Aug. 21st, 2017

As a teaser for this week (because I like to pretend I have a wide audience that would spend the week anticipating the next installment), I said that I will ask if Oceana can last.

Dragoness_E immediately responded with a resounding "no" on the basis of unforeseen externalities. The externalities included a new disease a la Black Death, an extinction level asteroid (such as is found in late 90s movies and the far better done "You And Me And The End of the World"), a much more advanced civilization coming to conquer and colonize, etc. The phrase for the whole category is "Outside Context Problem".

I will agree with this. For one thing, some of those problems are problems that would and could destroy any nation without needing to kill all or most of the people within. There's an Italian movie about a world-wide outbreak of crippling-to-lethal agoraphobia. (It's on Netflix with the title "The Last Days", if you don't mind reading the subtitles.) The affliction doesn't even kill anybody. It's the isolation and the breakdown in communications that causes civilization to break down.

Any such Outside Context Problem can destroy a nation that either does not or cannot adapt quickly enough. And, The Party will not allow Oceana to be adaptive. It cannot survive a world of changing people. It can only enforce a status quo that, given enough of an Outside Context Problem, cannot last.

That said, Orwell doesn't seem to consider anything like an Outside Context Problem. According to O'Brien and The Book, of which he is part author, the only external issue is another nation, but that is handled by Doublethink Agreement among the three extant nations. This leaves, under Orwell's examination and O'Brien's belief, only the internal matter of controlling the individuals within Oceana.

In a world without Outside Context Problems and externalities, could Oceana last as it is?

Let's take a look at what Oceana is. O'Brien will tell us, in fact.
Read more... )

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