I Just finished reading George Orwell’s 1984. There are a lot of interesting ideas and ways of looking at collectivism, freedom, and government power. I feel rather sad after reading this book. I was warned it is an apocalyptic tragedy but I had hoped against hope that Winston will triumph. How naive of me.
The message I will say I got from this book is to resist the concentration of power (knowledge, military, economic, political, social) in any single source with all our might. I say this because power is self perpetuatin, and will, as in 1984, use any means necessary to prolong its existence or preserve itself.
It got me thinking about the way the United States operates and the names it gives to its institutions. For instance, the United States calls its vast War Machinery, the “Department of Defense” even though it has rarely any conceptual enemy with any realistic power to attack it with any meaningful impact. It has drilled into the heads of its citizens that going to East Asia to kill Vietnamese is defending their freedom. It has drilled into the heads of its citizens that aiding the Brutal Saudi dictatorship bomb and starve poor Yemeni elderly, women, and children, is defending the freedom of a grandma in Oklahoma and a young boy in Nebraska. It has convinced its citizens that toppling an elected government in Iran is spreading democracy. It has convinced unalterably, its citizens that it is the greatest Democracy in the world and every man’s vote is the same, even as the vote of an 18 year old in Wyoming has 52 times the power of an 18 year old in Texas when it comes to selecting senators with equal power. That a state can have two senators and 1 congressman but that it is Democratic. That a corporation is an individual with the right to pour unlimited cash into an election but that a real human individual can only contribute up to 2 thousand. It has convinced its citizens that to question this is to be the enemy of Democracy.
The US media has very eerie similarities to George Orwell’s IngSoc media. To describe without irony the beauty of death machines and bombs, that shoving a tube in the anus of a prisoner is enhanced interrogation and not torture etc. To assail the unrivaled power of the state but to constantly warn the citizenry against enormous powers that seeks its destruction. That the military is at once most modern and advanced yet underfunded and obsolete. To keep its citizens in perpetual fear of an at once weak and threatening enemy.
I believe that Orwell’s 1984 is a cautionary tale against any kind of concentration of power. Big Brother in 1984 may have been a bureaucratic dictatorship but in America, you have a corporate dictatorship taking hold. Money as their end goal and getting it with any means is necessary. Power in all its forms must be decentralized. It doesn’t matter if it is concentrated through a bureaucratic dictatorship or corporate oligarchical dictatorship. In all its forms, it twists the truth and hinders the human mind in its capacity to think.
Very much like in 1984, I find it eerily disconcerting the different forms of dictatorships we have in the three biggest powers today. In the US, it is a corporate dictatorship, in Russia, it is the old oligarchical dictatorship with one man at the top, in China, it is a bureaucratic dictatorship with a Big Brother type of figure (Xi Jinping) at the top. They might not be squeezing the populations as much as it appears in 1984, but they’ve began to warp the thinking of their internal populace. I have a lot more to say about Orwell’s 1984 but these are just my preliminary thoughts after reading the book. It should be a must read for every one interested in contemplating social control and freedom of the body and the mind. Let me know what you think of the book if you have read it before. If you haven’t, you can easily find soft copies and the audio books online.