Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
Continuing with our ongoing offering of premiums that enlighten us as to how close the Bushevik goals are to those of the ruling power in George Orwell's "1984" -- particularly when it comes to the use of fear, propaganda, thought control and torture -- we are proud to offer "Finding George Orwell in Burma" by Emma Larkin.
Emma Larkin is a pseudonym, because the modern day Burma (now called Myanmar) is a military dictatorship that is positively Orwellian. It's a tragic irony, because as this book proves, Orwell drew many of his ideas for his later writings, including "1984," from his experience as an officer of the British Imperial Police Force in Burma during the '20s. As a result of the brutal rule in a virtually sealed nation, the author of "Finding George Orwell" would lose access to her sources were she to reveal herself.
The Bush Administration, of course, only gives lip service to supporting democracy in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was elected leader of Burma in 1990 but not allowed to assume office by the military -- and remains under house arrest -- is not a name you hear on Bush's lips, even though she is a winner of the Nobel Prize and a courageous fighter for freedom. The word democracy only is used as a means by the Busheviks to secure oil assets from unfriendly governments. Friendly brutal dictators are just fine with the Bush White House.
But "Finding George Orwell" is not about Bush. It is a personal journey through Burma, as the author tries to track the influences of the country in the '20s on Orwell. All the while, she is also recounting her visits and conversations with modern day residents of Burma, who live in a distinctly Orwellian world.
For instance, Larkin writes of a high school teacher who was dismissed from his job for independent thinking. Larkin writes: "The grand plan, if there is a plan at all, is to abolish the power of thinking, believes Tha Win Kyi [the former teacher]. 'Children are not encouraged to question their teachers, and when the teacher asks them a question they dare not answer. It has come to the stage where they see a thing which is not true and dare not say it is not true.'"
That is -- and we cannot help ourselves from making the analogy -- exactly what Karl Rove has tried to do with truth tellers in the United States, PlameGate being an infamous example of such treason against democracy. The right wing extremists who run the Republican Party, the White House, Congress and most of the Federal Bench want to impose their version of "truth" on the rest of us, a distinctly Un-American thing to do. In fact, it is positively Orwellian.
"Finding George Orwell in Burma" has the personal style and touch evidenced by the writer of the "Baghdad Burning" (Girl) blog. The anonymous author of "Finding George Orwell in Burma," however, is an American who speaks Burmese and, therefore, an outsider looking into the totalitarian state of what is now called Myanmar.
This is not a book of political theory or partisan shrieking. But rather, it is a moving, compelling, somber account of how fiction has become political fact. Orwell drew inspiration from British Colonial Burma, and now Burma has become a state that embodies Orwell's vision in "1984."
The use of fear, propaganda, thought control -- and torture. It sure sounds familiar doesn't it? Because it could happen here -- and it is.