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Contemporary 1984 reality

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Rebecca Good question. I would say North Korea is a good example. All the propaganda, how difficult it is to get in or out of the country, keeping people in poverty, imprisoning people and their families without trial for their entire lives for the smallest "crime against the government." There was a woman imprisoned for accidentally defacing a piece of newspaper that happened to have Kim Jong-Il's face on the the other side. They imprisoned her and her family.

Once in prison, any children born to you there also stay there. It's a horrible situation.

message 2: by Gary (last edited Aug 28, 2013 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary North Korea is, of course, an Orwellian nightmare. The Soviets, particularly under Stalin were comparable as were the Chinese under Mao, especially during his periods of upheaval like the Cultural Revolution. Any number of the Easter Bloc countries would work, for that matter.

There certainly are elements in the West, I read that London has the most CCTV cameras of any city in the world. The redefinition of words is a standard of Washington D.C. The state of perpetual war against various abstractions like "drugs" or "terrorism" are pretty good examples of Orwellian thinking.

E.D. Lynnellen N.Korea covers it all, but is isolated and insular.

Gary's observation of Western elements of an Orwellian nature, however, hammer that nail for me. Can a society in constant fear ever be truly free? Or do we live with Big Brother as a pop-culture manifestation.., just the way things are?

Which is more insidious? NK, or a "free" police state?

Peter Castine Which country? The USA, UK, most of Europe and Asia, and, for that matter, the rest of the world… they're all good candidates. They are much closer to Orwell's nightmare than your government would have you believe. PRISM, SORM, INDECT and more watch over us. And the so-called PATRIOT act is a perfect example of Orwellian language abuse.

message 5: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo Until the government illegalizes love, these talks need not concern me. But, if I were to choose a country I would say N.K. This topic invites theory surrounding secret societies should we choose to embark down that road of speculation, I would be the first to be earnest and attentive.

Gary E.D. wrote: "Which is more insidious? NK, or a "free" police state?"

I'd still vote for NK as both insidious and obvious at the same time... but I take your point.

The truly frightening interpretation of modern society is that it is 1984 and we don't even rise to the semi-aware state of Winston and Julia. We are that faceless mob, alternately cheering for Big Brother and hissing at Goldstein. It's all an elaborate and pathetic joke that never has a punchline. All we can do is sit back and wait for the Thought Police to arrive....

Alessandro I definitely agree with both Peter and Gary, NK is a glaring example but I'd say they do it in a "naive" way, with no subtleties but straight to the point and brutal, whereas IN the "free" world the thought control is much more difficult to spot
But then, think of it: people nowadays are constantly rewriting history, a few examples: negating the holocaust or the armenian genocide, calling the extermination of millions of north and south America original inhabitants "bringing civilisation to them"..
Is this not Orwellian? and what about the continous state of (low level, admittingtly) war in the US? War on terror, war on drugs, war on obesity..
And, worse of all, the lack of privacy we're experiencing every day? companies selling your personal data, your opinions, your favourite drink, whatever, to me all this point to a decaffeinated (for now) version of Big Brother..

Gary Nobody's mentioned Cuba. Castro is a nice Big Brother analogy... or was back in his heyday.

message 9: by Amy (new)

Amy The US!

message 10: by Priggman (last edited Sep 11, 2013 09:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Priggman Stephan wrote: "Which country, or rather, which human society, in your view, and/or experience, fits the profile of ‘1984’ reality the most, and why?"

Definitely USA! North Korea has a clear dictator...but without the technological big brother. USA uses virtually everything in 1984. Telescreens...xbox one ALWAYS on ALWAYS watching...1984 was actually safer because in the dark you were safe...the xbox one can see you and identify who is in the room when the lights are off...add that big brother system with the NSA national spying agency and yes, you have your answer.

Alessandro I agree Priggman, but as a lateral thought may I ask why you posted an Amazon link to a book that seems to have nothing to do with the topic? Could it be tat you're the author looking for a bit of free advertising? Maybe I'm wrong, but Prigge and Priggman sounds very similar.. If I'm wrong, I apologise, but if I'm right, it's slightly unethical and the best way to loose a potential reader (myself)

Priggman @Alessandro, You are correct, that is my book. I usually post a link to my book on most of my longer posts...if I'm posting frequently, such as on some word game or something like that then I do not. I dodn't think it is necessarily unethical, but I can see how it may turn off some folks. I appreciate your feedback and agree. I will most likely not do that in the future. Much thanks again.

message 13: by Feliks (last edited Sep 12, 2013 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Feliks So, here in America..say you want to go out to the stadium on Sunday with your pals and spectate at a pro sports game (football, baseball, etc). You want to tailgate, root, shout, whoop, holler, drink beer. You want to razz and boo and mock the other team and maybe even raspberry the visiting team's fans. Maybe even throw some food around.

Well from now on, that just doesn't fly. There could be plainclothes police officers embedded in the crowd making sure you behave. If you 'hurt the feelings' or 'offend' one of those visiting fans, you could be ejected--season tickets revoked--counseling required. Anger management classes.


Restrictions, rules, codes, protocols, monitoring, supervision ...always expanding.

Its like Orwell prophesized: when 2-3 big powers hold the world in a perpetual military stalemate, governments begin to combat their own citizens; try to deconstruct civil rights; try to alter domestic behavior; seek to wage war even on the thoughts in people's heads. Bureacracies, agencies, security and military organizations...they can't *ever* actually practice peace. There's always something which they have to invade, absorb, and control.

Holly Feliks wrote: "So, here in America..say you want to go out to the stadium on Sunday with your pals and spectate at a pro sports game (football, baseball, etc). You want to tailgate, root, shout, whoop, holler, dr..."

My thoughts are so out of control......if the Thought Police existed I would have been locked up long ago.

To paraphrase NWA "Fuck the Thought Police"

message 15: by Evan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Evan Geller Actually, the US. Having completed significant research in the field, I am shocked by the progress made in surveillance technology, particularly in this country. I'm not talking about anything as pedestrian as cellphone logs. As was recently mentioned on NPR, some of the recent revelations make Orwell look like a Pollyanna.

❁Polina❁ I disagree with you Stephan, not only tortured artists walk the walk because not only tortured artists are subjected to tyranny.

Orwell used what at the time was hyperbole to illustrate how government control can become so encroaching that it suppresses any semblance of individuality. The trouble is that, this extreme nightmare of Orwell's imagination has now been surpassed by reality.

Countries ruled by a certain oppressive regime, such as NK, are actually lucky in their misfortune to at least know the form of their oppression and to have a tangible enemy, an oppressor.
On the contrary countries whose citizens are seemingly free and operating under what is thought of as democracy, oppression operates differently and more subtly, through for example policy changing corporations, advertisement and marketing schemes and Hollywood.

Everyday your perception is shaped. You are trained for a life as a consumer and to measure happiness with possessions and achievements that add nothing to the quality of your life.

Thinking we are free is the biggest success of modern day fascism.

So to answer the question "Which country, or rather, which human society, in your view, and/or experience, fits the profile of ‘1984’ reality the most, and why?" I offer that it is this: Our new transnational, boundary-less society, brought together by mass media, the internet and its technology. Unless you are somewhere out of their reach you are controlled, you are oppressed, you are being programmed.

The part I do agree with you with is that art, including literature, including 1984 is the only thing that can awaken and liberate us.

message 17: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Regardless of the state of North Korean society, it's clear that the Western nations have done a good job demonising it - the Ministry of Truth would be proud!

message 18: by $$$ (new) - rated it 5 stars

$$$ I think that all over the world and all the countries ; just the method is different . where can you find without a dictator ? even those who claim to bring democracy are dictators inside but they are teaching people to accept them but the difference is here ; some of them use violence and we think that they are taking our freedom but some of them are doing that with some rules that seem logical and we think they are sensible

message 19: by Kori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kori Brus When you look at the deep structural roots behind the totalitarian state of 1984 the nation that fits the bill in my eyes is the United States. There's a few elements needed to create the Big Brother state

1. Perpetual war with an external entity that will inspire fear. The US has been perpetually at war since WWII most notable with the Soviet Union and now "terrorists".

2. Media control. Noam Chomsky reveals this best, but basically the conglomeration of media into the hands of just 6 companies has resulted in lockstep propoganda between governments and corporations and the public.

3. The police state, evidenced through the massive growth of Homeland Security, the militarization of municipal police forces and opening doors for military intervention within US borders.

4. Universal surveillance, which thanks to Edward Snowden we've not only seen has been happening for years, but is also the explicit goal of the NSA and other arms of government.

Number four is the one that has floored me. In used to feel that the fear of surveillance was overblown, that it would be impossible to devote the manpower to perform it. Now that this can be automated with cheap computer memory, voice and facial recognition, and the complicity of corporate providers its quickly coming about.

I'm sure China is working on the same type of system, but the US is way ahead of the game. Disturbing.

Priggman @Kori I agree with all of the points that you suggested. Actually the US has been spying on people forever, it's just that Snowden is the most recent to expose this. It's actually much worse than just facial ID and voice recognition now. They can analyze all of your movement and ID you even without a proper facial match by looking at other bio-metric data. Even plastic surgery will not fool some of the facial ID today. With Smart Tv's and the xbox one, 1984 might be a more private lifestyle.

message 21: by Kori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kori Brus Priggman wrote: "@Kori I agree with all of the points that you suggested. Actually the US has been spying on people forever, it's just that Snowden is the most recent to expose this. It's actually much worse than j..."

Indeed. Touché.

message 22: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary The big problem with saying that the U.S. is like the authoritarian government of 1984 is... well, that someone can say that on a message board dedicated to the discussion of books.

There are a lot of analogues, as folks have noted, but the fundamental problem in the world Orwell describes is that the government kidnaps, tortures, and mentally violates its citizens for doing normal human behaviors like sex, or for speculating on how society might have gotten to where it is.

That kind of thing does happen in some countries.

We get to express our views, even when they are against the government, and nobody smashes into the room and jams a bag over our heads.

Now, you'll have to excuse me. There's knock on my door....

Priggman @Gary I agree with what you said, but would argue that the US does do that in some, if not many cases. For instance look at what happens to whistle blowers reporters, Michael Hastings for example. Speaking of mentally violating citizens, advertising well soon be projecting sounds and advertisements directly into our brains more that we are already exposed to. Lastly, you cannot say that our government does not resort to torture and kidnappings...

message 24: by E.D. (new) - rated it 5 stars

E.D. Lynnellen We make statements on a thread on a website. No-one kicks in the door. We've put ourselves out there.

Our effort is up against that created by mass media purchased by whom? For whom?

Big Brother isn't a party member, but the creation of marketers. Selling the illusion of choice and culture.

Big Brother eats his cake.., and yours.., while you're arguing about who paid for it.

I'd rather be Winston Smith than Joe Sixpack.

Hey! How 'bout them Cowboys!

message 25: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Priggman wrote: "@Gary I agree with what you said, but would argue that the US does do that in some, if not many cases."

True there are things like the Snowden and Bradley/Chelsea Manning cases.

Maybe those will trickle right down into our actual living rooms for the "average" citizen at some point....

message 26: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary It's easy to point out North Korea, but the good USA is going down that road too, little by little. Those not retired wouldn't know this, but my monthly Social Security check no longer says on top "Social Security", but instead says "Federal Benefits". Classic double speak. Social Security is what I paid into every pay day for 50 years, but now the check I get sounds more like an entitlement (welfare) check. Indeed the Fed is talking more like Social Security and Medicare (which I paid into for 30 years) are just entitlements to be nice to seniors, not payback which is what it is. Classic example of double speak.

Holly Gary wrote: "It's easy to point out North Korea, but the good USA is going down that road too, little by little. Those not retired wouldn't know this, but my monthly Social Security check no longer says on top ..."

They are called Federal Benefit checks now in order to confuse the younger people......just keep paying into the system, kids......and by the way, be sure and make financial plans for your retirement.

message 28: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary I've been saying for a long time that Social Security should just be called "Youth Tax."

message 29: by Emma (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emma Personally, I think the US is more like Brave New World than 1984. We are brainwashed from infancy with advertising and in the name of patriotism to engage in extravagant consumerism (e.g., “good citizens spend money in order to boost the economy”). We are encouraged to engage in frivolous pleasures, recreation, and expensive travel, which both causes us to spend lots of money and is used to pacify. Promiscuity and infidelity is encouraged, touted as “good,” committed relationships/monogamy are seen as “bad,” against human nature, etc. This is leading to the breakdown of families. There is an overuse of prescription drugs, used to dull every small discomfort (encouraged by the FDA). Religion is mocked and blamed for any and every sort of evil and is being replaced with the worship of technology and science. Even the sexualization of children is happening with shows such as Toddlers and Tiaras. There is more information than ever before available to the general population, however, facts are lost in a sea of irrelevancy and misinformation. Education/knowledge is being taken for granted. The vast majority would rather watch reality tv than read a book. We have an illusion of freedom. We are free discuss the government on the internet and with our friends, but if we cross the line and become a real threat... In Brave New World, the people were constantly monitored, they just weren't aware of how closely they were being watched. In 1984, they used fear, pain, and deprivation to control the masses. In BNW, they controlled through mindless pleasure, extravagance, and a false sense of freedom.

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