#70 “1984” – Living it?

Q: Have you ever read Orwell’s 1984? A: Why? I’m living it.

I‘ve started 1984 several times but I have never completed the novel, I find it too depressing. However, I have actually experienced much of the vocabulary that I came across. I recognize terms like: newspeak, Big Brother, thought police, unperson and doublethink. 

1984 is a novel about language and how governments uses it to subjugate and obfuscate. Orwell was not a prophet, he just identified a crucial ingredient needed for any successful authoritarian government. He made it clear that threaten death, imprisonment or torture is not enough to control its citizens effectively. Orwell exposes the fact that the modern authoritarian state needs to be more subtle. It needs the public’s consciousness. 

Orwell points out that, with the destruction of language, independent thoughts become impossible. Confusing the meaning of words by introducing a new gibberish-language neutralizes logic reasoning. Doublethink, the ability to holds one’s mind with two contradictory beliefs at the same time, renders citizens extremely susceptible to propaganda. 

When U.S. government officials use terms such as “enhanced interrogation,” “alternative facts,” “collateral damage,” or “extremists,” some will understand that what they’re describing is actually torture, lies, innocent civilian deaths, and political dissidents.

In 1984, The Party destroys the human mind and heart by using constant propaganda that eliminates the truth by altering historical records to conform to the ever-changing Party Line. With no History, all truth flowed from The Party. 

In 1984 The Party required an unquestioning obedience and blind hatred of any person or group The Party proclaims as its enemy. Today we hear talk of sending the “deplorable” to “re‐education” camps. I picture brutal indoctrination sites, with inmates forced to recite “woke” propaganda and renounce MAGA.

1984’s Winston Smith’s asked “Why?” The Party leader explained;  “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others were cowards and hypocrites. They never had the courage to recognize their motives. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. How does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement—a world of fear and treachery and torment. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” 

Today, political dishonesty is rampant; the experts are abundant; the public is in fear; treachery abounds; and we are surrounded by rage. Is totalitarianism just a lockdown away? Will there be a large enough citizens resistance movement to counter the states attempt to dominate the consciousness of the people?

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