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George Orwell's 1984... Defining Government Surveillance and Citizen Paranoia since 1948

This blog cannot not be complete without an article that deals with probably one of the best known political sci-fi stories of all times: George Orwell's 1984 (Signet Classics). This is probably the best known authoritarian model in contemporary literature, as it gave us terms we now use colloquially, such as "Big Brother Is Watching", and evidently the whole concept of government as an unwanted Big Brother snooping into our private lives, looking for ways to control us through propaganda and mass media.

One of the most interesting details about this story is the fact that Orwell was a member of the British Communist Party, and had been highly critical of them, as can be seen in Animal Farm, where he portrays the communists as the pigs who overthrow the human masters, only to become just like them in the end, which is a theme he will go on to expand on in 1984, when he talks about the way that revolutions work, and how they are nothing more than a change in the name of the masters, but not really an improvement on the living conditions of the lower classes.

This is why the Party, EngSoc, or English Socialism, is only concerned about the behavior of its members, and has no real care as to what the "plebs" do, as they have no real desire to overthrow the regime for they have no real motivation to undertake such a difficult task, whereas the members of the party represent a real risk to them, and thus must be controlled at all times, monitored constantly, devoid of privacy and even intimacy.

The justification behind most of the government surveillance stems from the fact that the country is at war, against an inconsequential enemy whose name can change without a problem, and therefore there is always the threat that a spy, or a saboteur (terrorist in today's terms) is among the populace, and therefore in order to guarantee the safety of all citizens the government, the benevolent Big Brother, must watch over everyone, all the time, and people are expected to renounce some of their basic rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, sexual freedom, and as has already been said privacy and intimacy... al in exchange for safety and protection from the unseen enemies of the nation.

I would love to know if you also see similarities to the world of today, or if you think I'm as paranoid as Winston Smith, the main character of the novel is, so please let me know your thoughts down in the comments.


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