!n 2018 Dr. Matthew Yde was the keynote speaker at a Southwest Writers Association conference. He had stopped teaching a couple years earlier and was extremely gratified by the enthusiastic response that his talk generated. He decided at that moment to start a podcast. Why do we call it Singlethink? In George Orwell’s seminal dystopian novel 1984, the Party maintains power by the cultivation of what is called “doublethink,” a process of self-deception both conscious and unconscious. This “splitting of the intelligence” is required most especially in Party members, including those of the Inner Party; that is, the ruling class. We tend to think of our leaders—at least the ones we dislike—as hypocrites, but the truth is that most of them are under the learned, mostly unconscious, yet willful self-deception that Orwell calls “doublethink.” How does the Pharisee condemn Jesus for breaking the law by healing on the Sabbath and then immediately plot his murder?
!N 1984 we read that power is held and the system maintained by “continually molding he consciousness both of the directing group and of the larger executive group that lies immediately below it. The consciousness of the masses needs to be influenced only in a negative way.” That is to say, (generally speaking), the more educated you are the more brainwashed you are – at least if you’ve had a state education. When Dr. Yde was in graduate school, the students learned about Louis Althusser’s concept of the “ideological state apparatus.” Institutions like school and the media are designed to mold the subject into a docile tool of the state. The irony seemed to be lost on his teachers, as this was being taught in a state school. On the other hand, the uneducated masses are influenced by mindless television shows and other media, endless celebrity gossip, sports culture, “spurious news,” and, of course, the ever recurring “Two Minutes Hate,” directed at whomever happens to be the target of hostility on any given day. Not long ago the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article titled, “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” in which the authors argued that newborn babies are not “actual persons” and so do not possess an inalienable right to life. This is doublethink: “holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” A baby is not a person, but obviously a baby is a person and the authors know this or they would not have used the word “baby,” which means a person at the beginning of life.
!N 1984 the notion of objective reality, truth, and morality are destroyed in the interests of those in power. After all, if there is no objective truth, than “truth” is whatever those in power say it is. Singlethink is designed to expose doublethink, reinforce sanity where it still exists, and affirm the words of Christ: “the truth shall set you free.” O’Brien says in the novel that “men are infinitely malleable” and Soren Kierkegaard that “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Kierkegaard’s book of that title was his meditation on the “double-mindedness” that leads one to perdition. “Singlethink”— in opposition to doublethink—is to will one thing, to believe in and hold firmly to the truth, and to resist being molded to one’s own destruction.