by George Orwell
Genre: dystopia, politics, philosophy, classic
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
Orwell is a master. This book is not something you read lightly – it is such a cautionary tale and I’m mad at the entertainment industry for taking his concept of Big Brother and making a mediocre show out of it. What he has in mind is not something you make fun of. Big Brother is not a person but a concept, a multitude of eyes and minds constantly controlling you, observing and censuring your every move, every thought. From external control the concept slowly but surely upgrades to internal control that is subconscious in time. Isn’t this terrifying?
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
1984 is a superb and chilling portrayal of a totalitarian world. Everything, and I mean everything, is controlled by the government. There are cogs in place in this bureaucracy for every human instinct – love, freedom, friendship. They grind you down until you go mad and embrace the tyranny wholeheartedly. There is no escape from the all-seeing eye of the government. If you believe for a moment that you are free, you are deceiving yourself. Children are used to spy on and betray parents. They are terrifying little monsters that are brainwashed form infancy to be completely loyal to the big idea of the state. No actual independent thought passes their minds since they are drunk on the power they now wield over parents and adults who used to control their behaviour or command them. Ugh… no please.
It was such a horror to read this book and to imagine being stuck in such a system. Of course, today’s world is almost as crazy as the one described here. Don’t believe me? Just watch a few good and reputable documentaries regarding the big industries – whether it is the sugar content in our food, the drugs you take, the censorship of the media, or anything else and you’ll see that freedom of speech, the right to know if what you’re eating may harm your health, is a damn fragile thing and under constant pressure from the big money. Deceptions abound; just think of the latest big case – the Volkswagen scandal. Thankfully, while our world may hush things up, eventually things come to light, even if it is too late for some people. In 1984 there is no escape and people who know the truth choose to embrace their privileges and leave the rest of humanity in the dust. So much for altruism and humanitarian impulses…
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
History in particular is subject to continuous re-explanations in 1984, not that people haven’t tried with the Holocaust and Evolution in our societies. The suffering of Roma during the Nazi occupation of Europe was almost forgotten and only now we get to hear some of the horrendous accounts. 1984 explains in details why history is important, why facts and literacy matter. We follow the life of one bureaucrat in charge of editing history – in particular newspapers from the past. What eventually happens to him is just heartbreaking.