1984: our future-present

When Eric Blair [George Orwell] chose to call his dystopian vision 1984, it was more due to chance than design. He considered 1980 & 1982; it’s said the date he finally chose was obtained by reversing the last two digits of 1948, the year in which he completed the final version of his novel.

In his negative utopia, Orwell expressed fears that were actually troubling him in those years, that sooner or later, a form of the society he was envisioning would come about. The words ‘there will come a day…’ had relegated us all to waiting for that day, without giving us the mindset to ask ourselves whether in fact 1984 has in fact been with us for some time already.

What Orwell doesn’t do is invent a possible yet incredible future; in actuality, he builds up a collage of a past which is all too credible because it has already happened, notably in the Nazi & Soviet era of the 30′s & 40′s. In the course of the six decades since the book was published, the impression has been growing that whilst the book talked about what had already happened, it was also talking about what was happening now, and not what ‘could’ happen in the future.

Close-circuit control is now everywhere, on the streets & public parks, in factories & prisons, supermarkets & gated communities. The rise in popularity of the ‘hoodie’ among the young proletariat was not driven by the whims of fashion, but was in fact driven by the subconscious forces of personal expediency. Your personal internet history is -by law- retained by ISPs [internet service providers]; the analogy would be for the Post Office to open all your mail, and make a facsimile of every private letter & correspondence that passes through it.

Orwell rendered visible through narrative Bentham’s idea of the Panopticon, a prison in which detainees could be observed without themselves being able to observe. Orwell, ahead of his time, created a Global Panopticon. It is at this point that we should realise the full significance of Orwell’s dystopia; Mainstream Media & Mass Culture are also part of this great Panopticon.

Think about it:

The ruling class is summoned to a rigid control of its morality, while the underclass, the proles, are accorded a wide margin of liberty for unruly behaviour, including the free expression of sexuality & access to industrialised pornography.

Where should we look to find the development of Newspeak, if not in the language of TV quiz shows, tabloids newspapers & advertising? Just what is the difference between words like uncold, doublepluscold, oldthinkers, bellyfeel, (Newspeak) & supercleanplus, easyfix, buyright, grannybakes…..

We also have a version of Hitlerjugend today, where children are propagandised with global warming indoctrination in schools, & attempt to re-educate their parents away from the thoughtcrime of sceptical leanings.

Orwell also foresaw that war is not something that will -at some point- break out, but something that breaks out somewhere every day; was is not an epidemic phenomenon, but an endemic one. Big Brother is right when he says ‘war is peace’ but it’s such a shocking truth that hardly anyone is able to comprehend it.

It is no longer relevant who is the President of the USA, or who in fact controls China; our ‘future present’ is controlled by huge supernational systems -both corporate & governmental- & the logic of power is no longer the logic of one man.

Big Brother is useful because you still need to have a love-object, but a television image will do.

At the end of the book, when Winston Smith -reeking of gin- weeps as he gazes into the face of Big Brother, we should ask ourselves whether ‘mass man’ is not already consigned to this terrible fate.

via 1984: our future-present. | The Digital Glebe.

Categories: the book

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