Reading the tech discussions about privacy and the need for blocking tech companies from collecting detailed information about us individuals, it seems some fear tech developers thought George Orwell’s classic fiction“1984” was a manual.
In Orwell’s book, published this June week 72 years ago, the dictator’s society is using Telescreens to indoctrinate the population and to supervise it to make sure society has full control over its citizens.
Orwell, or Eric Arthur Blair as was his real name, did not write “1984” as a picture of an existing society. It was a warning for what could come if we don’t look out and defend out society. His fear was the Sovietization of Eastern Europe after the second world war.
Interestingly, and a proof of the exceptional quality of the book, it has continued being used as a way to interpret developments in a number of political situations.
In the 1950s United States, the book was read as a proof of that senator Joseph McCarthy was right in his aggressive harassing of people said to have communistic sympathies forcing many of them to leave their jobs.
It was used in the 1970s to try to understand the ideas behind President Richard Nixon’s secret recording of conversations and break-in into opposing Democratic party’s office to collect data.
Sales boomed again during Donald Trump’s early days in office as president of the United States after his press secretary Sean Spicer obviously incorrectly had stated that Trump’s inauguration was witnessed by a larger audience than any previous inauguration. Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway was shortly later in a TV interview asked why Spicer had lied and she offered the breathtaking explanations that that Spicer had just given “alternative facts”.
Citizens referred the suddenly introduced new political term “alternative facts” to Orwell’s “newspeak” – a language used to indoctrinate and twist reality.
Had he been alive, Eric Arthur Blair alias George Orwell, would have been amused that the Trump advisor made his book a best seller once again with the publisher ordering more prints.
Blair died 1950, the year after “1984” was published. But the book is still very much alive!