Hey everyone, it’s David, 0wing to the rising popularity of 1984 today, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the reasons that 1984 is relevant in today’s society following my review of the book. In Part One I discussed surveillance, freedom of media/speech and the existence of three global superpowers and tension between these nations.
If you have never read 1984 previously, then be sure to check out my review here. Without further ado, lets get into it.
So without further ado, lets get into part two
In 1984 it is referred to multiple times that nukes had been used in the past when the three global superpowers were at war. Specifically an atomic bomb dropped on Colchester is referred to. These devastating attacks would have been fresh in the minds of Orwell’s original readers at a time not long after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the beginnings of the Cold War. The devastating conflict also created a perfect environment for a totalitarian takeover of society.
While today, in the post cold war era, the fear of nuclear Armageddon is not as apparent it is still a great concern for many in the world today. Globally nuclear arsenals have been depleting substantially from their cold war peaks. At one point the USSR and the USA had 40,000 and 30,.000 warheads respectively, which is a staggering amount compared to their armaments today. The Russian Federation has approximately 7000 nuclear weapons and the US has 6800. However while nuclear proliferation is being reduced, we are in no way safe from nuclear annihilation. Just a small fraction of these weapons would kill millions of people and a full-scale war could see deaths in the billions. A full-scale war is unlikely due to MAD (mutually assured destruction) as any country, which nukes another, will be retaliated against with equal ferocity. However that does not make it impossible. During the cold war there were numerous instances when the USA and the USSR almost attacked one another due to false readings or accidents. In fact it is amazing they didn’t. So why is this relevant today? There are numerous locations on the globe where nuclear conflicts could potentially arise. In Syria for instance the US and Russia are engaged in a proxy war with US backed rebels fighting Russia backed Syrian government forces. If a direct conflict erupts and the US and Russia go to war Nuclear annihilation is inevitable. A similar situation is developing in Ukraine where Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014. Another potential flashpoint is the South China Sea where the US and China are involved in territorial disputes. China only has a small nuclear arsenal of 200+ warheads but this is sufficient to cause huge amounts of death and damage. Possibly the most dangerous global conflict is the India Pakistan conflict. Both countries have a history of war over the northern provinces of India such as Kashmir. However both countries have now developed nuclear weapons, over 100 each. In fact this conflict and the fact that Donald Trump is now fully in control of the US’ nuclear arsenal has prompted the Bulletin of Atomic scientists to move the doomsday clock to 2 and a half minutes to midnight.
In Orwell’s 1984 the populous of Oceania are brainwashed by the party into fanatical devotion to it and its godlike leader Big Brother. The people can be provoked into fits of rage when shown images of those who disagree with the parties teaching. Likewise they can be seen to show mindless devotion to their leader Big Brother and will chant his name in an almost primal fashion. The famous scene from the 1972 film Cabaret, in which Nazi supporters all sing “tomorrow belongs to me” in unison, is probably the best example of this you could hope to see.
This is an incredibly relevant aspect of 1984 in our modern times particularly in the recent American elections in which Donald Trump fuelled his campaign with hatred and zealotry. Essentially any polarising issues that existed in America were exaggerated hugely by Trump’s campaign, which pretty much hated everything on Earth including but not limited to: Liberals, women, Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, the Chinese, homosexuals and the media. Somehow however, Trump’s supporters swallowed his vitriol and worshipped him like a God. This can be seen in his multiple speeches in the run-up to the election where his audience can be heard chanting “Build the wall!” or “Lock her up!”. It is quite unsettling to see people behave in such a brainwashed and ignorant fashion, especially in such a herd mentality and to me it is no wonder that people are looking to 1984 to see what that kind of fanaticism results in.
In 1984 the population of Oceania is completely isolated and is never permitted to see anyone from the other nations, other than when they are being executed in public. This is because if they could ever see or interact with anyone else, they would realise that they are just people much like themselves. This realisation would instantly dispel the hatred that the populous has for the other nations.
There has been an astonishing and growing rise in isolationist sentiment across the Western world over the past decade. Far right parties such as UKIP in the UK, Front Nationale in France, Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary have all seen a dramatic increase in some of the last few elections. These parties are largely anti-immigration and also Euro-sceptic and have often been accused of being racist and even fascist. The biggest act of isolationism that has taken place would be the 2016 Brexit vote which saw 52% of British people vote to leave the EU, largely over the perceived problem of immigration. Although this was apparently not a race issue, hate crime increased by 41% following the leave vote. President Trumps first weeks in office have also showed a very strong Isolationist sentiment in the white house, with his executive orders to ban Muslims and to build a “great” border wall. Sad! Trump’s administration is also refusing refugees from the Syrian war on the pretence that they might be terrorists. With all this isolationist sentiment across the world it is very apparent that 1984 is very relevant today.
So, there you have it, Part 2 of my article on why 1984 is relevant today. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it!
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Until next time,