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communityIt’s really what is at the heart of and the core of what Orwell was warning about in 1984. This is what Orwell was also trying to drive the point across when he wrote Animal Farm. This is what Bradbury was getting at in Fahrenheit 451 and others. It’s what Philip K. Dick is getting at in many of his sci-fi novels and sci-fi short stories about the future, looking at it to where man is not man any longer. Man is a functionary of the State.

Mike: Alston is next on The Mike Church Show, in Tennessee. Yes, Alston, how you doing?

Caller Alston: Good morning, King Dude, big fan, man. I have a 15-year-old stepson and he listens to you every morning, too. Your history feature is great, I love it.

Mike: Thank you very much.

Caller Alston: How do these folks get here? I had an instance Monday, was in a major corporation–I drive a truck. I got $3,000 worth of fuel a week. I was buying my cigars. I’m in there buying them. A girl asks for my ID. She takes my ID and she runs it across a scanner. I said, “Ma’am, what’d you do?” She said, “Our new policy is we have to scan it. If it doesn’t scan, you can’t buy.” I said, “I don’t agree with that. You just took my height, my weight, my eye color, my driving restrictions, my home address, all this stuff to buy a cigar. I didn’t tell you you could.” She said, “Well, that’s the way it is.” I said, “What’s the reason?” She said, “Well, because of fake IDs.” There at the counter, I pulled my pocket knife out, flipped my card over, and I scraped that damn barcode off. That won’t happen again. It was by a corporation that’s owned by our governor that was being raided Monday by the FBI at the same time.

Mike: Wow.

Caller Alston: How do we get to a spot where you need to know this information? I’ve been going in this same store for 12 straight years. How do we get to the spot where a little bit of common sense–the girl knows me but she was doing what the new policy was. She should be at the spot where: Hey, I know that cat. He’s all right. He’s been smoking those cigars forever; he buys fuel here. Just sell me the damn cigars.

Mike: What you’re describing is a lack of communal value. In other words, the value that is placed on “Oh, yeah, I know him; he’s my neighbor” or “Oh, yeah, he comes in here often” or “I see him around town” or “I see him at church” or “He’s such and such’s brother” or “He’s my old friend from high school’s husband.”

Because populations have become so large and so centralized, you’re not afforded the luxury, unless you live in a really small town where these sorts of things are known. We’re all only as good as our latest electronic identification says we are. That’s a dehumanizing concept.

It’s really what is at the heart of and the core of what Orwell was warning about in 1984. This is what Orwell was also trying to drive the point across when he wrote Animal Farm. This is what Bradbury was getting at in Fahrenheit 451 and others. It’s what Philip K. Dick is getting at in many of his sci-fi novels and sci-fi short stories about the future, looking at it to where man is not man any longer. Man is a functionary of the State. Because he is a functionary of the State, he has a number. That number has a value attached to it.

I don’t know if you know this, Also, and I’m trying to remember the name of it, but there’s a movie, and I think it’s based on a novel. I don’t know if it was a Philip K. Dick novel. I’m sure someone is going to call in or will tweet me the answer to this. The State has grown so large and powerful and all-possessive of the kind of information that you and I are talking about that they can actually assign a value to everyone’s life. They know what Alston in Tennessee’s life is worth. If your life is not worth a certain amount, in other words if you can’t produce certain things the State needs, you will be the product of an elimination campaign. Of course, it’ll seem like it’s an accident or it’ll seem like it’s a genetic defect in your heart or something like that. We’ll systematically be pruning out those whose value is not what the State thinks it ought to be for productive or needful members of society.

When we lose community, which is what you’re describing, what is there left? If there’s no community, what’s left other than the computer to tell the operator at the convenience store that’s not owned by “Sam Drucker” who you used to know and went to high school with? It is now owned by the Umbrella Corporation –just to throw a name out there–that has offices around the globe and 16,000 of those little stores and over a million employees and is known to cooperate with governments the world over. You’re describing a lack of and the end of community as it was once known. As I said, that is a dehumanizing thing. Alston, the sad part about it is you should be looking for that to happen more often and not less.

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Published: Apr 26, 2013
Author
Mike Church
Mike Church is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is the host of The Mike Church Show on Sirius Satellite Radio. A radio talk show host, author, filmmaker, and singer/songwriter, he is best known for his fearless ability to skewer liberals and fake conservatives with searing, in‐depth analysis. He was named “The Most Radical Man On The Radio” by “The American Conservative.” He can be heard on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 166 & 14 from 6:00-9:00 a.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.
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4 replies to this post
  1. Mike,

    A good interview. However, I have a tendency to think that we’re going for a combination of Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World. I think Neil Postman was on to something when he wrote “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, noting in the forward that:

    “In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

  2. Mr. Church: It’s always good to see Philip K. Dick references. I think it’s more accurate to say, however, that PKD’s concern on this score was with the dehumanizing tendencies of modern “corporatism”–a Fascist-like fusion of Big Government and Big Business aided and abetted by technology, pharmacology, and advertising. Of course, his eventual overriding concerns were metaphysics–the nature of reality–and theology. In any case, you’re right that the loss of community can only contribute (as does war) to the growth of the state: “Feel Like a Number” is not just a song by Bob Seger.

  3. For many years, I got in trouble with the companies I worked for, whenever a flunky would arrive from corporate HQ to tell us about some new (odious) “policy”. I — can’t learn a damn thing — would inevitably raise my hand and inquire after the “policy”. Usually, there was a blank look, and the response,”But… it’s Company Policy.” To which, I would ask,” Did Moses bring it down from Sinai? No? Then some fallable human made it up, and fallable humans are not God.” Wonder why my career stalled. Fortunately, I was in a position they couldn’t can me.

    What difference does it make whether one is required to be subservient to the Octopus State or to the Octopus Corporation or to the Octopus Church? If war is the health of the State, the State is the health of the Corporation. They usually conspire against the public anyway.

  4. Very interesting anecdote. It’s already happened to me, but somehow it was more chilling reading about someone else. A lot of us just don’t notice. It may depend on one’s background. I came from a large city (DC) to a mid-sized one (Richmond). If you’re in a smaller, very rooted, community, I’m sure it’s more striking.

    Orwell was half-right and very good when he was right. Bradbury was both right and Right. Dick always struck me as too contradictory and too paranoid to make his point quite so well. While Orwell was at least respectful of many traditional values, I understood Dick to be a thorough postmodernist whose moral/philosophical anarchy was merely helping to usher Big Brother in at a faster pace. I’m not saying he had no insights. But that he disliked aspects of those consequences just seems a little selective…. Like the welfare recipient who complains that his check is late. But if I’m off the mark on him, let me know! Thanks again.

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