1984 (George Orwell)

[1984]

Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

I set out to read Orwell’s classic to compare to Jennifer Government. This battle of negative utopias pitted all-powerful government versus all-powerful corporate structure. In the final analysis, they’re remarkably similar. Consider:

  • Ability to eliminate individuality. In both societies, the power has effective control of the middle class. Interestingly, in 1984, the lower class (the proles) have the most individual freedoms. They have no power other than their numbers, and little inteligence, so the government spends little effort controlling their thoughts. In Jen Govt, freedom seems to stem from the ability to pay for it.
  • Demonization of foreign ideas. In Jen Govt, people are taught that the strong governments of western Europe are evil because they tax the workers to give money to the lazy. The people in 1984 essentially don’t know anything about the other two superpowers of the world, but their homeland of Oceania is perpetually at war against them, so they must be evil.
  • Get ’em while they’re young. Children are infused with the ideals of the prevailing power in school. The children of 1984 are brought up to be agents of Big Brother, spying on their parents for any incidents of thoughtcrime. The schools of Jen Govt are sponsored by Mattel, McDonald’s, and other companies and teach the virtues of capitalism/consumerism while advertising their wares.

I could find more, but you get the point. Extremism is bad. Of course, these are both works of fiction, and our world is a bit more in the middle, but it’s good to keep an eye out for the symptoms on both sides.

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