Controlling the Past?

In Orwell’s 1984, O’Brien , the thought-policeman, tells Winston Smith: “Whoever controls the present controls the past, whoever controls the past controls the future.” This is the totalitarian, fascistic vision of how to “do” history. It is how Hitler and Stalin did it. It is not about the factual record and what emerges from it. It is about manipulation and falsification to create political realities which have contemporary impact, and which shape people’s ideas going forward.

It is the kind of history practiced by so-called liberals, when they can get away with it. It is business as usual for them. Professor Michael Bellesiles, with his lies about gun ownership, was one typical example. He was caught and outed. But I am sure attempts will be made to rehabilitate him. The New York Times has gotten smacked around lately for practicing the kind of disinformation and spin that it has always practiced.

A good recent example of all this is the recent movie about Reagan, which Matt Drudge outed in advance, provoking a storm of protest, causing CBS to cave in on its original broadcast plans.

The idea that this response was “censorship,” or that the movie, starring leftist activist Barbra Streisand’s husband, was “art” is more totalitarian lies.

The movie was a political weapon in a political struggle. The movie would have been the only image that millions of unsophisticated Americans would have had of Reagan. What many people see on TV they take as accurate history. This is stupid, I know, but is a regrettable fact.

The point of this maneuver was not art, or expression, or any of the other weasel words used by liberals to cover up their shenanigans. It was to create a false image of Reagan in the minds of millions of people, for a political purpose. The political result would be to discredit Reagan, his image, his legacy, and those who are his political heirs. This effort was, for now, partly thwarted.

Fortunately, there are true and accurate depictions of Reagan and his accomplishments and his character available. Jonathan sent me this excellent article by Max Kampelman. It shows the astute and focused enemy of communism that Reagan was. Lou Cannon’s recent biography of Reagan as governor of California is reputed to be good. I hope to read soon the volume of letters recently published. I can vouch for the collection of his radio addresses, which is excellent. I read Peter Schweitzer’s book Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism, which is a very good introduction to Reagan’s role in winning the Cold War. Michael Barone’s chapters on Reagan in Our Country are excellent.

Still, this is all highbrow stuff. Books. Who reads books? (Even people who should spend their time reading blogs instead.)

Keeping a lying, commie hatchet-job off of broadcast TV is a minor victory. But the liberals still control Hollywood, the universities, and most of the Old Media news outlets. All of them will tell baldfaced lies about Reagan all day long if they can get away with it, and we won’t be able to stop them every time. We need to create alternative popular media, to carry the war for the truth about the past to the enemy, defeat them, and present the facts as they actually were to a gullible public which knows too little history.

We don’t need to “control” the past. The facts, pretty much, speak for themselves. If they can be gotten out.

7 thoughts on “Controlling the Past?”

  1. To counter the effects of the liberal media, the facts can’t merely speak for themselves. They sometimes have to scream. One problem is the old maxim that a lie repeated often enough soon becomes accepted as truth. You’re right — there is little hope that mainstream media or the university will change its stripes. However, they can lose credibility. The Reagan series cancellation was a victory partly because it cost CBS some credibility. The cancellation was important, but so was the visible battle that led to it.

    I guess that ultimately I’m agreeing with your conclusion, that alternative channels need to thrive. The byproduct of getting the truth out, if done well, will be to create a crisis of credibility.

  2. Hey Lex and guys…

    Have you all ever looked at the web site for

    I just did and it’s psycho left wing. They’ve got economic Libertarians (of course they aren’t subtle) classified as a far right wing organization. Not only that, but they seem to be paying people to track all elements of the political right in the US (vast right wing conspiracy, here it is, but not really because they don’t differentiate over much).

    This is the “tips” on dealing with we right wingers.

    This organization is classic dumb rhetoric Left, and that’s why it’s so freaky:

    “Decode the Right’s agenda on your issue.
    The Right often attempts to pass laws that take rights away from groups or individuals. Under the guise of addressing some compelling societal need, they often frame the issue by appealing to prejudice, myth, irrational belief, inaccurate information, pseudo-science, or sometimes even by using outright lies. Further, right-wing organizers often appropriate the rhetoric of the civil rights and civil liberties movement to portray themselves as victims of discrimination. Actually, they most often are seeking to undermine the existing protection of individual rights, increase their freedom to accumulate profit, and undermine the wall of separation between church and state.”

    If any organization could get me to move to New Hampshire it’d be these people. But what’s fascinating is that in giving instructions for how to oppose a “right wing” that’s mostly just “less Left wing” than they are, they give us all great insight into how to confront this silly would be Stalinists.

  3. The media is easy. They are the worst of fair weather fans and band waggoneers. Convince them that they will lose market share and the recoil in fear. The solution is to call them out on everything. Thanks to e-mail, this is relatively easy. Every time you see a story that paints a slanted picture write the show an e-mail describing their bias. Enough e-mails and we will see a change. The educrats are another matter. Thanks to the tenure system they have little to fear other than their own ilk. It will take years to dismantle the system that allows them to take my tax money to teach lies to my children. Vouchers may be our only hope at the K-12 level. I don’t know what the solution to our public university system is.

    Jim English

  4. “…The solution is to call them out on everything. Thanks to e-mail, this is relatively easy. Every time you see a story that paints a slanted picture write the show an e-mail describing their bias…”


    Here’s a link to one of the best summary’s of informal logical fallacy on the web for quick reference. Reference is useful to have on hand because journalists, academics, and lawyers don’t typically know much about informal logic and cut and pasting these simple examples save one from having to write them out over and over again, not to mention providing a quick counter proof or two showing the flaw in the reasoning in quesion.

    In my experience lawyers are the worst culprits when it comes to written arguements. This probably because they learn only rhetoric in Law school and don’t understand the difference between “rhetorikos’ (convincing others) and ‘analytikos’ (analysing arguments in order to determine accuracy and logical strength… truth). At least judges have the humility to look sheepish when they knowingly chose something unreasonable.

    Journalists (my former profession and comrades) are sociopathic and/or jaded hacks that CAN’T be trusted to admit to their bosses that they’ve messed up. The majority of journalists I’ve ever known (and there’ve been many) don’t care and won’t admit they were wrong. Luckily, they typically have to run their story or script past an in-house lawyer before it airs. So you’d do better to discover the Ombudsmen or in-house attorney and send your email to them. They’ll be very strict once they know what to look for, especially as they have a great love of nailing journalists and eagerly apply your corrections.

    This link is one to keep on the top. It’s a bit more compliceted than the first, but it’s one of the best synopsis and explainations of informal fallacies that I’ve ever seen on-line.

    Regarding your kids. Have them learn computer programming at as young an age as they can manage. Together with mathematics, code and an understanding of basic informal logical method and fallacies will get them through almost any k-12 teacher (and most post docs as well).

  5. “It is not about the factual record and what emerges from it. It is about manipulation and falsification to create political realities which have contemporary impact, and which shape people’s ideas going forward.”

    Another good example can be found in the Senate Judicial Committee. This is the entirety of Shumer’s and Leahy’s strategy: Repeatedly declare that Bush’s Article III judicial nominees are extreme, and, magically, they are. The rabidity with which they make these claims makes it apparent their goal is to create a meme to be used on later nominees–to make their job easier. (“It’s just another extreme Bush nominee.”) I doubt this doublethink is very convincing to anyone but the hard left.

  6. Alexander,

    Thanks for the links. I am an electrical engineer by trade and have no formal exposure to the materials you cited so its nice to have the reference. As an engineer, I do a great deal of computer programming and can appreciate your advice regarding my children. What bugs me is that I had hoped that they could remain children for a while. I really don’t appreciate that I must compete with the educators I pay to win the hearts and minds of my own children. I wish they would stick to the basics and not use the forum of the classroom to espouse their political doctrine. I have lots of opinions about how people should implement systems and run projects but I generally keep the more extreme ones to myself. After all, the customer is always right. If educrats actually had to treat parents as customers they could lose, I think they would have a different attitude. This is one of the reasons I staunchly support voucher programs.

    I hope everyone enjoys the Holidays.

    Jim English

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