5/5 Stars, Hands Down
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” ~George Orwell, 1984
“Big Brother is watching you”, this statement is everywhere. The scholars & political pundits use it, the anarchists use it, the revolutionaries use it, the eccentric paranoid conspiracy theorists use it. You, me every second person on the TV uses it. And here I was having no idea where the reference came from. Every ruling regime which imposes some unpopular restriction on its people by default gets the title of THE BIG BROTHER. Even the bloody realty shows that have sprouted all across the globe have used this all seeing all hearing omnipresent idea that Mr.Orwell introduced in this book. This amount of impact on the world is a testament to what a marvelous piece of literature this book was, gory, depressing and utterly crushing, Yes, but marvelous.
The year is 1984, the great ideological struggle of the early 20th century is over, Socialism won, Capitalism is completely eradicated from the face of the earth. And now the world is divided into 3 great superstates, each with their own brand of socialist or communist ruling regimes, ‘Oceania’ ruled by IngSoc(English Socialism), Eurasia by Neo-Bolshevism & Eastasia by the political ideology of Death-worship,or more correctly ‘Obliteration of the Self’. And all these states are in a state of perpetual war with each other, trying to claim the disputed territories of the world.
The world Mr.Orwell creates is a truly horrifying and haunting place. Not because of Socialist regimes, Mr.Orwell as I understand was a leftist himself, but the corruption and complete mutation of the ideology by the ones in power just to attain absolute subjugation of the masses. I mean wow. When your party slogan is
“WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”
You can very well imagine what such a regime would do. Think (Stalin’s USSR + Hitler’s Third Reich + Mao’s PRC) * 100, and you get IngSoc. This book was a profound comment on the sociopolitical nature of the world. Written in 1948, this is as much relevant now as it was back then, maybe more so now, our generation has never really paid anything for the freedoms we enjoy, we have taken all that we have for granted and have always grumbled about wanting more. Then, imagining a world where there is no concept of freedom of any kind, where every which way you turn the passive face of BIG BROTHER greets you with a promise of pain, if you so much as twitch the wrong way, is nothing short of an eye opener.
This book has inspired so much of today’s world. The extremes that the book tried to educate us about, the brain washing that it showed and warned us about, “2+2=5” is something that each of us should appreciate. The whole concept of “Doublethink“, “Thoughtcrime“,’Psychological Conditioning’ through The Two Minutes Hate are truly mind boggling. And whats more, is that, these very concepts ARE being used today, not in the extreme way of the book, but subtly, the masses, it seems, were not the only one to take lessons from this book, the higher ups learned as well.
A true masterpiece indeed, this book forces you to think, there’s no page in the book which doesn’t make you reflect on your current condition, what was and what could have been. And I think that was the true purpose of the book, to make people realize that as long as they hold on to their individuality as long as they don’t let go of their inner consciousness they would somehow make it through. “Sanity isn’t Statistical” after all.
This book needs no recommendation, it is a classic, already embedded in the curriculum of a great many education institutes, and with good reason. One great book, and a welcome addition to my favorites list.