Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1984 - Orthodoxy

"Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
~ from 1984 by George Orwell ~
In these two short sentences, Orwell has captured my opposition to fundamentalism. I don't mean only religious fundamentalism either. Ideological fundamentalism can be just as bad.

Orthodoxy/fundamentalism tends to turn people into unthinking robots. When information is presented that might call into question their beliefs, they chuck them aside without even considering them. If something doesn't fit inside their preconceived notions -- external ones at that -- they immediately label it as wrong, sinful, subversive or blasphemy.

Even worse, they dehumanize everyone who disagrees with their myopic views. If you don't understand "the truth" as they see it, then you're nothing. You don't count. Your needs are inconsequential. Your dreams don't even come close to being a petty concern. You are treated like an evil pariah.

I write a lot of rants on this blog about the capitalist system and the greed of our corporate state. Unlike a fundamentalist, my focus is on people's actions. As much as I detested the policies of the Bush administration -- the same could be said for the current administration too -- I did/do not wish ill will toward any of the leading characters. I don't hate them as human beings. As I wrote above, my critique is with the structural problems of capitalism and the policies certain individuals pursue.

That is far different than, say, a fundamentalist Christian who contends people like me should (or will) go to hell to burn for eternity because I don't believe as they do! While I certainly have my own biases and prejudices, new information or analysis causes me to rethink my position each time. Unlike a fundamentalist, I don't dismiss anything out-of-hand because it doesn't fit into my rigid and orthodox mindset.

I value independent thinking and the ability to say, "Hmm. That piece of information may cause me to change my mind." Independent thinking is anathema to fundamentalism. To be a critical thinker -- from the standpoint of orthodoxy -- is about the worst thing one could say about another person.

This series of posts based on George Orwell's novel, 1984, will be rather avant-garde. My focus will not be to explain Orwell's premises or what HE meant -- it is more about what his prose stirs in me, often in relation to the way I view the world today. Some of my observations may fall in line with Orwell's intent, but others will go off in a wholly different direction. To read my intro to this series, go here.

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