm boy who just can't get over the fact that Wow! I'm not in Wisconsin anymore!! And everything here is soooooooo cool!!

Nah. It's not.

buwaya said...

NYC (and for that matter, Boston, NY, San Francisco, etc.) is a terribly parochial place.
Not a lot of actual sophistication in there and they only talk to each other about dreadfully dull things, and their amusements are trite and repetitive.

That wasn't the case once upon a time.

exiledonmainstreet said...

There's also a fair number of Californians here, (buwaya, Bay Area Guy, Drago, and Michael K. just moved from LA) so obviously they are not flyovers.

Not that anybody except you really gives two shits.

tcrosse said...

Nothing worse than a hick who moves to the Big City and thinks he's Hot Shit.

Michael K said...

I am not addressing the matter of politics in the countries devastated by war,

But I was and it was Socialism that kept England poor.

There is a valid point about the industry being less damaged but to pretend that the Socialists did not hold England back from recovery is not supported by evidence,

World War I is where we refused to forgive war debt, not WWII. Lend Lease meant that most war debt was never created.

Fen said...

"shares stories with the flyovers"

Washington D.C. here...

Michael K said...

From the Brag DeLong piece.

The magnitude of the miracle is clear in the graphs of the broadest of macroeconomic aggregates. In West Germany, France, Italy, and even in Great Britain the level of economic product--GDP--per capita exceeded the best performance of the interwar period by the early 1950s. By 1960 all countries' economic product was higher than not just the best interwar performance, but was well above levels that would have been predicted by extrapolating pre-1939 or pre-1914 trends into the indefinite future.

Even Socialism could not completely hold England back but it slowed what would have been growth equal or better then Germany,

Marc Puckett said...

Chuck, Your comment about voting for Mr Trump without actually having to vote for him made me laugh aloud, hearing the disgust in the voice, 'without having to put a mark next to the ----amned name'.

(I would've, if I had to, so am not in your corner here very often; occasionally, however.)

Skipper said...

Who in their right mind would pay money to watch this torture porn?

buwaya said...

"But I was and it was Socialism that kept England poor."

Or poorer than it could have been; there was SOME economic growth in Britain even in the early post-war.

Economic policy, even very bad policy, is less effective than most people realize.
There is a very powerful push from technological advance and cultural capital that forces economic progress, in spite of bad policy. I.e., it is hard to keep the Germans down, you really have to work at it.

A country has to be very badly run and a people terribly corrupted (as with Argentina, say) to kill growth entirely.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Orwell had seen Stalin's stooges at work in Spain and he feared Soviet-style Communism (made even worse and more pervasive because of technology) was the future. In the immediate post-war period, the USSR took over Eastern Europe and would have taken over Western Europe too if not for us.

When Whittaker Chambers broke ranks with the Commies, he thought he was joining the losing side.

Robert Cook said...

Buwaya said:

"Not very. Not in any way comparable to the massive destruction in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and of course Germany."

But certainly more so than in America.

The other point you made may be well taken.

James K said...

but was well above levels that would have been predicted by extrapolating pre-1939 or pre-1914 trends into the indefinite future.

Except that it's stupid to extrapolate trends in the wake of a 15+ year period of depression and war. A country is virtually guaranteed to grow rapidly above the previous trend after periods like that, the more so the greater the destruction. If those graphs were extended past 1990 to the present you'd see them falling back toward the old trend.

Lydia said...

Orwell was essentially against totalitarianism whether of the left or right variety, but his ideas were complicated, as shown in this 1944 letter -- here's some of it:

I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things [totalitarianism, leader-worship etc] are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer. ...

As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom. I believe very deeply, as I explained in my book The Lion and the Unicorn, in the English people and in their capacity to centralise their economy without destroying freedom in doing so. But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering, and there are some bad symptoms to balance the good ones. To begin with there is the general indifference to the decay of democracy. Do you realise, for instance, that no one in England under 26 now has a vote and that so far as one can see the great mass of people of that age don’t give a damn for this? Secondly there is the fact that the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. ...

You also ask, if I think the world tendency is towards Fascism, why do I support the war. It is a choice of evils—I fancy nearly every war is that. I know enough of British imperialism not to like it, but I would support it against Nazism or Japanese imperialism, as the lesser evil. Similarly I would support the USSR against Germany because I think the USSR cannot altogether escape its past and retains enough of the original ideas of the Revolution to make it a more hopeful phenomenon than Nazi Germany. I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.

James K said...

I should add: I'm not saying they didn't do well, but only for a generation, and then the underlying Socialism overtook the postwar recovery boost and relative stagnation kicked in.

The Godfather said...

It's important that Orwell -- that great voice warning us about where communism would lead -- was a man of the left. But he was not the kind of leftist that we've become used to. He had genuine respect and affection for the English middle class as well as for the working class. He would not have called them deplorable. He loved and honored the traditional culture of his country. He got quite passionate about the proper usage of the English language.

But he saw the problems with the English economy and society in his day. Read the Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London, for example. He didn't think the English Establishment (the aristocracy and the jumped-up plutocrats) could or would address those challenges. In Spain as he wrote in Homage to Catalonia he supported the anarcho-syndicalists, who wanted to turn the factories over to the workers not to the state. In the US we've found that a conservative solution is possible to the kind of challenges that Orwell identified. In the UK, Thatcher led in a similar direction, but since then the country seems to have been drifting in the welfare state doldrums.

If our modern American leftists really cared about working together to solve America's problems, Orwell would be a good model for them. But they don't seem to care about that, do they?

exiledonmainstreet said...

"If our modern American leftists really cared about working together to solve America's problems, Orwell would be a good model for them. But they don't seem to care about that, do they?"

No, they care only about imposing their will on the rest of us and are terribly enraged because Trump's election put the brakes on Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America.

n.n said...

American conservatives, classical liberals tempered by Judeo-Christian religious/moral philosophy, were the original left. Today, progressive liberalism or monotonic divergence has created new classes of leftism, but with substantially inferior or selective principles.

Fen said...

It doesn't really matter what Orwell was. Nineteen Eighty Four speaks for itself, and drowns out the denials from the Left.

n.n said...

Fen:

Exactly. Principles matter. Orientations, as we are all too familiar, follow need, want, or opportunity.

glenn said...

So is this play a cautionary tale or an instruction manual?

n.n said...

glenn:

Living constitution, living scientific domain, living play... Interpretation is in the mind of the perceiver, subject to intrinsic bias and evolved prejudice.

Robert Cook said...

"Nineteen Eighty Four speaks for itself, and drowns out the denials from the Left."

NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR depicts a totalitarian state. It is never indicated whether it is of the left or right, and the point is probably moot, as totalitarianism is its own form of government, and whether purportedly "left" or "right," it will operate in pretty much the same manner. Readers will draw their own inferences as to the politics of the society of Big Brother according to their own political biases.

Paco Wové said...

"That seems to be inciting audience members to come up on stage and save the character."

Or at least shoot a few Congressmen.

Fen said...

"NEVER indicated whether it's left or right"

IngSoc.

ie. socialism

Fen said...

I mean, sure Robert - I agree with you that totalitarianism can come at us from the Left or the Rigbt.

But Nineteen Eighty Four was from the Left. For example, the routine shortages of necessities like razor blades, toilet paper, hoisery, cigarettes... were failures of socialism (as mimicked recently in Venezuela), not failures of capitalism or wartime deprevation.

But I'll give your theory a second look if you can tell me Animal Farm was about the flaws of socialism not capitalism. Otherwise, we are not in the same reality and further argument would be pointless. We would just have to agree to disagree, if that's still allowed.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Robert Cook, draw up a list of totalitarian government. Then mark them "L" or "R".
Let's see. For R you've got National Socialist Germany and . . . that's it.
For L, you've got 70 years of Soviet Communism, forty years of Chinese Communism, Tito's Yugoslavia, Pol Pot's Cambodia, North Korea, Albania, Romania, and others.
You've also got the problem that totalitarianism is a modern phenomena. It is progressive, not regressive. It is as progressive as socialized medicine and central economic planning, both of which were prominent features of "right wing" totalitarian states as well as "left wing" totalitarian states.

Robert Cook said...

"Let's see. For R you've got National Socialist Germany and . . . that's it."

You've got fascist Italy. You've got Chile under Augusto Pinochet. You've got the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos and now under Rodrigo Duterte. You've got Spain under Francisco Franco. Cuba under Batista. You've had a slew of them peppering South America, (Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay). You've got dictatorships that may not be easily labeled as L or R but that are supported by the U.S., (Saudi Arabia, some countries in Africa). I'm sure there are others, but I don't need to be comprehensive to make the point.

Authoritarianism and tyranny is the monopoly of no political ideology, and attempts to paint it as such, (i.e., a uniquely leftist tendency), is self-serving and false.

Robert Cook said...

"But I'll give your theory a second look if you can tell me Animal Farm was about the flaws of socialism not capitalism."

ANIMAL FARM is a critique of one form of socialist government, specifically, Stalinism in Russia, no question. It points up the ills that follow upon a government based on a cult of personality. This is what many, if not most, dictatorships really come down to.

Fen said...

Well okay then. I placed the wager and lost. So I'll give your argument about Nineteen Eighty Four fresh look, as objectively and unbiased as can muster. Nice hand, Robert.

Virtually Unknown said...

A belief in limited government is as opposed to totalitarianism as you can get. Not sure how the Nazis and US Republicans ended up together on the matrix.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"You've got fascist Italy. You've got Chile under Augusto Pinochet. You've got the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos and now under Rodrigo Duterte. You've got Spain under Francisco Franco."
These were fascist societies, not totalitarian societies.
I didn't include the Japanese from 1920-1945 because they were militaristic, not totalitarian. "Totalitarian" has a particular meaning. The state is all, it crushes all other human relations and makes them inferior to the relationship between the individual and the state. In a totalitarian regime, the reason families exist is to support the objectives of the state. The reason friendships exist is to support the objectives of the state. The reason you have sex and have children is to support the objectives of the state. These are the only legitimate reasons for the existence of families, lovers, and children. That is why it is called totalitarianism.