‘Power is only what you allow it to be’.1984
English-born , George Orwell’s, 1984, will be re-visited.
31 May – 10 June
Despite the age of the novel, its potent warning remains.
Orwell wrote the book in 1948, but it’s most relevant to those born in 1984 as the days of surveillance are upon us. ‘Big brother is watching’. Ironically Steve Jobs included a clip of the movie when Apple launched the Mac, in 1983. 1984 and the internet age coincide and determine the possibility of life imitating art.
Many of us read 1984 at school, a few of us saw the movie and though it’s been dormant for a decade or two, it resurfaces in a blaze.
Written as a Sci-fi, he wrote it based on events he witnessed as a Colonial Policeman in Burma. He never went to university and was not author previously, but what he wrote continues to resonate through time.
‘Why was he writing it? For the future, for the unborn’ (1984)
In ‘1984’, war is prolific, slavery, torture and imprisonment without trial, are common and fear abounds. The population is constantly aware that they are being watched and denied privacy.
He explains that ‘double speak’ is talk that reframes negative terms as positive and this language is used to subvert and confuse the masses.
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Orwell knew the exploitation of power as he saw it first hand, as an inflicter, not a victim. He had used a female slave as a house companion, enforced cruelty and led men to their deaths. 1984 was to purge the pain of his conscience and to warn the innocent.
‘The hate had started.’ Orwell
“To hold the population down by force, I was in the police, which is to say. I was part of the machinery” Orwell
Although Orwell engaged in an evil authority he could not digest it, it disturbed him and led him to undermine his future life in acts of penance. 1984 was written to warn the innocent and to have hope that a future he saw could be prevented.
“ I watched a man hang once …… I didn’t realise what it meant to destroy a healthy conscious man…cutting a life short when it is in full tide, this man was not dying, he was alive, just as we were alive. He and we were a party of men, seeing, hearing and feeling, understanding the same world and in two minutes one of us would be gone” Orwell
Today young children play killing games, in their rooms on their computers. Some of the video games are rich in realism which makes the malice more personal; some are playing on Defence websites that observe their results for recruiting purposes. Many parents adopt the slogan, ‘Ignorance is Strength.’
‘So vicious was the boys demeanor it was hardly a game, it was frightening like tiger-cubs that will grow into man eaters … Mrs Parsons eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children and back again….they do get noisy, she said. They’re disappointed because they couldn’t get to see the hanging, I’m too busy to take them.’ 1984
Orwell like Vincent Van Gogh walked away from his middle class life to become ‘down and out in Paris and London’, as a hobo he hoped to rid himself of the imperialist past that haunted him.
According to Orwell, war is ‘double think’, it is to use the product of the machine without producing goods. It is designed to strip human resources so those that have absolute power, can enjoy power.
If people live hungry and are overworked, even when it is easy for all to live well, it serves cruelty. Orwell explains in 1984 that there is a surplus of resources and all are able to live well but this is contrary to the desires of the ruling class.
‘The slave population allow the continuous tempo of war to be sped up …the primary aim of warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living, the problem of what to do with the surplus’ 1984
Orwell explains that poverty is deliberate.