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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Read George Orwell's NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR online for free

George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (or 1984 as it's more commonly written), the all-time classic novel about totalitarianism and the destruction of privacy, is now available for free reading on the web... and legally, too!

I read this book during the spring break of my senior year of high school. In many ways, Nineteen Eighty-Four broke the ground for much of the foundation of my personal philosophy and beliefs. And it's probably a safe assumption that to most people who've read the book, mentioning it brings to mind Big Brother, or the Thought Police, or Room 101. Certainly the telescreens of the book can now be seen as greatly prescient, considering how our own government is now fully capable of spying on regular American citizens without a warrant or any real oversight (I'll leave it as an exercise for any readers as to whether this government is actually doing it, but have you ever known of a government given power and then choosing not to use that power?).

But to me, the scariest concept of Nineteen Eighty-Four was always Newspeak and Doublethink. Because each day we see Newspeak all around us. Most people don't even care that it's there at all, they have become so inured to it. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell shared the brilliant observation that without adequate language to share ideas, those ideas and thoughts were rendered utterly impotent... right to the point that over time, it would become impossible for a person to even be capable of the thought at all. Hence, the Party's systematic destruction of language as a measure of controlling the people. Most often this was done by cramming many disparate thoughts beneath the umbrella of generic terminology.

Now think about how many - some would even say "most" - Americans are intellectually incapable of thinking about this country's politics beyond the entrenched two-party system. Very many Americans only think that they are capable of deep meditations about this nation's politics... when in fact their thoughts have already been dictated by language and those who control it: the leadership of the two parties, with the eager assistance of a corporate press.

Don't even get me started on Doublethink. I've had a long day and don't feel like trying to educate some people for whom it would be lost in a cloud of cognitive dissonance.

But I must ask: how is what America is turning into not like the Oceania of Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Read the book, if you haven't already, and judge for yourself.


Anonymous said...

Agreed Chris. Our world has all the pieces in place to be even more oppressive than that of 1984. Orwell had amazing foresight, unfortunately I am afraid we are headed a police state far worse than he envisioned. It will be worldwide so there will be no "safe havens".