9 grim things from George Orwell’s 1984 that are true today

George Owell 1984 'Big Brother is Watching You'

The influential English novelist wrote the dystopian book ‘1984’ was published in 1949 and depicts a series of undesirable thoughts of the future. A member of the Fabian society, Orwell would have had knowledge about their globalist agenda. And, on his death bed, he became driven to warn against the rise of a society which no one would want to live in – other than those pulling the puppet strings.

The lead character, Winston, lives and works within the dystopian society of Oceania and there are so many similarities to the world we live in today.

Orwell’s legacy is one of freedom and democracy and to stand in solidarity against corruption and greed. But did we listen? I’ll put money on it that if you look around right now, you will see your mobile phone within your line of sight – maybe you’re even reading this on it right now – and I’ll answer that question for you: no. No, we did not listen.

  1. Big Brother
Big Brother is watching you artwork poster.
Artist unknown

“You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” – George Orwell, 1984

The omnipresent modern-day surveillance systems which keep us all in line are controlled by people with a rampant abuse of power. There has been an ominous rise of technology, and Orwell knew how people would react; at the end of his novel, he predicted the future, with the simple words: “He loved Big Brother”.

  1. Freedom or surveillance?

“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell, 1984

Within a global society of total control, people aren’t allowed to consider thoughts which disagree with the corporate state. It sounds like I’m specifically talking about China, but this is a global issue. Personal freedom is taken from us and the non-stop technological advancements have enabled us to live in a surveillance-driven society.

Orwell’s world heavily features the government, or “Party”, which is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.” And today, our governments are all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful.

Orwell explains it best:
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.” … “We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.”

“We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

The government can’t operate alone. Defense companies, social media moguls, and more team up with the powerful operations, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Big Government and Big Tech make up Big Brother, creating a corporate elite with more than enough money to make any of their thoughts (as they actually do have the freedom to think) a reality.

Professor Jeffrey Rosen observed, “Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.”

People recognise the benefits of being ‘protected’ but we want to think we’re not watched – they’re just looking for terrorists – but they’re searching for a needle in a haystack and we all live in that same bail of hay.

With power comes responsibility, but some power hungry elites can’t fathom that. One example is the National Security Agency. Three times the size of the CIA, the NSA receives a third of the intelligence budget and controls its own global spy network. And it has a long history of spying on Americans, with or without authorisation.

Surveillance
The sophisticated and invasive cyber network is more complex than we could imagine, since we leave electronic footprints everywhere.

  • Cameras – including drones – possess facial recognition software and iris scanners, body scanners (to determine your height and weight), thermal imaging devices, license plate readers and more;
  • Massive data mining databases compile everything about everyone (with collection only made easier by the rise of people sharing their lives on social media);
  • Tracking is possible via our phones, traffic cameras, ATM usage (many ATMs are even equipped with facial recognition software in case of stolen cards or people stealing cards at the cashpoint), cars enabled with GPS which allow satellite tracking, and more;
  • Behavior prediction software;
  • Your doctors, hospital and dental records.

With all these possibilities and more, governments and large corporations can predict our thoughts, our beliefs and our ideologies.

And tech keeps improving: fusion centers, driverless cars, drones, cybug spies. Before we know it, people will be excited to welcome voice-controlled homes, and there’ll be pre-crime predictive policing, warning police about potential criminals before they even do anything deserving of a jail sentence.

  1. And then there’s home surveillance

In 1984, citizens of Oceania are watched in their homes via cameras in their TVs. Nowadays, surveillance cams and microphones are everywhere, because we’ve been conditioned to accept them. Screen addiction is acknowledged by professionals and devices are controlled by AI bots: your phone and laptop cam and mic, your Amazon Echo, Google Nest Hub, Google Home… Anything can be looked or listened through – even when you’re not using them, which is why some people cover cameras with masking tape.

We can’t even chat about picking up milk without government agents having the availability of listening in and knowing the time, who we spoke to and how long we spoke. There’s even sophisticated speech recognition software. And if you use certain words – maybe your baby ‘dropped a bomb’ in their nappy – your chat might be monitored. Audio from less ‘jokey’ conversations can be converted to text files and stored in databases indefinitely. In the world of today, we’re guilty until proven innocent.

And on top of all that, newer phones and tablets are equipped with fingerprint scanners and eye scanners to get into the damn thing.

  • And the internet?

Our emails can be remotely accessed and we have individual IP addresses, enabling internet surveillance. Social media is full of posts, photos, tweets, messages, video chats… And no, your private profile settings won’t deter professional hackers. They can view your searches, orders and what articles you read.

“The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.” – James Bamford, The Shadow Factory (2008)

Edward Snowden is a whistleblower who revealed that the NSA and other intelligence services can remotely access a mobile phone and use it as a bug even after it’s been turned off.

USA Today reported that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming – in fact it was overtaking age-old industries like movies and music in annual revenue. Forecasts show that companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft will exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

  1. Doublethink: also known as mass manipulation

“Myths which are believed in tend to come true.” – George Orwell, 1984

The method of ‘doublethink’ is used by the elite party in 1984. It portrays outrageous thoughts by portraying opposite and contradicting concepts. The three mottos are:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

So to find peace, we must go to war; we’re convinced we’re free, when in reality, we live in a system of slavery; and what we don’t know can’t hurt us. People work all hours they have free to collect paper money, to buy basic essentials like food and shelter which allow them to continue living a working life. Working provides self-preservation and little else for most of us who live paycheck to paycheck.

Orwell’s Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the  Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (a.k.a propaganda), the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (including rationing and starvation), and the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing).

  1. The Thought Police

“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” – George Orwell

  • America’s lack of freedom of movement

The Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures are a long-lost myth. SWAT teams batter down doors without search warrants, FBI agents are secret undercover police, and bodily privacy and integrity is totally forgotten when someone commits a crime.

American government officials search, pat down, seize, scan and spy on citizens. Criminals – and potential criminals – can be stripped down for body searches (yeah, sometimes people’s asses are checked for drugs and other illegal items), probed, tasered, and arrested – sometimes over something as small as a bag of weed.

  • China’s social media censorship

You’ve read about how China’s social media apps censor certain words, right? Words like ‘virus’ and ‘pneumonia’ were censored, for example, as citizens began to discuss the symptoms of the coronavirus sweeping the country in late 2019. People couldn’t even talk about feeling sick.

In totalitarian regimes (also known as police states), like China, where conformity and compliance are enforced by those who hold the loaded guns, the government literally dictates what words can and cannot be used. Orwell speaks of how Big Brother routinely rewrites history and punishes “thought crimes”, censoring undesirable, independent, non-government-approved thought and labelling it as unnecessary.

  • Other dystopian literatures which predict censorship include:

Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: Reading is banned and books are burned to suppress non-government ideas and the learning of alternate history. TV entertainment is also controlled to render the population distracted and controlled, which is definitely relevant today.

Huxley’s Brave New World: Critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning while scientific thinking and experimentation are banned and considered subversive, and expressing individuality, independence and morality is vulgar and abnormal.

  1. The general public Thought Police

1984’s citizens of Oceania, named ‘the Proles’, are mostly working class people who have been brainwashed into being grateful for their situation. The sheeple – living within a herd mentality – police each other on their opinions and thoughts.

In 1984, ‘Newspeak’ is the language created to replace English, aka ‘Oldspeak’. It’s aim is to trick people into shrinking their vocabulary, so citizens keep their thoughts private, censoring themselves to conform to the dictation of the mass mind – or ‘hive mind’.

Those Thought Police exist today. People think it’s normal to police each other on their opinions, instead of standing in solidarity. People are ready to jump on a bandwagon to ridicule someone else’s opinions and feelings, and some people actively cause drama for others – often undeservingly. Especially strangers. Keyboard warriors love a good fight with strangers online.

  • Political correctness censorship

With the rise in political correctness, people worldwide aren’t allowed to say certain words or phrases in case they’re outcast. Obviously, most people don’t wanna be insulting, but there’s a fine line and the PC-era has crossed it in many ways, because when people are afraid to even discuss certain topics, freedom of speech is contained.

  1. Ignorance is strength: the media

The propaganda in 1984 tells people what they want them to know, and nothing else.

Our mainstream media is repetitive, with every platform telling us the same information, just in different words. There’s little investigative journalism anymore. To find information your national news doesn’t shit out, you have to try harder, but many people don’t have the time or the energy to do so. Social media platforms like Reddit are used worldwide and enable the spread of global news which is otherwise missed by Facebook and Instagram users who only communicate with friends and family.

  • False idols

The false idols worshipped by people across the globe are generally famous for being lucky enough to have had their talents noticed by millionaires. Millionaires with their own agendas. Instead of idolising people making significant achievements to science, or other essentials to further our society, it is people who can sing, rap and dance who we see on posters on young people’s walls. They’re famous for being famous but people are ignorant to this.

A photo collage of over 50 high profile celebrities covering their right eye with their hand.
Source unknown
  1. Perpetual war

“All the war-propaganda, all the screaming, lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.” – 1984

In 1984, Oceania is always at war. Across the novel’s timeline, the identity of the enemy is vague, and although it constantly changes, it’s seemingly unending. The people of Oceania don’t question even obvious inconsistencies, such as the regular changing of allies to enemies, with little to no explanation. Because who would question anything in the world depicted?

We are fighting a ‘war on terror’ today. We want to beat terrorism and potential terrorism, to the extent of people being undeservedly stereotyped for their religious beliefs. And this sometimes feels unending – and so does the expense required for it. The ally-enemy stance can be said about countries like America’s experiences with Iraq and Libya, and we nod along to propaganda shared across the news and social media. The US has been at war for a large chunk of our lifetimes and again, it seems never-ending.

“If your kids or grandkids are 16 years old or younger, they live in a nation that has been at war continuously since they were born.” – Captain John Byron, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

  1. The suppression of history

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – 1984

Winston works in the Department of Truth, and he edits historical records for a living. He blocks out notable people and historical events. “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” – 1984

In schools today, kids are taught a selective program of studies, including history, with much being suppressed, including the origins of power in our world, and ancient technologies like the pyramids.

Members of a secret society, and an alien, sitting around a table with a globe in the middle. The Illuminati pyramid is sitting above the globe.
Artist unknown

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