Nineteen Eighty-Four on the Cheap

A year ago today...
A year ago today…

Damian Pratt takes a moment to commemorate the one year anniversary of that epic cadena in Caruachi last year – you remember, the one where Chávez’s handpicked audience turned on him, prying a series of concessions out of the guy live on TV before the whole thing shut down to a conveniently timed blackout.

The key win for the SIDOR workers that day? A presidential pledge to relaunch collective bargaining talks, which had been suspended unilaterally for years.

Fast forward 12 months: how many new collective bargaining agreements have been signed in Guayana? To ask that question is to answer it.

But that isn’t even the part of Pratt’s column I wanted to remark on. Instead, this is what jumps out at me:

Tengo otro recuerdo de aquel mitin. En línea recta  entre la tarima y la represa de Macagua II y III (2.600 MW), construida por aquella Edelca (ahora desbaratada) e inaugurada por Caldera II en 1997, no hay mas de 6 o 7 kilómetros.  Pero el candidato-presidente  dijo que “en los 40 años anteriores no se hizo nada en inversiones para generar electricidad”.  Y reescribió la historia:  “las empresas básicas fueron construidas por MI general Pérez Jiménez. Los gobiernos posteriores las destruyeron y nosotros las estamos rescatando”.  Hace un mes, cuando estuve en Mérida en un par de foros sobre mi libro “Guayana:  El Milagro al revés”, encontré -por absurdo que parezca- personas repitiendo esa historia.

You know, you gotta hand it to these folks: even George Orwell didn’t think you could get away with falsifying history this crudely.

He thought it possible to get a party elite to believe easily demonstrable lies, but doublethink struck him as an unworkable mechanism for the control of the masses.

That’s why, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, there’s a whole bureaucracy devoted to carefully rewriting the official record of the past, “updating” history to match the current party line. Orwell thought it plain that if common people were faced with direct evidence of regime lies, their adherence to the party would be compromised. And so in his dystopia a small elite capable of doublethink was tasked with falsifying the past for everyone else.

In Venezuela, more and more, we’re finding out that the Winston Smiths of Orwell’s imagination are dispensable. Why waste all that money rewriting musty old archives nobody’s going to read?

Turns out the masses can doublethink with the best(worst) of them.

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