In George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” he portrays English society – renamed Oceania – as a futuristic version of the 1940s Soviet Union. In this invented society that Orwell calls IngSoc – English Socialism – the populace has even less freedom than the Soviets permitted its citizens and life consists only of drudgery, loneliness and hideousness. The novel grips the reader with fear and loathing of a totalitarian future enabled by technological advances and prompts one with the question: “Can it, will it happen here?”
It goes without saying that the United States in 2023 bears little resemblance to 1984 Oceania. In Oceania, the state had total control over the language, economy, science, history, personal possessions, personal thoughts, music, art and literature. In the U.S. today, however, it is not difficult to see how government intrusion and control reduces freedom, creates fear and confusion, reduces economic opportunity and prosperity, distorts history and science and creates unnecessary interpersonal conflict.
One of the ways Big Brother, Oceania’s leader, exerted total control was by subverting language. This reduced the capacity to think thoughts not approved by the state. “Newspeak,” as Orwell coined it, consisted only of words that expressed permitted thoughts.
“Thoughtcrime,” another Orwellism, punished illicit thoughts. Illicit action therefore became literally unthinkable. Truth is what Big Brother declared it to be at any given moment: 2+2=5 yesterday and 2+2=4 today. History was constantly and literally rewritten in order to satisfy the “truths” that Big Brother was currently promulgating.
The most nefarious aspect of Big Brother’s rule was of course his brutally enforced elimination of freedom, which he accomplished by suppressing the truth and promulgating lies.
In all eras, in all states, in all political parties, leaders tell lies. The danger arises when the state and state co-opted institutions suppress, eliminate and punish unapproved ideas…
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