I am assuming that most if not all have read George Orwells vision of a totalitarian society/state. Well 1984 has been and gone and his fears amounted to naught **OR DID THEY [b/]
We don’t have viewscreens in our homes for the authorities to keep a close watch on us but we have the internet, consider this, if your govt. or mine thought that any of us were engaging in activities contrary to the wellbeing of the country they would seize your PC and discover quite easily which sites you’d visited and to whom you had sent and received e-mails from.
Your PC is the viewscreen.
Second. In Orwells book Oceania was at war with Eastasia/Eurasia/Eastasia and the populace were conditioned to believe that the current enemy had always been THE enemy.
This is really not so far removed from todays attitude towards Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan and so forth. These countyries were once friendly nations and the west assisted them in many ways…now we bomb them.
Third. CCTV. It is everywhere, street corners, shops, freeways/motorways/private property? they can see us, we can’t see them…not quite thought police but getting there.
Fourth. Again in Orwells book the proles are encouraged to spy on and report any anti-social activities, well here in the UK postmen are being encouraged to tell the authorities if they think that any person receiving benefits are working, complete anonymity is guaranteed for the informant.
Fifth. Cheap pornography is churned out for the masses in 1984, now we can get it for FREE via the internet.We went one better than George.
Sixth. We don’t have a hate week as they do in the book, NO! we have a hate YEAR after YEAR. Maybe our hate is not directed at a Goldstein figure but as sure as eggs are eggs it is directed at some country or other.
Seventh. The Ministry of Truth churned out lies that the people believed, how many of us believed it about the WMD, I did.
So there you have it, what is it going to be like in 2084?
“1984” was not a prophesy, Orwell wrote it as a political parody, a logical extension to what he could already see. So the fact that you can see parallels in modern day life is :
A/ Not surprising, it’s supposed to, that’s the point.
B/ An indication that fundamental political issues haven’'t change any in the last 50 years.
C/ A measure of Orwell’s genius.
The year 1984 is also insignificant. Orwell just switched around the two digits of the year he wrote it. 1948, to get a date that sounded far enough into the future. He wasn’t making a forecast for any particular year.
But FG, you would agree that the capacity for our “IngSoc” to utilise information technology to monitor its citizens is greater than ever, and that 1984’s omniscient state an increasingly believable possibilty?
FG: I know that Orwell switched around the dates of his novel but despite all that I think that he already could see where the world was going. As TGU says “Ingsoc” has a greater capacity to monitor all of us than it ever had before.
And it’s gonna get worse believe it. BB is watching you all the bloody time.
What Orwell was really saying was not that ‘this is where we’re going’, but ‘this is where we are’. Advances in technology haven’t changed human and political behaviour, they just make certain things easier.
This is what will make Orwell’s book just as relevant in the year 2084. People will be refering to the latest technology as evidence and reaching the exact same conclusions. The message here is not beware the latest technology, but beware the political machine because this is what it has always been like.
“1984” was not about viewscreens and all that, guys. It was about LANGUAGE. Absolutely front and center, the primary point of the book was language. The viewscreens and all that crap really had nothing to do with it; it was just fanciful stuff to put the book into the future.
“1984” is about George Orwell’s favourite subject - the use of language as a tool of political oppression and deception. The book is about how the Party uses LANGUAGE to oppress its people by using language to change the way they think. Newspeak. Big Lie tactics. “Freedom is slavery.” The Two Minutes Hate. Think about it, and read it again with that in mind, and the book makes a lot more sense. I mean, this is pretty much the subject of 75% of Orwell’s work, so it’s hardly out of character for him.
However, with the current political and media fascination with “spin doctoring” and the Political Correctness Nazis, we may well be into that point, anyway.
I disagree, however, that the telescreens and such were just fanciful crap. The idea of your TV watching YOU is a scary one, and well placed in the novel. The slogan “Big Brother Is Watching You” was all about the idea that NO ONE is so insignificant or hidden that Mighty IngSoc cannot spare him a bit of attention. It’s also something we’re approaching, considering that TiVO supposedly gathers information about your viewing habits… not to mention the earlier comments about seizing your computer. Hell, no one needs to seize your computer, really… they can find out enough about you simply by scanning your cookie file, remotely…
Certainly the way people were lead to beleive Saddam was involved in 9/11 without Bush ever actually saying it goes far to prove that the 1984 was about language… but also about manipulation… control of what people think. Language being one means. I remember that people in the book arent thaught certain words making it impossible for them to “think” about them.
“1984” depicts English society under a totalitarian super-state, affectionately referred to as “Big Brother”. One of the characteristics of this totalitarian society was the introduction of a new manner of speech, appropriately called “Newspeak”. The purpose of newspeak was to facilitate the ideological needs of English socialism, or, in newspeak, “Ingsoc”.
Earlier this year, under the camouflage of “newspeak”, the United States Senate, by a vote of 94-2, facilited American socialism by passing a bill to give “low-income families” an additional $400-per-child “tax-credit” in the form of a check written by the federal treasurary.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Problem is, these $400-per-child “tax-credits” will now be going to people that don’t pay income taxes. But, you may ask, how can people who don’t pay taxes get a tax-refund?
Well, the defenders of Amsoc (That would be American Socialism, for those that don’t catch on quick) would point out that the recipients of Amsoc’s largesse pay “payroll taxes”.
“Payroll taxes”. Ahh… another example of newspeak. See, the term “payroll taxes” sounds so much more deserving of a tax-cut, than honestly admitting that they are giving those who don’t pay income taxes an additional break in their Social Security and Medicare payments. Breaks that the rest of us are not getting.
That’s the beauty of “newspeak”, it allows legislators to construct a welfare payment and vote-buying scheme all rolled into one. It’s democracy at its pinnacle.
1984 was a stupid book that now gives every conspiracy nut and paranoid a bunch of clever catch phrases to use every time the government implements a policy they don’t agree with. Anyone who quotes from 1984 with phrases like “Big Brother” or “We were always at war with whoever” demonstrates to me a lack of critical thinking ability.
I am going to pick on spogga since it was he who started this thread:
Yes, in fifth grade. That right there should tell you something.
No, the government can just come in and seize your stuff unless you give them a reason to suspect that you were engaged in criminal acts. And if you are engaged in criminal acts, don’t they have a right to investigate you?
Yeah…well what they done for us lately. Alliances change. We were once alles with Stalin because he was less of a danger than Hitler. Once the war ended that alliance quickly crumbles. We used to be enemies with Britain too. Politics is not like high school where you are best friends for life.
So you equate 7-11 and traffic cameras to the “Though Police”…interesting. Stupid…but interesting.
So do you feel that criminal and fraudulant activities should not be reported to the authorities?
It isn’t churned out by the government. And you are not taking into account the context that pornography and artificial insemination were used in the world of 1984 to break down the family bonds since love for anything other than big brother was not permitted.
Actually, an interesting comparison on viewpoints of technology:
Orwell’s 1984 vs Brin’s The Transparent Society
In 1984 technology is seen as limiting privacy and freedom.
In TTS Brin postulates that increased information technology and the transparency that comes with it leads to more freedom. But he founds that on the fact that all information will eventually become available…including governmental information. I admit I have a fundamental faith in the ingeniousness of the hackers so this appeals to me. I do believe that, in the future, the only way to keep data ‘secret’ is to put in on paper and never enter it into any form of electronic storage. Even information not connected to the 'net is vulnerable to transfer.
True, but that’s not where the lasting appeal of the book lies, at least IMO. Linguistic determinism has been dealt a death blow since then, so while it’s a very interesting concept at face value it loses a lot of it’s interest for me. I find the themes of relativism more interesting and relevant.
Not counting Shakespeare I consider 1984 the best piece of fiction ever written. But has it much to do with current political manoeuvres; not a whole lot. While I too, consider language the driving part of the book, I think it is needlessly strict to narrow it down to be solely about language; there are other interesting angles to take.
Oh, do expound on that topic for us, RickJay. Just this once.
Every time the book is mentioned you make the same assertion – that the book’s 250+ pages are merely a set-up for the essay on political language at the back of the book – and every time I read that I ask you to explain how you arrived at that conclusion, at which point you either ignore the question or disappear from the thread altogether.
We have a sculpture in Chicago known only as “the Picasso” because no two people ever seem to agree what it’s a sculpture of. Is it a woman? A madonna perhaps? An Afghan dog? A lion? A baboon? An angel? Everybody interprets it differently even though we’re experiencing the same work of art.
If you think 1984 is less of an exposé of the mechanics of oligarchical collectivism than a case study in the psychology of language, tell us about it. Explain why you perceive the Picasso to be a Baboon rather than telling us that’s exactly what it is. You might just spark an interesting discussion in the process.
Now, with respect to the OP, I don’t get Big Brother willies from closed-circuit television cameras because individuals have a diminished expectation of privacy when they’re out in public. If one chooses to be naked when they’re at home that’s their business, but if they decided to do their grocery shopping that way it would cease to be a private activity. By the same token, if a CC security camera reduces the probability that someone will be assaulted or robbed in a public parking garage, it’s providing a safety benefit that outweighs its surveillance risk, so I don’t perceive it to be a threat to my civil liberties at all.
What does frighten me however is the the extent to which an ostensibly free people allow private employers to oppress them more savagely than their own government is capable of doing. Ask a European sometime if they’re accustomed to pissing in beakers at their employer’s demand, for example, or having their phone calls or computer keystrokes jealously monitored and recorded.
I could go on, but the point is plain enough – Big Brother is superfluous in a society that has already handed its freedom to an oligarchical collective, e.g., the corporation.
I don’t recall any of these other occasions so I guessed I missed your question - in fact, to be quite honest, I don’t know who you are and don’t recall seeing your username before.
I certainly would have explained my position had I noticed you asking.
Of course art is subjective. I am not suggesting the book was ONLY about language. However, that was its primary thrust, yes.
Short version in three basic points:
“1984” has to be read in the context of all of Orwell’s writings. Political language was the man’s bugaboo. Look at his most famous essays: “Politics and the English Language” is the most famous, but others like “Nationalism” and “Politics vs. Literature” place considerable emphasis on the issue of language. I find it hard to believe it’s coincidence about all that stuff about language in his full-length novel.
Without actually sitting down and adding up the exact number of words dedicated to various subjects in “1984,” I think it obvious that Orwell goes to considerable lengths to detail the issue of language, not of the structure of Ingsoc. Consider:
Winston Smith’s job. - Orwell, not coincidentally, makes his main character an expert in the use of language to create Big Lies.
Description of Newspeak. - Orwell goes into some length in the text to describe Newspeak - in fact, he completely leaves the narrative flow of the text to do so. While the entire novel is written from Winston’s perspective, that one section (the first appearance of Winston at work) is suddenly written completely removed from the narrative to briefly explain Newspeak. Later Winston encounters a man, Syme, who is working on the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Again, more Newspeak exposition. And a pretty clear mission statement:
You will note that Orwell does NOT, comparatively speaking, go into anywhere near that kind of detail on, say, telescreens, the Anti-Sex League, the way the economy works, or the ongoing war. He doesn’t leave the narrative to describe how the viewscreen system was set up. The telescreens, wars, flying bombs and the like are all perceived through Winston’s eyes as inexplicable and largely frightening phenomena. What does get explained in detail - and where Winston is, to the tiniest extent, an insider - is the Party’s use of language. It’s language that defines Winston as different and makes his a sympathetic characters, even though he’s kind or a sap; unlike (well, we think) many of his compatriots, Winston has OUR persective on the language of the Party, which is that it’s transparently false and contradictory. He has what we percieve as being the correct interpretation of the Party’s words, which is that they’re bullshit.
You’ll note that Winston is defeated not by being killed or imprisoned, but by losing this ability to critically filter what the Party feeds him. After all, with telescreens and an army they could have shot Winston around Page 90. They don’t; instead, in the end, he believes the ludicrous tales of military conquest. He loves Big Brother. What was Winston afraid of? Orwell says so:
Heck, opinions differ and interpretations can vary, but I think his primary purpose is as clear as day.
Yeah, the essay at the end. He didn’t write an essay about viewscreens or Floating Fortresses. The appendix was about - the language used in the novel.
I don’t know enough about you to make an assessment of your level of intelligence. I will say that your analogy was at best overly simplistic. Big Brothers systems of viewscreens and our modern system of closed circuit cameras have little in common other than the fact that they capture video images.
I have to agree with RickJay. What made Big Brother so dangerous was that they were the only source of information in society. This is very different from our society where we have too much information from too many sources and the challenge is weeding out the truth from all the noise. We have a million cameras owned not by a single monolithic entity but by millions of individuals. To purpose of the cameras are not to watch you but to watch the areas they are protecting - the stores, appartments, and public areas.
I also agree with KoalaBear that we give to much power to the corporations that we work for. In many companies, as soon as you join, you must put all the needs of the company ahead of your own. Yessa masta! Tote that barge, print that spreadsheet! But that’s a different debate.
The Great Unwashed - Thanks. Now do you have anything substantial to add to this debate or are you just here to hock tinfoil hats?