It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate....
The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started.
As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.
The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party's purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even - so it was occasionally rumoured - in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.
Winston's diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard - a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheep-like quality. Goldstein was delivering his usual venemous attack upon the doctrines of the Party - an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the Revolution has been betrayed - and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to the reality which Goldstein's specious clap trap covered, behind his head on the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the Eurasian army - row after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers' boots formed the background to Goldstein's bleating voice.
Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were - in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State....
In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen....In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic...
The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep's bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep. Then the sheep-face melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen. But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother...
Winston had heard the whispered story of a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author and which circulated clandestinely here and there. It was a book without title. People referred to it, if at all, simply as the book. But one knew of such things only through vague rumours. Neither the Brotherhood nor the book was a subject that any ordinary Party member would mention if there was a way of avoiding it. -- 1984 by George Orwell.
I take the phone off the hook at night so we can get some sleep, but during the day I answer my home phone, "Thank you for calling the family residence of Mike Emmanuel Goldstein Vanderboegh. Press One for felonious death threats. Press Two for misdemeanor harassing communications. You do not need to press Three if you wish to report us to the Department of Homeland Security because this line is already under federal court-ordered wiretap so both your phone number and your voiceprint will be a matter of record. If you wish to talk to a rational human being, please stay on the line."
Then I wait. Most often they just hang up.
Funny, but perhaps not so funny. In any case, thus do I refute the Two Minutes Hate by maintaining my own sense of humor.
It is a somewhat daunting thing, this business of becoming Emmanuel Goldstein -- the focus of the intense hatred and invective of a huge number of people who have bought into the collectivist lie.
More disappointing, however, is the denunciation of people who claim to be liberty-loving conservatives. I have been roundly attacked by commentators such as Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager and Michael Medved. To each I have sent emails such as this one to Dennis Prager:
Sent: Sat, Mar 27, 2010 11:41 am
Subject: Since you have already denounced me without first talking to me, would you like to know why I did what I did?
Seems only polite, don't you think?
The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters
It will be interesting to see if they even have the stones to respond by Monday afternoon.
They remind me of nothing so much as that other scene in 1984, when Winston is finally faced with the rat --
At each stage of his imprisonment he had known, or seemed to know, whereabouts he was in the windowless building. Possibly there were slight differences in the air pressure. The cells where the guards had beaten him were below ground level. The room where he had been interrogated by O'Brien was high up near the roof. This place was many metres underground, as deep down as it was possible to go.
It was bigger than most of the cells he had been in. But he hardly noticed his surroundings. All he noticed was that there were two small tables straight in front of him, each covered with green baize. One was only a metre or two from him, the other was further away, near the door. He was strapped upright in a chair, so tightly that he could move nothing, not even his head. A sort of pad gripped his head from behind, forcing him to look straight in front of him.
For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and O'Brien came in.
" You asked me once ", said O'Brien, " what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."
The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O'Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.
" The worst thing in the world ", said O'Brien, " varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal."
He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.
" In your case ", said O'Brien, " the worst thing in the world happens to be rats."
A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.
" You can't do that ! " he cried out in a high cracked voice. " You couldn't, you couldn't ! It's impossible."
" Do you remember ", said O'Brien, " the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams ? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall."
" O'Brien ! " said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. " You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do ? "
O'Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston's back.
" By itself ", he said, " pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable - something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand. even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.
" But what is it, what is it ? How can I do it if I don't know what it is ?"
O'Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two metres away from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat's muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.
" The rat ", said O'Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, " although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless."
There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting ; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.
O'Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O'Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a metre from Winston's face.
" I have pressed the first lever ", said O'Brien. " You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air ? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue."
The cage was nearer ; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left - to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.
The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.
" It was a common punishment in Imperial China ", said O'Brien as didactically as ever.
The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then - no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment - one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
" Do it to Julia ! Do it to Julia ! Not me ! Julia ! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me ! Julia ! Not me ! "
He was falling backwards, into enormous depths, away from the rats. He was still strapped in the chair, but he had fallen through the floor, through the walls of the building, through the earth, through the oceans, through the atmosphere, into outer space, into the gulfs between the stars - always away, away, away from the rats. He was light years distant, but O'Brien was still standing at his side. There was still the cold touch of wire against his cheek. But through the darkness that enveloped him he heard another metallic click, and knew that the cage door had clicked shut and not open. -- 1984 by George Orwell, Chapter 23
On Friday I did an interview with one of the lesser lights of what passes for California "conservative" talk radio. His name and station are unimportant. The interview was confrontational from the get go. Chris Matthews-like, he would ask one question and then override my answer with denunciation, never letting me fully develop it. It was plain that the breaking of even a few windows scared the bejeezus out of him.
He admitted that the collectivists in control of the government were not moved by contrary opinions, the Constitution, the courts, etc. He even admitted that he believed the next Intolerable Act would be amnesty for illegals which he expected would render the federal election process moot. Yet he insisted that those of us who love liberty should continue to use the political process -- and ONLY the political process -- to attempt to sustain our God-given rights from attack, even in the face of defeat and destruction. "WE," he proclaimed, "should not act like THEM."
"The Founders did," I rebutted. He responded that this was not 1776, it was the 21st Century and further, that like it or not, Obama and his collectivist party had been elected "by a majority" and that we had to merely be nice and "play by the rules" until the next election even if we knew that election would be rigged.
Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is not only insanity, it is a guarantee of defeat and death at the hands of those who HAVE NEVER PLAYED BY SUCH RULES.
Believe me, I know, I was a collectivist myself. The only thing that matters to them in the end is defeating and enslaving their opponents.
So when I am the subject of Two Minutes Hate by obscenity-spittled collectivists, I understand it. You cannot blame a rattlesnake for biting. It is what it is. But self-proclaimed "advocates of liberty" such as Hewitt, Medved and Prager? What is their excuse?
It can only be that they are afraid, subconsciously or knowingly -- even BEFORE they are presented with it -- of Winston's rat.
Paragons of courage and discernment, certainly. Let them join in the Two Minutes Hate.
As for me, the collectivist rat can chew its way into my brainstem before I surrender my God-given, natural rights and the existential fight to restore the Founders' Republic for all regardless of race, creed, color or religion.
Yes, they can kill us. They can even eat us. They will in any case surely despise and denigrate us. But they can't in the end beat us. THE ONLY BATTLE THAT MATTERS IS THE LAST ONE.