Tag Archives | George Orwell

George Orwell Explains Why He Wrote ’1984′ in Letter to Reader

Pic: BNUJ (PD)

Pic: BNUJ (PD)

I’ve often wondered what Orwell would think about our current surveillance state. In this letter, the author addresses whether totalitarianism is on the rise.

Via Open Culture:

Most of the twentieth century’s notable men of letters — i.e., writers of books, of essays, of reportage — seem also to have, literally, written a great deal of letters. Sometimes their correspondence reflects and shapes their “real” written work; sometimes it appears collected in book form itself. Both hold true in the case of George Orwell, a volume of whose letters, edited by Peter Davison, came out last year. In it we find this missive, also published in full at The Daily Beast, sent in 1944 to one Noel Willmett, who had asked “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade” given “that they are not apparently growing in [England] and the USA”:

I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase.

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Surveillance Cameras Wearing Party Hats For George Orwell’s Birthday

Dutch artists Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle, who use the moniker FRONT404, adorned the surveillance cameras in their city of Utrecht in adorable party hats for George Orwell’s birthday:

On Tuesday June 25, to celebrate the 110th birthday of George Orwell, surveillance cameras in the center of the city of Utrecht were decorated with colorful party hats! George Orwell is best known for his book ‘1984’, in which he describes a dystopian future society where the populace is constantly watched by Big Brother. By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays, and that the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality.

orwell's birthday

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1984 All Over Again

1984In the wake of the NSA/Snowden revelations, and the general sense of paranoia that has taken grip of the news cycle and the internet, a few pundits have assumed the roles of cultural watchdogs, taking the pulse of public taste to measure the effect of the spooky news on the hearts and minds of the people.

A number of journalists and commentators have noted that one possible side effect of the recently-revealed government snooping on personal communications has been a spike in the sales of the George Orwell classic 1984 on the mega-book-selling-site, Amazon. But, how big is the sales spike and how much of it can be attributed to Snowden’s bravery in the face of the NSA’s dubious doings? This article at Slate offers a measured interpretation:

Sales of one particular edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic are up some 5,000 percent on Amazon.com in the past 24 hours, according to the site’s list of “movers and shakers.” The figure was as high as 7,000 earlier today.Read the rest

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The Orwellian Warfare State of Carnage and Doublethink

George OrwellAfter the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion — and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.

One Friday, at noontime, U.S.-led NATO forces dropped cluster bombs on the city of Nis, in the vicinity of a vegetable market.… Read the rest

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Comparing Osama Bin Laden With Orwell’s ‘Emmanuel Goldstein’

disinformation editor’s note: The intent of this article is NOT to imply Osama Bin Laden is a fictional character. Please read the article in full and note it was written nearly ten years ago.

Goldstein Vs. Bin Laden

On September 19th, 2001, just one week after the 9/11 tragedies, Frothsburg State University economics professor William L. Anderson wrote a piece entitled, “Osama and Goldstein”. He spoke of a parallel between Osama Bin Laden and Emmanuel Goldstein, the contrived enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984. Over the past decade Bin Laden has become the face of terror throughout the western world and the focus of its people’s fear, anger, and hatred. Now that he is dead (read “dead” if you prefer), I believe it would be appropriate to revisit this article from William L. Anderson on LewRockwell.com:

In George Orwell’s classic 1984, the government of Oceania — Big Brother — tells the people that they have a common enemy — Goldstein.

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The Impending Police State

policestateabbyVia Media Roots:

In George Orwell’s 1984, Britain is depicted as a totalitarian police state that is ruled by the Party, or Big Brother — an enigmatic, ubiquitous elite that controls society through heavy surveillance, nationalist propaganda and historical revisionism.

The concept seems like a far-fetched portrayal of a Democratic nation’s demise into totalitarianism, but in America’s “post 9/11” climate of fear, the United States government has been building a comprehensive grid of surveillance and control that bears frightening similarities to Orwell’s fictional narrative.

The glaring difference between the two is that Orwell’s dystopian society is overtly totalitarian. America, conversely, operates under a “soft fascism” – an insidious, systematic method of preventative action and corporate top-down control over society’s media, economy and politics – while maintaining the necessary illusion of personal choice and freedom. A populous with little to no concept of their subjugation makes them the perfect subjects to rule.… Read the rest

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Revisiting Orwell’s 1984

George OrwellBy Richard Mynick for the World Socialist Web Site:

Since first appearing in the popular lexicon, the term “Orwellian” has conjured up a vision of the prototypical “totalitarian state”: a one-party dictatorship that swarmed with secret police, spied on its own people, quashed dissent, made arbitrary arrests, tortured prisoners, waged perpetual war, rewrote history for mere expedience, impoverished its own working population, and rooted its political discourse in doublethink—a thought system defined as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

Many Americans would easily recognize this description of “Oceania,” the futuristic dystopia immortalized by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of the most influential English-language novels of the mid-twentieth century.

Whether many Americans recognize that this description applies to their own society as well is another matter. But since the theft of the 2000 election—a period marked by such events as the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq based on fictitious “WMD” (weapons of mass destruction), the torture scandals, and the 2008 financial crash—it’s a point that increasing numbers of Americans seem to be grasping.

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Rewriting History Is Easier Than You Thought

11Slate just conducted an interesting experiment in Orwellian-style rewriting of history. Readers were asked to share their their recollections of recent historical events, many of which never actually happened. That didn’t matter though; a large percentage recalled, for instance, how angry they were when Obama infamously shook hands with Ahmadinejad (which he didn’t). The lesson being, if you ask someone to remember something, they will:

In the first three days the experiment was posted, 5,279 subjects participated. All of the true incidents outscored the false ones. But the fake images were effective. Through random distribution, each fabricated scene was viewed by a subsample of more than 1,000 people. For Obama meeting Ahmadinejad, the number who remembered seeing it was 26 percent. For the Hillary Clinton ad, the number was 36 percent. For the Edwards-Cheney confrontation, it was 42 percent, just seven points shy of the percentage who remembered seeing the DeLay/Schiavo episode.

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Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets (Video)

Armen Keteyian reports on the CBS Evening News:

At a warehouse in New Jersey, 6,000 used copy machines sit ready to be sold. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports almost every one of them holds a secret.

Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive — like the one on your personal computer — storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine.

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