American Dream includes the lost and wondering Black young man
on some depressed street in Detroit or Los Angeles or New Orleans. It includes those in run down apartments,
in run down buildings who know the city negotiators and their
corporate partners are coming sooner or late with the good news
about “urban renewal.” It includes immigrant workers on the run
and in hiding and those captured and being held for deportation.
The American Dream includes those workers earning wages so below
the radar it feels like slavery. For some, it’s another form of
enslavement. These are the “proles” - those dying in the American
Dream. In the American Dream, “proles” - the poor, unemployed,
and low-wage earner are “losers.” The motto of the American Dream
is all for one and no one for all!
others fortunate enough to afford the high gas prices and airline
tickets drive or fly to Denver, Colorado to participate in protest outside
the Democratic Convention at the Pepsi, yes Pepsi Center experience “Freedom Cage” is that any different from Beijing’s
empty Chinese Ethnic Cultural
Park? The spectacle inside repeatedly
spoke of the “American Dream” while outside, the people experienced
tear gas, harassment, marginalization, and above all, surveillance.
Here is change - the same as yesterday and the day before - only
American Dream is also 1984
we are - on the way to the goal of American Empire by way of confining
and scrutinizing and compiling lists all as a matter of
national - global corporate security. From within the narrative
of U.S. imperialism, legislators speak directly or
indirectly of corporatism as a necessity to combat “terrorism.”
And “terrorism” is perceived as “foreign” acts of aggression or
resistance to the body politics of American Empire.
privacy and abolishing the concept of freedom is the American
Dream today. Telescreens are more than technology; they have a
human face and walk on two legs. They listen for signs of thought
that differs from the one - Republicrat Party - narrative distributed
to the citizenry by corporate media and educational institutions.
The human telescreens mastered the art of deceit: conversation
is guileful work.
is in the national interest of this government and its politicians
to honor the wishes of the corporate gods and go after capital
through the theft of other people’s resources and labor and to
then capitalize on their suffering, grief, poverty, hunger or
thirst. It’s always been about creating an American, that
is, corporate, Empire. This has been the dream of many. The American
Empire controls by knowing what the enemy thinks. If the enslaved
desired freedom then privacy must be denied. Unilateral
spying among the enslaved and eavesdropping on horseback by patrols
assisted in the daily operations of surveillance for the benefit
of the South’s economic growth but also for the rise of the U.S. as a leading industrial power.
in the U.S., Blacks come
under scrutiny from others, white and Black. In the mid-western
college town where I once lived, racial, social, cultural, and
political difference determined the ordering of people. Those
of us different people, whether white or Black, experienced
the unified attention of the educational institutions, of the
law enforcement system, and of the prison-industrial complex.
Surveillance is subtle but organized to differentiate difference,
particularly within racialized difference.
enslaved in the U.S. were denied
their right to privacy and to freedom. The slaveholder and his
commune of accomplices relied on gathered information about the
bodies of African men and women in order to control the mind.
This one is a good breeder. That one will make a good field
worker. Slaveholder soon discovered the need for surveillance
among a population that never relinquished their right to think
about freedom and act on their desire to be human despite the
inhumane conditions of enslavement. The general white American
public, South and North, as well as fellow enslaved were incorporated
in the operation of spying.
against Black Americans continued after slavery. The “emancipation”
of the U. S. allowed the state to reconstruct and
manipulate more varying expressions of difference and to
coerce a broader sector of the American public to accept and participate
in the operation of surveillance.
Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers, the Black Power movement,
to the Viet Nam War movement, the Women’s movement, the American
Indian movement, and the Gay Rights movement gave the U.S.
a body of knowledge about free minds and unwilling bodies. Individuals
pursuing the American Dream have learned how to respond to agitators,
protesters, resisters, militants, radicals, and homegrown terrorists.
Consider the law enforcement shootings of unarmed young Black
American men or the judiciary imprisonment of resister Rev. Edward
Pinkney in Michigan or Mumia in Pennsylvania
as actions taken to defend the American Dream of Pax Americana.
I heard a “progressive” talk show host (a prominent white lawyer)
describe 1968 as the year when “angry” Blacks burned and destroyed
their communities. He went on to describe other protesters, women
and students. But Blacks were relegated to “angry” Blacks, and
if you are a young person today, you would think all Black protesters
or activists (aside from Martin Luther King) were rioters, looters,
destroyers of their community! Mind you, this host expressed his
anger with passion against the Bush regime or against the pharmaceutical
drug companies, for example, every week! Most Black people were
angry with passion against the U.S. government and
its refusal to confront the conditions of poverty, unemployment,
education, or housing. I could hear in this host’s voice his acceptance
of the American Dream that denounces and rejects Black anger as
standing in the way of “progress.”
this almost seems like a time in the distant past…
might recall him. A guy named O’ Brien. O’Brien is a member of
the Inner Party, and Winston Smith has a dream that O’Brien, sitting
next to him in a “pitch-dark room,” quietly said: “‘we shall meet
in the place where there is no darkness.’” Later, Winston meets
he caught O’Brien’s eye. O’Brien had stood up. He had taken off
his spectacles and was in the act of resetting them on his nose
with his characteristic gesture. But there was a fraction of a
second when their eyes met, and for as long as it took to happen,
Winston knew - yes, he knew! - that O’Brien was thinking
the same thing as himself. An unmistakable message had been passed…‘I
am with you,’ O’Brien seemed to be saying to him. ‘I know precisely
what you are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred,
your disgust. But don’t worry; I am on your side!’
so it begins with whispered words: “don’t worry; I am on your
1984, George Orwell’s protagonist Winston believes that
O’Brien believes in freedom from BIG BROTHER. BIG BROTHER and
O’Brien are not alien to the American Dream. Consider the story
of Mary Lou Sapone (maiden name) and Mary McFate (spy).
led the Million Moms March (2000), and according to a Mother
Jones’ article “There’s Something about Mary: Unmasking a
Gun Lobby Mole,” July 30, 2008, volunteered to organize against
gun violence. There’s Mary McFate helping “state groups coordinate
their activities in Washington for gun control legislation, and regularly attending strategy
and organizing meetings.” She’s for real, right? She’s no 1984
O’Brien, you think?
sought information, specific information: Find out what anti-gun
activists are thinking. McFate listened to activists and victims
of gun violence, and purposely pursued leadership roles on behalf
of these victims. A zealot on behalf of gun-control issues in
a number of leading anti-gun violence organizations, Sapone was
no zealot as a spy. She was an orthodox believer in BIG BROTHER.
notes that the believers maneuver in a state of “unconsciousness.”
Zeal is not enough. Zeal is for the Christian fundamentalists
that King George and his crime squad mocked. But the characteristics
of “unconsciousness” are “aloofness” and a “sort of saving stupidity,”
necessary for functionaries of the State. Why wouldn’t she see
herself as a “research consultant”? Sapone thought nothing of
joining every anti-gun organization she could find. As a member
of the National Rifle Association, this woman thought nothing
of covertly infiltrating citizens groups “for private security
firms hired by corporations that are targeted by activist campaigns.”
Mother Jones report continues. “Despite her supposed commitment to the cause, her
friends and colleagues in the gun control community considered
McFate something of a curiosity.” A “curiosity”?”Among other things, she had a tendency to drop in and out of contact, explaining
away her absences by saying she had been vacationing aboard luxury
cruise liners.” Taking
a luxury cruise liner would be a dead give away that something
was indeed wrong with Mary! But McFate/Sapone was very much committed
to the cause - the cause of achieving control and dominance of
people and resources for transnational corporations. Isn’t this
the strategic goal of the American Dream?
a “1984” world, “change” will mean the further curtailing of our
privacy and freedom and resistance to our organizing resistance!
But how many of us Black on the Left have known this for years?
Winston says what we know: the slogan FREEDOM IS SLAVERY will
change “when the concept of freedom has been abolished.” Hasn’t
this government been in the business of abolishing the concept
of freedom for the last forty years? Ultimately, there will “be
no thought…[because] orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing
to think.” “Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” Freedom Cage is normal!
is outside of BIG BROTHER - in our here and now!
BROTHER is the individual and the individual is BIG BROTHER. The
enemy (“militants,” “dissenters,” or “resisters”) is within and
out there in the Middle East or in Cuba or in Venezuela. In a “1984” world such as the world
some of us know today, “co-workers,” “neighbors,” and even “family”
and “friends” accept unconsciously, the verdict of “guilty” whereas
Sapone’s deception doesn’t warrant a corporate media spectacle
or a “special report.”
knew where to do her best work.
1984, O’Brien passes Winston and whispers: “‘we shall meet
in the place where there is no darkness.’” And O’Brien is right!
here’s the key message from Winston for us.
O’Brien comes across Winston’s radar screen, the latter reacts.
He shields himself from the telescreen, but he reacts to
O’Brien. He speaks of receiving a “signal of recognition” from
O’Brien! He thinks that O’Brien, a member of the Inner
Party, might be a resister, someone opposed to the tyranny of
BIG BROTHER! He reacts to O’Brien and, in the process,
succumbs to O’Brien’s focused scheme to rein in one of
their best writer/liars - functionary. Winston forgets himself
and his principle about staying sane in order to carry on the
human heritage. His thoughts about freedom begin to wane. He forgets
his own work of thinking in opposition. As a result
of his forgetfulness, he draws O’Brien’s attention in that
“pitch-dark room” of his mind. In turn, O’Brien observes Winston’s
obsession to be uncovered as an unbeliever!
this world of 1984
isn’t a game. It’s not about T-shirts and buttons, flag pins and
returning home to suburbia when it’s all said and done. Winston
never develops his focus on opposition. He treats the government
of BIG BROTHER as if it were a game. He loses his way long before
his “capture” and interrogation at the end of 1984.
on the other hand, knows what he sees in Winston. It’s easy to
convert this “valued” intellectual worker for BIG BROTHER. And
so it begins for Winston: “two gin-scented tears trickled down
the sides of his [Winston’s] nose. But it was all right,
everything was all right, the struggle was finished.” The narrative
tells us that Winston “had won the victory over himself.”
loved Big Brother” - after all! Winston is sure to become a great
telescreen on two legs!
revolution will not be televised on your local or cable television
stations. Neither NPR nor Air America will
broadcast the revolution. No
mention of it will appear in the New York Times or the
Chicago Tribune. The Pepsi center will not allow it to
happen there among the Democrats, and don’t look for it in Minnesota at that other spectacle by the Republicans.
The Fusion Centers will not send their corporate reporters to
document this change.
on the Left, can’t afford to be our own worst enemy. Resistance
is work done by those who couldn’t possibly imagine any other
greater work, or any other way of living (under the conditions
of BIG BROTHER) and who think in opposition as there is no other
way to think for action.
Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been
a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism
and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility
to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis,
resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and
equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community
resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of
an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities
behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels
holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in
Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola
Chicago. Click here
to contact Dr. Daniels.