After the 1980 presidential election Gil Scott-Heron released a song called “B” Movie criticizing Ronald Reagan. The song said the new administration’s slogan was, “Why wait for 1984? You can panic now…And avoid the rush.”
The date was a reference to Orwell’s novel that popularized the phrase “Big Brother.” Orwell foresaw a future where the government controlled every aspect of daily life. In contemporary politics the phrase is associated with the expansion of the federal government, especially when the expansion infringes on individual liberty.
Obamacare was cited by some as “Big Brother” in action because of the President’s broken promise that the new policy would not alter coverage for those already insured. But after technical difficulties setting up the Affordable Care Act’s website the Obama administration proved to be bothersome, but far from “Big Brother.”
In Orwell’s novel “Big Brother” operated on its own, but here, it needed an experienced operator.
During the Great Depression Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel called: It Can’t Happen Here. This novel concentrated on the presidential campaign of a candidate that gained blind support of the American people by instilling fear, promising drastic economic change and social reform, and promoting a new patriotism into the “forgotten man.” Then after the election, the candidate took complete control of the government and imposed what Orwell depicted.
That campaign just happened here, and in last weekend’s newspaper a letter to the editor complained about the state of America and asked “is 2016 the beginning of Orwell’s 1984?”
Fiction is normally inaccurate because its purpose is to imagine what might happen instead of describing what will happen. So it’s not the beginning of 1984 but it might be the beginning of “The 2070 Prediction.”
Also in last weekend’s newspaper a columnist wrote a prelude to this prediction. “We are entering a period of unprecedented threat to the international order that has prevailed under American leadership since 1945. After eight years of President Barack Obama’s retreat, the three major revisionist powers—Russia, China and Iran—see their chance to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, American influence…It took seven decades to build this open, free international order. It could be brought down in a single presidential term.”
In 2005, midway through the first decade of the new millennium, experts wondered what did happen here. How did the United States squander its most historical moment between 11/9/89 (The Berlin Wall came down, Cold War ends) and 9/11 as the lone superpower to the point of global Anti-Americanism?
Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson gave a lecture that year and explained, “The United States has less of a century left as top nation. Since the modern nation state was invented around 1500 a succession of countries have taken turns at being the top nation. First Spain, then France, Britain, and America.
Each turn lasted 150 years, America’s began in 1920 and it should end about 2070. The reason why each top nation’s turn comes to an end is because the top nation becomes overextended militarily, economically, and politically. Greater and greater efforts are required to maintain the top position; finally the overextension becomes so extreme that the structure collapses. We already see in America’s posture today clear symptoms of overextension.
Who will be the next top nation, China is the obvious candidate, after that it might be India or Brazil. You should be asking yourself “not how to live in an American dominated world, but how to prepare for a world that is not America dominated.”
That may be the most important topic for the next generation to discuss instead of defining American exceptionalism or debating whether or not America is the greatest country in the world.
If the president elect has “Big Brother” ambitions, it will start the over extension cycle, and the president will exit the world stage not as a former leader of the free world but as the first director of “America” the B-movie.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier. He blogs at email@example.com)
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