Down among the luvvies JOHN DERBYSHIRE George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted for the Broadway stage. You can get a ticket for as little as $35. I just knew, when I first heard about this, that Progressives would all be swooning over the play as relevant to our times — the phrase "our times" referring, in the narrow, media-hooked imagination of the average progressive, to the last news cycle or two, as shaped by CultMarx outlets. Sure enough, they were coming out of the woodwork to tell us how relevant and contemporary Orwell's 1949 novel is. Moaned the New York Times reviewer: "The production … may be arriving on Broadway at a ripe, perhaps even overripe, momenT". A video commercial for the show flashed images of President Trump, Sean Spicer, and James Comey. So relevant! "We languish in a country that shows many of the traits of a proto-fascist state," lamented the reviewer at Slate.com. The darkest depths of infantile narcissism were plumbed by the Charlie Rose show on July 11th. Charlie himself struck the keynote for this festival of ignorance with his opening description of Orwell's novel. [Clip: "The book is seen as a seminal work arguing against authoritarianism and totalitarian regimes." Charlie, Charlie: the difference between "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" is in Political Science 101. Try not to use words if you don't know what they mean.] But while Charlie may not know his Pinochet from his Lenin or his Lee Kuan Yew from his Mao Tse-tung, he looked positively professorial by comparison with his guests. These were the three principal actors in the Broadway production, the ones playing Winston Smith, Julia, and O'Brien. To call these actors "airheads" would be an insult to air. You can't even call them Progressives: they are too dim and shallow even to hold something as facile as 2017 Progressivism in their pretty heads. The Brits have an expression I like when discussing these light-as-air … I'm sorry, I'm insulting air again … light-as-a-vacuum showbiz types: "luvvies." That's the informal term of address they use to each other: "luvvy." Sentence for practice: "Why Rodney, dear boy, hel-lo. How are you? I saw you on the telly the other night in that police drama thing — marvellous performance, luvvy!" So there was Charlie Rose with three luvvies talking about Nineteen Eighty-Four and its relevance. Sample: [Clip: O'Brien: "It feeds into the great paranoia that we all are experiencing now, about who can we trust and who's on whose side."] Or try this extended sample. You might want to pause the podcast and take a stiff drink first. [Clip: O'Brien: "It's a very good story to tell right now." Rose: "Because? I mean, I know the answer, but tell me." O'Brien: "Because it could happen." Rose: "You think we're in a society and a government that's sliding towards authoritarianism, or …" O'Brien: "I think when we have people on the news talk about 'alternative facts' and …" Rose: "Kellyanne Conway." O'Brien: "Kellyanne Conway. Orwell writes 'words matter, facts matter.' So when Comey says 'words matter' …" Rose: "James Comey." O'Brien: "James Comey … it's very close. We are there." Rose: "Because when you lose truth you lose almost everything." Winston Smith: "You lose the ability to have an argument. The whole point of taking words away and diminishing language is so that people can't have constructive conversations that can create idealistic evolution. That is the deep, deep danger — is the moment you don't know what is real, how can I tell you what to think?" O'Brien: "I think you don't even know where you are, if you don't have truth." Julia: "There's also the pervasive paranoia, the anxiety that society takes on, that allows for real, er, the loss of all of our values. I mean, what surveillance has done to us, and what we're willing to sacrifice in the name of security, is a big part of it, too; xenophobia, a real, just, distrust for our fellow man. It's something that, er, has always been true about the play; but now strikes me every night as being very upsetting …"] That is so dumb it is, as the physicists say, not even wrong. "What we're willing to sacrifice in the name of security?" Why should we have to sacrifice anything in the name of security? Oh, right: because we allowed unassimilable foreigners to pour into our country. Yet if the local CultMarx organizer calls up Julia to tell her there's a demo against immigration restriction, she'll be out there with her placard, marching. And see that little Freudian slip from Winston: "The moment you don't know what is real, how can I tell you what to think?" Who gave you the right to tell me what to think, pinhead? As for "you lose the ability to have an argument," well, I'm happy to have an argument any time. I'd have been happy to have an argument at Williams College last year, but the college president banned me. There is nothing Progressives want less than to have an argument. It's like their calls to "have a national conversation" about this or that. Translation: "Shut up and listen while I tell you what to think." And look how narrow and transient their base of understanding is. They can tell you all about what James Comey said, or Kellyanne Conway, or Sean Spicer. If you're going to draw parallels with totalitarianism, though, you need to know more than last week's news. A grasp of twentieth-century history would help. Could anyone in that studio name two other members of Lenin's first Politburo? I'd be very surprised. The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four was one in which nations had been abolished, swallowed up into three vast slave empires. Britain had become Airstrip One, a mere region within Oceania, with no longer any control over its own destiny. So … where did the luvvies on Charlie Rose stand on Brexit? And Orwell's deepest, most enduring insight was into the way totalitarians weaponize language, twist and alter it for their own purposes. If we go looking for this tendency in our own society, we find it mainly on the progressive left: among the people who call dissent from progressive orthodoxy "hate," who call illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants," who call the desire not to hear one's race endlessly insulted and belittled "supremacy," the people for whom delinquent young blacks are "teens," an Arab terrorist is "a Michigan man," and mass amnesty for foreign scofflaws is "comprehensive immigration reform." It's not the Progressives who have shown real understanding of Orwell's Newspeak vocabulary and its purpose; it's we here on the Alt Right. "Crimestop," "goodthinkful," "doubleplusungood," "Ministry of Truth," … if you want to see these words used in a pointed or ironic way, an Alt Right website is your best bet. We understand "crimethink"; we're constantly being accused of it. We understand "crimestop"; we see people around us practicing it all the time. And what, after all, was the model for Oceania: for the rectified language, the manipulated history, the torture chambers and disappearances, the Two Minutes Hate, the fear and suspicion of your own neighbors, your own family members? It was not the easygoing social democracy of Clement Attlee's Britain, nor the bumptious, argumentative U.S.A. of Harry Truman's administration. It was Stalin's Soviet Union, which Progressives of the time could find nothing wrong with — which, indeed, they swooned over — and whose horrors their children and grandchildren, the Progressives of today, have flushed down the memory hole. (That's an Orwell reference, Charlie.) Although if it were still around, they'd like it just as much as grandpa liked the original. The current Mayor of New York, a Progressive's Progressive, took his honeymoon in Fidel Castro's Cuba. (And marched with the antifa Commies in Germany not two weeks ago!) And here they still are, the progressive luvvies, pampered, primped, and perfumed on our TV screens, not minding Stalin at all — hey, they never heard of him — but finding Donald Trump, quote, "very upsetting." Old Joe Stalin's long gone — and Mao, and Ho, and Pol Pot, and Castro too — but the luvvies are still with us, always with us. If you want — there's another Orwell reference coming up here, Charlie — If you want a picture of the future, imagine a luvvy's Gucci loafer stamping on a human face — for ever.