“1984” and Today
Books are a wonderful thing. Well written books can carry us away to make believe places where life is anything we imagine it to be. Yet other books use the unbelievable scenarios of fiction and our imagination to create plots that all too closely mimic our own lives.
So it is with a book I read some years ago that turned out to be one of the scariest books I had ever opened the pages on. In fact it is “1984” that made the phrase “Big Brother” forever a household term. Anyone mention “Big Brother” and everyone instantly knows it refers to government surveillance and censorship. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to read George Orwell’s book yet again and as before came away with chills running up and down my back.
People in each generation have imagined or actually seen examples of George Orwell’s book “1984”, and their own society at the time. Of course there have been times when the similarities were more glaring than at other times. At no time, however, has the similarities between “1984” and modern society been more glaring than they are today.
A closer look at this book reveals that “We’re Living in 1984 Today”. Our government realized early on how advantageous it would be to their interests if the majority of George Orwell’s work of fiction was implemented into our day-to-day life.
For example; we have the “Ministry of Peace” renamed “The CIA” waging “perpetual war on terrorism”. This “war on terror” is not limited to foreign enemies but rather also includes domestic terror, whether it be real or imagined.
For a long time we’ve had the “Ministry of Plenty” otherwise known as the “IRS”. It’s the IRS that enforces economic issues in our society. This enforcement has resulted in the ruination of many citizens, guilty of nothing more than disagreeing with the IRS’ authority and practices. I used to work for the IRS and I saw firsthand exactly what they are capable of, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Oh, and let’s not forget the “Ministry of Truth” known today as “the media”. All of America’s media outlets are only too willing to spoon feed American citizens the “news of the day”, which of course is subject to “Ministry of Truth” or “NSA” approval. Our media even goes so far as to use pundits to “discuss” the headlines of the day and tell the populace exactly what to think. Those who want to, or insist on, thinking for themselves can face a variety of consequences. The least of these is being a social outcast.
In George Orwell’s book, “Doublethink” is used to turn otherwise contradictory beliefs into facts for the purpose of controlling the citizens of Oceania. Such things as “freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength” is supposed to be for everyone’s good. Today we call this “ignorance is strength” “pro-life”. In America men, who have no concept of being pregnant or giving birth, are only too willing to shut down all women’s health clinics supposedly “for the good of women”. How is denying women pap-smears, mammograms or general health check-ups good for women? In truth today’s “Doublethink” is simply men insisting on controlling someone else, instead of focusing on the better control and improvement of their own lives.
Today we have the “Ministry of Peace” otherwise known as the “War on Terror”. In “1984” Oceania wages war with Eastasia and Eurasia at different times. Today we wage war first with Al Qaeda of the Middle East, later with Al Qaeda of Africa, and let’s not forget Al Qaeda of Europe. In Orwell’s book, the people of Oceania are willing to live in perpetual fear and poverty in hopes the government will keep them safe. In fact a recent poll showed that today about 70 percent of Americans would favor more surveillance cameras in public. A full 28 percent of the 1,000 people who were surveyed for the poll believed the system worries too much about protecting individual rights.
It used to be that Americans greatly valued their privacy but in today’s society some will claim “if you’ve haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about from surveillance measures”. My answer to this is always the same, “I DO have something to hide, my privacy. Just my privacy.” I’ve even had some people challenge my claim of not having done anything wrong if I’m so insistent on guarding my privacy. I remind them that Ben Franklin put it much better than I ever could when he said, “Those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither.”
No society has ever been totally safe regardless of the measures they were willing to go to in the hopes of having security. Whether it was the swords of the Dark Ages, the guns of the Wild West, or the Atom Bomb of modern society, there have always been dangers. People always will face a variety of dangers, it’s called life. So with that face in mind, will people continue to give up all vestiges of privacy?? Will people also hand over ever increasing control of their lives to the government for the perceived security they inwardly know is unattainable anyway??