1984 was not an instruction manual
1984 activism
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This article originally appeared:


8th January 2014

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act -- George Orwell

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1984 by George Orwell is one of the most influential books of our time. It resonates today as much as it did fifty years ago. It changed the course of history by spawning new language and meaning relating to the structure, actions and mechanisms of our society. And that legacy seems perfectly fitting, for in the story of 1984, the world is faced with so much restriction that even the expressiveness of the official language is deliberately restricted by institutions in attempts to eliminate personal thought.

1984 provides a stark view of a burgeoning culture of totalitarianism that is as important as a work of fiction as it is as a reflection of modern fact. In 1984, each aspect of the Five Freedoms of The First Amendment were infringed and removed. Freedom of speech was so restricted that not only was there one source of news -- operated by the official governing body -- there was also a whole arm of government dedicated to slowly and steadily eliminating language deemed detrimental to the state.

Undoubtedly language, in spoken and written forms, assists our ability to communicate with and also elevate each other. The key to learning practically everything is in language. And to author George Orwell's credit, 1984 spawned many well-recognized phrases relevant to our society to today -- and for which there were previously no words or phrases. Terms like memory holebig brotherdouble-think, oligarchical collectivismproles and many other phrases. 

1984 begins with a very important sentence.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. ~ 1984

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The implications of this, of course, is that the military is in control, and society is running on military time. Later, in arguably the most influential political fiction in history, the main character Winston Smith suggests that after the atomic bombings of London (in what one can infer was a world war three type of scenario) he does not know if it is indeed 1984 or some other year thereabouts.

The effect (of the atomic wars) was to convince the ruling groups of all countries that a few more atomic bombs would mean the end of organized society, and hence of their own power. Thereafter, although no formal agreement was ever made or hinted at, no more bombs were dropped. All three powers merely continue to produce atomic bombs and store them up against the decisive opportunity which they all believe will come sooner or later. And meanwhile the art of war has remained almost stationary for thirty or forty years. ~ 1984

The great unsaid in 1984, the whole reason for the total elimination of freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of press and the reason they are on military time, is to facilitate the atomic war on Planet Earth -- a war so destructive that England ended up the totalitarian state known as Airstrip One.

In reality today we see the atomic war on Earth, the continued confrontations over islands or rhetoric, is resulting in the same kind of oligarchy.