The Usefulness of a Total War
According to George Orwell's dystopian novel "Nineteen-eighty-four", doublethink is defined as follows:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able - and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years - to arrest the course of history.
In the book, a perpetual war is going on, between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. But not on either of these states territory, the war is happening far away, in disputed territories. The purpose of this perpetual war is to consume the products of human labour; and for this reason the economy of a super-state cannot support a high standard of living for every citizen. The three super-states are each so strong that none of them can be defeated, even by an alliance of the other two (as explained in a fictional "book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein), and as the alliances are constantly shifting, doublethink is needed to make sense of the politics.
What's funny - well actually, it isn't very funny at all - is that much of what Orwell envisioned has come into existence. Not in an exact manner, but not very far from it either. Take for instance the war on drugs. God-only-knows how many billions upon billions of world currencies that have been sunk into that quixotic project of well meant heroism, but after 40 years we may observe that the drug market is flooded with more, stronger and cheaper drugs than ever before. If that isn't a lost war I don't know what is. Next we have the war on terrorism, which in and of itself is a bit of doublespeak since war is terrorism. How do they plan on winning this war - and who exactly are "they"? It goes without saying that a "war on terrorism" is even less winnable than a "war on drugs" - but that really isn't the point. The point is that it is fundable. It can be used as a means to consume the products of human labour.
It can also be used as a political pretext for keeping the populations of the developed countries in check under martial law. It it certainly will teach us all the pragmatic value of doublethink. Learn to trust your leaders without questioning! Pay attention to your television. Read up on the revised history. And remember that it isn't a lie if you really believe in it.
"The idea of God is the sole wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind." (Alphonse Donatien De Sade)