One thought or moral to be drawn from the novel, “1984” is:
“Don’t let it happen. It depends on YOU!”
In today’s world is truth mutilated, language distorted, power abused and surveillance rampant?
YES, is the answer.
Remember Big Brother? It was a popular TV reality show that realized that even though people claimed to be worried about too much surveillance or control, a large amount of people would happily volunteer for it.
The phrase: “The War on Terror”, brought many restrictions on travel and movement, this reminds us of “1984” “Where every restriction is justified because there is a war on.”
Now the tyrant Putin has a watch word which is Effectiveness, which he describes as “Managed Democracy”. This mirrors “1984” but with subtle differences such as “effective control NOT total control.”
But Putin has brought back some “1984” features such as: Leader-Worship, Martial parades, mass arrests, show trials, language distortion and fake news.
Fake news is a distortion of Real News that is NOT to an authoritarian’s liking.
Fragrant lies become “alternative facts.”
21stCentury authoritarians don’t force people to believe Big Lies such as Black is White or War is Peace, instead they rely on Medium Lies which encourages their followers to engage with alternative reality such as fake news.
George Orwell wrote “1984” as a warning about the future of the world. The reality in the novel was unthinkable in 1948.
Now, our world has come to look similar to Orwell’s fictional one.
How similar? Well, take surveillance for instance.
In the USA and UK CCTV cameras are all over.
China wants to have 600 million cameras by next year.
Another similarity is the state of Perpetual War, like in “1984.”
It seems there is always some war or disturbance going on somewhere in the world.
We are continually fighting the War on Terror and it seems like it will go on indefinitely.
So Perpetual War never comes to an end BUT it seems to unite nations.
Take Newspeak—in “1984” it is a language where words are cut and shortened and then put together to create new words.
The intention is to get rid of words that allow people to think about rebelling against authority. Ex.—“Bad” would be changed to “ungood.”
How about Fake News?
Today digital social media is full of fake news or alternative facts.
WHAT’S REAL AND WHAT’S MADE UP?
Now, the scenes recently in Hong Kong are a scary reminder of “1984.”
Police beating back protesters, who are protesting China’s plans to extradite Hong Kong citizens to mainland China.
Hong Kong remembers Tiananmen Square when the state massacred the protesters who were against China’s Communist government.
In China remembering what they choose to ERASE from history is forbidden and punishable.
The Chinese President is now President for LIFE! That’s scary in itself!
China is using today’s high-tech tools, mass video surveillance, artificial intelligence and facial recognition to enforce the Party’s rules.
China wants to inflict mass amnesia on its people.
“Who controls the past, controls the future.
Who controls the present, controls the past.”
The communists have taken the freedom out of the Internet.
They intimidate dissident bloggers and censor providers.
They have introduced facial recognition to impose conformity on its citizens.
At railroad stations entry is only allowed to people once their faces have been scanned and checked against a police database.
Now, China is trying to export its Surveillance and AI tech all over the world.
Would this be used as a way to SPY?
Hong Kong’s freedoms currently allow it to fight back by protesting and in ways that other parts of China can’t. But for how long?
China’s state control is increasing day by day.
Isn’t it ironic that someone like Orwell, who lived and died in another time, had the insight to identify the evils of totalitarianism and warn us.
But has the world unlearned the painful lessons concerning the fragility of truth in the face of power?
I hope not.