I saw some quotes by George Orwell this week which struck home.
George Orwell, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair, (born June 25, 1903, Motihari, Bengal, India—died January 21, 1950, London, England), English novelist, essayist, and critic famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), the latter a profound anti-utopian novel that examines the dangers of totalitarian rule (sparked by his fear of Stalinism and Nazism). [Encyclopedia Britannica]
I read Animal Farm (a description of the Russian Revolution and how it was betrayed by Stalin) when I was young and it thoroughly depressed me. Now, I read his quotes and find many of them totally insightful, and worthy of consideration, but I still wouldn’t want to read him. There is no denying however, that his observations and writings are as germane today as they were 80 years ago when he wrote them for the first time.
[Planet Money podcast https://www.npr.org/2019/06/25/736007317/the-protest-tipping-point ] This discusses the interesting fact that once 3.5% of a given population starts to protest in some form or other about something, the issue that they are up in arms about WILL change. This came from a book written by Erica Chenowyth & Maria J. Stephan, “Why Civil Resistance Works”. This book studied civil conflicts from 1900 up to 2006, and found that peaceful resistance tended to be twice as effective as violence in affecting change. I haven’t read the book yet but I’m planning to buy it today and start.
The podcast brought up an excellent example. The recent protests about the law that the Hong Kong government was going to pass that would allow the extradition of people to China. I have to admit that when I first heard about this, I thought that China would win again. After all, Hong Kong’s leaders are mere puppets for Beijing. But amazingly, with more than (depending on who you believe) a million people flooding into the streets to protest the law, the Hong Kong government actually backed down. And I am sure that that was in spite of enormous pressure from the dictators in Beijing. But that 3.5% threshold being surpassed, the protests, which were relatively peaceful, did indeed work.
Now of course, that was 3.5% as relates to the population of Hong Kong, not China. If one wanted to affect change in China, that 3.5% now translates into 42 million people. Hong Kong, whose population is currently about 7.1 million, the 3.5% threshold is only about 260,000 people, and regardless of whose numbers you listen to it was clear that far more than that flooded onto the streets earlier this month.
A fanciful thought … what if Putin, Xi Jing Ping, and Trump stopped being pus-filled bags of egregious, nationalistic ego and actually sat down together and cooperated intelligently? On trade, science, medical research, and alternate energy technologies? What if they cooperated on breaking the hold of Iran’s hard liners, and the Mongoloid moron destroying North Korea? What if they cooperated on the inclusion of India and Pakistan into the modern world? What if they cooperated on the civilizing of Africa and the Arab world? Imagine if they really cracked down on corruption and useless bureaucracy? And what if they focused on the education of children and emancipation of women all over the world? What if government regulations were to be drastically streamlined and simplified? What if they could make the justice system be about justice?
What if the media (social and otherwise) really focused on the truth and educating people? What if they used the power of those platforms to mobilize 3.5% of the populations? :-)
That’s all for now on that subject. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know how to start. But it was a pleasant thought to start the day.
All we can do is to each, in our own way, be intelligent, contributing citizens of the world, trying to impart critical thinking, and reasonable ideas to those we meet, a little bit every day, to somebody. At the very least, it can’t hurt.