Portions of this article are written by Katie Stallard of the Atlantic
1984 is commonly quoted when discussing a bleak future where humanity is controlled by Big Brother through information manipulation and conformity.
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell
We see this pattern of Authoritarian tendencies today, in real time, made possible by the use of information control. We’ve seen it in the Cult of Trump and the Republican Party where truth is irrelevant, especially if it differs from the Trump/GOP narrative. Stallard of the Atlantic discusses the Autocrat’s playbook when it comes to revising history to control the present.
“President Vladimir Putin’s announcement this February that he was ordering Russian troops into Ukraine to carry out a “denazification” campaign—an absurd claim, given that, for a start, Ukraine’s leader is Jewish and had relatives killed in the Holocaust—drew on those lies from years prior, lies that I saw warping reality in that basement in 2015 during the previous invasion of Ukraine. . . . Listening to Putin’s speech on the morning of his invasion, when he declared that he was saving innocents from “genocide” and compared his actions to the heroic struggle Russians waged during World War II, my initial response was disbelief. Then I realized I had heard this argument in that basement in 2015.”
The Russian president is the latest in a long line of dictators to manipulate history and manufacture enemies to rally the population against and secure his own hold on power. Past Soviet leaders have drawn on the same core themes, and I have seen this playbook in action in China and North Korea, where Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un insist that they too are defending their nations against hostile foreign adversaries.
Like Putin, Xi has passed new laws to protect the party’s version of history from scrutiny and silenced dissenting views.
Like Putin, Xi has passed new laws to protect the party’s version of history from scrutiny and silenced dissenting views. . … He has also extended the length of the war, moving the start date back to 1931 to incorporate what had previously been treated as a separate regional conflict with Japan. Though the change has a credible historical basis, the longer time frame also serves a useful political function by including the earlier period when Communist troops played a more active role in the fighting.
As Xi tells the story now, China fought first and for the longest of any of the Allied nations in the war. According to this version of history, Mao Zedong and his Communist revolutionaries are the ones who rallied the population to fight back against the foreign aggressors and demonstrated why the party must always be in power, and why China must build up its military strength
Kim, North Korea
While China’s version of history is at least credible, if tailored to serve the Communist Party’s needs, across the border in North Korea, the Kim regime relies on an absurd fiction and outright lies. For three-quarters of a century, it has claimed victory in two great wars, insisting that its first president, Kim Il Sung—the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong Un—“liberated” the country from Japanese colonial rule at the end of the Second World War, when in fact he was in the Soviet Union at the time. He then apparently secured a subsequent “brilliant victory,” over the United States in the Korean War in 1953, which in this version of the past, the U.S. and South Korea are said to have started.
Even as many of his citizens regularly go hungry in his impoverished and isolated country, Kim has invested ample resources in rebuilding and substantially expanding the country’s war museums. Preserving the regime’s version of the past is evidently more important than providing for the population’s basic needs.
In Russia, now, it is illegal to call the war in Ukraine a war. Russian schoolchildren are being taught that their soldiers are “defenders of peace” who are “liberating” grateful civilians. Putin quotes from the Bible and invokes the Great Patriotic War to underline the righteousness of his cause as he insists that he is fighting “for a world without Nazism.” There is evidence that this approach is working. The mayor of the Ukrainian town of Melitopol has recounted how, in March, he was abducted by Russian troops who told him they had come to “free Ukraine from Nazis.” Russian soldiers scrawled the words for the children on a missile that hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk—a grim irony, as that very strike killed children among the many evacuees who were waiting for a train. Xi and Kim must be encouraged by how well Putin’s popular support and his propaganda have held up. And that could set a very dangerous precedent, not just for those who live in these societies, but for those on the receiving end of more aggressive policies abroad—people who live in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the countries that surround the South China Sea.
Source: The Atlantic