Jenny's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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Sep 09, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, england_1900s, fantasy__and_sci-fi
Recommended for: people interested in politics
Read in September, 2007

It's a bit cliche and tacky to write an intricate review of a book almost everyone has read, but Orwell's most famous book (or perhaps second most-famous, after "Animal Farm") left a distinct political impression with me, and the best way to make sense of it is to write about it:

What seems to me as a central theme of "1984" is the concept of liberty, with special reference to how it has been addressed in the various political ideologies in history. With respect to the book, the concept is largely literal - the loss of "liberty" with regard to where you work, where you live, what you eat, what you wear and with whom you associate. But beyond the literal "unfreedoms," as they would be called in Newspeak, hide the more terrifying, less tangible losses of liberty: the freedom to think and believe as an individual wishes, and without persecution. Looking back to the Inquisition, the uncertain era of the English King Henry VIII or even the American Revolution, civilization has always fought with the sentiment of wanting to liberate itself in some way, or of some thing. And although perhaps Orwell writes about it differently, I think one can argue that the Party in "1984" is no exception; it is fighting for liberation from usurpers to its "throne" of unrestricted power. In order to do this, as Winston learns, it is necessary to retard the entire nation's intelligence.

Stay with me here - let's apply this Orwellian concept to, say, the war in Iraq. We're fighting for liberation (supposedly from terrorism, but more likely in actuality from subservience to the Middle East in the oil industry - but that's a different essay), the Sunnis and Shiites are fighting for liberation (from us as much as from each other, I expect), and, as in "1984," the war is a continual waste of supplies and production, which in effect retards the American citizens' intelligence by squandering money that ought to be spent on our own country on a war that in reality has nothing to do with us, except that we started it for no good reason. Aside from keeping the nation dumb as to the state of affairs in Iraq, or what the war is doing to the economy at home (not to mention killing thousands of our troops), the U.S. government is, in its anti-terrorism movement, tending toward Big Brother-type surveillance with such pieces of legislation as the Patriot Act. I know this is kind of rambling, but my point here is this: Big Brother is watching, but his name is George W. Bush, and this is 2007, not "1984."

Just a little reflection on a book... didn't mean it to be political! ;)
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05/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Daniel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Daniel Jenny, I'll tell you that you are absolutely right but I'm not apt to tell too many other people---because---I may be ostracized from some important circles and thereby lose some of my freedom.


Adam Farooqui I think you're a little harsh on W. You can openly speak out against the war, we do have free and fair elections, and we do work with better relations with the Muslim world (though we can do better). We're nothing close to 1984.


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