It Was a Bright Cold Day in April, and the Clocks Were Striking Patriarchy – a blast from the past from April 2016

It Was a Bright Cold Day in April, and the Clocks Were Striking Patriarchy – a blast from the past from April 2016


‘As you lie there,’ said O’Brien, ‘you have often wondered you have even asked me — why the Ministry of Love should expend so much time and trouble on you. And when you were free you were puzzled by what was essentially the same question. You could grasp the mechanics of the Society you lived in, but not its underlying motives. Do you remember writing in your diary, “I understand how: I do not understand why“? It was when you thought about “why” that you doubted your own sanity. You have read the book, Hayek’s book, or parts of it, at least. Did it tell you anything that you did not know already?’

‘You have read it?’ said Winston.

‘I wrote it. That is to say, I collaborated in writing it. No book is produced individually, as you know.’

‘Is it true, what it says?’ Something about the idea that O’Brien had written it did not ring true, but Winston had no proof it had existed before the Utopia.

‘It was thought to be true once, yes. The programme it sets forth is nonsense. The individual by himself, no compensation to historically oppressed groups, no debasing of privilege.  Everyone knows the only way to run a society is to keep the forces of oppression and compensation in balance, to right historical wrongs.  The way to sanity is to always be aware of your evil thoughts, your tendency to abuse your privilege.  And everyone has privilege, except the priests of balancing, the enlightened, those who know how to keep society running.

The peons can’t be trusted with such delicate balancing of forces.  Left to themselves,s the lumpen proletariat will embrace greed and money making and the society created will be unequal, and wrong, and chaotic.  Like Somalia.”

“What’s Somalia?” Winston asked.  And for a moment he saw a shadow of confusion cross O’Brien’s eyes.  “It’s not important.  That’s how to answer the idea of individual freedom.  It’s like Somalia.  And Somalia is not Utopia. Utopia is perfect and it’s forever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.’

The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into O’Brien’s face. He knew in advance what O’Brien would say. That the enlightened ones did not seek power for their own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the enlightened ones was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O’Brien said this he would believe it.

You could see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and by what lies and barbarities the enlightened ones kept them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?

‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ‘You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore –‘

He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.

‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’

He pulled the lever back and continued:

‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. Only the enlightened ones can punish humanity as it deserves to be punished.  Humanity is a cancer upon the Earth, the only species capable of rendering others extinct, the only species that will destroy the planet left to its own devices.

But killing everyone would be wrong, because then someone might get the idea they could kill us and we don’t want to die.  And the instinct to reproduce is so strong, that merely outlawing reproduction wouldn’t work.

Setting a barrier between men and women? Convincing women men are the oppressors?  Convincing women that they are simultaneously fragile and powerful, till they’re crazy?  That works.  Convincing people heterosexuality is somehow abnormal, and sex is just for play, and then ultimately that all sex everywhere is about power and wrong?  That works.  The birthrate is falling, Winston, and soon we will have w orld without people.”  Winston stopped, a mad gleam in his eyes.  “A world without people.”

For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent effort to raise himself into a sitting position, and merely succeeded in wrenching his body painfully.

‘But how can you control all humans?’ he burst out. ‘Don’t you think here and there, a new colony will start and the species will grow anew.”

O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘Oh, yes,” he said.  “Humans are like cockroaches.  But if we get in their minds and make them believe us, then we have them. You can make them believe anything. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not make you believe. Invisibility, levitation — anything. That despite biological, obvious differences, and other differences in musculature, in brain formation, despite hormones and how they shape everything about a human before he’s even born, we can make humans believe there are no differences between the sexes.  And alternately we can make them believe all males are natural oppressors and must be punished simply for existing, and all women, no matter how powerful or rich are natural victims and must be appeased.  We can make them believe there are no differences, and at the same time that there are six genders, or ten, or twelve, or a hundred, all of them natural from birth.’

“But that’s mad,” Winston shouted.  “Utterly mad.  You can’t make anyone deny the truth of their own eyes, forever.”

He knew the lever would be pulled.


“How many genders does humanity have, Winston?”


The lever was pulled.

“How many?”


The lever was pulled.

“How many?”

“A hundred”

The lever was pulled.

“How many?”

“As many as the enlightened say.”

“That is right, Winston, you are almost well.  And what is PIV.”
“Violation.  Always violation.”

“Can’t a woman consent to sex with a man?”

“There is no true consent, since even in Utopia cis het males are programmed to institute patriarchy.  You must always be vigilant against your own thoughts and your own unconscious privilege, even if you can’t be fully aware of it.  All penetration is violation.  A baby is an invader in a woman’s body.  Utopia is forever and only the enlightened can tell us when we’re wrong. Because the individual is not able to balance the forces of retribution and oppression and greed by himself, or not even within himself. Society is always imbalanced, and there will be oppression till all of humanity is gone, so the enlightened ones must teach us and correct us until that time.”


Winston gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken zeem to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the androgynous, unreadable face. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of zees nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. Zee had won the victory over Zeeself. Zee loved Big Gender Indeterminate Sibling.

77 thoughts on “It Was a Bright Cold Day in April, and the Clocks Were Striking Patriarchy – a blast from the past from April 2016

  1. It’s a brilliant scenario. Doubtless the Anointed belief e they can make it happen. And doubtless they will be astonished when the thugs they rub up against for their jollies take over and break them like the little pencil-necks that they are.

  2. Seen on the net (paraphrased): “If white privilege is real, why did Elizabeth Warren claim to be a Cherokee?”

    1. I can not even imagine the degree of privilege that would be necessary to allow you to ask something so unwoke.

  3. Pure fantasy or the perfect liberal progressive wet dream?
    Every time I read this sort of speculative fiction I have this compelling urge to visualize slitting some throats.
    Figuratively speaking of course.

    1. Yes, that up above is Hugo-worthy, with slight re-write to ensure the readers understands O’Brien is the protagonist, forced to do those things to Winston for Winston’s own good.

      For Winston’s and, of course, for the children.

  4. “There is nothing that we could not make you believe. Invisibility, levitation — anything.”

    Heard on Z-Man’s podcast: If we’re required to believe that a great hairy middle-aged brute is a 12 year old girl, what happens when someone identifies as invisible? Will we be required to believe they’re not there?

    [Criminals would have a field day with that one… actually, some already do, in places where their Oppression Status negates law enforcement.]

    “Zee loved Big Gender Indeterminate Sibling.”

    Did you just dis small entities of gender who lack sibling privilege??

    1. “If we’re required to believe that a great hairy middle-aged brute is a 12 year old girl, what happens when someone identifies as invisible? Will we be required to believe they’re not there?”
      No. We are only supposed to pretend that clothes that aren’t there, actually are…

  5. Here’s hoping that 2020 is the year the electorate rears back and tells the Progressive Left “You have severally and collectively lost your goddamned minds. Now sit down and stop running your ratchet-jaws, the adults are talking.”

        1. I was looking at a picture of downtown San Francisco the other night and couldn’t help thinking how much all those lampposts need decoration.

          Of course, one simple step we could take is to vote that the name of the city be stripped of the “San” (separation of Church & State, after all … besides, it lauds a colonialist past) and simply be known as “Frisco.” I don’t care what they identify as, I always think of them as Frisco.

          1. That used to get at least a “Tut-tut”; now it would probably warrant a 21 exploding head salute. OTOH, considering that we’ve committed to not travel east on Stateline Road (the wall would go up on the center stripe), I’ll not get the chance to display my disdain.

            1. Nor south of Stateline…

              Random thought: would there be a market for tar and feathers for festive decorations?

            1. The left’s solution to the problems in the third world isn’t to encourage the third world to improve its state but rather to drag the USA down to the third world in the name of “equality and social justice”. They still cannot grasp that economies are not fixed pies.

      1. Normally I’m there with you. “Vengance is mine” said the Lord. Because not our job.

        But for some people, and some crimes, what I want conflicts fiercely with what I know I should do. It just feels like I’d want to put more effort into it than an even trigger-pull.

        With any luck, I’ll never have to find out.

  6. O’Brien’s speech needs to be updated to include the fact that by chemically sterilizing kindergarteners, we’re helping them express their true selves, and any parents who object or at least want to delay such sterilization are abusing the children.

    1. Lets not go there, otherwise the natives here might get restless. With me at the front of the line of restless natives. The reckoning for that whole thing has yet to be calculated. I foresee it will be… considerable.

  7. For some, it really is ideology. For others, it’s a way to get people to do what they want. And the more absurd, the better.

    There’s a Chinese tv series that has a great scene about this (unfortunately, I can’t remember which episode it’s in off the top of my head). The chief eunuch of the second Qin emperor (who is essentially the eunuch’s puppet) has some animals displayed in the court. And then he announces what kind of animal is being displayed. Everyone in the court save a handful of ministers agrees with the eunuch. And the few who refuse to lie are put to death. The emperor asks the chief eunuch about this later, and the chief eunuch states that it essentially came down to an exercise in power. In short, he did it because he could.

    1. For others, sticking to the Party line is easier (and apparently safer) than facing a harsh reality.
      Too many people honestly think that if they ignore a problem long enough, it will magically go away. If they never talk about it, it will magically never happen. And curses on those people who keep bringing it up! They caused it!
      You did not see graphite on the ground, you panic monger.

      1. Harsh reality, in this case, is getting sawed in half – if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, then… Let’s just say that ancient peoples tended to be quite creative when it came to executing people that they didn’t like.

    2. Saw something like that online lately; apparently some black guys are now worrying if their white girlfriends are with them for ‘woke points.’

      The comment below it said ‘Given how I’ve legit seen white women get called racist for going out with white men, it’s probably a survival tactic now.’

      1. That’s gotta suck. Surefire way to wreck a relationship.

        Stupid racist crap. It makes *everyone* paranoid.

        1. Wrecking relationships between people is the idea. If people are devoted to each other, then they cannot be fully devoted to The State, and the left just cannot have that.

          1. I don’t think it’s so much that. Many elements of the Left tend to be big on racial purity. Though unlike white supremacists, they cloak it in ways that play it up as a minority power thing. Race hustlers can only maintain power so long as the ethnic group that they’re hustling remains distinct.

          2. Hmm… post didn’t post. Bah!

            In this case, it sounds more like a race hustler thing. If different ethnicities intermarry, then it means that there are fewer members of that ethnicity, which means that the hustlers have fewer people that their arguments can appeal to.

            1. There was a bizarre racialist answer to this. Going with the bizarre answer on today’s post that called Trump a TX cowboy, (not even joking) I’d say the Moscow troll factories are active again!
              They know that dems winning and banning fracking are Russia’s only hope for AN economy.
              Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.

              1. “There was a bizarre racialist answer to this.”

                Yeah, the Democrats who invented it called it the “one-drop rule”.

    3. Point horse, make deer.
      “Zhao Gao was contemplating treason but was afraid the other officials would not heed his commands, so he decided to test them first. He brought a deer and presented it to the Emperor but called it a horse. The Emperor laughed and said, “Is the chancellor perhaps mistaken, calling a deer a horse?” Then the emperor questioned those around him. Some remained silent, while some, hoping to ingratiate themselves with Zhao Gao, said it was a horse, and others said it was a deer. Zhao Gao secretly arranged for all those who said it was a deer to be brought before the law and had them executed instantly.”

      1. Which is a really, really stupid exercise. If your underlings are afraid to present the truth contrary to how you like it, they won’t.
        Which can be bad when a lot of pissed off Mongols on deerback are currently on their way to the palace.
        Obviously the dude never read the Art of War.

        1. That’s really the reason why all dictatorships fail – they’re inevitably presented with some kind of force majeure, and it turns out all the competent specialists have been executed or expelled in favor of spineless toadies.

          I remember a review of “1984”, by none other than Isaac Asimov himself, pointing out the same flaws in the system envisioned therein – all it takes is for the two-way television sets to start breaking down, and the whole show collapses. And in real life, tyrannical policies usually fall apart due to A) the lowly proles refusing to put in any quality work without proper representation and remuneration, and B) said proles also finding numerous ways to dish out as good as they get from the highborn patricians. (In other words, American History 101.)

          Up until the mid 2010’s, the left could, if barely, maintain the illusion that it was the voice of the people, standing up for the disenfranchised and oppressed, avoiding the violent means of the eeevil right-wing sexist racist homophobes. And then, wouldn’t you know it, mass communication allowed the disenfranchised and oppressed to speak for themselves for a change. So it turned out plenty of women, people of color, and sexual minority members leaned right on at least some issues… immediately leading to their excommunication from the Party, and sternly hushing up of any other voices of dissent.

          (And keeping with the “1984” theme, the newest addition to the liberal dictionary if “concern trolling” – meaning, pointing out legitimate flaws in their doctrine and methods is now taken as acting in bad faith, and punished accordingly).

          All in all, when you silence anyone pointing out problems so as to try and fix them, and instead favor those who pretend these problems don’t exist, you end up drowning in problems, surrounded by people telling you there aren’t any.

          1. I’ve seen concern trolling employed by the left against Vast Right Wing Conspiracy discussions. Ie, pick a bogus (or minor side issue) topic, and post at length about those concerns.

            1. It worries me that you seem indifferent to the traumas exposed by dismissing such issues as “minor”. It is undoubtedly a mark of your privileging that you can be afford to be so callous about people’s deeply felt concerns over matters you so carelessly discard.

              1. With yours and Mary’s comments pointing out my privilege, I feel I must perform a self-criticism and prepare to make the proper gestures of atonement to Gaia and The Goddess of All That Is Good.

                Alas, foot recovery impedes me from accomplishing much of this immediately (last annoying pin comes out this week–walking actual distances an driving Real Soon Now), so I must put these on my to-do list.

                To wit:
                For violating the sensibilities of the Vegans: Grill 5 pounds of hamburger. Scheduled for Friday. Propane grill rather than coal-fired electric griddle.

                For implying that Evil Carbon Dioxide is not The Worst Thing Evah: Rake pine needles and burn 20-30 piles. Scheduled once fire season ends.

                For annoying Mom’s Demand: Schedule range trip.

                For general privilege and demonstration of UnWokeness: Buy a KAGA or MAGA hat.(I already have the John Deere hat, perhaps $SPOUSE and I could go for the Christmas look?)

                Bonus act of penance: read LawDog’s eulogy to Robert Mugabe. Aloud.

                I sincerely hope that the Woke Establishment takes these measures of penance properly. Preferably sideways.

            1. Fortunately we now have Social Media to crowd-source that function. Much more practical, as the Chinese are finding.

              Just wait until Facebook starts offering bounties on perpetrators of harmful thoughts.

            2. From what I can tell, Asimov thought the whole thing was ridiculous, too unimaginative to be called science fiction, too focused on Stalinism to be considered social commentary, and overall, “a dreadfully dull book – didactic, repetitious, and all but motionless”. The review is easily found online, so you can look it up, see what you make of it.

              Meanwhile, back in the old red days in the Balkans, we tried the analog version – everyone ratting on everyone else – with little effect other than mutually enforced paranoia, all while actual party officials couldn’t care less about who did what.

              And the reason for this is, in socialist dictatorships, it doesn’t matter if you’ve committed thoughtcrime, or theft, or any other offense. It never did. Instead, if you had something a party paper-pusher wanted, such as inherited land or a mountain villa, they didn’t need an excuse to confiscate it and “relocate” you to another province. And vice versa, if you didn’t voice any dissent against the party in general or your local pencilneck in particular, you could be worse than Chikatilo and get ignored wholesale.

              That’s really the main misconception in “1984” – that the party would bother caring about people as individuals, for anything other than their property or grossly calculated labor. In real life, it didn’t. In modern leftism, it still doesn’t. And that’s one of the many reasons it failed, it fails, and it will keep failing.

              1. Mr. Blair was looking at Stalinism via an English Socialist lens.
                His big mistake is that the society Big Brother created would work- in brutally efficient fashion, of course.
                That tyranny inevitably leads to widespread corruption wasn’t on his radar at all.

                1. Quite. It’s actually quite interesting, as someone with direct experience of seeing socialist dictatorships crumble (and enduring the resulting fallout, sadly), to observe the difference between the problems envisioned in fiction, and those found in reality. Everyone fears breadlines and gulags, nobody ever imagines being on a waiting list for a color TV, or getting assigned post-college to work in Nowhere-grad, Siberia, because all the spots in the capitol are taken by the assigning committee’s nephews and cousins.

                  If anything, I reckon an unorthodox way to dissuade most of the rosy-eyed lefty undergrads regarding the virtues of their preferred social order, is to mention those little tidbits of the socialist lifestyle. To them, the thought of a gulag is much too unrealistic to work as a motivator. But waiting five years for a second-hand iPhone – that’s a gut-punch they might just take to heart.

          2. History is replete with examples of elites who were SURE that they were uniquely capable, when for the most part they were ignorant ninnies.

            The current Left being no exception.

        2. Which is more or less what was going on at that very moment (though it wasn’t the northern steppe nomads, who were called something else at the time – Xiongnu, iirc).

          Shortly after the first Qin Emperor died, insurrections started taking place all over the newly united empire (the Qin Dynasty came to power by uniting several states that had been at war with each other for a few centuries, all under the banner of the Qin state). Ultimately, one of the groups fighting the Qin took the capitol and overthrew the Qin Dynasty. And one of the reasons why that happened was because Zhao Gao would rather play political games than do the work that would safeguard the Qin Dynasty. You see, putting down the insurrections would require successful generals who could win battles. But successful generals often decide to replace the existing dynasty with their own. And Zhao Gao was well aware of that. So he tried to fight the civil war while simultaneously keeping his own generals from becoming too powerful.

          Toward the end, one Qin general sent one of his advisors to the capitol to request assistance. The advisor had his request denied. And reportedly Zhao Gao tried to have him assassinated shortly after he’d left the capitol to return to the front lines (ironically, the reason why the assassination attempt failed was because the advisor took a wrong turn when leaving the capitol).

  8. “Zee loved Big Gender Indeterminate Sibling.”

    Big? That’s sizeist and/or ageist. Stop birth-order-shaming!

    1. In this usage “Big” is merely descriptive, with neither approval nor valuation implied. Any such associations are purely in your own mind and thus reveal you for the sizeist bigot you are.

      Or ageist bigot – we’re not excessively fussy about the precise definitions of your bigotry.

  9. It is the opposition to Patria-archy, rule of a population from its fatherland, that places feminists firmly amongst the foot-soldiers of imperialism and colonialism.

  10. As I’ve said before, Atlas won’t Shrug. He’ll Drop-Kick.

    After which, the Engineers will be running things. Having a ruling elite that deals in Right-or-Dead decision-making will be an immense improvement. 🙂

  11. (Since the vignettes have gone softly AWOL, I thought it might be worth it to comment on the OP that way. While it’s not quite 1984-themed and probably not up to Orwell/Blair or Hoyt standards, it does have the advantage of having been, *almost*, historically real, at least in some mass and statistical sense.)

    Maureen Smth walked naked across the locker room toward the showers, eyes front and attention riveted on her goal. Trying her best to ignore the whispers, and even a few soft multi-person chants, of “Phobe! Phobe! Phobe!”

    Trying, especially, not to look at her classmate, or get the slightest hint as to whether he might be looking at her.

    She knew it would be a waste of time to complain about any of it; she’d been there, tried that, and found out how well it worked. The only thing worse than being bullied by her fellow students was being bullied, first by herself and then along with her parents and older brother, by the school and its administrators and board themselves. The good guys, her protectors and stand-in parents (she’d even looked up “in loco parentis”), rubbing her nose in how they, at least this one time, got to be bad. Though of course it was all “really” her fault.

    And, intellectually, she even understood — she’d actually tried to plow through that dozens-of-pages Education Department letter herself, but it was obvious enough from other sources even without such an exercise in masochism. If the school didn’t do this to her, and to everybody like her, about a quarter of its entire budget was just gonna up and disappear. “We have to consider the needs and welfare of our entire student body.” (Unless you were the student with the entirely naked body. Well, fare the best you can then.)

    If only she could do what *everybody* — outside her parents, a few friends and their own families, and assorted people from church — kept on telling her was the one right thing for her to do, what so many of her classmates were already doing. Look at a boy’s body — and that was as obvious as a bull in a pasture, as her grandfather used to say — and, somehow, some way, see a girl’s.

    If only she could, this nightmare would suddenly be sense, she could simply do as she’d been doing in every gym class since her first school shower. The whole ugly gut-gripping problem, all of it, would simply disappear like a puff of smoke in a gale.

    But that would be crazy, just plain plumb crazy. If she started believing that, she might just as well call a hog a swan. If they got her to believe that, she’d swallow any old crazy lie they wanted to dip up and hold out for her to drink, moonshine in place of a cool dipperful of water. Game over, like the apps said.

    “This, too, shall pass.” Her aunt kept saying that. It was obviously even true.

    Too bad parading herself in front of a boy always made it feel like she was passing a kidney stone.

    (Actually, I *don’t* see this as too realistic. For one thing, as my friend Isobel said back then, “If this goes much farther, the bikini is soon going to be the best-selling item of locker-room wear in America.” Don’t merely think outside the box, forget there ever was one, just don’t forget they tried to put you in it.)

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