A place where the world has become a totalitarian state: with perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.
Under this despotic rule there's never ending clashes between the super-states, each having a quasi-communist one-party system in which individual rights are routinely ignored.
Posters are displayed everywhere bearing the caption "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU".
Are we voluntarily embracing some of the same things that 1984 depicts as being forced on a world still reeling after atomic warfare.
1. Big Brother is Watching You
This, of course, is the most obvious parallel. In Orwell's 1984, Big Brother — the purported leader of the Party that rules the nation of Oceania — keeps constant tabs on the population through "telescreens" (two-way televisions). With our National Security Agency (NSA) involved in warrantless wiretapping, maintaining a call database (MARINA), and engaged in data-mining (PRISM), we can be forgiven for wondering if Big Brother is no longer a fictional character. Each of us has a hand-held "telescreen" we carry with us most everywhere we go, which we almost never turn off. In the book, "Telescreens are placed everywhere — in the home, cubicles at work, the cafeterias, and in private areas. Every move is watched! No place is safe!"
In 1984, the Party embraces a policy of continual war so as to eat up any economic surplus and keep people poor and under control. Our government seems to have a similar course of action, moving seamlessly from one military conflict to another.
3. Bread and Circuses
In 1984, the vast majority of the population — the "Proles" (i.e., proletariat) — were almost not even worthy of surveillance. So long as the Party gave them a regular infusion of food, alcohol, the lottery and pornography, they were considered to be under control. Maybe Orwell was harkening back to another satirist, Juvenal, who complained about the "bread and circuses" that Imperial Rome used to control the plebians and to pry them away from their rights and responsibilities as Roman citizens.
Every society engages in euphemism and linguistic evolution, but is it used for good or ill? In 1984, Orwell lays out in detail how language can be (mis)used to deceive and control the masses. In the real world today, political correctness and euphemism are both pervasive and pervasively derided. Some current examples are: "regime change" overthrow, "shock and awe" massive bombing, "revenue enhancement" tax increase, and "downsize" fire employees. If the fictional Orwellian Newspeak of 1984 makes us wince, how much more should the actual vocabulary of today's politicians?
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