US President Donald Trump is once again engaging in a tactic used by authoritarians the world over: namely, inventing “national emergencies” and creating the illusion that the country is under attack as a means of bolstering personal power and circumventing the legislative branch.
In his now classic novel, “1984”, British writer George Orwell imagines a world in which countries have basically ceased to exist, with rule of the planet being divided among three major powers: Eastasia (China and its satellites) Eurasia (Russia and its satellites), and Oceania (the merged US and UK and their satellites). All of these powers, it can be inferred, apparently have similar authoritarian systems governing them. And if Oceania (where the novel is set) is anything to go by, each uses the other as a “boogey man” with which to frighten their respective peoples into submission by holding out the probability of imminent invasion (while, in fact, no such threat exists since the so-called “perpetual war” among these powers is a three-way series of skirmishes that take place in a buffer zone bordering on the territories of all three states which are too evenly matched for any to vanquish the other).
Big Brother—the omniscient, omnipresent leader of Oceania—is pictured as the great protector, ever watching over his people and protecting them from immediate external and internal threat. He, they are led to believe, has their back. In reality, however, the powers that be, in Orwell's dark, oppressive, fictional world, are watching their subjects' every move and weeding out the slightest sign of subversion, before the perpetrators have a chance to create a following. Oceania is a nation of sheep kept in line through constant fear of internal and external threat. And it is this constant state of fear that takes the minds of the common people off of their ever more enslaved and repressed existence.
Orwell may have gotten it right. He just got the date of initiation wrong by three and a half decades.