Obama's Bold Vision: Conformity and Newspeak

Author: Robert Prasker
Article Published: 2009/05/08

Sit back. Relax. President Obama wants to help you, so he's hired some experts. The President would appreciate it if you'd be still while his experts get the straps on. It won't hurt a bit, and you'll have no idea what happened when they're done.

The President of the United States wants to get inside your head and Time Magazine is going to tell us all about it in the soft, harmonious tones of modern, politically correct newspeak; a language in which the word we once knew as "coercion" is now known as "help".

Since we're accomodating ourselves to this modern newspeak, here's another word to get used to: "nudge". Like when a friend gently prods you with an elbow to persuade you, or to get you to go along--they give you a nudge. Isn't that cute? Glad you like it, because "nudge" is the newspeak word for "social engineering".

President Obama has hired a "secret advisory group" of "behavioral scientists" to "help" us make our decisions. President Obama's experts have determined that, while we don't realize it, we actually want someone in power to make our choices for us! How will they do that? By "helping" and "nudging" us, of course!

Such is the underlying premise of Obama's "nudge" policies, as delivered to us in a chummy, five page soft-sell in the Time Magazine article dated April 2 entitled "How Obama is Using the Science of Change".

If published a day earlier, one could hope it was an April Fool's Day hoax. No such luck. TIME is dead serious.

The "nudge" meme began when a book with that very title was published entitled "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness", by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. As the TIME article explains, this book had its origins in two essays, one of which was entitled "'Libertarian Paternalism' is Not an Oxymoron".

Actually, "Libertarian paternalism" is an oxymoron, but like a cheating husband caught in bed with another woman, the adherents of this idea can, of course, explain the whole thing if you just give them a chance. So, we tolerate their pleading and listen, and guess what? "Libertarian Paternalism" really isn't just the same old paternalism we thought it was. Instead, it's worse. "Libertarian paternalism" is supposed to "preserve free choice over heavy-handed regulation...But it's still paternalism".  In other words, soldiers won't show up at your house, point a gun at your head, and tell you to turn down your thermostat. Instead, as Time Magazine explains (underlining my own):

"Which message would persuade homeowners to save electricity: a call to their environmental conscience, or an appeal to their wallet?...the answer was neither. What worked was an appeal to conformity. Residents used less power when they were told their neighbors were using less power. We're a herdlike species, more likely to be obese if our peers are."

Then later:

"...after an intense mobilization campaign — through citizen councils, churches and Girl Scouts who went door-to-door asking residents why they hadn't weatherized yet — 85% of the county enrolled."

State oppression has evolved, and just because government forgoes the messy and costly business of jackboot soldiers, we shouldn't assume that statists suddenly have greater respect for our human dignity. Especially when they  exalt laughable junk science in referring to humans as "a herdlike species" that experts can "manipulate".

The People themselves are the soldiers now, and government officials and unelected technocrats have been working to transform our social moraes in the hope turning us against one another in an open prison. Instead of a gun at your head, you're going to a get dirty look from your friend,  a knock at the door from your nosey neighbor, or a snide remark from your co-worker. If that doesn't work, your child will be taught in school to snitch on you. Such practices have already become commonplace in the UK, and the U.S. has only tasted such oppression. Now it's America's turn.

All of this is to get you to adopt the latest and greatest virtue in President Obama's brave new world: conformity. Our current economic woes may signal that America's long night of partying is over, but we're suffering from a huge cultural hangover when we continue to believe that leaders like President Obama can still be called "liberal" when they're demanding, of all things, conformity. Conformity is anathema to American liberal tradition. Somehow, decades of American political battles have slid us so far down the slope that we've come to embrace the very paradox Orwell warned us of. Now, "Freedom is Slavery", and like Napolean the Pig in Orwell's "Animal Farm", it appears that self-described "liberals" have condemned the abuses of institutional power for so long only to acquire that very power, and adopt its abuses to their own ambitions.

Who better to make that cultural transformation complete than the handsome, intelligent and eloquent President Barack Obama? At this writing, Mr. Obama will adorn the cover of Time Magazine for the record 13th time in a one year period. Time Magazine has sacrificed its fine journalistic tradition for dreamy-eyed, teen idol adoration for the new President. Of course, TIME never misses an eyeblink when it comes to lecturing everyone about their lifestyle. Somehow, though, the people at TIME are apparently left scratching their heads regarding recent revenue losses and slacking interest in the magazine's content.

Given President Obama's current popularity, one can only hope that the public is temporarily enamored by Obama's charisma, and will soon get over its crush to realize the totalitarian implications of Obama's endorsement of technocratic social engineering. In more down-to-earth terms, one can only hope that the public comes to realize that Obama embodies what Ronald Reagan said were the nine most terrifying words in the Enlish language; "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

What's more terrifying is that when President Obama utters those words, he really means them.

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