Sunday, August 21, 2011

1984

Four days ago, in the post, Doublethink, I mentioned that it has been many years since I read George Orwell's novel, 1984. As I have started into the book, it has dawned on me that the text looks completely unfamiliar. I now realize that I think I was confusing it in my mind with Animal Farm. I now realize I've never read 1984 before.

Here's what I think happened. At some point in the past decade or two, I decided that I needed to read 1984. I probably checked out the book from the library with the intent of reading it. Something distracted me and so I never actually followed through with my intent. However, since I had made the decision to read it, it was cataloged in my brain as if I had.

Be that as it may, I am now about 30 or so pages into the book. Before I get too deep into the plot, I decided I will write three posts today about the slogans of "The Party."
  1. War is Peace
  2. Freedom is Slavery
  3. Ignorance is Strength
These posts merely will represent my own ruminations -- my initial thoughts. Once I have completed the book, I might take another stab at each one.

Beyond discussing these slogans, I am sure I will share numerous other observations as I slowly move throughout the text. One thing I am very interested in seeing is if Orwell's 1984 can help us better understand the state of the US and world today.

I have a strong inkling already that it certainly will!

3 comments:

  1. I've always felt that 1984 was representative of more brutal regimes like Stalin's USSR or Hitler's Germany. The USA can be brutal, but usually only to select groups, not the populace in general...at least, not yet. Have you read Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD? That's what I've always thought the USA would turn into. Sounds more descriptive of us, with the stress on consumerism and escape through drugs. Bread and circuses, rather than fear, would control us.

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  2. I first read "1984" while in high school, not as an assigned reading, but in my own time. The second time was in my early twenties, and now that you mention it, I do think a third reading is long overdue. It's a great book. There's also been a few movie adaptations made of it, which may be worthwhile investigating, although I think the book is much better.

    I agree with the previous comment that I always thought "1984" was intended to be a representation of, or a response to Stalin's USSR, but being an even more extreme example of a totalitarian dictatorship, a collectivist society where all individuality, privacy, creativity, innovation, and freewill is stamped out, and all essentially become enslaved to the will of the State.

    I've also heard it said that when fascism comes to America, it won't be called fascism, but will come in disguise, most likely under the banners of democracy and freedom. Where those ideals degenerate into mere empty words, or the meaning of the words are altered, and blindly worshiped like idols. Where freedoms (and privacy rights) will be taken away, in the name of freedom. (Freedom is Slavery) Wars (never ending wars, always a justification for war if it is the only thing that will ensure peace) will be declared, in the name of peace. (War is peace) Secrecy and lack of transparency and accountability, will be declared in the name of the strength of the State. (Ignorance is strength).

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  3. "I've also heard it said that when fascism comes to America, it won't be called fascism, but will come in disguise, most likely under the banners of democracy and freedom."

    Agreed. I also think that it will wear a Christian mask. Certainly not all Christians would march toward American Fascism; I'm thinking of those who currently fall within the Religious Right camp.

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