Almost anyone who has had a literature class in either high school or college is likely to have read this classic by George Orwell. 1984 tells the story of a man and a woman in a world consumed by war, where the slightest misspoken word can be consider a thought crime, where even the past is alterable, changed at the whims of the Inner Party to keep their lies covered up, to keep the populace under control.
Winston Smith is one of the Party members, one of the middle class in this society. He works at one of four ministries, the Ministry of Truth. This department of the government is dedicated to keeping all media matching with the present. If the war changes, all of the past is changed to make it as though the current enemies are the ones there have always been. This control of thought is pervasive throughout society.
The concepts of personal privacy and the individual no longer exist. Everything exists to better the Party. Even in their own home citizens are subjected to an always on tele-screen. This television like devise on the wall not only pipes in the Party propaganda it alsa is an outlet for the Party to spy on it’s citizens. With sensors sensitive enough to detect changes in heartbeat, anything you say or do that is out of the ordinary can be used against you. Even more horrifying, even the concept of the family unit has changed.
Getting married is no longer something you do out of love, nor is sex. It is something you do to further the party goals. Parents wait for years as their children grow up, hoping that in an upset tantrum they are not reported for thought crimes by their very offspring. Even something innocently muttered in your sleep can be taken as thought crime against the Party. Control over thought goes so deep, that when citizens are reported by their children for thought crime they are proud of their children. “I didn’t even realize I had these thoughts, I really raised my children right.” are things you will hear uttered with pride as your neighbor get’s taken in for saying something in their sleep.
While written many years ago, this is nonetheless a book that can teach us much today about a government with too much power, and how it can attempt to control our lives. During the time it was written much of the technology was still science fiction, but now this could become a reality. I highly recommend giving this a read.
What do you think? Does 1984 hold up? What parts of the book ring truest to you? Please feel free to discuss in the comments below, or send an email with your thoughts!
Until next time…see you on the other side!