1984 and Big Mother
by Randall Watters
No one thought much of the book when it was first published in 1949, nor, in fact, did it stir much attention for a number of years thereafter. In the last two decades, however, the book1984 by George Orwell has drawn a much greater reading audience. Orwell portrays a Society brainwashed by political ideologies to the point where they are intolerant of any other mindset. Ironically, though the chances are slim today that any political organization could ever have such absolute control over people's lives, religious cults have taken up the slack. For an absolute ideological system to really work, all of the subjects of such a system must not only believe in it, but be enthusiastic about it. Even in Communist Russia, which once almost paralleled Orwell's world, it is impossible to win all the people over to their ideology. Yet true thought control has been achieved in religious circles in a way that would make politicians envious.
It has been said that cults make emotional cripples out of their members; and if the victim manages to leave the group, they must struggle in order to become a `normal' member of society again. Why does this happen?
Often such religious groups teach their subjects to shun normal displays of emotion; whether it be hugging, singing and dancing, crying, laughing or whatever. When a person is told that such displays of emotion or feelings are `out of line,' they are forced to develop new codes of conduct, usually based on fear of men rather than fear of God. Such abrupt changes in a person's responses can cause psychological problems and confusion. But there are other, more significant problems that usually develop.
Being brought up in a certain society or culture, we develop certain normative reactions to life's circumstances. If someone punches us, we get angry with them. If they make a funny face at us, we laugh spontaneously. If they smile at us, we smile at them. If they disagree with us, we will try and accommodate if nothing vital is at stake. In other words, we learn to `get along' with others so as to be able to have friends in this world, even if we do not agree with the way they run their lives or their philosophical or religious views. Concern for people plays a major part in our willingness to get along in spite of differences. However, what happens when we start to think more of ourselves or our little group than of others, and form a clique? We then separate ourselves from others either physically or psychologically. We may no longer even associate with those we once considered as equals. In the religious realm, this is the first step towards cult mentality.
How does clique mentality develop into a cult mentality? There is really just a fine line between the two. The line is generally drawn when those with a sectarian spirit attempt to draw God further into the picture by making belief in their view essential to salvation. The fear of losing your life at Armageddon may be enough motivation to change your doctrine! If it isn't, the fear that you will lose your friends and family (and perhaps suffer verbal and physical abuse as well) will provide the needed motivation to get you to change. Whereas the treatment accorded by a clique to those outside of their group is usually just an aloof attitude or a looking down on the `outsider,' the treatment served by a cult amounts to psychological, emotional, and perhaps (as in the case of Jonestown) even physical murder.
1984 is a testimony to how this principle works in a political arena. Since many religions like Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Worldwide Church of God, etc. are simply a `spiritualized' form of government, involving much `political' activity, there is a close analogy. Therefore I have chosen to use some excerpts from 1984 to demonstrate the similarities between the Watchtower and Orwell's world.
Orwell's book begins by painting a picture of a major world power that dabbles with truth and historical records in order to make themselves look as if they are always `right.' Oceanais the world power, and Eurasia is its rival. You will notice mention of `Big Brother,' or the `Society.' Think about the similarities of such a political system with the `Mother' organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, also commonly referred to as the `Society' (a term used both in the Watchtower as well as the Communist world to cover the truth that the realrulership is in the hands of a handful of men). At this point, I cannot resist quoting from theWatchtower of May 1957 on page 274, which illustrates their terminology: "If we are to walk in the light of truth we must recognize not only Jehovah God as our father but his organization as our "mother."
Now we will consider some excerpts from 1984.
...The frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened--that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia... But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness...if all the others accepted the lie which the party imposed if all records told the same tale--then the lie passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. "Reality control," they called it; in Newspeak, "doublethink." (p. 32)
How real is the true reality, or what we perceive as reality? If an organization has the power to actually alter history, what horrors could be perpetrated? The past can only be recorded long-term in books--but what if the books are changed?
The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses knows that in order to control the future, they must have control over the past. How? In basically four ways: By preventing the average JW from accessing the past mistakes or deceptions, by coloring their history, by passing off the past as irrelevant, or by actually changing the books themselves!
To the Governing Body, reality is whatever they are teaching as current light from the `faithful and discreet slave,' meaning themselves, of course. Whatever they taught in the past is not to even be considered any longer; indeed, it would amount to apostasy to go back to believing former views (which they refer to as "old light"). Jehovah's Witnesses must keep in step with the times!
For the Jehovah's Witness, this means that you must gain a series of `victories' over your memory; what was taught ten years ago is not to be remembered at present, for it would confuse the understanding of present truth. If it be necessary to explain the past teachings to someone, you can use complicated explanations as to how truth is really only relative to the progression of the organization. He must be ready to deny the past, yet subconsciously acknowledge it and compensate for it in his thinking; all the while being careful not to be conscious of fooling himself.
...His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies... to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself--that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word "doublethink" involved the use of doublethink. (1984, p. 32,33)
To know, for instance, that the Watchtower Society actually did lead their people to believe that the end of the world was coming in 1975; yet to deny that and actually believe your denial of it to be truthful; to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies... to forget that the WT had predicted the end of the world in 1914 rather than the invisible return of Christ (which was held to have taken place in 1874); to forget this when it was necessary to forget, then when cornered to draw it back into memory and call it a mistake; only to later deny it to a different person--that is the ultimate subtlety! And then, to point to other religious groups who do the same thing and accuse them of being false prophets--is using two ways of thinking, hence the comparison to Doublethink. Notice the Governing Body's own words: "True, there have been those in times past who predicted an `end to the world,' even announcing a specific date...The `end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Missing from such people were God's truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them." (AWAKE!, Oct. 8, 1968 p.23)
How can the Governing Body make a statement like this in view of their own record of false predictions? It is easily documented that they predicted an end to the world several times. It is as Orwell says, "...to forget whatever it is necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again and then to forget it again... and to apply the same process to the process itself (to be unaware of this whole facade, in other words), that was the ultimate subtlety. "Doublethink is indeed an appropriate word for it.
Self-deception is very complex, much like making up one lie to cover over another; many factors have to be considered each time you make an excuse for the Watchtower's blunders. How different this is from just plain and simply telling the truth! How often people get annoyed with Jehovah's Witnesses because they won't say what they fully believe about a subject, such as `who only will be saved at Armageddon,' or, `who only can understand the Bible.'
To wear an improper expression on your face was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called. (1984, p. 54)
A Party member is required to have not only the right opinions, but the right instincts. Many of the beliefs and attitudes demanded of him are never plainly stated, and could not be stated without laying bare the contradictions inherent in Ingsoc. If he is a person naturally orthodox (in Newspeak, a goodthinker), he will in all circumstances know, without taking thought, what is the true belief or desirable emotion. But in any case, an elaborate mental training, undergone in childhood and grouping itself round the Newspeak words crimestop, blackwhite, and doublethink, makes him unwilling and unable to think too deeply on any subject whatever. (1984, p. 174)
From personal experience in serving six years at the Watchtower headquarters, both as an elder and a factory overseer, and being well-known as an `organization man,' I sought diligently to be the epitome of what a JW was supposed to be. In reality, this could only be accomplished, not just by reading The Watchtower, but by knowing in total how the system works, and how those in charge really think; knowing what their motivations are and what makes them `tick.' If one just read The Watchtower, without actually associating with Jehovah's Witnesses, one would get an inaccurate picture of the actual mentality of the organization. I spent much time with the older members of the headquarters staff, and worked daily with those who had been there for 30 years and more, even some of the Governing Body. I knew their way of thinking quite accurately, and could therefore determine the most effective way to succeed in the system, which I did. Just as in political organizations, understanding the mentality of those you are dealing with is the key factor in your moving up in the system. You soon discover why decisions are made and who made them. You understand why certain policies are adopted and not others. You also realize why new `rules' are made, but not put into print, or are couched in `double language.'
The result is that the printed expression will be interpreted by two types of minds in two different ways. For instance, by the naive JW, a statement like... "Would it be wise for a brother to wear a beard in an area where this is not common? Having a Bible-trained conscience might move him to consider the feelings of others" ...might be interpreted as it is written; as just a matter of conscience. But an elder or an organizationally-minded JW would clearly understand it to be a new position taken by the Watchtower, meaning clearly that if you expected to be treated as a brother, or if you desired any responsibility in the congregation, you had better not grow a beard! (Or if you had one, you had better shave it off!)
Often things would come out in the magazines or the Kingdom Service (an inter-organizational monthly bulletin) that were not fully understood by the average JW, but when you knew all the background information, it took on a whole new perspective. For instance, a Kingdom Service article in the late '70s stated that the Society would no longer allow JWs to hold large meetings for a special talk or program without the Society's direction of the affair. While to the average JW it meant just one more regulation, a few of the staff knew the underlying reasons.
It seemed that one of their elders, Colon Quackenbush, regularly traveled around and gave special talks for youths that were well-attended all over the country. The Governing Body was envious of the greater attention given such a program over their own appearances. Yet few even at the headquarters understood the real reasons behind their decisions. More extensive insight into this matter is given in Raymond Franz's book, Crisis of Conscience.Having been a member of the Governing Body himself for many years, he was familiar with their methods.
Why doesn't the Governing Body just plainly come out and state their dress standards and rules and codes of conduct, so that there would be no question on the matter? While claiming to allow for latitude in matters of conscience, the real reason is that to make rules for Christians is contradictory to the Bible (Rom. 7:6; 9:31,32; Gal. ch. 3) and they know it; but nevertheless they feel that they must have a multitude of rules in order to all march in step with the Governing Body. So they have unwritten laws that are only ascertained by thespirit of those in responsible positions, who thereby act as interpreters for the rank-and-file Witness. Most commonly this interpretive role is filled by the Circuit Overseers (traveling representatives who preside over several congregations). They learn to be keen on the Society's thinking through special training, and they then pass on this `enlightenment' to the local JW elders.
If a Witness is diligent to ascertain the actual spirit of the organization, he will, as Orwell similarly notes, "in all circumstances know, without taking thought, what is the true belief or desirable emotion." One of the more difficult aspects of my present ministry is not convincing JWs of the wrongness of the Society, but, rather, showing them what the Societyactually teaches and believes. If the individual was never a fully `orthodox' Witness, this can be confusing at first. For one who did have the spirit of the organization, he will either see through their deception or refuse to discuss it further, as it is too devastating to him.
...The speculations which might possibly induce a skeptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early-acquired inner discipline. The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. (1984, p. 174, 175)
The JW learns early in the game to kill his speculations if they veer into dangerous territory. He either senses that they will be dangerous to his relationship to other Witnesses (who will view him with suspicion), or he finds out the hard way by opening his mouth and getting a good talking to! He learns quickly that he must learn to walk in the present light, not allowing his mind to move ahead of the organization. He is not to think independently. The Governing Body will now represent his mind on all matters. It is the only `safe' way.
A Witness automatically learns to put aside `disturbing' thoughts, such as might develop if they go to a door where a person takes the Truth book out of their hands and opens it to page 13 where it says,
We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with God's Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination. It should be the sincere desire of every one of us to learn what God's will is for us, and then to do it.
The person at the door where the JW has called might now try to reason with the Witness using the logic presented in their own book, saying, "Then why don't we examine the record of the Watchtower over the past 100 years?" The JW usually responds with a blank stare or a response such as, "Were you ever a Witness before?" In other words, `How come you know so much about us?' This is thereby an unconscious refusal to follow through on a logical argument initiated by others, while at the same time attempting to initiate logical arguments themselves. They will get bored or repelled at any train of thought not initiated by themselves that could prove to be dangerous to their organizational security.
Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one's own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his own body. Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The key word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believethat black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed to the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. (1984, p. 175)
The Watchtower Society rests on the belief that the `Mother' organization cannot lead you astray. If they are later exposed as having made a mistake or promoting a lie, you were better off walking in the mistake or living the lie than recognizing the truth of the matter on your own! You cannot go wrong if you remain in step with your `Mother.' Thus, she is, in effect, infallible (although simultaneously denying claim to such). So within the Watchtower (as with Big Brother) there is an unwearying effort on the part of their writing department to be flexible with "truth," always being ready to find some ridiculous analogy to show how they were really on the right course all along, like using the example of how a ship, in getting from point `A' to point `B' must sometimes tack, or zigzag all over, in order to get there (see the Dec. 1, 1981 WT p.27). Or the explanation might be given that Jehovah God was just `testing' you by allowing the Mother organization to lead you to believe that the world was going to end at a specific time, yet knowing well enough that it wasn't going to happen. (see the Feb. 15, 1984 WT p.26, pp.2)
However, if another religion changes its doctrines, the Governing Body will quickly criticize them by using the words of Ephesians 4:14: "We are no longer to be children, tossed by the waves and whirled about by every fresh gust of teaching, dupes of crafty rogues and their deceitful schemes."
Interestingly, the May 15, 1976 WT says on page 298, "It is a serious matter to represent God and Christ in one way, then find that our understanding of the major teachings and fundamental doctrines of the scriptures was in error, and then after that, to go back to the very doctrines that, by years of study, we had thoroughly determined to be in error. Christians cannot be vacillating `wishy-washy' about such fundamental teachings. What confidence can one put in the sincerity or judgment of such persons?" If they could only apply this to themselves! Note Orwell's comments:
For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one's own infallibility with the power to learn from past mistakes. 1984, p. 177)
This is the ultimate desire of all intelligent cults: to combine absolute authority and infallibility with the power to learn from false prophecies and bad dealings.
The Mother organization wants absolute loyalty at all times. It claims to be a prophet like Ezekiel and Jeremiah (see the Oct. 1,1982 WT p.26,27). It claims to be a mouthpiece for Jehovah God, the Creator of the universe, yet refuses to take the responsibility of a prophet. According to their Bible at Deut. 18:2022, they are false prophets when examined in the light of their own historical record. Sometimes the excuse is given, "We aren't false prophets, because we admit our mistakes." Well, I have news for you! Any false prophet who predicts an end to the world is going to admit their mistake the day after! How else could they hold on to their followers?
But this is precisely the desire of the Governing Body; absolute authority coupled with not having to share the responsibility for any mistakes. Who could ask for more?
Of course, some will say that The Watchtower is not inspired. However, they have ignored the very words of the members of the Governing Body over the years when they say this! For example, in the Olin Moyle trials in Scotland in 1943, Fred Franz, the current president, said that Jehovah himself is the editor of the magazine, and that it is set forth directly as God's Word, without any qualification whatsoever (Sec. #25962597 of transcript)! Speaking of how Jehovah passes down `truth' to the `faithful and discreet slave class,' the July 1, 1943 WT says on page 203:
- He (Jehovah) merely uses the `servant' class to publish the interpretation after the Supreme Court by Christ Jesus reveals it.
In referring to the angelic being that Ezekiel saw in Ezek. 43:6, the book Vindication, written by Joseph Rutherford (their second president) says in volume III, page 250:
- "The man" was the heavenly messenger, and this pictures the heavenly messengers or angels of the Lord. No doubt they first hear the instruction which the Lord issues to his remnant and then these invisible messengers pass such instruction on to the remnant. The facts show that the angels of the Lord with him at his temple have been thus rendering service unto the remnant since 1919.
Another important point in Orwell's discussion is closely related to "doublethink," namely that in a successful manipulation of the mind the person is no longer saying the opposite of what he thinks, but he thinks the opposite of what is true. Thus, for instance, if he has surrendered his independence and his integrity completely, if he views himself as a thing which belongs to the state... he feels free because there is no longer any awareness of the discrepancy between truth and falsehood. Specifically this applies to ideologies. Just as the Inquisitors who tortured their prisoners believed that they acted in the name of Christian love, the Party "rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of socialism." Its content is reversed into its opposite, and yet people believe that the ideology means what it says.
This is the most frightening aspect about the deceptions of the Governing Body. By a clever program of brainwashing, they have succeeded in not only causing four million people to believe that black is white and day is night, but have successfully taught them not to question the matter at all!
Jesus told us that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3,7). He said that we must share real communion with him to have life (John 6:53,54). He said not to listen to those who claim that Christ has returned secretly or invisibly; but that he would come like the lightening (Matt. 24:2327) and would be seen even by his enemies (Rev. 1:7)! He said he was coming back to take his children home with him (1 Thes. 4:1417). The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is definitely not an angel (Heb. chapter 1) and the apostle John says that Jesus possesses the very substance and nature of God (though he is not the Father--see John 1:1).
To think that I was (and that four million souls still are) so cleverly deceived by an organization which has repudiated almost everything the Christian church has stood for in 2000 years of history, and then to set itself up as the Christian church, is frightening, to say the least. We cannot sit idly by and allow them to exercise such control over people's lives. They have succeeded in convincing their people that truth is relative to organizational policy. Intellectual suicide! They have rejected everything which the "enemy" (Christendom) claims to be, and have claimed to be that themselves.