To me, Orwell never meant this book as a prediction. He wasn’t trying to tell us “THIS might happen!” It’s supposed to be a warning against political inaction. In that way, the book is entirely relevant right now. In the world of the book, the people have waited until it was too late to react. The hallmark of 1984 is found in its hopelessness. There comes a point where the oppressive force that BB represents can not be defeated. SPOILER ALERT: As Winston finds out at the end, the beast can’t be stopped once it has reached its end, so we must be active on the battlefield NOW while we have a chance. After all, the last words are “He [Winston] loved Big Brother.”
But, as Winston says to O’Brien at the end of his interrogation, he believes in the spirit of man. A force in the universe that will always resist what Big Brother presents. It is that idea that pushes me forward. It was that idea that we saw march by millions last weekend. (Yes, I see the irony of my statement!)
And, by the way, I apply this lesson to ALL forms of power regardless of who is sitting on the throne. And not just politics. All our actions should be governed by the two principles Winston mulls over in Part I (and later on in Part II with O’Brien). How and why is power sought? What are the aims of a Coke commercial, what are the aims of your pastor at church, what are the aims of your boss, what are the aims of your parents, what are the aims of your teacher, what are the aims of the president? And not all the answers have to be sinister. But we need to learn how to filter those questions.
And one last thing, as an avid reader of this book, I LOVED your monacled eye rolling “ — forever” line!