Is Iraq Also Turning Into an Orwellian State?

Dallas Darling
World News

By the time former President George W. Bush ordered massive and deadly bombing campaigns over Iraq, followed by a preemptive military invasion that killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, there was no need to burn books. Neither was there concern over public demonstrations, anti-war rhetoric, acts of sedition, or Americans disrupting Congressional hearings and televised news accounts of the war. In a nation that no longer reads books, there is no need for book burnings. In a society that no longer knows how to think, there is no need for the thought police. In a country that speaks only in euphemisms-words and phrases devoid of any meaning and reality and facts-there is no need to suppress speech. In a state that fences and cordons off areas for protesters, the Gestapo and secret police are not needed. Furthermore, in a society socially engineered to consume manufactured, yet illegal, wars and high-tech atrocities, brutal occupations and collectivized murder becomes entertainment. Reality in an empire, or what appears to be reality dictated through illusions, is much more comfortable and easier to digest and to live with than moral convictions, moral courage, and moral outrage.

This is exactly the kind of totalitarian society and state George Orwell warned and wrote about in his book: "1984." It also appears to be what is now occurring in Iraq. Recently, and similar to America's Orwellian State, when thousands of protesters in Iraq demonstrated and demanded the same reforms that other Arab nations were experiencing, Iraq's government declared there would be no more demonstrations, except, of course, in certain "assembly zones" surrounded by fences. Several days later, Iraq's government announced a total ban on protests in the capital city of Baghdad, claiming that it was hurting street vendors businesses. These were the same common tactics used by both Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States to suppress free speech and the right to assemble at their meetings, rallies and conventions. The reason is always for "security purposes." Other protests in Iraq, including many against U.S. occupation troops, have either been denied because of no "legal" marching permits and strict curfews, or spatially limited due to Iraqi security forces. These same ploys have been used for years to "cage" American protesters and free speech movements.

Having lived through and experienced several totalitarian regimes, Orwell keenly understood how political thought and civic engagement could be corrupted by the state and its backers. Orwell believed governments and corporations could control emotions and thinking and behavior if people internalized certain words, phrases, myths and images heard and observed through the mass media and mass culture. They could also distort the true meanings and realities of ideas like freedom, justice, equality, and peace. Such state and corporate power had the ability to render people incapable of thinking and of speaking and acting. Even though Orwell warned of such thought control and mass persuasion, referring to it as "brainwashing" and "protective stupidity," he believed that the State's sophisticated and subliminal control over the masses could never ultimately penetrate the heart. In other words, Orwell believed the inner workings of the soul would somehow remain mysterious and impregnable. The heart of humanity could never be completely mastered. There would always be some form of political dissidence and resistance to totalitarian regimes.

But Orwell never foresaw a corporative and market oriented society, especially one that has been deeply internalized, and a society and culture in which addictive consumerism and mindless entertainment replaces thinking and ethics and universal principles of goodness and the importance of human life. He could not have realized that through global capitalism and neo-liberal policies, a new mentality and humanity could be fashioned and formed, that selfish unconscious desires could perpetually override more global conscientious morals and behavior, and that ideals like freedom, mercy, love, justice, and equality, and events and actions like preemptive invasions, wars, torture, murder, and rape, could be packaged and then advertised and sold. For Orwell, this preemptive invasion of the mind and the continued occupation of the heart and the very essence of "being" was foreign, nearly impossible. But in America, the pacification of civic engagement and thinking and the moral concepts of right and wrong has become sloppy and impoverished and in many cases, non existent.

In "Politics and the English Language," Orwell prophetically wrote: "This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases...can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain. Political language-and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists-is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits." But in a consumerist and market oriented for-profit culture and society, like that of America, selfish and materialistic and dystopian habits are difficult to overcome. More so, can one even begin to think, to pay attention, to use reason and logic, and to pursue the ideals of civic action, religious faith, and of a shared global responsibility? Within this Americanized and inhuman environment, it is no wonder demonstrations are considered disturbances and dissenting voices and ideas are treason. Blatant lies are merely unfortunate mistakes, torture is useful and needful, revenge and militarism are glorified, and political indifference and aloofness are virtuous.

Meanwhile, during one demonstration in Iraq, forces fired on unarmed protesters killing and wounding 28 people. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki immediately issued a press release and told John Boehner (U.S. House Speaker) who was visiting and on a "fact finding" mission: "The Iraqi armed and security forces are able to handle the responsibility of maintaining security, and work in a professional way." Boehner added that Iraq was a different country today than when "a terrorist insurgency was killing innocent civilians and wreaking havoc across the country." On the same day as al-Maliki's announcement and Boehner's statement about Iraq's security and the murder of peaceful protesters, gunmen stormed the home of a family and killed four members, including two children. A bomb hidden in a car then killed a government official and wounded four bystanders. The very next day, suicide bombers detonated two car bombs just outside America's heavily fortified Green Zone, killing nine people and wounding 23. The domination of words, phrases and images by the state and corporate powers eliminate any questions and thoughts about the initial terrorists who lied and ordered and started and continue to cause death and destruction throughout Iraq. Reality itself is easily usurped!

And when minutes to meetings revealed British Petroleum, including the world's largest oil companies, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet discussed and drew-up plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves one year before Britain joined the United States in its illegal war against Iraq, and when former United Nations chief inspector Mohamed ElBarardei suggested that the Bush administration should face an international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq and for committing war crimes that have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of which are still missing; there were no mass demonstrations, no citizen's arrests of public officials, no acts of dissent. In a disturbing twist of fate, Orwell's nightmare is Britain and America. Not only have Americans and Brits become their own thought police, but they have become their own demonstration and speech and petition police. By allowing their thoughts and ethics to be purged by the state and corporate powers, they have built their own "cages," their own Guantanamo Prisons, their own secret black sites.

Some Iraqis are aware of an American and British-like Orwellian State being established in their nation and around the world. Recent attacks against U.S. military bases and personnel were in response to America's continued support for a totalitarian regime in Bahrain and its crimes against humanity. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has courageously denounced the ban on public rallies calling it "undemocratic" and based on fear. Sadr further added that the Iraqi government claims democracy but is undemocratic by allowing massive anti-U.S. protests to only be held at three stadiums. Neither have other Iraqis submitted to the extreme spectacles of preemptive wars and high-tech atrocities. They have not drank the bitter waters of global capitalism, nor consumed and internalized its images and false realities. Dissent is not imaginable but still a possibility. They have rejected "herd intoxication" and the well-honed psychological appeals to the basic instincts of humanity. And Orwell would have probably agreed with ElBaradei's words and ideas when he said, "Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happened again?"


Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas' writings at and



Health topic page on womens health Womens health our team of physicians Womens health breast cancer lumps heart disease Womens health information covers breast Cancer heart pregnancy womens cosmetic concerns Sexual health and mature women related conditions Facts on womens health female anatomy Womens general health and wellness The female reproductive system female hormones Diseases more common in women The mature woman post menopause Womens health dedicated to the best healthcare
buy viagra online