Our Orwellian Nightmare Come True

The Cato Institute has released a poll on self-censorship conducted by the highly respected YouGov survey unit that finds 62 percent of Americans say they have political opinions they are afraid to speak because they fear giving offense or losing their jobs. Moreover, as the reports notes, this represents an increase from the last such poll taken in 2017: “The share of Americans who self‐​censor has risen several points since 2017 when 58% of Americans agreed with this statement.”

The internals of this poll are more striking than the headline 62% number, as this first chart reveals. Notice that it is only “strong liberals” (these would be college faculty and far-left activists and young media types) who say they do not fear giving offense from their views:

Significant that even a majority of liberals now say they practice self-censorship. And as indicated, even “strong liberals” have seen an increase in self-censorship since 2017, as this chart shows:

 

One error of the construction of this survey is obvious from the categories here. It is clearly wrong to think of liberalism as a continuum: the people described here as “strong liberals” are not liberal at all, but are profoundly ill-liberal. This is what weak-minded “moderate” liberals either don’t understand or are too cowardly to admit or do anything about.

A number of people the last few weeks and months have been drawing our attention not only to Orwell’s 1984, but specifically Lionel Trilling’s perceptive review of the book in The New Yorker back in 1949 (when The New Yorker was worth reading). This passage is worth putting down in your copybook:

Orwell tells us that the final oligarchical revolution of the future, which, once established, could never be escaped or countered, will be made not of men who have property to defend but by men of will and intellect, by “the new aristocracy . . . of bureaucrats, scientists, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists, and professional politicians.”

Then Trilling quotes directly from 1984:

These people [says the authoritative Goldstein, in his account of the revolution], whose origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralized government. As compared with their opposite numbers in past ages, they were less avaricious, less tempted by luxury, hungrier for pure power, and, above all, more conscious of what they were doing and more intent on crushing opposition. The last difference was cardinal.

Today “monopoly industry” would be our increasingly censorious tech oligarchs and the major media along with our uniform universities.

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