Doublethink means the power to simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind and to accept them both. The Party intellectual knows in what direction his memories must be modified; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but through the exercise of doublethink it also ensures that reality is not violated. The process must be conscious, otherwise it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it must also be unconscious, otherwise it would lead to a feeling of falsehood and therefore guilt.
Of 1984 by George Orwell
When it comes to doublethink, Big Brother has nothing compared to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). For those of you who have woken up (no doubt the vast majority of people reading my column) who have never heard of ALEC, let me help indoctrinate you into their Orwellian world. Let’s start with their website home page which proudly states that:
“The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest impartial [emphasis mine] voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets [emphasis mine] and federalism. Comprised of nearly a quarter of the nation’s state legislators and stakeholders from all political walks of life, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs for more than 30 million people in the states. -United.
As Orwell points out, doublethink is a complicated concept to understand and something difficult to do well. So, before we get into ALEC’s sophisticated application of “doublethink” to the idea of ”free markets”, let’s first address this by addressing its claim to be non-partisan, as defined by Oxford Languages like: “not biased or partisan, especially towards a particular political group”. Buckle up. You will love this!
Their eight-member, all-Republican but 50/50 leadership team is led by CEO Lisa B. Nelson. Good to see that ALEC at least appreciates the gender form of diversity, even though DE&I, as well as climate change, are trigger words for the anti-Woke/ESG cabal I write about. And will continue to do so.
Ms. Nelson has a very impressive resume. She successfully broke free from the shackles of her degree in political science and international relations from Woke University of California, Berkeley to serve as the public affairs liaison for U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich from 1995 to 1998. She worked for the curator National exam magazine founded in 1955 by conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr. Ms. Nelson also helped him found the National Review Institute in 1991 whose “mission is to preserve and promote Buckley’s legacy and advance principles of a free society through educational and outreach programs.” I yearn for the days of thoughtful, principled conservatism in the era of pre-Trump worship of the GOP (dare I hope for midterm elections?) when bipartisanship was possible. Stay tuned for more on this.
Ms. Nelson is also a proud member of the board of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). The SFOF laments that “politics within the federal and state governments is increasingly polarized.” He then helpfully explains that the cause is that “elected officials at all levels are under increasing pressure to adopt progressive policies that undermine economic freedom and impede economic growth.” Hmmm. Silly, I thought polarization required two poles. SFOF could innovate here in theoretical physics with its concept of “unipolar polarization”. It might be possible to integrate this with doublethink. I have two degrees from MIT, but neither is in theoretical physics, so please give me some time to work on that.
ALEC has a large 23-member board of directors. In their typically intimate short biographies (for example, spouse, children, grandchildren, hobbies, and church affiliation), only three clearly identify as Republicans: Representative Seth Grove of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Speaker Philip Gunn of the Mississippi House of Representatives and Representative Dan Laursen of the Wyoming House of Representatives. I guess why state the obvious unless there are personal reasons to dispel any doubt about its true red color, right?
ALEC alumni include six governors, 13 senators and 65 representatives for a total of 84 politicians. All the governors are Republicans, the only Democratic senator is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and the only two Democratic House alumni are Tom O’ Halloran of Arizona and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.
Finally, ALEC has 95 state presidents. It was too much for me to check everyone’s political affiliation. Almost all come from the red states with a few purple ones. So I took the non-random but scientifically astute approach of looking at members of a handful of True Blue states: Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Jersey. York. Each state has one member, compared to two or even three in the red and purple states. And yes, the ALEC member from each of those states is a Republican. Including Representative Nicholas Boldyga from my home state of Massachusetts. I’m so proud!
Many may struggle with the adjective “nonpartisan” in what is virtually a 100% GOP group. But that’s not real doublethink. This is simply clever, albeit misleading and misleading, labeling. The kind of things people worry about with ESG.
The Center for Media and Democracy has written about ALEC and presents a different view. He is pointing out that “ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It’s much more powerful than that. » [emphasis in original“ “Secretive meetings” of “corporate lobbyists and state legislators” work to craft “’model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense.” These model bills are core to the theory of change of ALEC. “Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.” So far over 1,000 of these bills have been crafted and with an impressive track record of a 20 percent success rate. ALEC knows its stuff and must feel irreplaceable in its important mission.
Okay, I’ll man up (which is more than I can say for ALEC and SFOF) and admit that this is a partisan view from the left and I lean more left than right. So let’s take the most recent example of an ALEC initiative that was just brought to my attention yesterday by a lawyer friend of mine. He sent me this article: “Lawmakers Asked To Curtail Free Speech Until Investors Stop Seeing Gun Manufacturers As A Bad Investment.” Here we see doublethink being enacted in exemplary fashion. LME. It’s kinda complicated so please read carefully. The reader can then draw his or her own conclusion about ALEC.
The article inspired me to do a bit of research and I found ALEC’s “Eliminate Political Boycotts Act.” Somewhat curiously—or perhaps simply through overly excited anticipation—it cites December 1, 2022, as the “Date Introduced.” Whatever the date, it is “AN ACT relating to state contracts with certain companies that engage in economic boycotts based on environmental, social, or governance criteria.” That dreaded ESG again 😱! ALEC has artfully prepared the legal language for this act to be easily introduced into any state legislature that is enamored of it.
The guts of the Act is that “a governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it:
i. does not engage in economic boycotts; and
ii. will not engage in economic boycotts during the term of the contract.”
The elements of this act are eerily similar to the Texas Section 809 Boycott Provision which I have already shown to be based on a logic of quicksand. This Act has pretty much the same problems and others. In particular, the Act gives the Attorney General broad enforcement powers such as requiring a purported boycotter to being examined under oath; examining any record, book, document, account or paper deemed necessary; and impounding the same “until the completion of all proceedings undertaken under this article or in the courts.”
As with Texas Section 809 it all rests on the meaning of the word “boycott.” Here the Act provides this helpful definition: “’Economic boycott’ means, without an ordinary business purpose, refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, limit commercial relations with, or change or limit the activities of a company.”
Which begs the question of “ordinary business purpose.” The Act states that ordinary business “does not include any purpose to further social, political, or ideological interests.” And how is this determined? It includes, but is “not limited to (i) branding, advertising, statements, explanations, reports, letters to clients, communications with portfolio companies, statements of principles, or commitments, or (ii) participation in, affiliation with, or status as a signatory to, any coalition, initiative, joint statement of principles, or agreement.” Sounds to me that pretty much anything under the sun can be seen as evidence of boycotting.
And now, drum roll please, doublethink! For most people, “free markets” mean that people are free to make buying and selling decisions based on information they deem relevant to their economic interests. I’m sure ALEC has the same definition. Yet, in order to enforce his law, the Attorney General can, at will, decide that the decision, for example, to underweight or divest from the shares of an oil and gas company, for example, is an act of ideology . What if it’s just not that good of a stock. Or is it time to sell at the top to buy at the bottom of another company? Or for sector rotation?
ALEC’s doublethink argues that for free markets to remain free, it is necessary to restrict the freedom of those who might make decisions based on criteria that an attorney general may fancifully define as “ideological.” Even if they are based on solid economic logic. The AG as omniscient Big Brother.
As Orwell explains, “”At the top of the pyramid [of Oceanic society] comes Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful. Every success, every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, every knowledge, every wisdom, every happiness, every virtue, is supposed to come from his guidance and inspiration.
Remember this about doublethink. “The process must be conscious, otherwise it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it must also be unconscious, otherwise it would lead to a feeling of falsehood and therefore guilt.”
Fa is a conscious process. But its application will be unconscious. Here, the sheer genius of the law is revealed in Section 2, since the government entity can refuse to exercise its Big Brother Boycott powers based on things like “constitutional or statutory duties” regarding funding , “obtaining the supplies or services to be provided in an economically feasible manner”, or any number of other reasons.
Consciously passing the law to threaten the financial community. Unconsciously, do not apply it if it turns out to be inconvenient. But everyone will know consciously that Big Brother can always step in to ensure free markets. By taking away the freedom of others.
Hats off and respect to ALEC for the most superb application of doublethink I have ever seen.
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