To all readers and writers of historical novels: Do you ever ask yourselves why you are attracted to the stories of history? Here’s one for you, more relevant now than ever. George Orwell wrote the futuristic novel 1984 in the year 1948, and I would love to have seen the public’s reaction to it in real time. In Orwell’s fictional fascist world, few were even aware of their own oppression. Here are a few idiomatic quotes from 1984 as well as my own thoughts about their relevance today. See if these don’t run a shiver down your spine, fellow citizens. But keep a lookout for the Thought Police!
“Big Brother is watching you.”
“In ‘Newspeak’ there is no word for ‘Science.’”
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”
“In a time of deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
“The Thought Police would get him just the same… Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever… sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”
Modern-Day Translation: Be sure and keep buying that new overpriced cellphone every year, even though your current one is working just fine. It has all the newest Big Brother features to keep you on radar for the Thought Police!
“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with War, the Ministry of Truth with Lies, the Ministry of Love with Torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with Starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in Doublethink.”
Modern-Day Translation:Department of Justice concerns itself with Injustice. Department of Homeland Security concerns itself with Anti-Refugee propaganda. Department of Housing and Urban Development concerns itself with Segregation. Environmental Protection Agency concerns itself with circumventing regulations for clean air, clean water, and the survival of the earth. Department of Education concerns itself with Miseducation. The Food and Drug Administration concerns itself with promoting addiction to junk food and drugs and filling the pockets of the pharmaceutical gods. Citizens United concerns itself with transferring the rights of human citizens over to inhuman corporations.
“The object of power is power.”