Wednesday, 13 November 2013

We have always been at war with Eurasia

No you don't
How about
False memory syndrome.
Try the repeated Conservative calls for deregulation in the financial sector?
A figment.
What about the Tories' promises to maintain Labour's spending commitments (George Osborne: 'Tories cutting services? That's a pack of lies'?
Made up.
Or the pledges not to restructure the NHS?

You must have been dreaming.

You may think that you remember all these things promised in speeches by leading Conservatives in the run-up to the 2010 General Election, but I assure you that they never happened. At least, that's what the Conservative Party would like you to think. They've decided that the Internet is full, so to help out, they've deleted all texts from the pre-2010 period just to save space. And to show that they really mean it, they haven't just deleted this stuff from their own servers, they've deleted it all from the Internet Archive, which preserves the internet for the rest of us. Think of it as a public service. Now there's plenty more room for LOLCATS.

Joking aside, I do think there's something sinister about this. It's dishonest, for a start, and it's irresponsible. For good or ill, these are events are historical, so to wipe them off the slate is an affront to the public interest and to history. It's also really stupid: these things are on the public record, so all they're doing is annoying people looking for an accurate record. They won't be able to accuse us of distorting what they say, because there won't be a definitive text.

It reminds me of a couple of things: Karl Rove's assault on journalism and truth:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
and of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the past is a battleground to be bulldozed in the interests of the present.
To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it…
The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?
Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.
Still, perhaps it's not as bad as I'm making it sound. Winston Smith reminds himself that a distorted lie is no worse than the original lie:
But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version.


saxon said...

Doing exactly the same thing...*/

What remains on the 805 pages of the current news (and text of speeches) archive has little or no date information, but next to last page refers to Shadow Cabinet elections in October 2010.

Slightly more coherent explanation of how the internet archive and search engines work here

The Plashing Vole said...

The devious bastards. A plague on both their houses in that case. Thanks for the links. I now feel less hysterical and better informed. Though I still think it's more than 'boring'.

saxon said...

Certainly more than boring, but it is in all likelihood not the poor saps themselves, but their PR boys and girls, who really *are* all the same, on all sides.