*Orwell Revisited

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Posted by AF [AF] on February 20, 2000 at 12:05:06

In Reply to: Orwell Revisited posted by Tom on February 20, 2000 at 07:00:14

Tom wrote:

During some recent conversations here on H2O, (Mostly between AF and ZW) one word kept coming to mind over and over. "Doublethink." Anyone who has ever read George Orwell's 1984 is probably familiar with the word. For those who are not, "Doublethink" was a term in the novel describing a sophisticated form of mind control used by a fictional totalitarian State. It was in Orwell's words, "A vast system of mental cheating" necessitated by the fact that the government of this State was constantly rewriting its own history. Although some of the characters depicted in the book had the tools at their disposal in the form of their own intelligence, critical thinking abilities and knowledge of the past to spot discrepancies in the State's official version of history, their very survival depended upon suppressing any and all doubts about the truthfulness of what they were told. This process became so ingrained that it was done almost subconsciously. As Orwell described it:

"The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop in short means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one's own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The key word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.......by far the most important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party. It is not merely that speeches, statistics, and records of every kind must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in all cases right. It is also that no change of doctrine or in political alignment can ever be admitted." (1984 Signet paperback edition pages 174,175)

A common charge made by critics of Jehovah's Witnesses is that this religion practices a similar form of mind control. The cognitive abilities of individual Witnesses, these critics say, are paralyzed by a form of "Orwellian doublethink." Obviously, the claim that Jehovah's Witnesses are controlled by such a system obviously requires proof of some sort. Otherwise it is simply an unsubstantiated and quite probably biased assertion. On the other side of the coin, if the Witnesses do not want to let such a claim go unchallenged, more would be required to disprove it than simply their own denial thereof. Victims of mind control never consciously realize when and how they have been manipulated. They invariably feel love for the very organization that is controlling them and they will vehemently deny the idea that this control takes place whether it does or not. Consequently the alleged victim of mind control is not himself a reliable judge of whether or not it has occurred, unless he or she is willing to put this denial to the test.

As far as the charge of doublethink is concerned, a loyal citizen of Oceania would have believed, or at least suppressed his doubts about any piece of historical revisionism put forth by the Ministry of Truth regardless of whether it contradicted what that citizen knew had actually happened or not. Therefore it would seem then that the most elementary test possible to actually prove or disprove the claims of those who say that Jehovah's Witnesses are controlled in the Orwellian sense would simply be to see if a Witness is able to spot similar historical discrepancies in WTB&TS literature. Therefore I propose the following method. Examine the quotes which follow. They are grouped into sets of two. Pay careful attention to the dates of the quotes themselves and compare these with any dates mentioned within the quotes. Make a note as to whether each individual set of quotes agree with or contradict each other. If you can spot the discrepancies fairly easily, identify the contradiction and explain it, then you are certainly not practicing doublethink against your will. On the other hand, if you can read through all the quotes and see nothing contradictory in any of them, or if you are actually "bored or repelled" even by the thought of applying your critical thinking skills to WTB&TS literature to the point where you are unable to finish, then perhaps there is a problem after all, and the parallels that are drawn between the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses and the oligarchical collectivism of Oceania are not as far-fetched as they at first sound.

I'll be very surprised if any JW deals with this information substantively. Perhaps You Know might post his usual "YAWN" or ZW might dance his usual "but that was old light" routine. But actually fill out your form and take a chance on clobbering their Orwellian view of Mommy? Naah!

I'll make a few comments:

The Watch Tower, November 1, 1922 page 333:
"Bible prophecy shows that the Lord was due to appear for the second time in the year 1874. Fulfilled prophecy shows beyond a doubt that he did appear in 1874. Fulfilled prophecy is otherwise designated the physical facts; and these facts are indisputable. All true watchers are familiar with these facts, as set forth in the Scriptures and explained in the interpretation by the Lord's special servant."

The Watchtower, June 15, 1954 page 370:
"Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ's return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah's witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur."

A flat out lie.

The Watch Tower, January 1, 1924 page 5:
"Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874."

The Watchtower, July 15, 1965, page 428:
"As we look back over the years, we can clearly see how God's organization in modern times has progressed in understanding. For example, it learned that Christ's second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh as many professed Christians believe. His rule would be from the heavens. This was a new revelation of great importance to God's people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century."

One could argue that the 1965 WT statements are true if you view "God's organization" as including people like Nelson Barbour. By 1869 Barbour certainly was "anxiously awaiting" for Christ's "second presence" to occur in the flesh in 1873. When that failed, he regrouped and predicted 1874. When that failed, his group nearly disintegrated, but the intrepid survivors eventually decided that Christ had indeed returned in 1874, but invisibly. From about June 1875 onward that's what Barbour taught. Russell sort of indicated that before he learned of Barbour's views, he was of the opinion that Christ would return invisibly (he told P. S. L. Johnson that he came to accept this in October 1874, but the coincidence with Barbour's expection of Christ's visible return in October 1874, among other problems, is too great), but there is no support for that in any of the old literature. The indication is that in 1876 Russell accepted the notion of an "invisible presence" along with all the rest of Barbour's chronology, which included the prediction that "the end of the Gentile times" would come in 1914. In 1876 Russell became a supporter and co-editor of Barbour's magazine Herald of the Morning. Barbour had begun publishing this again in June 1875, after having suspended publication of its predecessor in late 1874. About April 1876 the pair suspended publication to work on the booklet Three Worlds, and the Harvest of this World, which they published in 1877. In 1877 also, Russell on his own published the booklet Object and Manner of the Lord's Return, in which he for the first time set out his view that Christ's return would be invisible. In 1878 the pair resumed publication of Herald of the Morning.

So, if you understand the 1965 WT statements in a certain way, and with the above facts in mind, you might try to claim that they're true. "God's organization" could be said to "have learned that Christ's second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh", but you have to have in the back of your mind that "God's organization" comprised Russell and Barbour and their associates, and that "they learned" these things around 1875-1876 and only as a way to explain the complete failure of Barbour's predictions. "They" also in 1877 predicted that the "resurrection of the saints" would occur in 1878, but when that failed to happen "they" decided that it had occurred invisibly, and so once again "they learned" that Christ's heavenly kingdom would rule from the heavens. One could also say that "they" -- or "God's people" -- "had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century" if you gloss over who expected what and when.

Of course, hardly anyone knows all this stuff, and so the 1965 WT quote is a flat-out lie because it deliberately gives completely wrong impressions to naïve readers.

The Harp of God, (1921 edition) page 231:
"There are two important dates here that we must not confuse, but clearly differentiate, namely, the beginning of "the time of the end" and of "the presence of the Lord". "The time of the end" embraces a period from A. D. 1799 as above indicated, to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan's empire and the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah.

Awake! October 8, 1972 page 15:
"As far back as 1879, the publishers of this magazine pointed to the year 1914 as a marked year in Bible prophecy, as the starting point for what the Bible calls "the time of the end."

The last part of the sentence is another flat out lie.

The Time Is At Hand (1907 edition), page 239:
"Since that time it has been emphatically manifest that the time had come in A.D. 1878 when kingly judgment should begin at the house of God. It is here that 'Rev. 14:14-20' applies, and our Lord is brought to view as the Reaper crowned The year A.D. 1878, being the parallel of his assuming power and authority in the type, clearly marks the time for the actual assuming of power as King of kings, by our present, spiritual, invisible Lord--the time of his taking to himself his great power to reign, which in the prophecy is closely associated with the resurrection of his faithful, and the beginning of the trouble and wrath upon the nations."

The Watchtower, September 15, 1998, page 15:
"Similarly, a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the "seven times" of Daniel 4:25 with "the times of the Gentiles," they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914."

The first sentence of the 1998 WT quote is true. The problem is that it doesn't specify what was expected. However, the second sentence implies what the "expectation" was: "that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914." One might justify the second statement by claiming that the "Kingdom power" referred to was not the same as the "Kingdom power" Christ had already received in 1878, but referred to his ultimate literal rule over the nations beginning in 1914. However, most readers know nothing of this and so the two statements taken together a lie. This is a good example of lying by juxtaposing two true statements and by so doing implying that they're related, giving a false impression.

The Harp Of God (1928 edition), page 235:
"This date, therefore, when understood, would certainly fix the time when the Lord is due at his second appearing. Applying the same rule, then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 AD brings us to 1874 AD, at which time, according to Biblical chronology, the Lord's second presence is due."

The Watchtower, May 1, 1988, page 22:
"At the back of our house in Tojo-cho, Osaka, there was a house with a sign: "Osaka Branch of the International Bible Students Association." Assuming it to be a Christian group, I visited the house. "Do you believe in the Second Advent of the Lord?" I asked the young man who came to the door. "Christ's Second Advent was realized in 1914," he answered. In astonishment, I told him that was impossible. "You should read this book," he said, handing me The Harp of God."

A fine example of giving a false impression by knowingly relating the faulty memories of an old Bible Student. WTS literature contains many examples.

Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose (1959), pages 14-15:
MARIA: Isn't it true, though, that, while most of those looking for the second presence of Christ expected a physical return, there were some who believed that Christ would not be visible at this second presence?
JOHN: Yes. For example, there were George Storrs of Brooklyn, who published a magazine called "The Bible Examiner" and who looked to the date 1870; H. B. Rice, who published The Last Trump, also looked to 1870, and a third group, this time of disappointed Second Adventists, looking to 1873 or 1874. This group was headed by N. H. Barbour of Rochester, New York, publisher of The Herald of the Morning....

Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1906 pages 229-31:
"The answer showed that my surmise had been correct, viz.: that the time arguments, chronology, etc., were the same as used by Second Adventists in 1873, and explained how Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a co-worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time; and that when the date 1874 had passed without the world being burned, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were for a time dumb-founded. They had examined the time-prophecies that had seemingly passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw, and had begun to wonder whether the time was right and their expectations wrong, -- whether the views of restitution and blessing to the world, which myself and others were teaching, might not be the things to look for. It seems that not long after their 1874 disappointment, a reader of the Herald of the Morning, who had a copy of the Diaglott, noticed something in it which he thought peculiar"....

The statements by MARIA and JOHN about Barbour's belief could be argued to be true if you know that Barbour first expected Christ's VISIBLE return in 1873/4 and when that failed, revised his "belief" and claimed that Christ had returned INVISIBLY in 1874, as I described above.

The Harp of God (1921) edition, page 238:
"About 1875, while carefully and prayerfully studying the Scriptures, he became convinced of the Lord's second presence, resulting in his writing and publishing a booklet entitled, "The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return," which had a phenomenal circulation amongst the Christian people of the world."

1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 36:
"Earnestly endeavoring to counteract such erroneous teachings, in 1873 twenty-one-year-old C. T. Russell wrote and published at his own expense a booklet entitled "The Object and Manner of the Lord's Return." Some 50,000 copies were published and it enjoyed a wide distribution."

The Society really messed up on those dates over the years. Russell was very careful to avoid stating in Zion's Watch Tower or anywhere else just exactly when he had published Object and Manner. I suspect he was bring cagey in order to distance himself from Barbour, and to give the impression that he had believed in this "invisible coming" doctrine before he met Barbour. But as I said above, there is no evidence in any WTS literature for this. In 1992 I made a study of the publication date of Object and Manner and found that it most certainly had to be published in 1877. In 1993 the Society finally admitted this fact in the Proclaimers book, after several JW critics had published the facts. Look at this link for more information on this topic: The Evolution of 606 to 607 B.C.E. in Watchtower Chronology.

The Watch Tower, May 1, 1922 page 132:
"Jesus clearly indicated that during his second presence he would have amongst the church a faithful and wise servant, through whom he would give to the household of faith meat in due season. The evidence is overwhelming concerning the Lord's second presence, the time of the harvest, and that the office of "that servant" has been filled by Brother Russell."

The Watchtower, May 15, 1998, pages 14 and 15:
"For example, another kind of test came upon the remnant shortly after Brother Charles T. Russell died. That was a test of their loyalty and faith. Who was 'the faithful slave' of Matthew 24:45? Some felt that it was Brother Russell himself, and they balked at cooperating with new organizational arrangements. If he had been the slave, what were the brothers to do now that he had died? Should they follow some newly designated individual, or was it now time to recognize that Jehovah was using, not just one person but an entire group of Christians as an instrument, or slave class?"

The 1998 WT quote is an example of lying by talking about an old view as if the holders of that old view held the Society's latest view.

Awake! July 8, 1998, page 11:
"In the beginning, the Hitler government worked to conceal its violent and extremist nature. Hence, the Witnesses along with millions of other Germans in early 1933, viewed the National Socialist Party as the legitimate ruling authority of the time."

Awake! August 22, 1995, page 6:
"The Golden Age and Consolation magazines often drew attention to the militaristic stirrings in Germany. In 1929, more than three years before Hitler came to power, the German edition of The Golden Age boldly stated: "National Socialism is ... a movement that is acting ... directly in the service of man's enemy, the Devil."

Here's a good example of telling partial truths to justify the argument of the moment. The fact is that the Society made both positive and negative statements back then about the Hitler regime. Rutherford was obviously trying to cozy up to the Hitler people when he needed to protect the Society's interests in 1933, but for the most part he denounced the regime. In 1929 it's obvious that he denounced it because it was, in a general way, a part of "the Devil's organization". After his failed attempt in 1933 to curry favor with Hitler, he again denounced the regime. The 1995 quote is part of an effort to show just how much "Jehovah's people" have received "divine guidance", and so the writer pointed out things to emphasize that. The 1998 quote is part of an effort to deflect published criticism about the Society's attempt to curry favor with Hitler in order to protect its interests, and so the writer presents the view that JWs were just naively going along with the duly constituted government.

Comfort For All Who Mourn (1941), page 21:
While the two kings, "the king of the north" and "the king of the south", engage in the most deadly and destructive war of all time, the God of heaven sets up his kingdom,... these present-day events will be quickly followed by the complete destruction of Satan's rule.... there shall follow quickly "the battle of the great day of God Almighty"

Kingdom Ministry, January 1968, page 5:
"Of course, in our discussions the question came up, 'If the great tribulation is so closely connected with World War I, would World War II be considered a resumption of the tribulation?' No, that war was different. During World War I God's people expected it to lead directly into Armageddon, but Jehovah prevented such a climax at that time. We didn't succumb to such an expectation during World War II."

Another example of telling partial truths. Until Rutherford's death in 1942 the Society most certainly expected WWII to lead directly to Armageddon. But when Knorr and Franz came to power, they obviously realized that Germany was going to lose, and they obviously had held an opinion different from Rutherford's in that they expected the world to go on for awhile after the war ended. Thus they started up the Gilead missionary school in 1943. But they still expected "the end" by the early 1950s, which expectation can be seen in some of the WTS literature of the time.

The Watch Tower, March 1, 1923, page 68:
"We believe that all who are now rejoicing in present truth will concede that Brother Russell faithfully filled the office of special servant of the Lord; and that he was made ruler over all the Lord's goods... Often when asked by others, Who is that faithful and wise servant? -- Brother Russell would reply: "Some say I am; while others would say the Society is." Both statements were true; for Brother Russell was in fact the Society in a most absolute sense, in this, that he directed the policy and course of the Society without regard to any other person on earth. He sometimes sought advice of others connected with the Society, listened to their suggestions, and then did according to his own judgment, believing that the Lord would have him thus do."

The Watchtower, December 15, 1972, page 760:
"According to the facts available, the governing body became associated with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. C. T. Russell was patently of that governing body back there in the last quarter of the nineteenth century."

Another lie told by assigning a current view to an old situation. Russell might be argued with hindsight to have been part of a "governing body", but he certainly didn't view his position as anything like a governor until much later. The truth is that the Society itself didn't view its leaders or the board of directors as THE governing body until the 1940s, and even then the only ones with any practical power were Knorr and Franz. Anyone who didn't go along fully with them was booted out -- including members of the board of directors of the Watch Tower Corporation, who comprised that 1940s "governing body".

The Time Is At Hand (1907 edition), page 101:
"Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in AD 1878, and that the "battle of the great day of God Almighty" ('Rev. 16:14'), which will end in AD 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. The gathering of the armies is plainly visible from the standpoint of God's Word."

Awake! January 22, 1973, page 8:
"Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things."

A flat out, baldfaced lie. There is no way even the worst weasel can get out of this one.

The Battle of Armageddon (1913 edition), pages 621, 622:
"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, AD, according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it: and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, AD: and the first work of the Kingdom, as shown by our Lord, in his parables and prophecy (the gathering of "his elect") is now in progress. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," explained the Lord through the Apostle; and the resurrection of the Church shall be in a moment. Consequently the Kingdom, as represented in our Lord, and the sleeping saints already fitted and prepared and found worthy to be members of "his body," the "bride," was set up in 1878; and all that remains to be done for its completion is the "gathering together unto the Lord" of those of the "elect" who are alive and remain --whose trial is not yet complete."

1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 37:
"True to such calculations, 1914 did mark the end of those times and the birth of God's kingdom in heaven with Christ Jesus as king. Just think of it! Jehovah granted his people that knowledge nearly four decades before those times expired."

Another flat out, baldfaced lie. If I remember right, Karl Adams wrote many of these Yearbooks. He also was responsible for much of the misleading done in the Proclaimers book. He's a real weasel.

The Watchtower, September 1, 1990 page 11:
"In May 1920 the malaria flared up again, and I was sent up into the hills to recuperate. There I read all the books I could get my hands on, including the Bible. Reading the Scriptures intensified my interest in the Lord's return. Months later, down in Kanpur, I started a Bible study group, hoping to learn more about the Lord's return. It was there that I met Fredrick James, a former British soldier who was now a zealous Bible Student. He explained to me that Jesus had been present since 1914, invisible to man. This was the most thrilling news I had ever heard."

The Watch Tower, February 15, 1927 page 54:
"The proof is quite clear and convincing that the second presence of our Lord dates from 1874, and that from that time forward the Lord Jesus has been gathering together those who have made a covenant with the Lord God by sacrifice."

Another lie by printing the faulty recollections of an old Bible Student.

Zion's Watch Tower, May 1881, page 5:
"We would like to correct this misapprehension once for all, by stating that we do not expect Jesus to come this year, nor any other year, for we believe that all time prophecies (bearing upon Jesus' coming) ended at and before the fall of 1874, and that He came there, and the second advent is now in progress and will continue during the entire Millennial age."

The Watchtower, December 1, 1984, page 14:
"Russell and his associates quickly understood that Christ's presence would be invisible. They disassociated themselves from other groups and, in 1879, began publishing spiritual food in Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. From its first year of publication, this magazine pointed forward, by sound Scriptural reckoning, to the date 1914 as an epoch-making date in Bible chronology. So when Christ's invisible presence began in 1914, happy were these Christians to have been found watching!"

Another lie by a false juxtaposition.

Great work, Tom! This is exactly what JWs need to wake them up to the truth about "The Truth".