- By Catherine A. TraywickCatherine A. Traywick is a fellow at Foreign Policy.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell coined the term "doublethink" to describe the act of "holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them…To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them." Orwell’s sinister, faceless government specialized in doublethink. This is most evident in the government’s ironic naming conventions: Its authoritarian political system was called "English Socialism," its wars were overseen by the "Ministry of Peace," and its police forces fell under the "Ministry of Love."
In the nonfictional world, there is one type of government that has really run with that notion: the juntas that often overthrow civilian governments to take power themselves. History is lousy with examples of military governments who paradoxically name themselves "peace councils" — or align themselves, at least superficially, with similarly lofty ideals. In light of Thailand’s most recent foray into military governance (and its new government’s delightfully Orwellian moniker) we’ve assembled a list of some of our favorites junta names.
But first: Are you wondering what to call your hastily assembled military government? We’re here to help. Just type your name into the fields below and our automatic junta name generator will come up with one for you.
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Our Top 5 Orwellian Junta Names:
1. Thailand: The National Peace & Order Maintaining Council
After Thailand’s military declared martial law this week, Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha dismissed the country’s caretaker government, bestowed upon himself the powers of prime minister, and assembled a military-led ruling body called the National Peace & Order Maintaining Council. This is Thailand’s 12th military-led coup since 1932.
2. Myanmar: The State Law & Order Restoration Council
When Burma’s military overthrew the country’s socialist government in 1988, it established a new ruling body called the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which was led by military officers. The newly formed authoritarian government asserted near total control over its people — outlawing public assembly, imposing strict press censorship, and imprisoning thousands of political dissidents. (In an effort to eliminate colonial legacies, SLORC changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar.) In 1997, leaders abolished SLORC and created the softer-sounding State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
3. Poland: Military Council of National Salvation
Led by Army General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Military Council of National Salvation (or Wojskowa Rada Ocalenia Narodowego)ruled Poland from late 1981 to 1983, imposing martial law to crush any political opposition. Formidable though it was, the junta wasn’t immune from ridicule. Opponents of the regime pitted the junta, whose initials (WRON) mean crow in Polish, against Poland’s national symbol, a white eagle. Graffiti bearing the slogan "The crow will never defeat the eagle" began appearing around Warsaw.
4. Somalia: Supreme Revolutionary Council
Following the assassination Somalia’s president In 1969, a bloodless military coup paved the way for a military government, which adopted the rather grand name, Supreme Revolutionary Council. Led by Army Major Siad Barre — a self-proclaimed revolutionary — the junta ruled for 21 years before being overthrown by armed opposition groups.
5: Liberia: People’s Redemption Council
In 1980, a low-ranking Liberian Army officer named Samuel K. Doe led a coup against Liberian President William Tolbert, killing him and executing 13 of his associates. Victorious, Doe made himself a general and created the People’s Redemption Council, which consisted of himself and several other low-ranking officers. He managed to stay in power until 1990, when rebel soldiers captured and assassinated him.