The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Intelligence of Hillary Clinton

I cannot read the below…

… and think anything but that whatever Clinton’s IQ, she isn’t actually very smart.

It really takes an extraordinarily warped world-view to be able to believe the above. The simplest explanation is just that she really is unable to think clearly.

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  1. Strangefate

    Greenwald posted a twitter link to this as well. The more astonishing thing was how many rushed to her defense, insisting it the most profound of readings or an absolute defamation of Hillary’s sterling character by traitorous Bernie bros, Trumpers in disguise, drooling sexists, and other assorted villains. People like to say Trump has a cult rather than political following, but Hillary has one every bit as zombie-like in their loyalty it seems. Digby over at Hullubaloo has become a rather pronounced example of this actually with almost daily hair rending over the queen-in-exile.

  2. atcooper

    Her recent Vox interview had some wonderfully telling moments as well.

  3. bob mcmanus

    The radical elitism, arrogance, and contempt have always been obvious. There is a whole lot of projection goin on in the Dem Party. And no freaking way was I goin to watch an dialogue between Klein and Clinton.

    (PS:You have been posting very well lately. Thank you.)

  4. atcooper

    I hear you on Klein. Dude is a bootlicker.

    There’s a transcript, thank goodness. I don’t know that I could manage listening to either for the whole 40 mins runtime. At least not without a tranquilizer of some kind.

  5. BlizzardOfOz

    Remember, Democrats are the people for whom any history older than 6 months triggers them as irredeemably racistsexist. It makes sense that they’d be unable to understand Orwell’s work from 1949.

  6. GH

    I read the “people we need to rely on…” sentence a few times but I ignored the rest.

    Not sure why I ended up reading it that way.

  7. Kfish

    Funny, relying on our leaders, press and evidence-based experts has put us in exactly the position where someone like Trump could succeed. All of the serious people said that war in the Middle East was desirable, that we shouldn’t prosecute bankers after 2008 and that universal health care was a pipe dream.

  8. NoPolitician

    What is wrong with that sentiment? Do you doubt that it is possible for people to try and define reality for others? Democrats did precisely this by telling us how great we all are under Obama, how we are experiencing an unprecedented recovery, and repeating selective statistics over and over again, getting others to do the same. Many people knew that things were nowhere as good as that.

    What about anti-vaxxers? There is a whole sub-genre of these people, refusing to believe in science, instead believing in conspiracy theories that the government is trying to control us. They live in an alternate reality.

    Are you disagreeing that this is a tactic of authoritariansm? Look at North Korea to see how it is there.

    I am no Clinton apologist. I think she was a horrible candidate that exuded a sense of entitlement. But I think that she is right on this point – the right has been creating an alternative reality for its followers, and now people who used to be reasonable no longer believe in demonstrable facts. They dismiss them as trickery, wild conspiracy, “fake news”, etc.

  9. Billikin

    Having grown up in an ocean of authoritarians (in the Deep South), and knowing a little bit of social psychology, I wonder what your beef is. Authoritarianism warps both perception and cognition. In addition, Trump’s bullshit is aimed at undermining logic and reason and sowing mistrust. OTOH, Clinton’s choice of who to believe in could also be authoritarian. I have not studied her much, but I have not noticed that she is anti-authoritarian. There is more than a whiff of follow the leader in her statement.

  10. paintedjaguar

    I knew a lot of people like Hillary in my small town high school. Bright and striving enough to be big fish in their particular pond, but totally parochial in their general outlook and worldviews. Many people, including some of her admirers have called Hillary a “queen bee”. What about that characterization is not about simple dominance?

  11. EverythingsJake

    In principle I’m in agreement. But I think there’s an important nuance worth considering. I might suggest that she is in fact quite gifted with certain intellectual faculties. By report of her Senate career, and you may know better, she’s able to absorb and commanded enormous amounts of detail in her approach to issues. And our history is littered with McNamaras and other technocrats who were similarly gifted, at least by then and current society’s view.

    What they have lacked, by my estimation, is wisdom, and compassion. The latter usually needing to be directed first at one’s self. I’m never certain if it’s fear of one’s own fragility, or of one’s shadow. Facing either or both of those is, at minimum, a daunting journey. Or perhaps she and her ilk are simply sociopaths, and thus incapable of that work. Certainly many have been, Kissinger chief among them.

    But Hillary has had plenty of invitation by “wound” to examine her own part, but she fiercely resists taking the dive. She abjures inspection of her own weaknesses. By way of this example you have quoted and in her own explicit statements, she still can’t understand why so many people dislike her. Contrast that with yourself who writes quite openly about what you’ve learned from your trials and responses, including your meditative practices.

    Smart people are just as subject to the compulsive pressures of the limbic cortex as any. My experience is that only wise people are sometimes less so, as in the Narrator’s response to Emily in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” that the “poets and saints” get it sometimes.

  12. John

    Craven unbridled ambition, a certain low level cleverness, boundless greed, huge self absorption, and the eternal quest for the main chance defines many of our leaders. These are the qualities that neoliberalism rewards. “She demonstrated she could grovel on all fours while scribbling with two” are the wonderful words of John Helmer describing the ability of a reporter from the Financial Times interviewing Ivanka Trump. Hillary could be described in a similar manner.

    But it is evidently an old (2500 years?) human problem. The following quote from the Katha Upanishad sums it up: “Living in the abyss of ignorance yet wise in their own conceit, deluded fools go round and round, the blind led by the blind” (Katha Upanishad 1:2:5).
    Bhuddists consider that abyss of ignorance to be the source of all suffering. The slight positive is that ignorance is curable…over a long period of time…Kalpas perhaps.

  13. Tomonthebeach

    Kfish – Funny, relying on our leaders, press and evidence-based experts has put us in exactly the position where someone like Trump could succeed. All of the serious people said that war in the Middle East was desirable, that we shouldn’t prosecute bankers after 2008 and that universal health care was a pipe dream.

    Kfish is right, but for the wrong reasons. It probably depends on information access. Myself and others, all “serious persons,” tried to elevate evidence that there were no WMD in Iraq – the politicians ignored it. Somebody had to suffer for 9/11. We did at least create doubt. That led to conning Powell into thinking there are WMD. Misled, Powell convinced the skeptics in Congress to invade. Powell, a serious person, became aware of his unwitting duplicity – nobly, he resigned.

    As for Wall Street, how can you prosecute your fellow Harvard classmates? Most Americans had no problem with that, but the Harvard politicians prevailed.

    Indeed, universal healthcare was a pipedream back i 2008, true enough. It took the Great Recession and loss of employer health insurance to wise up the middle class that they were screwed. It took awhile before people accepted that the #1 cause of bankruptcy was/remains healthcare debt.

  14. Hugh

    It just would never occur to Hillary Clinton that she was a corrupt, godawful candidate from a party which stands for absolutely nothing, and that this is why she lost an election that a ham sandwich could have won, and in a lot of senses, did win. If her level of arrogance and narcissism is reminiscent of Trump, it is because both belong to the same class of the rich and elites. Both feel endlessly entitled. And it is always, always, about them, not us.

    But hey, a grifter’s got to grift. So though most of us wish she would just go away, and stay away, this idiot book is signaling no such luck. It was all about those damn Russkies. And everybody knows that Comey was born Ivan Ilyich Cominski. And OK so what if those people WE need to rely on are the same rich and elites who are flushing the country down the crapper. We can’t live without them, and how do we know this? because this is what they are constantly telling us. And I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m holding up just one finger for you, Hill. Not my problem you refuse to see which one it is.

  15. EverythingsJake


    I’m not sure I believe Powell didn’t know. He may have convinced himself of such. But, his integrity was already seriously compromised, essentially from the very start of his career. He ran point on covering up My Lai. When it was clear Sadaam would withdraw from Kuwait in seven or so days needed to fully withdraw, Powell is the one who suggested to George Sr. that they just shorten the period before war would be declared to three days because the President wanted war and wasn’t going to let something like peaceful victory get in the way.

    If he was unwittingly duplicitous in his UN testimony, it may have been the first time in his otherwise quite ignoble career. If I gave him some small benefit of the doubt, I suppose he could turned his attention to establishing legacy since he was done amorally climbing his way to the top, but on the flip side, he didn’t exactly recuse his actions and attack the persons and organizations that duped him with any kind of real fervor. I don’t recollect he took any subsequent moral stance against starting or continuing the war (and nothing in Col Wilkerson’s now longstanding noble behavior suggests he was just playing mouthpiece for Powell).

  16. Steeleweed

    “…when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune.”
    – Joe Bageant

  17. Webstir

    Oh yes, the irony is strong in Hillary’s … er, propaganda. The establishment dem automatons shoving their “definitive” neocon reality down the world’s throat.

  18. Doug Colwell

    NoPolitician, I want to respond to your assertion that anti-vaxers don’t believe in science. Science can be of enormous value when it is done properly. Sadly we live in an era when the corrupting hand of profit has reached into many places where it does not belong, and that includes medical research. A long time editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell had much to say about this. “It is no longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”.
    I am also of the opinion that the pharmaceutical industry has been long engaged in the practice of regulatory capture.

  19. This surprises? Grom one of Nixon’s Young Republicans?

  20. pebird

    A smart people can pick a bad ghost writer. Not saying she is smart.

  21. Duder

    I don’t think Hillary’s interpretation of Orwell represents stupidity. It is the perfect statement of neoliberal authoritarianism. Chris Hedges calls it “inverted totalitarianism.” Neoliberals, being liberal, fancy that they are against tyranny and domination. Torture in the service of a totalitarian government, as in 1984, is the perfect representation of the primordial evil neoliberals imagine they are opposed to; being an ideology forged during the paranoia of the Cold War. Trump demagoguery is the perfect foil for this imagination. But, just as with liberal anti-communism, the solution for totalitarianism is to defer democratic authority to a technocratic elite, whom can save us from such evils and despots. That is the underlining logic in Hillary’s reversal of Orwell’s masterpiece. Hedges is right to call it “inverted” totalitarianism.

  22. V. Arnold

    Chris Hedges calls it “inverted totalitarianism.”

    Actually, Hedges got it from Sheldon Wolin.

  23. bbig

    Do her supporters not see the irony of her referencing the scene where the torturer holds up four fingers, and forcing the prisoner to see five?

    Her supporters will see whatever they want to believe. Just like the prisoner.

  24. Theo

    Neoliberalism is the political economy of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. It is the political economy of Thatcher and Reagan and all leaders that followed them in both parties. It is and was the political economy of the conservative thinkers/economists that immediately preceded Thatcher and Reagan. People on the left often attach the term to certain Democrats exclusively. That is a mistake. I understand why they do that as they understandably have a very strong animus toward the Democrats who have betrayed the American people, but the Republicans got there first. The simplest definition of neoliberalism is that it is a philosophy that sees the purpose of government as exclusively concerned with the fostering of free market solutions, devoid of social content and that the market should be allowed to decide all issues related to human life. This mischaracterization is found in most of the media as well. The liberal part of the word trips them up. It only refers to economic liberalism. Yes, it has different connotations in each party. Ultimately each gets us to the same terrible place, however.

    As to Ian’s comment on Clinton’s intelligence, it was awkwardly made. Certainly her recounting of Orwell’s text is true. She, along with all the he’s in our midst (vastly more than she’s), lack insight. She does not know or cannot admit that is exactly what she and all the rest of her type are doing. She shows that in the excerpt you chose. And she is graceless in defeat. It should not surprise anyone that our so-called leaders are mediocre and venal. Certainly most of the he’s of history and currently are so. She is no exception.

  25. V. Arnold

    September 15, 2017

    So well said; thank you.

  26. realitychecker

    Hillary Clinton is living proof that psychology trumps intelligence lol.

  27. Ann

    Apparently, misreading notable 20th century texts runs in the family. Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin got into an argument with Chelsea Clinton over her misuse of the phrase “the banality of evil” not too long ago. Heh.

  28. Ché Pasa

    Jousting cults and cult leaders are an inescapable feature of a two-party electoral system such as that embedded in American politics. Thus presidential candidates are almost by definition “cult leaders.”

    You may agree or disagree with the candidates and their cult followers, but you can’t really escape them, not without changing the System. And that’s not happening.

    Authoritarianism is embedded as well. It’s inescapable in the American system of government. As it is in the British system — which Orwell was deeply familiar with.

    Soon enough Hillary will be a political footnote — if that. All the energy expended denouncing her after her electoral defeat seems entirely wasted when there is a clear and present authoritarian on the throne.

  29. A1

    So what will Hillary do? Does she want to run again? Or does she have nowhere else to go? Will she fade away or will she be dragged off into the sunset?

  30. sid_finster

    For years, I have been hearing how brilliant HRC is, even though I am yet to see anyone point to a concrete example of her brilliance.

    For that matter, if she’s so smart, why does she keep on saying so many stupid things and doing so many stupid things?

  31. Peter

    I wonder what we could call this use of partisan Newspeak to describe an Orwellian attack on clear thinking? The Red Queen has shown herself to be a dummy repeatedly over the years yet she used her political skills to become the object of a cult of personality and some people are hard at work to return her to that role.

    Other Clintonites feel free to critique the loser but I think it’s mostly for being a loser and if she had won they would be playing a different tune.

    Our postmodern version of Newspeak is most everywhere, even here, with a headline proclaiming the Red Queen’s ‘Intelligence’ for a post about an obvious but manipulative dummy.

  32. Willy

    Simple dominance? The evidence is that neoliberalism is very bad public policy where the proven end result is a few dominating the many. It’s harder to question the logic or reason of something when it benefits oneself, but there are those who still can. Not Hillary, who winds up blaming Bernie, Trump… hell, anybody… else.

    In short, Hillary cannot pull her head out of her ass because she likes the way it smells and feels. I’ve seen monkeys in zoos…

  33. atcooper

    I cannot tell the effective difference between Trump and Obama. I’d hoped Trump meant some of the things he said, but it looks like he was the more effective liar.

    Maybe, just maybe, he will help with the disassembling of empire. But if he does, I don’t think it’ll be on purpose.

  34. I don’t think the quote makes her an idiot more than it is an expression of a particular ideological position that is very well known and at the center of modern technocratic thinking. The thinking is, there is an objective reality that is concealed under many layers of indirection and flawed perception, and we have a social class whose purpose it is to access and reveal that and make decisions based on that. We have another class who has taken upon itself to further obfuscate this difficult-to-access ur-reality, and it has the upper hand — that is the role of Orwell’s Party. The fundamental conflict is between these two groups. If you view the world that way, Clinton’s interpretation of 1984 makes sense. I mean the worldview is probably wrong/self-deceiving. But it’s not a surprise or even news that Clinton would share it.

  35. Willy

    The evidence is that neoliberalism does not work for “the people”. Yet “the experts who seek to guide public policy base on evidence” want more of the same. What makes them so obtuse?

    If everybody operates out of self-interest…

  36. Jonathan

    Is HRC intelligent? Who knows and even more importantly, what possible difference does it make.

    For a short time (one year), I was a member of MENSA. I soon discovered that raw intellectual horsepower meant very little. Smart people can easily believe some of the most absurd BS imaginable. I have been thinking about this now for over 35 years and have come up with some interesting possibilities:

    1) There is no greater impediment to mental development than bigotry. Want to know why ‘Merikuns are hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the rest of the world. Blame “American Exceptionalism!” If you believe that we are #1 in everything important and that everyone else is jealously trying to catch up, there is no reason at all to know about anyone else because they are just insufficiently developed ‘Merikuns anyway. Groups that think they are endowed by nature with extreme intelligence suffer from the same problem—no one else has anything to add.

    2) Historical illiteracy. Anyone who lacks a general grasp of history is like a child who believes the world was fully formed when he was born. If you don’t know where you came from, it is impossible to know where you are. And if you don’t know where you are, it is impossible to make informed decision about where you want to go.

    3) Technological illiteracy. The world was built by skilled users of tools. Anyone who does not understand this and lacks an appreciation for the tool users is forced to believe in magic. And if this were not bad enough, the techno illiterates usually believe that their ignorance makes them socially and intellectually superior.

    4) Trained Incapacity (Thank you TBV) The greatest motor for intellectual mediocrity are our “elite” colleges. Four of the biggest fools I know have Harvard degrees. Robert Strange McNamara believed that “if you cannot count it, it does not exist.” No one believes something that freaking stupid at birth, one must be taught that in school. Odds are extremely high that he learned that at Hahvahrd. And so his relentless belief in numbers and body counts drove his madness on Vietnam. Lawrence Summers, a former president of Harvard once penned a memo that postulated that “the Third World was under-polluted so was a perfect place to ship our toxic wastes.” We know about this deep thought because he was so proud of it, he spread it around. The problem is made all the worse because folks who learn madness at elite schools find it VERY hard to abandon these crazy ideas. They have too much ego invested.

  37. shubttsadiq

    We’re an empire now…we don’t have to make sense. We do what we want and everyone else just follows along. We create the reality and everyone else just studies it, judiciously, if you will. By then, we’ve moved on to some other way of herding the sheep.

  38. shubttsadiq

    Thanks so much Karl Rove! You’re an asshole.

  39. She couldn’t pass the bar exam in DC. She thought voting to attack Iraq was a good idea. She pushed President Obama to destroy Libya. She stored top-secret material on an unsecured private server. Wow, she sure is smart.

  40. bruce wilder

    @ Duder

    You have articulated my reaction to the passage better than I could.

    “Inverted totalitarianism” as a concept is often attributed to the late Sheldon Wolin, who is very worth much paying attention to. Here is Chris Hedges interviewing Wolin. Good stuff.

    @Ian “The simplest explanation is just that she really is unable to think clearly.”

    I think this might well be true. I have not read her book, but I have noted that reviewers remark on how disorganized is the plan of the book considered as a whole.

    She has been treated long-term for hypothyroidism and also takes Coumadin. Hypothyroidism can impair the ability to think strategically, especially regarding the mechanics of action. I have dealt with a few accomplished people, who have impaired thyroid function. One was editor of a leading glossy magazine devoted to architecture for many years. A fortune in high-end residential house-flipping — a venture pursued after leaving the magazine — dissolved in a couple of years, when no one noticed the developing hypothyroidism or the impairment of executive function. Another is a national authority on personnel/human resources, heads a high-powered consulting firm and is active as a director and frequent speaker for national professional associations; his staff tracks his computer use and car, because that is where his periods of confusion, which are frequent, show up clearly.

    It is an odd impairment, because if you set one of these people a task where they have to imagine and put in motion a series of steps taking account of the mechanics of everyday life, the deficiencies are stark. I saw how the real estate person, who had assembled a major magazine for publication lost the ability to put together and control a straightforward renovation project. The HR guy would get agitated when he could not manage his iTunes library. But even when quite severely impaired, both could give speeches in large groups and remained emotionally appropriate and charming and I suppose you could say manipulative, in a normal, non-pathological sense. They could get their needs met smoothly with no display of a handicap, as long as they had access to service businesses or staff or friends.

    I do not like to medicalize or “diagnose”. But, I am struck by the way the quoted passage is psychologically consistent or ideologically consistent, as Mandos and others have pointed out, but makes no sense when examined for the logic of its social mechanisms.

    It is striking to me that Clinton could not understand why a no-fly zone in Syria made no sense, even after the Turks shot down a Russian plane. Or, why a plan for after in Libya was necessary.

    Why using a private email server for official business might be a bad idea might actually be less about political judgment than about the inability to manage the distinction between public business and private, mechanically.

    There is a lot of evidence that thinking critically and clearly is not her strong suit.

  41. realitychecker

    @ bw

    The inevitable result of “wanting it all”? One might well wonder.

    I always loved Steven Wright’s take on “wanting it all”–“Where would you put it?” 🙂

  42. will_f

    The thinking is, there is an objective reality that is concealed under many layers of indirection and flawed perception, and we have a social class whose purpose it is to access and reveal that and make decisions based on that.

    But this is not at all what Orwell was writing about.

    Look at what HRC wrote, again:

    The goal is to make you question logic and reason, and to sow mistrust against exactly the people we need to rely on; our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy…

    In 1984, the torturer was working for the same people as the leaders and the press and the experts, they were all working for the totalitarian state.

    The torturer wasn’t trying to get Winston Smith to distrust his own leaders, the torturer was working for them and trying to get Smith to accept their obfuscated version of reality.

    Also, there is much room for disagreement on the statement that “we have a social class whose purpose it is to access and reveal that and make decisions based on that”. If we did, this country would not be where it is today. But that is another discussion.

  43. will_f

    The thinking is, there is an objective reality that is concealed under many layers of indirection and flawed perception, and we have a social class whose purpose it is to access and reveal that and make decisions based on that.

    But this is not at all what Orwell was writing about.

    Look at what HRC wrote, again:

    The goal is to make you question logic and reason, and to sow mistrust against exactly the people we need to rely on; our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy…

    In 1984, the torturer was working for the same people as the leaders and the press and the experts, they were all working for the totalitarian state.

    The torturer wasn\’t trying to get Winston Smith to distrust his own leaders, the torturer was working for them and trying to get Smith to accept their obfuscated version of reality.

    Also, there is much room for disagreement on the statement that \”we have a social class whose purpose it is to access and reveal that and make decisions based on that\”. If we did, this country would not be where it is today. But that is another discussion.

  44. Hugh

    The passage Ian cited reminds me of Clinton’s non-apology apology for her Iraq War vote:

    “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

    Here too we see the appeal to “logic” (best decision I could with information I had) and the deflection “It wasn’t my fault” (And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong.)

    As I wrote about this at the time:

    This is like an engineer designing a plane that keeps crashing killing all on board. After years of denying that there was any problem, she comes out and says that her calculations were correct but the numbers she was given were wrong. Oh, and lots of other people made the same mistake.

    What Clinton’s statement overlooks, of course, is that that plenty of people pointed out the dangers which she chose to ignore. Instead she slammed and belittled those who tried to avert the Iraq disaster. Nor is there anything about why it took her 12 years to even partially understand the nature of her screw up or long after virtually every other being on the planet with a pulse. Only grifters like the Clintons would then take this monumental, impossibly bad example of self-serving, poor judgment and seek to spin it into the gold cloth of “foreign policy experience” or even more ludicrously a Hard Choice.

    In looking for her Iraq quote, I came across some notes I made on why Hillary lost:

    Hillary Clinton lost because
    she is a terrible person
    she is a terrible politician
    she ran a terrible campaign
    she hired a bunch of sycophants, hacks, and consultants with long records of failure
    she doubled down on her mistakes
    she is infuriatingly arrogant and entitled
    she hated most of the electorate
    she lies like a rug
    she is Corrupt with a capital C
    she was the candidate of a deeply hated status quo
    she was the candidate of Big Money
    she had no platform for the bottom 80%
    she threw too many groups that she needed to win under the bus: progressives, Millennials, Berniecrats, and the “deplorables” of the white working class
    she relied on TINA
    she pivoted to a non-existent Hillary right
    she relied on identity politics
    she failed to energize these identity groups
    she ran solely on the message that she was not Trump

  45. drfrank

    I thought pretty hard about Ian’s brief post and I’m pretty sure I don’t know what he is trying to say. And I think a professional blogger ought to say what he means. Also, “intelligent” and “smart” are close but not exactly the same thing. The paragraph quoted is pretty badly written and on close inspection nearly incoherent. I guess Clinton wants to call attention to the danger posed by Trump’s need to dominate and the to authoritarian, truth-manipulating lengths he is willing to go to get there, which she presents in a dramatic way. I tend to agree that Trump presents some real dangers along these lines. I wish Clinton had not produced this book. I’m pretty angry with Clinton for failing to protect us from Trump and his gang in The White House. I’m angry with Democrats for not having a better candidate than Hillary and I’m angry with Obama for not having developed a successor and leaving his party with a winning message. Maybe I’m just angry about what must be the dominance of the Clinton machine in the Democratic Party. I don’t understand why if she was even vaguely considering a run for President she didn’t keep it squeaky clean at the Foundation and with her the State Dept. communications, why she didn’t see the problem in taking big speaking fees from Wall Street, etc., why she didn’t tone down her aggressive militarism when she was Sec. of State. Why she didn’t see what was happening to her support in the traditional Democratic industrial states and do something about it? I think she is plenty intelligent but not very smart.

  46. JD

    Her paragraph is actually entirely correct, apart from the words between “on:” and “ourselves”; if you strike out the words between those two, the paragraph is a perfectly decent summary of 1984 and Trump, the sort of thing I’d expect a decent high school student to write.

    So I wouldn’t call it stupid, so much as weird. Weird in the way only ideology can be, weird in the way Orwell so carefully dissected himself. The eruption of those words in the middle — our leaders, our press, experts, etc — is so contrary not just to everything that 1984 was about, but everything else in that very paragraph, that that abrupt and utterly inconsistent appeal to authority itself seems to illustrate the sort of Orwellian conditioning the rest of the paragraph and 1984 more generally is about. Somehow her brain has been warped by her ideology to misread the clearest, most well-written argument against it, even while in the midst of actually reasonably understanding what she is reading. It’s like some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion, including the inability to see your own bizarre self-contradiction. Which, in short, is what ideology is — trusting authorities instead of ourselves, expertise instead of our own eyes.

    So anyway, I wouldn’t call it stupid. It’s much more interesting that that, and much more illuminating about how power works even when directly and willingly confronting ideas inimical to it.

  47. tony


    Ian probably did not want to insult his readers by explaining things that should be obvious. The authority figure in the story does one thing right in front of the victim, and then asks the victim what he sees.

    The demand is that the victim learns to automatically replace his own perceptions with what the authority demands. Or else.

    This is how dysfunctional families and organizations often work, though it is not dramatized. It is also how schooling works.

    Hillary seems to be a perfect example of the result of this treatment. She sees in that 1984 passage what is ideologically convenient, even though the exact opposite is true. The 1984 scene is about developing blind trust and obedience to authority figures, going so far that you won’t even believe your own lying eyes when they contradict what you have been told.

  48. WheresOurTeddy

    Spoken like a true Goldwater Girl.

  49. will_f: I am not arguing that her interpretation is “right” in some sense, only that it is how you would read the paragraph if you had certain starting premises. If you start with the idea of the world as being torn between the forces of reason and unreason, then the 1984 Party is the party of unreason, and Winston is the submerged force of reason, forced to deny itself. This may not have been the interpretation that Orwell wanted or would have believed in, but no one is entirely bound to interpret literature precisely as the author intended it; we cannot reasonably reconstruct in our own minds what it is that an Elisabethan might have thought watching a Marlowe play.

  50. Boy, a lot of “missing the point” going on. “Smart?” Maybe, or maybe not, but where is the notice paid to the degree to which thinking is discolored, disrupted by ideology, which is what Orwell was all about?

    Liberals are the archtype for Orwell Syndrome. “I’m a Liberal,” they say, or, since liberal has become a dirty word, “I’m a progressive,” which they think means what liberal used to mean but without the perjorative connotation. Asked for reasons, they can never give reasons. “Everyone has a right to health care” is nonsense. Ask them to show that to you in the constitution. No, “putsuit of happiness” does not guarantee good health, and it’s not in the constitution, it’s in the Declaration of Independence. That “a healthy society is a productive and peaceful society” never occurs to them because logic is not what drives them, ideology does.

    When you ask them what defines their liberalism/progressivism, they cite the preservation of Social Security, Medicare, welfare programs and all sorts of things that we currently are doing, which is the definition of “conservative,” not “liberal.”

  51. different clue

    @Bill H,

    I have lately been calling myself a New Deal Reactionary.

    The New Deal was a good deal for most of us. I want my New Deal back.

  52. different clue

    ( I still read Naked Capitalism every day. And I am still bitter over what still looks like a sneaky secret stealth-ban from the shadows. But NaCap still offers interesting articles.)

    The window this book offers into Clinton’s brain is not the only point of the book. The other point of the book is that it is part of a broader multi-platform Psychological and Information Operation designed to advance the policy of Internet Censorship. Here is an artlcle about why Amazon is censoring so many negative reviews of Clinton’s book. Amazon is doing it to try and extend the reach and influence of Clinton’s book, so that the various pieces of Information Operation “messaging” in favor of Internet Censorship can reach the widest possible audience.

    Here is the link.

  53. Webstir

    “I still read Naked Capitalism every day. And I am still bitter over what still looks like a sneaky secret stealth-ban from the shadows.”

    Hah! That’s funny. I tune in once or twice a day as well. So what did you say to get their dander up?

    On a related note, NC is down this morning for the past couple of hours. I wonder who in the darkness they pissed off now?

  54. Webstir

    “dark-net” not darkness.

  55. realitychecker

    The Intelligence of Hillary Clinton

    An appropriately short post.

  56. different clue


    I will gather my thoughts and then write about that on this very thread , and then I will speak no more of it on any later threads. ( I may well speak more of it on THIS thread . . . but not on any other threads).

  57. VietnamVet

    different clue

    I’ve bookmarked this thread to read your responses. I notice myself wondering what a passing and failing comment is. As a low rung technocrat I never got it quite right. It is astonishing how craven the system has become. Corporate media is “facts” and “the truth” which it is patently untrue. An open sourced insurgency elected Donald Trump and continued until the establishment surrounded him with a military staff and cut him off. The strange thing is the President believes all the alt-right propaganda that the autocrats use to keep the rubes in line. Similar to Hillary Clinton, a grifter who believes the grift.

  58. different clue


    Oh my . . . . well, this places an added burden on me to make my description and explanation of events as accurate and complete as I can. And then place some bounds on the inevitable bitterness of my final summing-up.

    So I am still thinking of how to design and assemble my comment on this.

  59. different clue

    ( Meanwhile, here is an article called ” The Real Reason Hillary Can’t Just Shut The Fuck Up And Go Away”. It is by a WOMan journalist named Caitlin Johnstone. And here is the link. )

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