lyndsey stonebridge: arendt vs. orwell on totalitarianism

another interesting in the lyndsey stonebridge episode of on being was about the true power of totalitarianism.

george orwell posited (via 1984) that the power of totalitarianism was the ability to make people say that 2+2=5. hannah arendt disagreed… slightly. she believed that the true power of totalitarianism was to make people say that 2+2=5 even when they knew it was 4. though that could be seen as just a variation on orwell’s statement, the difference has significant implications.

for example, it’s one thing to actually convince people that something that is false is true. but that is a matter of propaganda and narrative/media control and power. if you are powerful enough and can control enough sources of information, you can convince people of anything.

i think that is largely what’s going on today. and not just at the federal level. people in all sorts of places believe wrong things because they have been convinced otherwise. many americans have been convinced that security is a real thing and comes in the form of paid security (the military, private security forces, etc.). finance and “the free market” have been posited to work and solve all problems. and on and on. but these things are actually just intentional misinformation, not making recipients of that information tell falsehoods.

it’s actually another thing to make people lie. that’s actually the ability to create cognitive dissonance and have people make public decisions against their actual beliefs. to me, that isn’t about propaganda; that’s about fear. when it becomes more in the interest of a group of people to lie than tell the truth, that (i think) is what arendt believes is true totalitarianism.

i think that is spreading, but not yet pervasive. but the question for me is… how do we stop it from becoming pervasive? once it spreads enough, it seems to me like it’s a hard trend to turn back…

ps - i really need to read her book.

but in episode __ of the human current, _ says that


words / writing / post-processing
XXXw / XXmin / XXmin