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1984 by George Orwell

English Totalitarianism

1984 is a variation on two of Orwell's favourite themes: totalitarianism, and Englishness. It came as a challenge to British readers who looked down on the many European nations that had become dictatorships in the 1920s through 1940s - whether Fascist or Communist. What he is trying to say is "it _can_ happen here", which is why the book portrays many essentially English traits, twisted and perverted by totalitarian thinking. And it is not just a fantasy... having himself made propaganda broadcasts during World War II, Orwell was aware of the pressure to surrender one's invdividuality and perhaps even conscience in a time of national crisis. In many ways, 1984 is a commentary on the way that individual freedoms were eroded during the war.

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-08-15 by Mark Honman from UK

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell

"The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. 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 scrutinised." N.B. Todays CCTV cameras use infrared technology and can see in the dark and can zoom in beyond normal human visual range, and no longer need a wired infrastructure, but can work over mobile phone networks. The video and audio signals can be processed electronically to automatically attempt to pick out your face from a database of suspects. There is even research ongoing into classifying "suspicious" behaviour automatically from video images. Such CCTV systems have already been linked to automatically fire military weapons systems. This imperfect technology, fraught with false positive matches, is being rapidly deployed in the civilian world, without any enforcable, consistent rules or means of appeal to correct the inevitable persecution of the innocent. However, it should be noted that in this iconic book, the dystopia which Eric Blair (who write under the name George Orwell) describes does not apply to the vast majority of the population , the "proles", who were not considered important enough to keep under surveillance. It was the IngSoc party elite and apparatchik bureacrats and state workers who were under the eye of Big Brother. NuLabour appears to have some similarilties with IngSoc, especially in the way that it tortures the English language into NuSpeak, but their mass surveillance plans, enabled by cheaper surveillance technology, completely dwarf those described in 1984.

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-08-07 by Watching Them, Watching Us from London

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell

We aren't living this plot, we're living the prequel, but yes 1984 is iconic of our society as it is and as it will be.

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-08-07 by Simon Gibbs from London

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell

I greatly admire Orwell and this, his crowning literary achievement. As a piece of literature it has always shaped my thinking ever since I first read it at the age of 8 (it was in my cousin's paper-back book collection that she brought back from the US in the late '40's). I also vividly remember the excellent 1955 (I think) BBC TV production with Peter Cushing etc. I recorded it a few years back when it was re-shown. What is really striking is how many of Orwell's concepts and predicitons are accurately to be found in the England of today! A true Icon!!!

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-07-21 by Bernard Edwards from Whitby

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell

Arguably a Scottish rather than an English icon. George Orwell's real name was Eric Blair. He was born in India of parents of Scottish and French descent. 1984 was also largely written on the Isle of Jura, Scotland. Some people also say that another Blair, who is also Scottish, is bringing the UK closer to an Orwellian 1984 society in the early 21st century. I, of course, wouldn't say that.

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-02-08 by Taxus from Medway

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell

The book "1984", written in 1948 by George Orwell is a classic English novel set in London. The book was a reaction to the rise of totalitarian movements in Europe, and the beginning of the nuclear age. It served as a warning of a future police state which seemed to be in a state of perpetual war, where everyone was watched by Big Brother and punished when they did not conform. In our age of perpetual war, wall to wall surveillance and an unfolding police state this book seems more prescient than ever.

Comment on 1984 by George Orwell posted 2006-02-02 by Della Lu from Berwick Upon Tweed