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

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.”