One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth
When I was at primary school in Napier, New Zealand, all the kids – including me – were terrified of a particular teacher, the ‘go to’ disciplinarian who was invoked when other teachers wanted a kid especially punished. This bellowing drill-sergeant of a teacher demanded total submission to his power, even down to punishing kids … More How authoritarian bullies get away with it
It’s ANZAC Day this week in New Zealand – 25 April, our equivalent of Memorial Day in the US or Armistice Day in Britain. It’s iconoclastic. Most nations remember their military dead on days when a war ended – typically, for Commonwealth countries, 11 November, when the guns fell silent over the Western Front in 1918. … More ANZAC Day 2013: remembering why we fought
Former British PM Margaret Thatcher’s death this week has not, it seems, provoked a sense in Britain or even around the world that the deceased can do no wrong. The ‘Iron Lady’ steered Britain away from a failed post-war course. But the cost was division, bitterness and dispossession. She polarised; and the bitterness re-emerged this … More Does Thatcher’s death mean the 80s are really over?