Diary

Doublethink vs Truth

Somewhere this week, I just can’t remember exactly where in the multitude of emails, newsletters, and subscriptions that I read every day, I say a quote from George Orwell’s novel “1984”.  I also saw a reference to a video clip of Barney Frank talking about the financial markets crisis.  I do remember where that reference came from; it was from a Connie Hair post on Daily Events.  The two pieces of information got me to thinking.  I went to my bookshelf and pulled down my copy of “1984” and re-read the excerpt.  It goes like this:
“[Winston’s] mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink.  To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, 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 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—that was the ultimate subtlety:  consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.  Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
Great quote, but what does this have to do with Barney Frank?
Watch these videos.  It isn’t just in a dystopian novel that “doublethink” exists.  In the first video below, in Dec of 2006, Barney Frank says that there are too many regulations for banks, and that “I think people are gonna see far less difference, with the Democrats taking over in the financial services regulatory area, that in virtually any other area of public policy.” He also said that there was “more to do” in deregulating the banks.  He also took credit for “reducing the reporting requirements” that banks had to do, and lamented that “far too much has to be reported” by banks to the “financial detectives”.

Three weeks later, in January 2007, he became the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and in that position, oversaw the government lending agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which later basically went bankrupt.
In the following clip, in an interview with Bill Riley, Frank later claimed that within “two months” after becoming Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in January of 2007, he was able to do “what the Republicans hadn’t been able to do in twelve years”, namely increase regulation.  But wait…  Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what he said was needed in December of 2006?!?!  Don’t trust me.  Look at the video and see Barney saying these things himself:

The very things that Frank is on record supporting in Dec 2006, he later blames on Republicans, and claims that he was against all along.  Frank said banks need more deregulation and less reporting requirements in Dec 2006.  That is a cold hard fact.  Later, he claimed that he had always been for more regulation.  He re-wrote history, lied pathologically, and blamed others for what he had done.  Not my opinion, just another cold hard fact.  The video record is right here for anybody to see.  It says something about the state of a person’s soul when they can deny that they said something, even immediately after viewing a video of themselves saying it.
Doublethink and its corollary, doublespeak:  two concepts that go a long way towards fingering what is wrong with our society and our politics:  The ability and willingness of too many of us to use “doublespeak” to lie pathologically, and to engage in “doublethink” to keep even themselves from facing what they are doing.  Doublethink is the antithesis of truth.  How can we move forward individually, much less as a nation, if our leaders engage in lies and distortions of this magnitude?  How can we ever know what is the truth?
Some post modernist claim that there is no “truth”, that all realities are equally valid.  I still haven’t figured out how anyone gets their head far enough up their ass to believe that one.  Just because truth has been bastardized, corrupted and distorted, does not mean that truth does not exist.  It does exist.  Whether you are smart enough or diligent enough to discover it is another question.  Truth matters.  And we shouldn’t elect anyone to public office who doesn’t understand that.