Thursday, August 16, 2007

1984

I finished reading George Orwell's 1984 last night. Somehow I made it thorough middle school and high school without reading it, so this was my first time. It made me think a lot about government. A few key points from the book that I think are especially salient today:
  • Constant warfare provides a way to control popular opinion and protect the status of the upper class. (War on drugs, terror.)
  • Doublethink--believing something that you know is false--destroys people's sanity and rationality.
  • Mindless entertainment (produced for and distributed to the proles in 1984) keeps people from making any meaningful intellectual achievements. (MTV, anyone?)
  • Constant surveillance restricts free thought. (NSA warrentless wiretapping, NYC surveillance.)
Orwell was remarkably insightful. 1984 is almost sixty years old, but the world it portrays seems to be closer to reality now than when it was written. I don't think that the world will ever become like Oceania, but I do think that it's important that people think for themselves and participate in government to keep it open and free. It's too easy for those in power to grow too fond of it, at the expense of the rest of us.

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