"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is
assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question.
It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other,
but it is "not done"... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy
finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely
unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in
the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals."
by:
George Orwell
[Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950) British author
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A prescient statement indicating a deep understanding of history and the timeless human proclivities and foibles of the masses as well as the religious and ideological despots who dictate (as in dictator) what's acceptable and what isn't. Think post-9/11 mindset for a recent example when we had 'fredom fries' on the menu in our nation's Capitol. Think the imprisonment of Galileo for heresy in 1633 for having the unmitigated, heretical audacity (Psalms 93 and 104, and Ecclesiastes 1:5 refer to the motion of celestial bodies and the suspended position of the earth.) to suggest that the Earth MIGHT go around the Sun (he, of course, knew that it did) in contravention to the then accepted 'Biblical' thinking that the Earth was surely the 'center of all things' because, well, 'God had clearly made it so'. On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II officially announced that the Church had 'mishandled' the case - not that it was 'wrong', just that it had 'mishandled'. At that rate, religion will recognize hydrogen fusion in, oh, let's say circa 2255. Progressive if I do say so myself! There are those 'unorthodox' folks on the loose who might conclude that this tendency to be, well, 'late' makes the church irrelevant or 'stupefying' or numbing. They might even go so far as to think of the institutions as, oh, uhhh, - what's a kind euphemism for 'numb nuts'? . . . Oh yeah, 'numb, nuts'. They just might have a point.
 -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    George, if only you lived another ten years or more... How do we start thinking for ourselves? How do we start thinking, period..? I talked about Bertrand Russell recently with regard to atheism, he is also responsible for writing his version of the Ten Commandments (go to google and type his name and Ten Commandments) which I believe would of changed society to a more responsible individual. If perhaps we followed his version we may, just may, have kept up with technology; at present, intellectually, we are so far behind we may never come close to catching up. There are small pockets in society that make the attempt but alas are suppressed by popular opinion. Well done Terry, a great retort.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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     -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
    Thanks for the 'heads up' on the 'Ten' Joe. Hadn't recalled that version but it embodies my take exactly as you may have guessed - not that I dismiss the original Ten - for the 'simple', 'common sense' (it's not called 'common' for nothing - is it?) precepts that they are. The trouble many folks have with Bertrand Russell is that he does think, question, reason, and provide evidence BEFORE making grand pronouncements. It's a quality I value highly and a quality which is systematically discouraged in the dicta of most religions but especially in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Russell was, after all, a mathematician by training. It's a dicipline which rests on axioms, lemmata, and 'proofs'. I remember being amazed at how his texts made the underlying principles of calculus seem simple (to me at least) when the college texts made them seem less easily apprehensible or more obscure.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    Going with the majority opinion often is not the right thing to do. Going against it can often be the right thing to do. But going against it just because it is the status quo makes no sense. Sometimes the orthodox stance is also the correct one.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
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    The prevailing orthodoxy in the U. S. for centuries is that we are the most democratic, generous, and compassionate country on the globe---a total inability to think outside the chains of nationalism. This prejudice blinds us to the realization that our leaders have been and are as greedy, unlawful and vicious as any. Orwell and Russell are just two of many great thinkers who have kept us as civilized as we are. A pity there are not more like them today.
     -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth     
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    Terry and Dick well said - I have a "thought for the day" which I send out to friends if you would like to be included send me an email rbe@hcsrq.com We need a peaceful Manhatten Project focussed on alternative energy resouces. Take care and keep those replies coming... Robert
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    WAKE UP! This man was a devout hater of Communism. He was an intelligent man that had been a communist but came to see the error of his thinking. He foretold of a future in which socialism ruled all nations in his book 1984. He is describing accurately the way of the Left and how it will control thought and action. One will not be convinced of the right or wrong of a thing with reason, rather it will be by coercion.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Orwell was a hater of all versions of totalitarianism of whatever political tinge and remained a believer in democratic socialism until his untimely death. He was as aware as John Stuart Mill was about the dangers of orthodox public opinion stifling free expression and debate and indeed suffered from it when, for instance, he tried to tell what was happening to the non-communist left in Spain.
     -- Steve Foulger, London     
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    It is not the body of ideas which the current press (electronic, in writ, etc.) necessarily assumes all right-thinking people will accept without question (though that is a large part), it is missionary dogma / propaganda that so infests the idea market - silencing with surprising effectiveness every thing outside the desired orthodoxy.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Orwell was never a communist and, indeed, was one of the founding fathers of anticommunism. But he was and remained until the day of his death a man of the Left. It can, I think, be said of him that though his politics were socialist, his temperament was conservative. Thus he was capable of smelling out the orthodoxies of the Left as well as those of the Right. I’m reminded of this passage from “The Road to Wigan Pier”: “[T]here is the horrible—the really disquieting—prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.” Occupy Wall Street, anyone?
     -- Tom G., Granger, IN     
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     -- Tom G., Granger, IN      
    Doesn't anybody see the good side of orthodoxy? Mike? It is to be replaced with what pray tell? "Orthodoxy," the "goes without saying" the "what your grandmother taught you" is what guides us on the most important aspects of every interaction with someone. The tenacity that is objected to in the above aphorism is what's good about orthodoxy. These kind of rules are so widely accepted, so deeply felt you do not need men with guns to enforce them. I suspect the sentiment behind those of you who approve of Orwell's complaint, is the frustration with those few orthodoxies you don't like. If you can't change them without government, become the socialist Orwell was; advocate the use of government to invent laws enforced by guns. Big surprise. Orwell was an anti-Stalinist; not an anti-socialist. He'd be right at home in England today.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton CA     
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    David's comment reminded me of one of my dad's wise comments: "Honesty IS 'the best policy,' but he who is honest BECAUSE it is 'the best policy' is not being honest !" Food for thought. Thanks, dad. [ David -- my connection may be erroneous, but your third sentence triggered my reaction. I'd guess few of us would be willing to follow another of dad's sayings, after setting forth his rationale, he'd [almost] always conclude, "... but I COULD be wrong." ( Worth trying as a brief addendum to ALL our "wisdoms." )
     -- Bob Leavitt, Charlotte, VT     
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    Two Orwell quotes. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind".
    "In our age there is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies,evasions, folly,hatred,and schizophrenia".

     -- jim k, austin tx     
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    The truth of the statement is almost overwhelming. Growing up in a large denomination, teaching moral code. But never being taught, number and word and there relations. This " not done ". It was not till many years later meeting a man, a renowned teacher. Very much at odds with most denominations. But others new his importance. This class was filled with pilots, military and private. Lawyers abounded also. Many examples of understanding simply put. Though I had gotten on board, it was only with a single well defined point that we worked our reason. Through many years of knowing the keys were being put out there. it was not till all the keys had been tried in many doors, before you new which key fits which door. This observation well advanced through repeated questions within class as to see who was paying attention. Not many ! One word comes to mind, " understanding " = 13, the number of rebellion. For the right reason. it is a very good number.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
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    The powers-that-be learned a long time ago that people follow tradition and custom without coercion and will even kill and die for their adherence to these traditions. The goal then is to condition folks to whatever 'tradition' so that they will 'obey' without even knowing they are being yoked. The goal is to capture the 'culture' such that any alternative becomes laughable -- or worse, damnable.

    Everyone knows how silly it is to believe in ancient Greek or Roman gods. Tradition for simply the sake of tradition without any measurable benefit will ultimately become stifling -- mostly because the 'culture' has been engineered rather than an organic and natural organization of customs and knowledge. We are born into a world of orthodoxies -- and each generation must make it new for themselves. Just like Liberty -- we must each take personal responsibility for it and it should never be taken for granted.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Walter, at common law, with a moral people that would love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them, is but one example of an orthodoxy that has a good side. I happen to maintain a strong body of ideas which not all people hold. I might assume all right-thinking people will accept without question my belief system. But, all people don't want freedom, liberty, law and justice (for themselves or anybody - the patrons of orthodoxy that willingly live in submission to the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land are examples of such)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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