1984- Fiction or Foresight?
Everywhere we look, the shadow of politics waves back. It stares us in the face from running water, polluted air and the consistency of gravel in our roads. It is only when its tangibility begins to wear a cloak of invisibility that one must worry. This aspect of its dark side has been stretched thin in George Orwell’s 1984.
Winston, 1984’s protagonist, lives in a world dominated by surveillance, propaganda and the blind indoctrination of a supposed truth. Skilfully constructing a world using the tools of haunting undertones and imagery, Orwell takes us on a journey through a country ravaged by the manipulation of what every being holds dearest- his mind. Individuality is a crime, and any opinion which negates the norm is stomped upon.
The erasure of individuality is something we have become all too familiar with in our culture today. The advent of the internet and digital-extremism has polarised beliefs, leading to a pronounced divide between liberal and conservative politics. A divide, which furthers not only politics, but also, its people. For instance, intellectual discourse surrounding race and gender has metamorphosed into a rather one-sided, heated, debate, with little to no room for listening to the opposition.
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, the world is not black and white. Subjectivity exists in each and every one of its nooks and crannies. Orwell envisioned a world in which the herd was right and the black sheep, irrevocably wrong. It is unfortunate, however elements of our world today (*cough* cancel-culture) mirror this dystopia. One can only hope that the Brotherhood of reserved Winstons and rebellious Julias emerges victorious in the long run.
Orwell’s analysis of corrupting influences is brilliant, and reeks of the authenticity that came with being written in 1948; -an era rife with corrupting influences of war, and of course, the rise of the ‘herd mentality’. A crucial tool when building a dictatorship is this very herd mentality. Familiar to fiction such as V for Vendetta and Animal Farm, and even to reality, such as that of Nazi-Germany and North-Korea, obliteration of opinion has once again emerged in our world.
It is frightening to imagine the ramifications of its emergence on our history. Perhaps it would bode us well to treat Orwell’s 1984 as a prophecy, unproven until provoked.