Saturday, September 12, 2020

Orwell: 1944, 1984, and Today

George Orwell 1944 Letter foreshadows 1984, and today:
... Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, i.e. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history. He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it. That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving ... 
... intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side.
I am sure any reader can provide examples of the following from the "news" or academia or even from a national lab:
there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted  
the exact sciences are endangered  
two and two could become five
dictatorial methods ... systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side.

Of course, there is nothing new under the sun. It takes only a generation for costly lessons to be entirely forgotten...

Wikipedia: Trofim Denisovich Lysenko ...Soviet agronomist and biologist. Lysenko was a strong proponent of soft inheritance and rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of pseudoscientific ideas termed Lysenkoism.[1][2] In 1940, Lysenko became director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR's Academy of Sciences, and he used his political influence and power to suppress dissenting opinions and discredit, marginalize, and imprison his critics, elevating his anti-Mendelian theories to state-sanctioned doctrine. 
Soviet scientists who refused to renounce genetics were dismissed from their posts and left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were imprisoned. Several were sentenced to death as enemies of the state, including the botanist Nikolai Vavilov. Scientific dissent from Lysenko's theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in the Soviet Union in 1948. As a result of Lysenkoism and forced collectivization, 15-30 million Soviet and Chinese citizens starved to death in the Holodomor and the Great Chinese Famine. ...


In 1964, physicist Andrei Sakharov spoke out against Lysenko in the General Assembly of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR: "He is responsible for the shameful backwardness of Soviet biology and of genetics in particular, for the dissemination of pseudo-scientific views, for adventurism, for the degradation of learning, and for the defamation, firing, arrest, even death, of many genuine scientists."

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