Archim. Michael Kanelou
Director of Communication Theology EKPA
Christ is Risen!
It is not a few times that I wanted to write some things about the situation we have been in lately with the whole Planet but I did not dare, not out of fear but out of discrimination because there are clearly more experienced and wiser Clergy and People to do so. .
However, today I am moving out of love for the people of our place who belong to the Shepherd of our Christ, to express some findings and thoughts from my involvement, process and research in Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his authorial pseudonym George Orwell and 1984 work describing the emergence of totalitarian regimes, the fear of objective truth, etc.
From the beginning, I have stated that I do not intend to use my writings to characterize individuals, institutions, various groups and parties, but to provide food for thought and reflection.
Orwell, therefore, was concerned with the construction of the totalitarian state and the way in which it exercised its power and authority over its inhabitants.
Through the Big Brother theory, he argued that Western democracies are moving away from the noble ideals of democracy, while they are closer to entering the realm of totalitarianism, which is changing the ideas of justice, freedom and political emancipation.
He considered Western democracies to be in a pathological state, while he strongly believed that civilization was heading towards totalitarianism.
The author gives details of totalitarian regimes, which form a new form of power.
These elements are none other than the “Big Brother”, the authoritarian control, the secret services, the promotion of a state based on punishment and criminalizes a number of behaviors, while at the same time investing in organizations that produce violence.
Orwell not only wanted to describe totalitarianism in his work, but his purpose was to explain how totalitarian systems arose.
He tried to understand the “why” and the “how” of Stalinist Russia, Hitler’s Germany and Oceania with the “Big Brother”.
For the author, totalitarianism arose from the exercise of absolute power. Like many other writers who have dealt with totalitarianism, he himself has argued that modern dictators differed from the authoritarian regimes of the past.
The majority of past tyrants ruled by force, ensuring the obedience of citizens to physical violence.
For Orwell, totalitarian governments gain the consent of the people by creating the right conditions in which lies are considered pure truth.
Orwell observed the phenomenon of totalitarianism in the Spanish Civil War.
The goal of totalitarian governments is to rewrite history.
The photos are “retouched”, the official files are being rewritten, and the textbooks are distorted.
From the above, one understands that the purpose of totalitarian regimes is to keep the citizens in line with them, like a soldier with his superiors.
I am convinced that one of the results of totalitarianism is the undermining of one’s ability to define one’s life and to think. Another consequence is the increase in violence.
The scariest thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits atrocities, but that it attacks the objectivity of the truth.
In all this, the spiritual implications of totalitarianism are revealed.
The practice of totalitarianism for organized lying only takes place when individuals lose the ability to judge any request independently.
Totalitarianism does not just want to change the basic rules of vocabulary such as truth and reality, but it wants people to think and judge the way they want to.
The point is, people have to come to terms with the fact that they themselves have come to a decision that is not in the best interests of the regime.
This intent invisibly requires the citizens to comply with its orders.
Of interest is the way in which targeting promotes the rules that people follow.
“Double Thought” and “Big Brother” play an important role, controlling reality.
In other words, the citizens are expected to adapt their views on reality according to his wishes, while later they are called upon to believe that what they believed until then is false.
Citizens must not only believe that certain events have taken place in the past, but also adapt the memories of the past in such a way as to recall what the regime wants.
I would say that the prophetic work of Orwell deals with the issues of freedom, society and truth.
Orwell intends to show that freedom of thought can only be won when one is free to have one’s own view of events.
Such freedom can be cultivated in a genuine society.
In 1984 he tried to “sensitize” the readers and to show that cruelty is a situation with a negative evaluation sign.
Hardness emerges in a world where these three elements no longer exist. In this way, totalitarian regimes are formed.
The goal is to have a state in which all people are free to speak, but only on the condition that they agree with what the leadership stipulates.
Thus, uniformity or even massification results. A society with truly free people has a high level of consensus, and strong disagreement is welcome.
One of the virtues of the work is that it projects the techniques of controlling thought and distorting the truth.
The project focuses on four techniques. The first concerns emotions, which serve the official ideology.
Based on this technique, individuals cannot perceive proportions and logical errors.
The techniques of “black and white” and “double thinking” attempt to normalize the relationship between ideology and reality.
The purpose of “white – black” is to neutralize the truth.
According to this technique, one believes that black is white, even though he knew the opposite, while he believes that he never believed the opposite.
“Double thinking”, in turn, is linked to one’s ability to handle an idea of the past in such a way that memories do not conflict with what the leadership defines.
Phrases such as “black and white”, “double thought” are examples of the “New Language”, ie the fourth technique analyzed by Orwell in 1984.
If totalitarian states aim to make the official ideology attractive and everyone agrees with its content, they must also create the right conditions in which people will not be able to react.
The figure of the “Big Brother” in the play shows that, in order for the above to take place, there must be a person in whom the central government is personified.
Although totalitarian governments are bureaucratic, they become attractive by highlighting a person who has “divine” characteristics.
Like Stalin and Hitler, the Big Brother exploits repressed religious instincts.
In 1984, Orwell was linked to surveillance, which is a form of behavioral control.
The goal is for people to know that they are being watched to behave carefully.
Individuals must ensure that their behavior does not betray inappropriate thoughts.
In this way, people end up absorbing the dominant ideology just to survive.
I’m sure the Big Brother theory comes to mind when it comes to the revelations made by informants Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden about the US government’s lawlessness and corporate espionage.
Each of them led a government that illegally spied on millions of people who were not considered terrorists and had not committed any crime.
This government collected the data from any electronic source, classified it, and then probably used it for blackmail or intimidation.
Orwell projected the picture of the modern situation where privacy is not considered a basic human right, nor is it an element of a healthy and prosperous democracy.
In Orwell’s dystopia, the right to privacy is violated, but these violations show something more than the violation of privacy.
The demand for privacy protection is linked to the moral and political principle of a totalitarian regime.
The author attempts to warn about the dangers of totalitarianism, the erosion of language and the emergence of regimes that spy on citizens.
Orwell has a nightmarish future, where everyday life will be difficult under state control.
In this way, a society is presented that has as its slogan the phrase “ignorance is power” and that it is guided by the media, education and politics.
Orwell’s 1984 is a metaphor for global surveillance, totalitarianism, and the suppression of dissent.
The methods described by the author, such as television screens, are already considered excessive surveillance tools compared to those used in the first decades of the 21st century for espionage.
Orwell would have been surprised by the modern and renewed “Big Brother” and the threat of surveillance, which in our time is reinforced by new technology.
This is considered dangerous to the personal lives of citizens.
Orwell could never have imagined that government agencies would collect data from millions of phone calls and messages, nor had he predicted that governments would read the content of e-mails and social media conversations.
Snowden and others showed the risk of human rights violations.
However, their views must be linked to the emergence of online societies, global power and the presence of a totalitarian ethic that defines state control.
Orwell’s domination of the state was directly related to oppression, lack of historical memory, and the transformation of truth into falsehood. Every freedom is endangered by the totalitarian regime.
The totalitarian regime together with the democratic ideal, which is based on the right to privacy and the ability of autonomous thought have been changed by the neoliberal class.
Orwell’s work is transformed from a realistic novel into a real documentary, or rather into a form of “reality”, where privacy and freedom have changed, while the ephemeral dominates.
The right to privacy and liberty is confronted with narcissistic culture and capitalism.
The last two elements turn any relationship into a kind of trade, while everyday life is at the heart of the market, the state and private companies.
In a world where there is no care, no compassion, no protection and no freedom, people move away from public life and the common good.
Culture, that is, the bearer of public memory, education and the teachings of history, is gradually losing its power, while capitalism is taking its place, which “makes it impossible to recognize any common interests and goals.”
The existence of a state based on punishment as well as the deliberate amnesia of civilization create fear and apathy.
With individuals more or less submissive to the changes taking place in their daily lives, there is nothing that can prevent the collective indifference and development of a culture that is under surveillance.
In conclusion, I would say that according to Karl Joachim Friedrich, no matter how powerful the totalitarian mechanism is, there are always certain places that the power of totalitarianism cannot fully penetrate: it calls itself “islands of separation.”
These are the Family, the Church, the University and the Army.
In conclusion, because I may be tired of some brothers, I want to say that:
Orthodoxy is facing every impersonal reality that aims to massacre people.
This attitude becomes apparent through preaching and patriarchal teaching. Christ embodies the truth.
The believer can experience this truth only if he participates in the communion of the truth of Christ.
The fraternal society of men, which is connected with the teaching of Christ, is characterized by “terpnon” and “kalon”.
The eschatological perspective given by the Orthodox Church brings things to their conventional dimensions.
The most appropriate condition for dealing with these problems is relativization.
Problems expand in people’s perspectives, while they themselves are crushed by them.
Trying to solve problems should not be spasmodic, but should be based on relativization within the eschatological perspective. It provides the solution to human problems.
With the eschatological perspective, there is no contrast between death and life. Life does not end with death.
This life is considered to be the beginning of the future that is next to God. The Christian life is directly related to the transcendental perspective.
It is a life that “grows in the midst of life and takes its beginnings from now on, and ends on the future, because in it we become accustomed to the day.”
This perspective is based on the sacrament of Holy Eucharist and has a significant impact on the personal and social life of the faithful.
This perspective gives a special light to things and people.
Good patience, perseverance, prayer and attention.