1984 vs. 2017: It Wasn’t Meant to be an Instruction Manual!

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by Mark Angelides

 
There appears to be a persistent popularity among those that strive to avoid the machinations of the MSM of George Orwell’s novel 1984. It fits in well with those that distrust the “Big State” and who prize personal freedom above all else. And although it is studied in many schools across the world, the lessons and warnings that we can take from it are being largely ignored. Supposed freethinkers and “Liberals” are actively engaged in practices that have almost exact parallels with Orwell’s dystopian classic.
This is essentially a list of parallels that those familiar with the book will likely recognise; those of you haven’t read 1984, get a copy as soon as you can.
Telescreens vs. Smart TVs
With the recent Wikileaks revelation regarding the microphones and cameras that are installed in basic Smart TVs through CIA operations, the parallels with 1984’s Telescreens are almost exact. A screen that not only broadcasts propaganda, but can watch your every move and listen to each conversation; and for most homes, it is situated as the room’s focal point.
2 Minute Hate vs. Social Media Frenzy
On large screens, the protagonists of 1984 were invited to feel their “justified rage” against enemies of their beliefs. They are asked to released their anger and scream their hatred at “the other”. In our version, Social Media users are encouraged to vent their anger, disgust and hatred towards those that don’t agree with the Status Quo. In an incredibly dangerous fashion, we are being invited to view “the other” as evil, and therefore open to both verbal and physical assault.
NewSpeak vs. Censorship
In 1984, the Party was restructuring the language with the aim of making revolutionary thought an impossibility. The destruction of language was seen as a “beautiful thing” and ultimately, the population would not even understand the concept of “free”. Today’s censorship of free speech is very much an exact parallel. Free speech is limited to free speech zones, people can be prosecuted and jailed for “hate speech”, the twisting of language makes it almost impossible to safely posit an idea without first considering what recent cultural taboos you may be breaking. It is designed to make the population fear not only what they may say, but what they may think.
 
And there are of course many more. If you have a particular favourite parallel, please mention it in the comments below.
The destruction of language through the destruction of thought (and vice versa), was a popular theme throughout Orwell’s works. In his prophetic essay: Politics and the English Language, he shows how we have been forced to talk in catechisms and poor ready-made structures. You can read the full essay here, consider carefully how smart our political leaders profess to be after reading; you may be surprised.
I leave you with my favourite passage about politicians:
“When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself.”

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13 thoughts on “1984 vs. 2017: It Wasn’t Meant to be an Instruction Manual!

  1. I still think Orwell used 1984 as a disguise to show us what 1948, the year the ZioCON/Communists got a foothold in Israel, would bring us. Now, as they bring the IRON CURTAIN from Russia to the USA, how long will it be before Big Brother starts coming onto our computers and cell phones and tried to tell us what to do?

    • In the book, Orwell mentions how no one knows what year it really is. 1984 is simply the year Big Brother says it is. It’s wrong to take the year 1984 literally in the book of the same title.

      • It was originally intended to be titled “The Last Man in Europe” or ( as Peter Davidson suggests, a reversal of “1948”) but, because that was already over before the publishers finalised the printing and only distributed it in 1949, so the publishers insisted that it be 1984.
        Others suggest a nod to Jack London’s novel The Iron Heel (in which a political movement comes to power in 1984), or perhaps to one of his favourite writer GK Chesterton’s story, “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”, which is set in 1984.
        The greatest paragraphs in English futurology.
        “Proletarians, in practice, are not allowed to graduate into the Party. The most gifted among them, who might possibly become nuclei of discontent, are simply marked down by the Thought Police and eliminated.
        From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the level of popular education is actually declining.They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect.
        He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever. On the other hand his actions are not regulated by law or by any clearly formulated code of behaviour. In Oceania there is no law. Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean certain death are not formally forbidden, and the endless purges, arrests, tortures, imprisonments, and vaporisations are not inflicted as punishment for crimes which have actually been committed, but are merely the wiping-out of persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in the future.
        A Party member is required to have not only the right opinions, but the right instincts. Many of the beliefs and attitudes demanded of him are never plainly stated, and could not be stated without laying bare the contradictions inherent in Ingsoc.
        Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity
        Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
        If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.”
        and :
        “War prisoners apart, the average citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate.
        Reality only exerts its pressure through the needs of everyday life — the need to eat and drink, to get shelter and clothing, to avoid swallowing poison or stepping out of top-storey windows, and the like. Between life and death, and between physical pleasure and physical pain, there is still a distinction, but that is all. Cut off from contact with the outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down. The rulers of such a state are absolute, as the Pharaohs or the Caesars could not be. They are obliged to prevent their followers from starving to death in numbers large enough to be inconvenient.
        The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense.”
        Insert UK or USA for Oceania and Arabs or Russians for Eurasia or Eastasia and you could not tell whether it is fiction or fact.
        “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” – George Orwell 1984

    • Already there in the form of Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Alexa and friends.
      Don’t think for a second that any of those are there to help you – even if they can pretend to be helpful.

  2. Don’t forget the cameras and microphones every where. Not there yet, but no one can deny the proliferation of cameras in modern society.

  3. The switching of enemies.
    Winston helped rewrite history.
    Torture as a means of turning people’s minds.
    Need to be careful with criticism.

  4. lol this article is too much for over 90% of American to even understand. It’s much too late. The culling is coming.

  5. “We’re reading that history book about 1984 in school now. It’s horribly boring, aside from the fact that they didn’t have the cool gadgets of the day, looks like nothing has changed in those 36 years! Why do we have to read this stuff, and why are we reading it in a class called “literature” instead of “history”?”
    — Your average school child, 2020

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