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The totalitarian mind

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Approximately 40% of this country, give or take, is just fine with the president saying that black is white on Monday, and that white is black on Tuesday, and then insisting on Wednesday that he never said black was white or white was black.  An undetermined portion of that group will not notice the contradictory nature of the president’s statements; another portion simply won’t care about those contradictions; another portion will applaud the contradictions for being contradictory.  This is the psychology that makes totalitarianism possible.

Unsurprisingly, the policy of separating children from their parents has proven unbearably cruel in practice. Not everybody within the Republican Party or even the administration itself is still willing to defend its own handiwork. And so the administration’s public explanation of this policy toggles between three mutually exclusive positions.

A recent poll finds the public opposed to child separation by a 56/37 percent margin, but Republicans somewhat in favor (46/32 percent). Another finds even more stark differences — the public opposes family separation by a 66/27 percent margin, but Republicans favor it, 55/35 percent.

'The truth, please, Winston. YOUR truth. Tell me what you think you
remember.'

'I remember that until only a week before I was arrested, we were not at
war with Eastasia at all. We were in alliance with them. The war was
against Eurasia. That had lasted for four years. Before that----'

O'Brien stopped him with a movement of the hand.

'Another example,' he said. 'Some years ago you had a very serious delusion
indeed. You believed that three men, three one-time Party members named
Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford--men who were executed for treachery and
sabotage after making the fullest possible confession--were not guilty of
the crimes they were charged with. You believed that you had seen
unmistakable documentary evidence proving that their confessions were
false. There was a certain photograph about which you had a hallucination.
You believed that you had actually held it in your hands. It was a
photograph something like this.'

An oblong slip of newspaper had appeared between O'Brien's fingers. For
perhaps five seconds it was within the angle of Winston's vision. It was
a photograph, and there was no question of its identity. It was THE
photograph. It was another copy of the photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and
Rutherford at the party function in New York, which he had chanced upon
eleven years ago and promptly destroyed. For only an instant it was before
his eyes, then it was out of sight again. But he had seen it,
unquestionably he had seen it! He made a desperate, agonizing effort to
wrench the top half of his body free. It was impossible to move so much as
a centimetre in any direction. For the moment he had even forgotten the
dial. All he wanted was to hold the photograph in his fingers again, or at
least to see it.

'It exists!' he cried.

'No,' said O'Brien.

He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite wall.
O'Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling
away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame.
O'Brien turned away from the wall.

'Ashes,' he said. 'Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist.
It never existed.'

'But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it.
You remember it.'

'I do not remember it,' said O'Brien.
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