Boris' Garden Party And Ghosts Of Covid Past
Christmas baubles, bells and warbles - Lessons of a propagandist
If you only watch the news you are missing the story — history and fiction tell more. In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith described the propaganda of managed outcomes — owning both teams and the referee, to control your emotions.
Are the headlines about politicians’ Christmas parties serious — “red wine and a cheeseboard visible, rather than laptops or pens,” The Guardian growls?  Did they get their secret Ivermectin?  Or is it a rollercoaster variant of Two Minutes Hate?
It’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party meets post-1984: aggressive politicians spit bile one moment; then the media gives them a public flogging for flouting Lockdown. Winston Smith’s successor Twy Smithson brings us up to date.
Dec 21, 2021
A member of the Outer Party, Twy Smithson works on propaganda to be consumed by people like herself. She could have been a scriptwriter… she could probably teach the Inner Party a thing or two about cybernetics, or the science of communication and control. But she's not asked and to presume would be crass, so she diverts herself.
She seeks calm in the hummed lines of an ancient proletarian song learned when classmates studied primitive cultures: "In, out, you shake it all about," rather like holding a tablecloth aloft and scattering the crumbs. Formulate ideas, then let them fly. If it sounds elitist, she’s not: hers is to serve the party.
Festival of HumanLight past
Until recently she would have dealt in some representation of the truth, albeit the authorized version. From her desk at Minitrue she gave the Outer Party something to chew on, something that made sense, at least by its own internal logic.
It was an accounting for events, like the partisan telling of a football game in which you might blame the outcome on the weather, the condition of the ball or a disputed referee. These were disparate crumbs, but if the readers combined them carefully they could perceive the original dish.
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.
She whispered as she rewrote and polished the text, the maid a stand-in for the citizens, equally valued because we’re all in this together. They should dismiss baseless rumours that the king was in his counting house, counting out his money. The queen is eating bread — but not with honey — and always with a mask.
Then a scandal popped like a lanced boil: brother leader had held a HumanLight garden party at which many pies and glasses of Victory Gin had been consumed, by revelers maskless and unprotected in the aether. The more it was denied, the more the scandal spread. Twitter bots were soon were overwhelmed: the rumour multiplied with social media traffic; AI measured the R number or rate of transmission; facial and speech recognition even detected it on people's lips: “Let’s Go, BoJo.”
The challenge was the same one that had faced the Soviets. Socialist abundance was always just around the corner: “One more push, comrades: we're all in this together." And while clerks are busy "modeling" to bring the present into accord with the five-year plan... the Nomenklatura have looted the treasury and are leafing through Lamborghini brochures. And one day the people will tolerate it no more.
Twy got a visit from the Fakt Cheka who said that denials were counterproductive and a threat to biosecurity. Denial must be abandoned, and with it words like baseless, false and groundless — even the rallying cry of fake news. 
Propaganda henceforth must mold emotions directly, not tangentially through information. Outcome must be placed beyond contention, no longer cheering the tight finish of a football game but confident in the triumph of might.
She hit upon a solution. It had been staring her in the face, from the pages of Alice In Wonderland:
Alice: I'm sorry I interrupted your birthday party.
March Hare: Birthday? My dear child, this is NOT a birthday party!
Mad Hatter: Of course not. This is an unbirthday party.
Alice: Unbirthday? I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand.
March Hare: It's very simple. Now, thirty days has Septem - No. wait... An unbirthday, if you have a party less than 28 days after your vaccination, I mean, your birthday… it is not a party. 
Festival of HumanLight present
News has become, like history, a metaphor to be teased apart with reticence. One should not presume to question if you were not there — to hold an opinion is absurd.
Once upon a time the media used to interpret the shadows on the wall of the cave. Now it projects those shadows, the triumphs and spectres we are witness to, one flickering after another. What is important is no longer a coherent fable but to feel the elation of triumph, but more often the desperation of nightmare.
“The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent' by ‘using hard-hitting emotional messaging.” 
Distracted by this latest order, Twy seizes on a new analogy. In place of crumbs of knowledge, she imagines brushes loaded with paint that you flick, dashing colours against a wall.