‘Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).’
Fictional Life – Nineteen Eighty-Four
I remember reading George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ dystopian novel when I was an art student in 1951. As far as I can recollect, the setting was in the State of Oceania, where the populace was monitored and surveyed by Thinkpol, who were the Thought Police. They operated under the instructions and authority of the Inner Party, above whom was the totalitarian leader, Big Brother. Together they attempted to control the middle-class Outer Party, and the working-class Prols by indoctrinating them with mindthink. [My euphemism]. Their officials had power to arrest transgressors under the charge of crimethink. [Orwell’s euphemism].
Intelligent individuals who strayed beyond what was permissible could expect to be placed on a programme of re-education. They had to learn to think within the constraints of the official language, which was Newspeak. If they failed to conform, they would be killed and cremated, and their ashes disposed of. They would become non-persons whose history was totally expunged. Their records were destroyed and their relatives, friends and acquaintances were not permitted to speak, or even think of them. Violation of these prohibitions could mean, they too would suffer the same fate.
My memory of Orwell’s novel goes back 69 years, so please forgive me if some of the details are incorrect, but I think I have the gist of it. I must get around to reading it again.
Real Life – China
Well, the above is fiction, but what is portrayed within the covers of Orwell’s book is taking place in China today!
It is a country whose populace are surveyed and monitored more than any other. The authorities use CCTV, face recognition technology, mobile phone tracking, Internet snooping and information gathering by the *secret police and informers. They monitor subject’s movements, contacts, conversations, and social behaviours. Those who do not support governmental policies can disappear without trace.
Freedom to worship without restrictions for Muslims and Christians is not possible, as the following excerpt from a **recent online BBC News publication confirms:
In 2017, President Xi Jinping issued a directive that “religions in China must be Chinese in orientation” and “adapt themselves to socialist society”. The directive led to a fresh crackdown on religious practice that particularly affected the Uighurs.
Xinjiang is now covered by a pervasive network of surveillance, including police, checkpoints, and cameras that scan everything from number plates to individual faces.
The Chinese government says the measures are necessary to combat separatist violence in the region, but it is accused of exaggerating the threat in order to justify repression of the Uighurs. Many prominent members of the ethnic minority have been imprisoned or sought asylum abroad after being accused of terrorism.
There is abundant evidence that China is engaged in a re-education programme for the **Uighur people who are mainly Muslim, along with a ***birth control policy to suppress their population.
Both of the above depictions: Fictional Life – Nineteen Eighty-Four and Real-Life China, illustrate how those in power can attempt to impose upon the ‘proletariat’ certain modes of thinking. It’s interesting to note that in the revolutionary People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao Tse-tung required all ‘comrades’ to carry with them his ‘The Little Red Book’. This publication was small enough to fit into a pocket, and it was a compilation of quotations from writings and speeches made by Mao. Basically it was a tool of indoctrination for inculcating Marxist thinking.
Karl Marx, the German philosopher, is famous for penning these words: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” From this comes the paraphrase: “Religion is the opium of the People.”
Marx besmirches followers of religions, claiming they are like sick or injured people who cling to an illusion that if they adhere to their beliefs, all will be well in the end. Their religions prevent them from understanding class structures and oppression that is brought about through the practice of capitalism. Hence religions do not help promote his revolutionary socialism for overturning capitalism and replacing it with Marxism.
Religious and different societal communities require their members to be sympathetic to thought concepts that are supportive of their modus operandi. For example, religious followers’ modes of thought centre on their god or gods. In democracies the focus is upon the rule of law, freedom of speech and human rights. In communistic regimes allegiance to the state and its leaders is paramount. In a dictatorship the prime rule is obedience to the dictator.
‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).’
‘For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12, 13).’
I am familiar with Christian thinking, because I am a follower of Christ. My thoughts are focussed on Him and His people who live for Him and His glory. My faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17), which is the ****Bible.
Unlike Mao’s Little Red Book, the Bible is not a book of indoctrination. It is a book of spiritual edification, written under the inspiration and authorship of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). In it God reveals His sovereignty and His power in creating and sustaining the world. He tells of His predestined plan of salvation for all who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. His followers are given spiritual life through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8). With this supernatural life they are able to understand His Word. Their thoughts are aligned with God’s, and they are given the ‘mind of Christ’:
‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “Who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).’
No one can judge us and find us guilty of ‘thought crimes’, because Jesus justifies us by His grace (Romans 3:24), and ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ He is the Judge who will judge us (14:10).
*Ministry of State Security (China)
**Xinjiang re-education camps
***China forcing birth control on Uighurs to suppress population, report says
***The Uighurs and the Chinese state: A long history of discord
****The Unchanging Word of God