WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
So wrote British George Orwell when his now famous book “1984″ was published in 1949, way before we had our computers, internet, cell phones, ipods, & flat screen TVs. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four.
Pittsburg News Gazette columnist Reg Henry wrote recently “America Needs you George Orwell.” http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11285/1181335-154-0.stm. Henry says that Orwell “might have been shocked that the world was now in a state of perpetual war, the better for patriotism to rally and control the citizens as he foretold in his chilling masterwork “1984″, where Big Brother was introduced to the world as someone anything but brotherly.” Henry thinks that Orwell would “cut & run” would he be alive today.
We do need George Orwell to also remind us about thought control, official surveillance cameras, changing history to fit present political correctness, individualism, our bill of rights, free thought, etc.
He railed against the totalitarianism of Big Brother, yet what would he say now in 2011 of his home country England, where CCTVs are ubiquitous outside of stores, buildings, train stations, etc. My husband and I lived in England this past summer, and those ever-present cameras unnerved us, but the Brits didn’t seem to mind.
I just re-read Orwell’s “1984” book, and here’s a brief synopsis. In Chapter One he introduces the protagonist Winston Smith, a Party member & records worker at the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue). Winston secretly has thoughts of rebellion against Big Brother and the Party, and is always fearful of the Thought Police. He notices that one of his fellow workers quacks like a duck, is becoming devoid of humanness like a dummy. The face of the Enemy of the People Emmanuel Goldstein “resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheeplike quality.” Winston wonders if there are others like him committing “thoughtcrime” in Newspeak (their shortened new language of 1984).
Chapter Two involves the illicit love affair between Winston and Julia, a much younger single co-worker. It is illicit because he is still married to someone who has disappeared (vaporized?), and also because love & sex are no longer necessary in their year 1984. Marriage is only allowed if the couple is not physically attracted to each other, and the only purpose of marriage is to beget children to serve the Party. Eroticism is the enemy, but Winston and Julia decide to clandestinely meet anyway, until they are caught by the Thought Police.
Chapter Three involves horrible scenes of Winston’s torture & brain-washing in the Ministry of Love (Miniluv). Winston is “re-educated” to think that “who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.” His main Party torturer tells him that “never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
One of the most revealing statements in this version I read (the original 1949 Signet classic costing only 75 cents) is on page 218: “Power is power over human beings. Over the body—but, above all, over the mind.” And that is the crux of the book, the quest and maintenance of power over others’ minds. So thought control was the goal for Big Brother’s Party elite…and the elimination of any free, dissenting thought.
I won’t discuss the ending except you can well imagine that not killing Winston produced a crushed, soul-less creature, incapable of much free thought or love or caring–all alone drinking gin by himself in a café in London. Sound like anyone you know?
Orwell obviously disliked dictatorships, totalitarianism, governmental controls, but in 2011 one wonders how far we have gone with our recent prolonged war efforts (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya), the huge disparity between the numerous homeless on the streets and the corporate CEOs earning millions of dollars plus bonuses, and the apathy of the “sheeple” (aka people) who mindlessly vote for popular figures (or don’t vote at all), without being educated about them. And then there’s those radar speed cameras at the intersections now in Tucson and Pima County.
And what would George Orwell say now about the dissenters/protestors at Occupy Wall Street (and Occupy Tucson)? Tucson Police Dept. forcibly removed the Armory Park Camp on November 3 (click here), composed of people exercising their 1st Amendment rights including “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Be aware (beware) of Big Brother or Big Sister, or their cousins.