1984: Parallels Between Reality and Dystopian Fiction
“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”
In the weeks following the ‘inauguration’ of Donald J. Trump, the sales of George Orwell’s most distinguished novel skyrocketed. 1984 flew off the virtual shelves as it hit Amazon’s best-selling book in January last year. The dreams of every English teacher were fulfilled as one of the classics became the most relevant novel of 2017. The reason for this sudden need for 1984? A public fear for the unknown, the surprise of Mr. Trump’s success in America proved to the world the uncertainty of our times. Orwell’s novel was the cipher to the unprecedented, unexplainable and unforeseen events that occurred last year. The sad fact was that although the public needed clarification for their fears as the headline of this paragraph shows, they knew it already.
“Big Brother is Watching You.”
The novel of 1984 follows the journey of complete public surveillance which is becoming eerily similar to 2018. Our streets are littered with the eyes of the police constantly watching and recording our every move outside of the so-called privacy of our homes. Yet every time we use a computer or a phone, we again open ourselves up to an invasion of privacy. Now, it might not be as extreme as the Telescreen featured throughout 1984, but companies like Google and Facebook thrive off the ignorance of the public. Google makes £11.38 from every 1000 searches and if that’s 1.2 trillion searches a year? Well, you do the math. In 2018 we as a public are completely aware of the privacy invasion that occurs every day, yet is there a public outcry? No, and this is because we have become subservient to the higher power, it’s become a part of our lives. There are those in our society who don tin hats in protection from this issue, and as a society we see them as strange and against the grain. Winston Smith was one of these people, hiding himself away because he knew the truth and so became separated from society. Still not convinced that we live in 1984?
“War is a way of shattering to pieces, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.”
Orwell used Oceania as his setting for the novel, one of the three ‘Blocs’ that fought for complete global domination. The people of Oceania believed there had been a nuclear exchange between these nations which led to a constant perpetual war between the ‘mega-states’. Yet, apart from the daily Big Brother speeches they had never seen the apparent annihilation of countless countries due to war, they had never witnessed two armies fight for control, rather they watched mesmerised by the completely real and accurate displays of the untold war. Sounds familiar to the war in the Middle East? A war fought far away, against horrible foes who used any means to kill and destroy, yet close enough to home to strike fear. This fear controls our social lives, our security, our society. The attack on Golden Temple in 1984 created the seeds of doubt towards foreign countries as the public sat back and watched a country tear itself apart because of religion. Orwell envisioned this, the use of warfare to create reasons for governmental control.
We live in this society where our government informs us that by securing borders and scrutinising immigrants we protect the economy proud nation. When the sad fact is that really, there is an underlying and unwavering issue of intolerance and bias. The point system that may be introduced to control the influx of immigrants isn’t for financial or employment security, but because the bigots that are a part of our government don’t feel comfortable with others. We as a nation walk blindly into the trap of seclusion from the outside as we ‘protect’ ourselves from the harm foreigners.
“That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.”
Our thoughts are what make us human, to be alive is to be full of thoughts, having our own original thoughts is what makes us unique, different from the next homo-sapiens. To control our thoughts would be to control us in a way that we didn’t know we were being controlled. This was the duty of the ‘thought-police’ the mysterious force that made those who became too conscious vanish without a trace. Everyday our minds are put under control; thoughts are placed into our heads which manipulate our decisions. This is the power of advertising. A poster on a wall, a comment in a radio advert, an emotive image on our television, a rhetorical in a persuasive essay? It never occurs to us at the time but the mere suggestion of a mouth-watering burger or a high-tech phone influences us on our choices. Whilst our own thoughts may not be regulated the ideas we have aren’t all that original. 1984 demonstrates the extent in which our thoughts are vital in our own existence.
“We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”
The love and abuse of power encapsulates 1984 as the power-hungry oligarch of Oceania use any means to safeguard their positions. In 2018 this is demonstrated by one man. The power went to his head and he exploited it. As the President, leader of the free world, should he really be crazy talking on Twitter at that high of a podium? The man is going to lead us to World War 3, and a new revolution will spark, making 1984 in 2018 a reality. Our leader doesn’t have a filter. He is going to say the wrong thing, to the wrong person, and our country will pay for it. The theories with North Korea to start, they have been launching missiles that could easily make it anywhere in America. And the brief nuclear barrage that starts 1984 ensues.
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