Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell)

1984-14This is the definitive novel of the 20th century. The impact of this book has been immense. Think of all the Orwellian catchphrases that are now embedded into the English language: Thought Police, Double Think, News Speak, Thought Crime, Room 101, Big Brother Is Watching You. Unperson. Two Minute Hate. Not many books can boast this. No wonder the author has been turned into a secular saint.

His style of writing is easy to read and to picture, and yet at the same time it is poetic, sentences rhyme and are colourful, creating vivid images. I have rarely read anything so pleasurable and that has stuck so solidly in my mind. Orwell often refers to smells in his text, very clever considering our sense of smell is connected directly to our emotions centre and thus whilst reading it, I am driven to feel strongly towards what he writes. He also keeps dialogue to a minimum, economizing on words brilliantly, to create a hard, cold and aloof feel, which radiates throughout the entire book, perfect for the overall atmosphere Orwell was aiming for. This book made me shiver. It is terrifying and truthful and honest and down to earth. My only wish is that there was a sequel…

Welcome to Oceania. Our guide to this world is Winston Smith, a member of The Party who works at the Ministry of Truth making sure that all documents conform to The Party line. And in this Communist vision of the world, The Party, as embodied by Big Brother, is all-powerful. However, Winston is old enough to have vague memories of life before The Party took over England. While he outwardly tows the line, he is hoping that at some point The Party can be overthrown. As he starts a forbidden affair with Julia, it looks like his hopes might come to be. Do they have hope of overthrowing the government? Or is Big Brother really all-powerful? Of course Orwell wasn’t to know his beloved England (and the wider Western world) would resemble his obscene story sixty years later. Ask yourself are you free to express any opinion you may have? No, you will be prosecuted for Hate Speech. Are you free to wear any symbol on your clothing without being physically attacked, threatened or (again) legally prosecuted? No, you are not. Try wearing a swastika or Confederate flag as a fashion accessory and you will soon see how free your society is.

Whether offense is caused or not is hardly the issue. Any one of us can choose to be offended by anything. Why cherry pick what is offensive? Words and images are just that. Words and images. If you don’t like it– move on. No need for coercion, fines, violence or jail time. For Orwell, freedom of expression was not just about freedom of thought but also linguistic freedom. Try uttering unflattering comments about certain races, demonizing a gender or a certain religion these days, and again you will feel the full weight of cultural Marxism being utilized against you. George Orwell was so close to predicting all this, but he could only envisage a far more simple form of Soviet-style communism taking over. He could not foresee an army of multi-cultural Marxists (split into myriad groups) who believe that there are correct ways to think and express yourself, before enforcing these diktats into law. But Orwell, from 1949, did predict the oppressive video surveillance (when not used to monitor crime) people endure today… Big Brother is watching you!



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