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The "1984" Book Review

Updated on July 28, 2016

Introduction

The 1984 book was written in 1949 by George Orwell. This book had fascinating insights regarding the future. This book caused a stir in the world of literature. There have been mixed reactions from those who had the opportunity to go through the book. These responses have included fear and hatred of the nation’s system of governance. Despite this, the book came and went with no signs of the stories presented in the book being acknowledged by the masses. The book has largely been considered a perfection fiction work of science. Despite this, it would be foolhardy to disregard this book. The importance of this book today has surpassed the imaginations of George Orwell at the time of writing. Using the novel 1984 by George Orwell (1949), this paper compares and contrasts the world of today as imagined by Orwell.

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Americans today will have the Big Brother listen to their conversations. This has been enabled via surveillance-enabled street lights that are installed in different cities throughout the country. This equipment can record conversations that are done in private. This was confirmed through Snowden’s revelations that left a lot to be desired. In the views of one of the senior experts in the United Kingdom, the revelations are considered the biggest loss to intelligence information in Britain ever (BBC, 2013). Based on the Snowden revelations, it is noted that there are different mass-surveillance initiatives carried out by both GCHQ and NSA. These agencies are well placed to access information kept by major technology firms in the US, always in the absence of individual warrants (The Guardian, 2013). Also, the agencies can mass-intercept records from fiber-optic cables that form the bulwark of internet and telephone networks across the globe. Moreover, the agencies have worked to demean the security standards that define the Internet, trade, and banking. In the same way that the citizens of 1984 would not guarantee their privacy, Americans are not able to understand whether the government is listening or not.

The importance of technology in this dispensation is not in doubt. The advent of information technology has changed the way things are done all over the world. According to Huston (2013), technology is transforming the world at a fast rate, and this has been witnessed in healthcare settings. Despite this, if technology falls into the wrong hands, there could be negative effects. It could be a weapon of mass destruction and in other instances, a tool of mass control. Transparency is a good virtue of governance (Ambinder & Grady, 2013).For any government to have good performance rankings, there must be the existence of a complex group of interrelated links between the fourth estate, the citizens and the institutional dynamics (Sims, 2010). The government is tasked with the responsibility of informing its citizens about the impending danger. Complicating matters, during the post 9/11 haste to share information, a lot of inaccurate information was presented. To this effect, it important to note that bad information triggers the anxiety one would feel ways the case in the event of breaking news (Ambinder& Grady, 2013). In this book, Orwell (1949) presented the world where the people were constantly monitored by the government. This was largely achieved through surveillance.

Orwell (1949) writes that a helicopter flew in the far distance for some time before going away. This was a police patrol that was in essence peeping through people’s windows. The current America is more advanced as compared to George’s time. This is because it does not have to depend on helicopters so as to monitor its citizens. On the contrary, this task has been given to drones. These drones serve as surveillance tools. Also, they can store teasers which generate electric shocks that could incapacitate those suspected of criminal activities. Going back to Snowden revelations, it must be noted that the spying revelation was triggered by some factors. The scandal came to the light when the Guardian newsprint submitted the fact that NSA was gathering the phone data of millions of people across the United States. The paper presented the secret order from the court demanding the Verizon, a telecommunications firm, to submit all its phone records to NSA on a daily basis. Also, the report was accompanied by revelations holding that NSA directly siphoned information from internet companies like Facebook, Yahoo, and Google among others with an aim of tapping online communication through a Prism (BBC, 2013). On the other hand, GCHQ, Britain’s eavesdropping agency, faced allegations of collecting information on the same companies through Prism.

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In the same vein, Orwell (1949) writes that it was risky to let one’s thoughts wander if they were in public areas or close to a telescreen. The tiny device could give one away. On the other hand, having an improper face expression was considered an offense that could be punished. It was referred to as face crime. Today, face crime is real through the help of behavior metrics which is a new surveillance innovation that was introduced for the American Air Force. It was meant to be used in enforcing the law so as to examine suspicious behavior. The framework is centered on a camera which monitors facial movements in a biometrical manner so as to create a psychological profile for the person under surveillance. Muscle movements on the face of an individual will notify the Big Brother about the existence of a suspicious person taking part in a preplanned crime. This would be achieved through behavior analysis.

Also, Orwell (1949) reiterates that it was almost normal for those over 30 to be frightened of their kids. As a component of the Homeland Security’s program which asks people to see and say something, the people of the United States are getting bombarded from all angles including football games, restaurants, and shopping centers, with messages that encourage them to make reports about their fellow citizens who take part in suspicious activities. Moreover, institutions of learning are training kids to spies. This is by allowing them to report about the poor recycling practices of their parents. In the same way that the people of 1984 were always bombarded with lies from the state through telescreens, today, the people of America are facing a similar onslaught (Orwell, 1949). This comes in the form of alerts that are disbursed by the federal government using different channels like television in shopping malls.

It is noted that the main goal of Newspeak is to ensure that the range of thought is narrowed (Orwell, 1949). He maintains that in the end, thoughtcrime would be made impossible. This is attributed to this fact that there would be no words to express it. Each concept that will be required will be conveyed using a single word. The meaning will be rigidly described and other meanings expressed and forgotten. The rates of illiteracy in different states are on the rise. More Americans are not able to read anything that is more challenging as opposed to a kid’s picture book. There is a cultural rot that does not value intelligence. Also, there is a public school framework which is fading away. On the other hand, there is the reduction of attention spans as more Americans access entertainment which is considered mind-numbing. There is a reduction in vocabularies with most Americans being unable to express themselves. Despite the fact that the high-level thinking in the book was destroyed by the state, the entertainment industry in America today is doing the same.

According to Orwell (1949), there was no trial in most of the cases. No reports were made regarding the arrest. People always disappeared in the night hours. One’s name was deleted from the register. Also, records of what people had ever done were removed. Americans today are not just disappearing without necessarily going through a trial as did those who were involved in criminal activities in 1984. On the contrary, they are facing direct assassinations. This has been achieved through drone strikes that have not an oversight or legal process. As it stands today, Americans face the danger of being victims of an initiative of state-financed assassination if they are considered terrorists. In the book, miscreants underwent torture. Also, they were brainwashed. However, they were not murdered on government orders before having the chance to recant.


One does not need to have a time machine to change the future or the present. What one needs is to do is to control the past. In the book, the government or what was referred to as the Party was able to control the past (Orwell, 1949). They were in a position to destroy all evidence which could show that something did or never took place. If at the start of the year, the government made a publication to the effect that about ten million shows would be manufactured, and only five million were manufactured; all the evidence pointing to the initial manufacture of ten million would be destroyed. They would track all the print media having this story and destroy them. This though is indeed scary. The government or the Party was in a position to destroy all the references which pointed to the existence of something or an individual. Though people would know the truth, they would never find evidence about the same. The most astonishing part regarding this is that this can be done with incredible ease today. Given that most information is currently stored on a disc, one can destroy all areas that had data confirming the existence of someone. The only challenge would be to find print media and other references that could be addressed by government agents.

The government is fast adopting steps towards the kind of the 1984 society. It began with the introduction of the social security system. People are now needed to get serial numbers before a certain age to be cataloged for this kind of service. This apparent indexing of individuals has become a major issue of privacy. The social security number is currently used for everything. For instance, when people go to institutions of higher learning they use their numbers. Also, when applies for a credit card, he or she uses this number. However, there are now concerns over people checking people’s credit history by employing this number. This is done without seeking a person’s consent. This reflects the manner in which the government can play tricks on the people without them knowing about it. During Orwell’s time, it seemed to be a good idea. The other apparent attack on privacy is the employment of identification cards that resemble credit cards to track people. For instance, President Clinton thought of making an identification card to serve as evidence of being American. In institutions of higher learning, students are given an identification card that permits them to do all their activities like entering the dormitories. It would not cost the Big Brother a lot to log when ordinary people go about their daily activities. They must be conducting some form of communication on a computer to monitor people’s activities.

If it is not bad enough that the government admits to cataloging its people, it admits that they have to watch them as well. A bill was sent to Congress to compel telecommunication firms to put a chip on all their products. The chip would permit the government to monitor the telecommunication transactions. There are people who must be appreciated for ensuring that this move was nipped in the bud. Despite this, as though this is not bad enough, the digital telephony act was passed. The bill holds that the government will accord a specific amount of money to major telecommunication providers to overhaul their networks to allow the government officials attach themselves and eavesdrop on private conversations. The government uses the taxpayer’s money to monitor them. An astonishing commentary that ever came from this unwarranted use of taxpayer’s money was the fact that most of the groups that were created to support privacy lost their integrity and supported this bill. This goes to show the influence that money and power could have.

The other idea to censor the people came with the introduction of V-chip, which was intended to be a good innovation from its inception. If it appears innocent to allow parents to decide what kids can and cannot watch, then it means that the government can also have the liberty to choose what people can or cannot see. There is a new form of warfare that has been shown to the people of the United States.

It is also noted in the book that science had stopped to exist (Orwell, 1949). There was no word for science in Newspeak. Technology is being employed to destroy human liberty and invade privacy. Each technological growth including Facebook comes with a further dent on privacy. The judicial system in the United States is determining ways of legalizing consistent surveillance over each American. There was an effort in the recent past to accord authorities the ability to tract Americans in secret via clandestine frameworks of global positioning which are connected to their vehicles.

The book further reports that only an individual who was well versed with Ingsoc would acknowledge the importance of belly feel (Orwell, 1949). Bellyfeel in this regard meant a blind, invigorated and casual acceptance that would be hard to perceive today. Bellyfeel, as presented by George, is cognitive dissonance today which means having unclear faith in a fact or justification provided it originates from the establishment. Here, the real truth of the situation has no importance. Bellyfeel allows the people of America to accept without question everything they hear without employing critical thinking. For instance, before the US invaded the nation of Iraq, most Americans were of the view that Saddam Hussein planned the September 11th attack, but there was no evidence to validate this claim.

In the end, one of the main challenges in America revolves around class differences and racial variations. In the book, Orwell (1949) maintains that there were three distinct social classes. These classes included the Inner Party, which was comprised of the rich, the Outer Party, which was composed of the middle class and the poor who were under the Proles. This structure has always existed over the years. The rich would always enjoy life at the top and be disconnected with the reality on the ground. The middle class, on the other hand, would hate the rich and loath the idea of being part of the upper class. The two, middle and upper class, would be despised by the poor. The Party or the government ensured that the classes harbored hatred for one another. This is exactly the way surveillance was achieved (Orwell, 1949). Americans are deeply entrenched in politics and profiling one another by race. The government is fast seeking means of keeping the people in line. No one can tell whether there is a conspiracy against the people. What is evident is that if enough care is not taken, the people will lose their privacy in the end. It would be advisable to stop the advancement of these and other violations of privacy. It would be dangerous to let go of the little liberty that is left. Of great significance is the need to understand that one situation will always lead to the other.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that are different explanations and cases which show the manner in which Americans are currently living in a society which rival and in other instances surpasses the world of George Orwell in 1984. The question that must be answered is whether Americans will ever be in a position to reclaim their element of dignity and liberty, or whether they will learn to cherish their servitude like those in 1984.

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