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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition - Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH REVIEW*(* entertainment purposes only) 1984 v. The Annotated AliceExterior shot: a pristine and stately government building which looks out-of-place in an otherwise economically depressed city, in an underdeveloped tropical country.Interior shot: a very luxuriously-appointed office, where a late middle aged executive (EX), O’Brien (OB) and the Queen of Hearts (QH) all sit in fine leather chairs around a mahogany table.EX: Normally we don’t conduct group interviews for positions this high, but your applications are both so strong, and so nearly-evenly matched, The Committee is having difficulty deciding. I want to ask you each some more in-depth questions, to better judge which of you might be better-suited to this job.(O’Brien and the Queen of Hearts nod agreeably)EX: (continuing) As you know, the Republic of Primrosia has agreed to set up a Central Bank to issue currency, as part of the “restructuring” conditions of their IMF bailout. If selected, you will be the Head of this new bank. Do you have any questions you need answered, before we continue?OB: My understanding is the President of Primrosia appoints the Head of the Central Bank (HCB). Shouldn’t he be here to interview us?EX: It’s true the President makes the appointment, but we can hardly let a President make such an important decision. Politicians are essentially the “hired help”. I represent the vested interests who will provide the President with the name of the person he will appoint.OB: (matter-of-factly) I see; you represent the Inner Party. EX: (with a nod and a sly smile) If you will… the tip-top of the global Inner Party.(O’Brien returns the nod with a knowing smile of his own)EX: As HCB, you’ll need to know how to handle the press. Once you begin inflating the currency, people will want to know why their hard-earned money has lost its value. Suppose an uppity reporter asks you why a gallon of milk now costs five Primrose dollars, when just last year it only cost 1? (EX makes a questioning gesture towards O’Brien)OB: I would simply explain that 5=1, if the Party so desires, and thus the Primrose has not lost any value at all.(EX appears to mull this over, and then gestures for the Queen to respond)QH: Purchasing power? I would tell the reporter that if five dollar buys a gallon of milk on one day, then it must buy five gallons of milk on five days.(Executive is dumbfounded.)EX: (smiling broadly, and clapping his hands emphatically) That’s brilliant!! Do you mind if I use that?!?(O’Brien shifts uncomfortably in his seat)EX: Okay, moving on… to buy public support, we are going to set up the new Central Bank to appear as a public institution. In reality, you will not be answerable to any governmental authorities in this country, but to keep up appearances, it may be necessary for you to testify before their congress. How will you respond if the Primrose Congress puts forth a motion to have our new bank audited?(again motioning to O’Brien for an answer)OB: (dogmatically) They are the Outer Party. How dare they try to force transparency on the Inner Party! (looking EX in the eye) I’ve come to learn that effective rule is only achieved by strict discipline and rigid lines of authority, which must always extend unidirectionally from top to bottom.(Executive inhales through his mouth uncomfortably)EX: Yeah… I’m completely sympathetic to what you’re saying, but you can’t spell it out like that. One of the quirks of the system is that Congress thinks that they are the Inner Party. You can’t mess with that perception; it would blow our whole cover. (turns to the Queen) How would you answer?QH: “"The time has come," I’d say to them,"To talk of many things:Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."EX: (ecstatic) YES! Exactly right! Confuse ‘em! Waste their time! Talk about anything… ANYTHING except the relevant issues at hand! Believe me: they’ll love you for it. They’ll appear to have called you to account, so they’ll get re-elected, and you can continue on with the bank’s business!(O’Brien is now beginning to sweat)EX: Okay- let’s move on. If the public is paying attention, they’ll start to realize that you’re creating money out of essentially nothing… and that your bank and its closest affiliates enjoy first use of the money before its inflationary effects are felt. There may be a public outcry to return to gold and silver backed money. How would you handle a situation like that?(motioning this time to QH) I’m eager to hear what you’ve got for this one.QH: I would say…. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!EX: (face falls in disappointment)You think you’re going to execute the country’s entire population? That could never happen. Our oligarchy is extremely small. We can’t give the public reason to realize their own power and fight back… we’d never endure a direct confrontation.(sullenly, to O’Brien) What would you do?OB: Well, most of the public won’t care about issues like this. It’s just a few agitators you need to worry about. This nation needs to develop methods of identifying the few people who actually need to be dealt with. If I were in the business of creating money, I’d funnel it through my member banks to capitalize a massive military/security apparatus. You could really crack down on dissidents, if you had a surveillance camera on every street corner… augmented by a secret police, internet surveillance, and programs to enlist public support like "If you see something, say something".EX: (intrigued) Interesting…but how do you explain the construction of a police state to the public?OB: Well, for one thing, you’ve got the money to buy off politicians, so you can start wars to advance your foreign policy aims. Blowback from these is bound to lead to increased legitimate terrorist threats, and if it doesn’t, you own the media, so you can get them to hype whatever threats you need to advance your domestic goals. In the end, the public must believe that the police state is for their safety.EX: (standing in admiration, extending his hand to O’Brien) Congratulations! You’ve got the job!MATCH POINT: 1984------------------------------------------Post Script: I couldn’t help myself.-B.B.