“Doublethink”

I used the term in the last post, and someone asked me what it meant.

Well any fan of Orwell’s would know that it of course comes from the novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.

It refers to the notion of believing in two completely contradicting ideas at the very same time.

The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, described it as such:

to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party [holding power] was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.

There are a number of examples of “doublethink” that prevailed in the past three years in Egypt, and hereunder is a list of some of the ones I could think of. A large umber of individuals held both views at different points in time, and would ostentatiously defend both statements depending on the context.

1.     ** The Army is independent and resistant to all attempts of U.S. hegemony.

**** The Army has a responsibility to secure Israel’s borders, and it is an avid partner in the global war on terror. (“Strategic experts” are especially fond of this pair of doublethink).

2.    ** The Army aptly governed the country from February 2011 to June 2012, and was at the time, and remains to be, the only entity powerful enough to stand up to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

**** The Army handed over power to the MB in 2012 even though they had lost the presidential elections, and that is because the Army would not have been able to control the civil strife that the MB would have caused had the real results been announced.

3.    ** The Suez Canal Corridor megaproject announced by the MB was a shameful scheme that would have undermined sovereignty and carved Sinai up to foreigners.

**** The Suez Canal Corridor megaproject announced by the government in January 2014 is a visionary idea that will bring growth and development, and is also vital for our national security.

4.    ** Hesham Qandil’s suggestion to survive long power-cuts by wearing cotton underwear is a ridiculous, simplistic, and evasive statement.

**** Marshal Sisi’s suggestion to solve the traffic problem by going to work at 5:00 am is an intuitive and sagacious observation worthy of a true sage.

5.    ** Bassem Youssef is a bulwark against tyranny.

**** Bassem Youssef is the devil reincarnate.

6.   ** God never intended for us to mix religion and politics.

**** God benevolently sent Marshal Sisi to correct the course of this country.

7.   ** The police’s use of excessive force to break up this protest was despicable.

**** The police’s use of excessive force to break up that protest was justifiable.

8.   ** The government failed to deliver social justice.

**** God did not create us equal.  (I swear I heard this last pair of statements from the same person, in the same bloody conversation).

9.   ** Receiving millions of dollars in assistance renders civil society subservient to a foreign agenda.

**** Receiving billions of dollars in assistance renders the state an important non-aligned actor on the international arena.

10.   ** The idea of having a committee to vet NGO applications is abhorrent. Articles referring to this committee must be struck from the draft law.

**** The idea of having a committee to vet NGO applications is a political and security expediency. Articles stipulating it must remain in the draft law. (this one hasn’t been said yet, but I’ll bet anything it will be soon).

Can you think of any more?

Doublethink entails a suspension of sensory perception. Facts as they are seen and heard no longer bear a causal relationship to judgment, whereas subjective loyalties and social self-categorization become all that matter in the creation of opinion and belief, ultimately creating a moral compass that doesn’t know true north from a monkey’s arse.

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