With less than one week to go until Christmas, frantic shoppers are attempting to procure the best deals in the war-torn outlet malls. This year shows increased spending on holiday gifts, but people still want to save their hard-earned cash. If you find yourself still searching for that perfect gift, look no further.
At Healthy Republic, we want to help you help yourself and one another. This year, give the gift of knowledge by putting a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 under the Christmas tree or in the stocking. Heck, for as few dollars as it costs, get everyone in the family a copy and start a little book club for the month of January.
You could easily purchase one of the many electronics to be tossed aside for newer models three months from now, but why do that when 1984 has proven it can stand the test of time?
Eric Blair, known by his pen name of George Orwell, put forth a prominent warning against the dangers of dictatorial government in a totalitarian state. In his now classic dystopian novel, written throughout 1948, published in 1949, Orwell portrays a society under authoritarian regime. In Oceania, main character Winston Smith goes about his days under constant surveillance of Big Brother. Every action, every word, and even every thought has potential for government intervention and control. Smith’s place of employment, the Ministry of Truth, governs the history of the country, a history that is continuously being rewritten to align with the propaganda of the Party’s (government) ideology.
Using doublespeak, a perverse use of words to undermine the true meaning, society is bombarded by the Party’s slogans, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” Being able to see these phrases and believe in them simultaneously, all while going against logic, is doublethink. In 1984, Newspeak is the official vernacular. Words are eliminated, leaving only a crude amount of expressions to make sentences, all lacking nuance for encouragement of critical thought.
Why is this a great gift for people living in 2017 America?
Orwell’s words may seem like they could only exist in a totalitarian regime, that it could never happen to a country like the United States, where a republic form of government is upheld. But Orwell, a British soldier who fought against communism in the mid-20th century, realized that language is powerful and excessive intervention by government will lead to totalitarian states.
Over and over we hear of fake news being spread to the American public. We are told that the government is spreading fake news, and we are told that the media is spreading fake news. We do not know what is truth. Orwell presents these dangers in the most exquisite manner. He demonstrates the need to seek truth and to think independently, to exercise freedom of thought.
It would be easy to tell you that this book is irrelevant. Toss it in with the other books by those old, dead, white guys that we are not allowed to read. But that is not the case, not in the least. Orwell knew he had to defend the profound authors of yesteryear, the ones who sought to provide truth. In writing the words for 1984 back in 1948, he predicted and warned of a future that has at least partially arrived in 2017.
Look at his own words:
It has been 33 years, the same amount of time between 1984 and 2017 as is between 2017 and 2050, the year Orwell says in his novel that all literature will have been destroyed. How close to reality will Orwell’s warnings come before we stop allowing the programming of our own minds, before we decide to educate ourselves once again?
Here’s another warning from Orwell:
Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.
-George Orwell, 1984, Books 1.3 and 3.2
Give the gift of 1984 and get a copy for yourself, because if nothing else, when you hear the phrase, “That’s Orwellian,” you will know exactly what is meant by it. And having that knowledge is a great gift.