Monday, 7 September 2009

Orwell’s Forgotten Predictions

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book from which most people only know one concept, that of being under constant surveillance. It is far from the most important concept in the book.

Not a Sheep highlights today a satirical comparison of 1984 and Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s idea of socialist Utopia. The cartoon goes much further than that shallow idea of being watched, but does not address what I always felt to be the most important themes in 1984, Newspeak and corruption of history. It is too long since I read Brave New World, and I cannot remember if or how Huxley addressed these issues.

In 1984 language was changed to control thought. Words were not to be used, others no longer had all the same meanings and others still had their meanings reversed. In that way it was intended to control thought, because abstract thought without language is very difficult (and all but impossible to communicate) and control of language allowed control of what could be thought in that language.

While I agree with the cartoon that Huxley’s vision is closer in many ways to developing reality, Orwell did get the language concept right. The authoritarian left is quite literally doing what Orwell predicted.

There are words we cannot say, concepts we cannot express without being the object of contempt or hatred. Other words and concepts have been twisted to the reverse of their original meanings. Words such as 'liberal', 'tolerant' and 'progressive', concepts such as anti-racism, anti-fascism and diversity are used to mean exactly the opposite.

An important slogan in 1984 is “Whoever controls the past controls the future. Whoever controls the present controls the past”. Winston Smith, the protagonist, works is the Ministry of Truth changing the records of history, the control of the past.

The left has altered history, in a wide variety of ways. We are told that European culture is solely responsible for slavery, when the truth is that until European culture developed to ban slavery it was almost universal. We are told that FDR saved the world from depression with his ‘Keynesian’ and other socialist policies, when they actually deepened recession into depression, and Keynes later disavowed them. We are told that racism is historically right-wing, when from the Democrat Party and unions in the Southern USA to Nazis and Communists it has been far more a factor in the left.

Unless we wish to succumb to shrill left-wing authoritarianism we must take back our history and take back our language. In order to do so we need to challenge bias in government, education and the media, especially powerful, influential special interest groups like the NUT and the BBC.

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Sue said...

I still have a pdf copy of Brave New World if you'd like one :) email me. Sue

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