Thursday, April 8, 2010
Looking At 1984 Then And Now....
That thing from 1984
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
So begins one of the most profound works of political literature, George Orwell’s 1984. The book was originally published in 1949, and yet has provided a persistent exploration of contemporary politics. The book describes a world at war with constantly switching sides and lies. All information is controlled by the state. All institutions are linked to the state and all individuals are dependent on the state.
On April 4, 1984, the main character begins to pen a diary. Winston Smith and everyone around him are strictly controlled in a collective. The collective is so harsh and belittling of the individual that free thinking is illegal, a thought-crime. There is Big Brother, the entity adopted by the state and there is the Brotherhood, a supposed loose group of people who defy Big Brother. Big Brother issues a dictionary that eliminates language with every edition. And the Brotherhood has its own required reading, called The Theory and Practice to Oligarchical Collectivism. It has become known as the book within the book. Oligarchical Collectivism means the linking or joining of institutions, institutions designed to keep control in the hands of the few.
There are three types of institutions in the world, those of state, those of corporate and those of religion. A foundational concept of the United States is, or was, a separation of these institutions to eliminate the potential for oligarchical collectivism. The founding fathers may not have used the term, but they certainly observed such diabolical collectives of institutions, states supported by churches, with corporate functions.
1984 has done in the real world what Orwell supposed the book within the book could do in his fictional world. The book has spawned new terminology and thus new ability to express and explore political concepts which in some cases have occurred for centuries. Some might say that Orwell would not appreciate his penname being adopted and made to express a concept, as in Orwellian. However I think he would be honored that expressions from his fictional masterpiece have enhanced language and added words to the vocabulary of real world.
Respect to George Orwell on this bright cold day in April. Read 1984, for this might be the most Orwellian time period yet, with abundant examples of oligarchical collectivism.
April 8, 2010