"Nineteen Eighty-Four" Revisited

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Friday August 22, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

With the recent events in the troubled democracies of Georgia and Taiwan, recurring images from George Orwell's seminal novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" return. In that novel, (published 1949) Orwell predicted a divided world where three major powers Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia compete and re-align with each other. Each is so large that no two united can destroy the remaining one. As a result their battles regularly overflow into the remaining world around them. Present also in each though only seen in one are departments such as the Thought Police, the Ministry of Truth, Newspeak etc.

That the world that Orwell predicted in the novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was not what exactly resulted by the year 1984 is immaterial. What he saw continues to provide images that resonate around us. Orwell wrote about totalitarianism; governments run by small cliques, the forced development of a collective consciousness among the "proles" and lesser beings in the state, constant surveillance of the individual and the periodic distortion and manipulation of history.

Smaller democracies are in constant danger on all sides in this world; larger democracies despite their safeguards are not immune from being hi-jacked by a select few; and totalitarian states, for them this is their natural environment. As for the rest of the world, it becomes the contested field, especially when resources run low. To grasp the present, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is worth returning to.