Future Imperfect

This week RadioLab stepped away from science and into politics to bring an episode that reminded me much more of This American Life than RadioLab. The episode was 60 words, about a (extremely long) single sentence from the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) signed into law by George W. Bush following 9/11. This sentence, they claim, is the basis for the ‘war on terror’ that we are living through ever since.

Those 60 words:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.


Listening to this episode, I was made keenly aware of just how prescient George Orwell was in writing 1984. The AUMF summarized above essentially declares war or no one and anyone. It puts the United States at war with no country, no specific group, no specific person. It is written in order to include anyone that the government wants it to. It does limit itself to organizations (even if only loosely) affiliated with the attack on September 11, but even that is plastic, as we learn from the RadioLab episode.

Image“Who are we fighting?” you ask.

“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia,” they respond.


Today my wife showed me a picture that was a reproduction of an old Vogue magazine cover. The woman in the photograph was holding an odd short pen between her fingers. What a peculiar gesture…

Much like this one of the artist, Clement Hurd:


Why on Earth would he be holding his hand so oddly? It’s almost as if… oh.




We live in a world of double speak. In a land where the past is altered in order to come into line with today’s mores. We’re watched, but so frequently that we don’t even see it.

ImageWe’re not Winston Smith, of the Outer Party. We’re the Proles. And we don’t even realize it’s happening to us.


I was also thinking of the dystopian novel by Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed, earlier today. Despite the fact that this post feels like I should be able to tie into this novel without too much effort, it didn’t happen. However, there is an excellent essay about this novel and others like it at anthonyburgess.org. All the books and films mentioned there are great reads.


One comment on “Future Imperfect

  1. […] here. Read this post on the AUMF, cigarettes, war and moral […]

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