Each day that passes makes Orwell look more like Nostradamus.
By Mark Anderson
When George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903), who passed away 70 years ago at the age of 47, wrote the classic dystopian novel 1984, he envisioned the ultimate “cancel culture” in a region called Oceania. The “Outer Party” members described in that book included protagonist Winston Smith—who, amid his desperate but unsuccessful attempt to overcome a terrifying tyranny—sadly contemplated the total dissolution of the entire civilization. Such a cancellation was the core purpose of the revolution that inaugurated the ruthless reign of “Big Brother.”
This erasure of civilized culture in 1984 had been so complete that the very idea of remembering or accurately recording history, even the most innocuous events, was considered heretical and punishable by cruel torture or death. Winston’s “job” was to sit at a desk and constantly alter the news and the historical record so that “The Party,” a singular, shadowy apparatus hyper-managed by “Inner Party” members, could never be proven wrong and therefore could alter all aspects of reality with absolute impunity. This brings to mind anonymous Facebook or YouTube nerds sitting in distant cubicles, deciding what’s “true” or “false” based on entirely nebulous “community standards” and then canceling websites and rejecting articles, videos etc. that might challenge the dominant “party line.”
MORE DISTURBING PARALLELS
When Winston was mercilessly tortured at the hands of Inner Party man O’Brien (Winston had confided in O’Brien after wrongly assuming O’Brien was a secret dissident with whom he could collaborate to overthrow the Party), O’Brien calmly explained to Winston the essence of the Party’s tyranny. Yet, there exists today a real-world “cancel culture” in which radical-left revolutionaries are the foot soldiers for beginning an Orwellian erasure of history, culture, language, and truth itself, of which O’Brien would clearly approve.
Consider the following:
In 1984, language itself is tortuously altered. The regime in the novel, with “newspeak” replacing “oldspeak” (standard English), would roll out absurd new words via its dictionaries: “Warm” became “uncold” and “cold” became “pluscold.” In real life we see “ze” and its variations “zer,” “zem,” and “zeir” invented out of thin air to define perhaps dozens of purely theoretical sexual orientations such as “genderfluid” or “genderqueer,” which are Orwellian words in their own right. Even the plural “they” is being absurdly reworked to be singular in this context.
That comports with the separation and alienation of the two sexes—portrayed in 1984 as the basic outlawing of normal male-female relationships. In real life, the global powers-that-be seeking a 1984 of their own promote homosexuality and various other options to trim the birth rate and render society dysfunctional and easier to control.
In real life, those who say the “wrong” things on campus or in general society about virtually anything, such as racial matters, are attacked by the press, rather than the press defending free speech. As in 1984, what’s true and false in terms of objective reality is irrelevant. In real life, dissenters are shouted down, fired from their jobs, or de-platformed or demonetized online regardless of what’s true. In 1984, eerily similar things happen, with the only real difference—for now—being that the penalties are a lot worse.
For Covid-19, our televisions (called “telescreens” in the novel) peddle bizarre hashtags like “#alonetogether,” which is an example of the inherently contradictory “doublespeak” pushed by The Party in 1984. And just as 1984’s people must conform with stifling dress codes and behavioral regulations, so, too, do people have to wear masks to signify social servility and to be allowed to engage in commerce.
Furthermore, cultural icons and national heritage were torn asunder to make way for Big Brother in 1984. We see the early stages of this very thing happening as statues of our founders are torn down, names of certain military bases are potentially being wiped clean of Confederate references, and sports teams down to the high school level with names such as Redskins are seeing their monikers targeted for possible termination, irrespective of the fact that names like that were chosen to honor, not demean, American Indians. Thus, we could end up with a real-life 1984 if we don’t heed the warning signs.
AFP carries a large-print edition of 1984 by George Orwell. Seventy years after his death, Orwell’s book is almost scary in its prescient predictions about the wiping our of history, the surveillance state, the commandeering of language and the cultural conditioning of the populace. The book (softcover, 400 pages, $15 plus $4 S&H inside the U.S.) is available from AFP, 117 La Grange Avenue, La Plata, MD 20646. Call 1-888-699-6397 toll free to charge, Mon.-Thu. 9-5 ET or visit www.AmericanFreePress.net.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].