Log Index


The Lockdowns and the Hate Week

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell describes a recurring propaganda device or psyop which the Party used on a cyclical basis, whose purpose was to channel and dissipate potentially disruptive tension in the populace. Basically, people were systematically whipped into a frenzy, and their emotions and energy directed towards the largely fictional enemy.

The Hate Week in Orwell’s work was therefore not so much the classical agitprop analyzed by Jacques Ellul, a tool indispensable in e.g. the mass organization of China’s ”Great Leap Forward” or in The Third Reich’s rapid and thorough social and economic transformations, but rather a diversion. An insidious and violent distraction which on a regular basis served to shield the power structure from potentially destabilizing dissent.

The current US riots which now are spreading throughout the West, serve this particular function very well.

The draconian and ostensibly quite excessive lockdowns legitimized by this highly convenient virus, which effectively enabled a critically needed reboot of important parts of the industrial economy, namely brought three significant factors into play. These factors are affecting a great amount of the Western population, and to a certain extent the global one, and involve a widely disseminated fear of a painful and imminent death of oneself and of loved ones; a considerable threat of unemployment and a wider economic insecurity; and in most places, the various mental and social stressors of the quarantine measures and the associated repression.

These kinds of factors engender vast amounts of anxiety and frustration throughout a population, which demand some form of outlet. Similar situations, throughout history, have also tended to catalyze significant societal and political changes, or manifest in various odd and eccentric behaviours. In Europe, after periods of plague, starvation and other natural disasters, a phenomenon of mass psychosis known as ”dancing mania” tended to occur, and similarly, in Japan, at the calamitous end of the Edo period, a year-long interval ensued of libertine dancing festivals sponaneously erupting all across the nation. More often, however, the pent-up frustrations and fears found an outlet in various forms of rebellion, religious, social or political.

This is why the disturbances taking place as present work so excellently in favor of various powerful interests. They effectively focus what could otherwise have been an unpredictable and disruptive popular reaction directed against some aspect of the power structure, towards a spectacle and morality play which further serves to divide the opposition into two clearly delineated identities.

Therefore, it’s not Orwell’s Hate Week per se that we're seeing, since the populace is pitted against one another rather than directed towards a common external enemy, with a set of interconnected media institutions effectively supporting two mutually exclusive narratives. This process will eventually enable both sides to be declared the victor when the disturbances are concluded, all depending upon how the outcome is spun in the ensuing integration propagandas prepared for consumption in the separate camps.

All in all, we’re simply once more dealing with a particularly spectacular manifestation of the pseudo-conflict between the progressive and conservative actor in the diversionary morality play that modern Western politics has been for a very long time, now ingeniously rendering us docile by allowing us to riot along a designated path, and by forcing us to focus on little else.