7 July 2011

Rereading 1984

I've been listening to 1984. I read the book in a single evening and night in high school. It's great the second time around but needless to say, I have a slightly different impression after the passing of years. The book insightfully suggests that one of the greatest problems for the brainwashed people of 1984's dystopian society is an inability to analyze their situation. Essential context and facts, as well as meaningful intellectual discourse, have been systematically eliminated so that it's difficult to identify the key players controlling the levers of powers and their motivations.

1984 society has obvious parallels to North Korea where every social and material good appears to be devoted to preservation of the state and the ruling hierarchy. But similar elements of intentional misinformation are also found closer to home. A good example is the assumption, often voiced in both rightwing and "liberal" media, that the nation's misguided policies are the result of ignorance. Omitted is the more insightful analysis that the policies are all carefully designed to preserve a specific class and further its interests. To get a hold of such analysis, a person would have to look at the works of the traditional left or perhaps peruse some academic or pragmatic treatises of the extreme right wing (where the elite are so comfortable that they don't bother talking in code).

On a macro-level, the modern experiment--for want of a better term--involving industrial "solutions" that bring about problems that require increasingly complicated technological fixes ("solutions" like fracking that essentially create wealth by creating poverty) could be viewed as a great example of Orwellian "double-think"--the acquired ability to accept propositions that are obviously contradictory.

Anyway, I'd suggests rereading the book. Like all great books, it's a gift that just keeps on giving.


CyberKitten said...

1984 is indeed a *great* book and should be read more widely. As you rightly said it is the gift that keeps on giving and repays multiple readings. Orwell did the whole world a great service by writing it.

I first read it - aged about 13-14 - when my then English teacher gave me her hardback copy to read. I have never viewed politics the same since that day.

Karlo said...

You read it at 13! That's great! It really deserves to be listed among the great books.

CyberKitten said...

Yup. At that age it was certainly a life-changer....

I still thank my English teacher for that. It was very perceptive of her.

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