Home > Uncategorized > Rethink the US Government “Shutdown” Like George Orwell, And the Normality of Propaganda

Rethink the US Government “Shutdown” Like George Orwell, And the Normality of Propaganda

Orwell warned the World that when propaganda is truly successfully ingrained into society, people would not even realize propaganda for what it is.  They would think it is normal and ordinary.  When people read Orwell’s “1984”, it was clear from our own perspectives what propaganda was, in the “Newspeak” of the story.  But we do not necessarily understand how such propaganda could be perceived as normal.  It felt like even the people in the story should know that the propagandas were lies, and that they should object and resist.

But that is not the case.  And we have a perfect illustration of it for today’s example:  The US government “shutdown”.  Ask the hypothetical:  What would Orwell think of it?

I would suggest Orwell would ask, “How does a government shutdown itself?  Is that even a possibility?”

The underlying premise of a Government system is, that if one government is no longer exercising power/authority, then the society is said to be in anarchy.  The government is not “shutdown”.  The government has abdicated from its power.

To call a government to have “shutdown”, is like saying King Edward VIII “shut down” from the throne of England, instead of “abdicated”.

It’s ridiculous, because there is no such term as “shutdown” for a government.  The word itself is inaccurate and inappropriate for a government, particularly because the US government was not “shutdown” completely.  “Essential services” still functioned, including the military, the top level executive, judicial and legislative branches.

No, the US government did not “shutdown”.  It’s more like it went on strike.  Its own apparatus still got itself fed/paid with back-pay.  But it just didn’t do much work (just loitered around in front of camera for 2 weeks).

Back to the political framework, this is also not an “abdication”.  Obama and the Democrats did not decide to resign from offices, and let someone else take over.

So what was this thing that just happened to the US government?

In a term, it was a “Coup d’état”.  政变

coup d’état (/ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/; plural: coups d’état), also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military. A coup d’état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance.

Yes, it sounds odd, but that’s technically what happened.

A small group of conservative Republicans attempted to seize power, by forcing a deadlock over budget, in order provoke a “popular uprising”.  Because, as Republicans saw it, “The People hate Obamacare.”  And One of the side goals was to remove Obama from power, according to some Tea Party members.

(Note:  Nothing in a coup suggests that military has to be involved.)

As it turns out, this may have been a “failed coup”, but it was a coup attempt nevertheless.  (Consider of course, if the People did rise up against Obamacare and supported the Republicans, this would have been a successful coup).

And if this had happened to some other country like Venezuela, this would have been called a “coup” in the media.

So why wasn’t this called a “coup” in the Western Media?

….

Because “coup” doesn’t happen in “Democracies”.  It’s not supposed to.  So it doesn’t, ever.  Because “coup” has a negative connotation of being backward, 3rd world, chaotic, uncivilized.

So we all accepted that US (and European nations) only have government “shutdowns”, never “coups”.  While the more backward nations have “coups”, even when it is really US interventions.

But here is the rub.  US is in the “coup” mode now, and will likely have more of these in the future.  These powergrab political confrontations aimed more to rile the populous into some kind of uprising, beyond even the over emotional cycle of political elections.

Calling it “shutdown” merely reflects how deeply we are being propagandized, to the point that most of us didn’t even question that word.

 

 

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  1. ersim
    October 21st, 2013 at 11:58 | #1

    It’s interesting last years buzz word around this time has been totally “forgotten”. The word was”sequester”. It sounds very much like the Spanish word “secuestro”, meaning KIDNAPPED. In other words since last year the people in the U.S. have been taken “hostage” by their own government and are not even aware of it or totally have “forgotten” about being “sequestered”.

  2. Black Pheonix
    October 21st, 2013 at 13:15 | #2

    It’s more interesting to see the reaction of the American public in the “shutdown”.

    Rather horrified by the doomsday like fear that gripped the public, they turned on the Republicans.

    (I don’t blame them, who would want a government that doesn’t work on the basic services that taxpayers paid for?)

    But then again, I thought ironically, “Isn’t Democracy important enough for the inconvenience?”

    Think about it. If it was the inconvenience of say, a Civil War in Syria, Americans would be mostly for a coup there.

    But not a “coup” in US, not on our doorsteps, not for any amount of “democracy”. Heck no. John D. Smithers needs the national parks and Veteran memorials open.

    In some way, I feel sorry for the Republicans. They must have felt like they could do the same “Arab Spring” deal in US.

    They simply underestimated how well their own propaganda worked.

    Yeah, Americans are “exceptional”, in that they don’t want to see the same BS “democracy” in their own country, but rather ship them out.

  3. ersim
    October 21st, 2013 at 19:03 | #3

    When it comes to George Orwell, what happened between Democrats and Republicans reminds me of “Animal Farm”, the two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, were at odds with each other. And like in the story, population acting like sheep while the bickering went on.

  4. October 21st, 2013 at 19:54 | #4

    While the US is obviously becoming more Orwellian, I think the situation is a hybrid of Brave New World and 1984. There are still many Alphas and Epsilons who are drugged by birthrights and non-stop “entertainment”, feeling rather good!

  5. TheMakerzBiz
    October 21st, 2013 at 21:47 | #5

    I don’t understand your argument that what occurred was a “coup”. There is an elected minority party within a congressional house that refuses to pass legislation, but that electoral minority is no more powerful today than before, no rules of the game were changed/constitutional amendments, etc. What happened with the government is a tool of constitutional governance, nothing more. Legislation is not a singular process, it takes lots of time when there are multiple parties, many interest groups, etc. to include.

    You confuse congressional/parliamentary political techniques with a coup d’etat. Confused piece.

  6. ho hon
    October 21st, 2013 at 23:28 | #6

    While a governing instrument can shut down, the existential sovereignty bestowed with the governing authority cannot simply shut down. On this I agree with Black Phoenix query about the appropriateness of using “shutdown”. I sleep, but I am not shutting down (this is a confusing analogy by TheMakerzB’s standard). I read IHT a year ago and they indeed talked about “sequester” (thanks ersim) sounding like an abomination. Now I am just shutting down. So what.

  7. TheMakerzBiz
    October 22nd, 2013 at 01:20 | #7

    I had no qualms with the query about the appropriateness of the term shutdown, because Black Phoenix was correct in that all government functions DID NOT cease — therefore, “shutdown” lacks clarity. What I took issue with, however, was Black Phoenix’s description of the USA government “non-essential service strike” (??? what can we call this?) as a coup d’etat. No change of government or state affairs was enacted, so I don’t see how this can be considered a “coup d’etat”.

    I would appreciate further clarity.

  8. Black Pheonix
    October 22nd, 2013 at 15:03 | #8

    @TheMakerzBiz

    I did say that it was perhaps a “failed coup”, because as the Republicans themselves admitted, (especially Ted Cruz and others), they wanted to rile up the populous, with the aim of driving the Democrats out of power.

    Read the definition of “coup”:

    “… to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military. A coup d’état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance.”

    A “coup” is defined by its aim, “to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military.” Not by how successful it was.

    Lots of coups failed in history, but they were still called “coups”.

    occupation of the USSR Parliament by a group of non-violent Communist party members in 1991, for example, ended in 2 days with no change in government. It was still called a “coup”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Soviet_coup_d'%C3%A9tat_attempt

  9. October 22nd, 2013 at 16:26 | #9

    As for the statement that coup doesn’t happened in democracy, I would like to point to France’s May 1958 crisis.

  10. TheMakerzBiz
    October 22nd, 2013 at 16:53 | #10

    So a democratically elected minority that hopes to assert its will with a voting mechanism is a “coup”? Any dissent in a congressional/parliamentary system is a coup? Do you consider party-line votes also coup attempts? You are seriously stretching the meaning of the word “coup” to be almost meaningless, so I guess there is something Orwellian going on!

    In the American system, “rile up the populous” and “drive the Democrats out of power” really means wait until the 2014 congressional elections. Do you interpret Cruz to have meant people should rush the Capitol? Hardly. He is trying to embarrass his political opponents — which is not coup-worthy. According to your definition, this cannot be considered a coup in any way, shape, or form — unless you can explain what political body was meant to be replaced by Cruz and his group. Electoral politics are not coup politics, even if they sometimes look like gangsters fighting for influence.

  11. ersim
    October 22nd, 2013 at 17:31 | #11

    It seems that the Orwellian newspeak of what is the definition of a “coup” distorted the meaning of what was going on in Washington when it came to the so called “shutdown”.

  12. Black Pheonix
    October 22nd, 2013 at 18:19 | #12

    @TheMakerzBiz

    No need to stretch the meaning. The word is broad enough in meaning.

    Do I “interpret Cruz to have meant people should rush the Capital?”

    Hey, take his word for it.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/ted-cruz-calls-for-grassroots-uprising-liberty-is-never-safer-than-when-politicians-are-terrified/article/2533599

    “Cruz called for Americans to rise up against the unpopular law and campaign in favor of the effort.

    “The one principal is true,” Cruz added. “I think liberty is never safer than when politicians are terrified.””

    He said nothing about “wait until the 2014” elections.

    And BTW, he was talking about using “grass root” uprising to “DEFUND” Obamacare.

    That’s not just his “vote” he was talking about.

    He was talking about urging people to storm the Capitol.

    “He is trying to embarrass his political opponents.”

    Yeah, and I’m sure that’s what the Soviet “coup” people did as well in 1991, in part. Not much of a “coup”, if one doesn’t try to cajol others into accepting the “coup”.

    “unless you can explain what political body was meant to be replaced by Cruz and his group.”

    Of course, as you said, he was trying to “embarrass” them into following his group.

    If no one objected, “coup” succeeds, and Cruz would have control of the national agenda (at least on health care). Obamacare would have been defunded.

    Who is to say Cruz couldn’t also impeach the President and the VP, and get a Republican House leader named as the interim President?? (He did talk about it).

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/356237/cruz-calls-why-dont-we-impeach-obama-good-question-katrina-trinko

  13. TheMakerzBiz
    October 22nd, 2013 at 21:28 | #13

    Perhaps you are not familiar with the American system of representative government and how civil society works. Let me explain.

    When Cruz recommends that people “campaign” for the effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, he in no way means for citizens to descend upon the Capitol in a human storm. In fact, Cruz means people should participate in the political system: donate time and/or money to civil society groups on the local, state and national levels, and to become involved with either individual candidates in legislatures or with the party apparatus. Sorry, democratic participation or congressional debates are not a “coup” attempt. If you want to define “coup” so loosely then you are guilty of Orwell’s complaints of how can become language is broad and meaningless.

    Further, Cruz has a clear message — do not fund the Affordable Care Act. This bears no relation to events in the USSR in the 1990s. You cannot compare apples to oranges.

    Here is Orwell on the subject of language and how dangerous loose language is for discourse. I highly suggest you read this: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

    In the National Review link you gave, Cruz clearly states that even if the congressional seats/stars aligned he would not pursue impeachment. Indeed, even if the votes were present in the form of a party bloc, what would the president be impeached over? Fancy ideas, but not well-grounded in reality.

  14. Black Pheonix
    October 23rd, 2013 at 09:39 | #14

    @TheMakerzBiz

    I don’t see what my “familiarity” with the American system has any thing to do with the topic.

    “Cruz has a clear message — do not fund the Affordable Care Act.”

    So block a budget for a law that already passed, block a previously passed law.

    Well, of course, every thing is apples to oranges. What is there to compare? It’s a “coup”, end of the story. I don’t know why you want to bring your “familiarity” with the system into this comparison, either.

    And I don’t know what your point is in linking Orwell.

    “loose language”? That’s not even in that Orwell article. Perhaps you are just making up your own “loose language”.

    I frankly don’t know what you mean by that phrase, which do you do not define.

    Unlike you, I used the word “coup”, which I accompanied with a definition.

    BTW, this part of Orwell’s article seems to apply well to you:

    “Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.”

  15. Black Pheonix
    October 23rd, 2013 at 10:55 | #15

    By the Way, I’m not the only one who has described this as a “coup”.

    http://www.thenation.com/blog/176388/week-nation-history-government-shutdown-coup-detat#

    Even in 1995 shutdown of US government, some have called that a “coup”.

    “For the President or Congress to undertake to stop or reconstitute government in order to extract sweeping policy concessions amounts to an attempted coup d’état by what The Federalist (normally the political bible of Gingrich and other self-styled conservatives) would have condemned as a “temporary majority.””

    http://futiledemocracy.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/the-us-government-shutdown-a-coup-in-all-but-name/

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/socialist-economics/19GSPh4ITFI

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2013/10/16/unhinged-ed-schultz-gop-committing-economic-terrorism-coup-detat-shu

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/16/1247953/-An-American-Coup#

    http://www.salon.com/2013/10/09/right_wing_coup_deluded_secessionists_have_already_won/

    ….

    I can go on, but folks can google for it on their own.

  16. October 23rd, 2013 at 14:58 | #16

    @Ray

    Why go that far back? What about the recent Egyptian coup?

  17. October 23rd, 2013 at 15:44 | #17

    @Allen
    Well, it seems that there is a western consensus that unless the country is rich and powerful, it is not considered a real democracy. For example, there are a bunch of coup in South America. Allande’s overthrow by the military is actually supported by the west. So are the ones in Asia, from Korea, Indonesia to Thailand.

    It is part of the double standard practice we all abhor. Iran is never considered a democracy even if it is one of the few Islamic countries in West Asia to have a universal suffrage system. And the Obama administration tried really hard not to classify the ouster of Morsi as a coup either. That’s why I use France as an example. Of course the military’s seizure of power in Egypt is a coup but if you use it as an example to illustrate a point, those guys will simply tell you Egypt is not a democracy in the first place.

    Another extreme example is Germany’s Weimar Republic. It has a pacifist constitution and have no colonies overseas, in many ways a more democratic country than UK, France and US but it give rise to the Nazi party.

  18. October 23rd, 2013 at 15:59 | #18

    Anyway, here is a really lame article arguing that the Cultural Revolution is a coup. By definition, I would say the CR is a coup. However, most of the historical information and backdrop given is wrong, that’s why I called it lame.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/10/chinas-10-year-government-shutdown/280501/

  19. TheMakerzBiz
    October 23rd, 2013 at 20:55 | #19

    Mister Unknown wrote the following:

    “No need to stretch the meaning. The word is broad enough in meaning.”

    You yourself admit you use the word “coup” in a broad way. That is what I meant by lack of precision in language. You originally bring up Orwell in your post, so I used Orwell, too. Orwell argues in the article I posted that language that is broad in meaning leads to non-specific interpretations, and therefore can be co-opted by nefarious characters.

    I think your use of “coup” here is wrong, and I think other people who use “coup” to describe normal congressional techniques equally wrong. It’s no matter, I just found your premise faulty. It’s okay — that’s what the internet is for, a low-cost way to communicate various ideas. It’s part of why I enjoy this blog!

    Nice talking to you 🙂

  20. TheMakerzBiz
    October 23rd, 2013 at 21:27 | #20

    @Ray

    Could you elaborate on why the CR article is wrong? Or are there some posts on Hidden Harmonies that discuss this?

  21. Black Pheonix
    October 24th, 2013 at 06:28 | #21

    @TheMakerzBiz

    I said the word is “broad enough”, not “a broad way”.

    Why is it so hard for some to be precise? (Speaking of lack of precision).

    “It’s okay — that’s what the internet is for, a low-cost way to communicate various ideas. It’s part of why I enjoy this blog!”

    It may be okay for you to be imprecise, and still pretend to have the grounds to call others’ terminology faulty.

    Fine with me as well.

    I think your premise is faulty too. ENJOY!

  22. TheMakerzBiz
    October 24th, 2013 at 07:19 | #22

    Cool.

    I tried to be precise. I will work harder in the future, add some oil to my pursuits.

  23. Black Pheonix
    October 24th, 2013 at 08:29 | #23

    Cool.

    We won’t wait up for you.

    Shouldn’t you be “work harder” from now on??

    “In the future”?? That’s about as precise as the solution to the US government “coup”.

  24. Black Pheonix
    October 24th, 2013 at 08:32 | #24

    Hey, a Harvard law journal article discussed “Democratic Coup”.

    http://www.harvardilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/HLI203.pdf

  25. TheMakerzBiz
    October 24th, 2013 at 16:56 | #25

    @Black Phoenix

    I don’t think you even read that article! Here are some tidbits:

    “Following a democratic coup, the military temporarily governs the nation as part of an interim government until democratic elections take place. Throughout the democratic transition process, the military behaves as a self-interested actor and entrenches, or attempts to entrench, its policy preferences into the new constitution drafted during the transition”

    “The Article argues that, although all military coups have anti-democratic features, some coups are distinctly more democracy-promoting than others because they respond to popular opposition against authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, overthrow those regimes, and facilitate free and fair elections.”

    If you look at the USA, it is NOT democratic for the TEA Party to push its will on the nation. Obama handily won the popular vote and the electoral college; further, House Democrats won a majority of seats, but due to gerrymandered districts do not hold a majority. The article then gives THREE examples of MILITARY COUPS (Portugal, Egypt, Turkey, NONE of which at the time of the example is remotely as democratic as the USA) that precede democratic transitions.

    You confuse democratic debate with militarism and coups. You should educate yourself more on the American system, because your knowledge is lacking, but your commentary is plentiful.

  26. Black Pheonix
    October 26th, 2013 at 06:57 | #26

    @TheMakerzBiz

    I don’t think you even read my post.

    I said “coup”, not “militarism and coups”, not “military coups”.

    and the Harvard article is titled “Democratic Coup.”

  27. TheMakerzBiz
    October 26th, 2013 at 20:27 | #27

    @Black Pheonix

    Dude your Harvard article, in its ABSTRACT, is clearly and totally about MILITARY LED COUPS that lead to DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION. Read what you post next time.

    Who cares what the title is? Content is what matters, and the authors discuss THREE MILITARY led coups that led to DEMOCRATIC TRANSITIONS — Turkey, Portugal, Egypt.

    How did I not read what you wrote? You failed to even read your OWN posted article!

  28. Black Pheonix
    October 27th, 2013 at 07:32 | #28

    @TheMakerzBiz

    Title: “Democratic Coup”.

    you didn’t even get that far, apparently.

  29. Sigmar
    October 27th, 2013 at 12:09 | #29

    @Black Pheonix
    Indeed, the definition of coup can accomodate the hijack of government by self-interested parties in a democratic framework.

  30. TheMakerzBiz
    October 28th, 2013 at 04:02 | #30

    @Black Pheonix

    The introduction from http://www.harvardilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/HLI203.pdf:

    “The Article argues that, although all military coups have anti-democratic features, some coups are distinctly more democracy-promoting than others because they respond to popular opposition against authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, overthrow those regimes, and facilitate free and fair elections.
    Following a democratic coup, the military temporarily governs the nation as part of an interim government…”

    Often in academia, it’s advised to read more than the title. In the abstract, the author clearly defines his definition of “democratic coup” as states that are authoritarian or totalitarian in nature, and the “coup” facilitates “free and fair elections”. Examples of “free and fair elections” are the USA national elections that directly dealt with health care reform — 2008, 2010, 2012. In this case, after an election where health reform was a major plank, a new law was passed; the delay of the Affordable Care Act had TWO national elections and ONE presidential election before implementation — the president was re-elected, and democrats won a national plurality, despite the seats in the House. How is that “authoritarian” or “totalitarian”? It’s not. It’s fully within the institutional structure of the USA constitution, as are Cruz and the TEA Party’s congressional activities.

    Sorry, I still think your use of “Coup” in this context is sensational and baseless.

  31. Black Pheonix
    October 28th, 2013 at 06:19 | #31

    @TheMakerzBiz

    In your own quote from the article:

    “Following a democratic coup, the military temporarily governs the nation as part of an interim government…”

    sure, it’s sensational as the Harvard Article used it.

  32. TheMakerzBiz
    October 29th, 2013 at 04:01 | #32

    @Black Pheonix

    Please read the first paragraph of the article: “…some coups are distinctly more democracy-promoting than others because they respond to popular opposition against authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, overthrow those regimes, and facilitate free and fair elections.”

    Often in political science, new terms are employed. Academics define these terms in their writing to give them meaning. Just because the word “democratic” is put next to “coup” does not make the term fully elastic.

    There is absolutely nothing authoritarian or totalitarian about the Affordable Care Act, so the TEA Party’s attempt to control the legislation cannot possibly be a democratic coup — “popular opposition against authoritarian or totalitarian regimes”. As I stated before, there were national elections that dealt directly with this legislation: 2008 before it was passed, and after it was passed but prior to implementation 2010 and 2012. There is nothing authoritarian or totalitarian about it, so therefore the TEA Party is not responding to what the article calls a democratic coup — a reaction to authoritarian or totalitarian governance.

  33. Black Pheonix
    October 29th, 2013 at 06:18 | #33

    @TheMakerzBiz

    Please read the title, “Democratic Coup”.

    That’s the term they used. COUP.

    And you are spamming by repeating your pointless continuation on this denial.

  34. TheMakerzBiz
    October 30th, 2013 at 03:05 | #34

    The author DEFINES a democratic coup as a coup that helps transition from authoritarianism to democracy. What matters is the author’s definition of the term, not yours. You are spamming by refusing to read my argument.

  35. Black Pheonix
    October 30th, 2013 at 07:04 | #35

    @TheMakerzBiz

    “The author DEFINES a democratic coup as a coup that helps transition from authoritarianism to democracy.”

    I’m done with you. 1 more spam from you, and you are going to the special corner.

  36. Black Pheonix
    October 30th, 2013 at 07:08 | #36

    Like I said before:

    “Hey, a Harvard law journal article discussed “Democratic Coup”.

    http://www.harvardilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/HLI203.pdf

  37. Black Pheonix
    November 3rd, 2013 at 08:43 | #37

    In Yet another sign of the “coup-deniers”, John Kerry made a surprise visit to Egypt, where he still refuses to characterize Egyptian military’s take over as a “coup”.

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