“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.” ~Audre Lorde
We are told what to think almost every day. We are less often taught how to think.
From mainstream media to social media. From “real” news to “fake” news. From Facebook political pokes to Twitter Trumpisms. It’s getting more and more difficult to navigate the wide-open waters of the information age.
There is so much information out there. It can be overwhelming. All too often we take the easy route and unquestioningly stick to our political party line. But when it comes down to it, it is our responsibility alone to think clearly. It’s not our chosen news outlet’s responsibility. It’s not our teacher’s responsibility. It’s not our political party’s responsibility. It is ours and ours alone. Paraphrasing Aristotle, we must be capable of entertaining a thought without accepting it. Lest we become victims to the thoughts of others. As a sixth grader once said, “Question authority, including the authority that told you to question authority.”
“I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous – if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.” ~Robert Green Ingersoll
Newspeak is a term coined by George Orwell in his book 1984. Newspeak is dangerous because it is the opposite of the first amendment: freedom of press. It is all about thought control and thought suppression. It limits the freedom of thought while keeping the individual under the delusion that he/she is thinking freely. As Noam Chomsky wrote in The Common Good, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Newspeak is all about limiting spectrums of thought. Every time you hear Trump utter the words “Fake news” you are witnessing a newspeak tactic that is covertly attempting to keep you passive and obedient while also limiting the spectrum of “acceptable” opinion.
The first amendment is powerful because it allows for freedom of expression. Whether that expression is right or wrong, or even fake, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is our responsibility as individual thinkers to decide if it is right or wrong. When another person is using their power to dictate to you what is right or wrong, or who attempts to coerce you from ever seeing the information to make a sound decision in the first place, that person is lording their power over you through newspeak. That is covert tyranny.
Lest we fall into covert slavery, we must, as responsible individuals, first use our courage and solidarity to maintain freedom of press and freedom of creative expression and, second, use our powers of logic and reasoning when assessing the information gleaned from said press or creative expression.
“How could you have a slogan like “Freedom is Slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” ~George Orwell
Governing the precept that orthodoxy is unconsciousness, it stands to reason that unorthodoxy is consciousness. It further stands to reason that not questioning the orthodoxy is falling victim to unconsciousness. Therefore, to be conscious, to be woke, as the kids are saying, is to question the orthodoxy.
Also coined in 1984, and subtly different from newspeak, doublethink is a strategy that attempts to keep thought trapped inside the double-bind of the orthodoxy. It keeps a person in a constant state of unconscious cognitive dissonance. It goes Meta with the idea of Newspeak, where the lies we tell ourselves are always one step ahead of the truth we willfully suppress. In the book, the three slogans of the Party –War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength, are good examples of doublethink. Although 1984 is a dystopian fiction novel, it’s not too difficult of a stretch to see how these slogans can apply to our world today.
Not thinking for ourselves is fast becoming the norm. Most of us are knee-jerk statists incapable of thinking outside our party line’s box, let alone the statist box itself. We’ve fallen hook-line-and-sinker for cultural conditioning, statist brainwashing, and political propaganda to such an extent that we have lost the ability to “entertain a thought without accepting it.” Cultural ninjaneering is a call to arms to reacquire this lost ability.
The Cultural Ninjaneer
“The population suffers from a fear of change. Their conditioning assumes a static identity, and challenging one’s belief system usually results in insult and apprehension, for being wrong is erroneously associated with failure. When in fact, to be proven wrong should be celebrated, for it is elevating someone to a new level of understanding.” ~Peter Joseph
A cultural ninjaneer is an individual who is capable of entertaining a political, national, racial, and religious thought without accepting it. Using logic, reason, and probability, they are adept at taking things into consideration and not putting all their eggs into any particular basket. In short, they are able to culturally adapt and self-overcome.
A cultural ninjaneer counters newspeak and “limited spectrums of acceptable opinion” by questioning everything they read. They question all political parties, especially their own. And when they come up with what seems like a solid answer, they take it into consideration rather than believe in it. In other words: they entertain the answer without accepting it. They use the “answer” as a tool so that it doesn’t turn them into a tool.
As for doublethink, the same thing applies, but they must go Meta to counter the preconditioned Meta of doublethink. One way they do this is to cultivate and practice Joshua Green’s concept of metamorality. Which is based on a common ground that all humans can agree upon while proposing a utilitarian deep pragmatism that empathically broadens the mind and compassionately opens the heart to the plight of us all as interdependent beings on an interconnected planet.
At the end of the day, the cultural ninjaneer realizes that the age of information inevitably comes with an overload of bullshit from all angles. Which is even more of a reason to keep their skeptics cap on tight and their question-mark sword sharp. They understand that it will be difficult to excavate Truth –tantamount to finding diamonds in the rough. But they have a sense of humor about it. They don’t take anything too seriously, especially their own opinion. They take everything with a grain of salt, and some things with the entire salt shaker.
They appreciate the difficulty of being a fallible, imperfect, prone to mistakes, tribally-biased and confused human in an otherwise confusing universe, where Truth has never been readily apparent. They laugh, and they laugh hard, at the cosmic joke of it all. But they have the courage and the audacity to turn that humor into art, into creative self-expression, and into The Press, which not everyone will always agree with. But so what if people don’t agree? They will never agree 100%… And that’s okay when you’re not taking yourself or your political agenda too seriously.
Read more articles by Gary ‘Z’ McGee.
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (Cultural Ninjaneering: Overcoming Newspeak Doublethink) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary ‘Z’ McGee and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.