Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.
1. The Ministry of Plenty Says Employment is Up
A few days ago President Biden (or rather the marketing intern manning his account) tweeted that they had created 300,000 jobs in September:
September was another good month for American workers, with 336,000 jobs created and inflation coming down.
That’s nearly 14 million jobs – including 815,000 in manufacturing – created under Bidenomics.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2023
Now, the math of “created jobs” since the pandemic is well known. Essentially, after lockdowns “accidentally” resulted in the firing of hundreds of thousands of people in the name of “public health”, the eventual re-hiring of some of those people has been branded “job creation”.
But does the claim even have that much reality to its name? It’s just a number, cited by “Biden”, dismantled by Republicans, and debated on Twitter. We’ll never know its veracity or otherwise, it’s impossible to know.
The whole thing reminded me of the description of the Ministry of Plenty’s statistics in 1984. Orwell predicting the meaninglessness of “official statistics” as he did so much else [emphasis added]:
Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head.
For example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled.
In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared.
All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot.
And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.
2. Re-education camps for Trump voters
On Friday Hilary Clinton gave an interview with CNN where she claimed those “MAGA” heads who still support Donald Trump should be “deprogrammed”. The republican media picked it and claimed she wanted to send people to re-education camps.
I don’t want to talk about the specifics but rather make a point about the nature of this kind of media output.
I don’t much care what Clinton says about anything, nobody should really. After all, she’s not seriously suggesting any kind of policy, and will never be in a position to enact or enforce policy again. She’s just saying something divisive and outrageous.
It’s about polarization. She says something stupid, and the Pavlovian response of the Team Blue Hat is to cheer and clap because they’ve been conditioned to approve of anything they hear from certain people. But just as important is the outrage produced in Team Red Hat.
For a while now the news hasn’t even been trying to unify opinion, it’s all about equally dolling out dopamine hits and rage bait tailored to the tastes of the opposing sides.
You are the intended target of news that makes you mad. Angry clicks count as much as happy ones.
3. Modern Visions of Freedom
Russia-born pundit Konstantin Kisin went on the BBC this week to debate the meaning of freedom with, among others, Novara media *ahem* “journalist” Ash Sarkar. You can listen to the whole program here if you’re so inclined, I just want to talk about this clip:
More specifically, the way Sarkar discusses the concept of freedom, and how terrifying it should be to any rational mind.
Essentially she argues that a starving person is not free. If he is dying he is not free to “be part of a community” (whatever that means), and therefore those people with food they are not giving him should be compelled to share.
In sum, property rights can and should be curtailed in situations where “private property” is somehow infringing other people’s “freedom” to “participate in democracy”.
This argument has been used about free speech for a few years now, with social media companies and governments pushing censorship because “hate speech” and “abuse” supposedly infringe other people’s right to free speech by intimidating them into silence.
I’ve never seen it applied to property rights before. A potentially concerning trend.
BONUS: Tragedy of the week
An 8-year-old boy, Yonatan Ehrlichman, died in Israel this week after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest in the bathtub.
According to Frontline News, Ehrlichman – whose father and grandfather are both doctors – was known as the face of a pro-Covid vaccine propaganda video in Israel.
It’s not all bad…
Not a good week, but there’s always this…
“Own Nothing. Be Happy.” pic.twitter.com/pwFAl7jPK0
— David Wolfe (@DavidWolfe) September 29, 2023
All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention last week’s “Covid” flight cancellations, Richard Madeley’s “Covid ear” or how Christianity set UFO research back decades.
There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.
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