Hillary Clinton, excuse-maker-in-chief, uses her new book to reference George Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), and warn against Trump's created realities.
As she puts it in What Happened, "Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism ... this is what happens in George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves."
That quote proves Clinton does not understand 1984.
In 1984, O'Brien does not torture Winston, the protagonist, to sow his mistrust in anyone. He does it to ensure Winston's singular trust in Big Brother and "the party." Orwell does not want us to rely on "our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence," only on the last element of Clinton's quote: "ourselves".
While Orwell favored the pursuit of knowledge, he also knew humanity's innate susceptibility to political malfeasance. Orwell wrote 1984 in the years just following the Nazi eugenics-based human supremacism, and at the epoch of Stalin's government-based human supremacism. Crucially, he recognized that both foul ideologies had originally won favor by claiming to serve human interests.
"The people we need," as Clinton puts it, are also the people who instigated Nazi and Soviet suffering.
Orwell's observations led him to become skeptical of all power and "knowledge", however beneficent it might first appear. Via the language of Oceania, "newspeak", Orwell warns us that that knowledge must always be open to re-examination. This is worth considering when Clinton references climate change activists as "experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence."
Orwell's personal life proves his skeptical qualities. The author was always willing to separate himself from reflexive obedience to ideology. As a committed socialist he fought against facists in the Spanish Civil War, but later bucked other British socialists to oppose Soviet communism.
Clinton doesn't get this. Instead, she believes that the solution to populism is obedience to a 1984-style "inner party" class of those who know better.
Of course, many Americans voted for Trump precisely because of his aggressive rejection of such elitism. Was fake news part of the reason they did so? Perhaps. But there can be little doubt that Clinton benefited from her own fake news, such as her tedious claims of moral fortitude.
Again, for Orwell, no one deserves total trust. He also makes this point in Animal Farm. At the beginning of that book, the pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, mobilize the other animals to liberate themselves from human tyranny. The pigs are shown to be strong and moral leaders perceptibly worthy of support.
Until, that is, they are not.
Power corrupts the pigs and suddenly "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
Such is the story of Hillary Clinton's life in the establishment fast lane. She preaches the moral interests of all, but uses her power and influence to serve special interests and access self-reward. Then, alongside her millions of dollars from corporate speeches, Clinton ordains herself a leader of civic virtue.
It's a joke.
But as I say, Hillary Clinton does not understand 1984. That book is no warning against Trump, it is a warning to all humans about all in power.