Orwell explains Nineteen Eighty-Four

In a 1944 letter to Noel Willmett, George Orwell laid out the thesis behind his next book, Nineteen Eight-Four, railing against the inevitable rise of Stalin, Anglo-American millionaires and "all sorts of petty fuhrers" who will prosper by means of anti-democratic caste systems. He explains that he supports going to war against Hitler as the lesser of two evils, but makes it clear that the great threat to the world is authoritarianism and its attendant systematic falsification of history, accepted by the intelligentsia so long as it is being undertaken by people on "our side."

On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. Indeed the statement that we haven’t a Fascist movement in England largely means that the young, at this moment, look for their fuhrer elsewhere. One can’t be sure that that won’t change, nor can one be sure that the common people won’t think ten years hence as the intellectuals do now. I hope they won’t, I even trust they won’t, but if so it will be at the cost of a struggle. If one simply proclaims that all is for the best and doesn’t point to the sinister symptoms, one is merely helping to bring totalitarianism nearer.

Two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it.

George Orwell’s Letter on Why He Wrote ‘1984’ (via Reddit)

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  1. My fifteen year old is reading 1984 right now in preparation for Honor's English 10 in the fall and he commented last night that Big Brother doesn't seem all that bad to him. He knows about Snowden and WIkileaks and we speak about civil liberties and are a very political family but regardless of this, he has come to see fascist governments spying on their own people and lying to them as the norm rather than a scandalous exception.

    It broke my heart to realize that Big Brother's techniques have become so accepted today that he can't even see why or how they are shocking.

  2. ee0r says:

    According to Emma Larkin, in Myanmar, the people refer to George Orwell as "The Prophet".

  3. My fifteen year old ... broke my heart

    Are you sure your teen isn't trolling you just to rebel? It's what they do. wink

  4. I feel like the constant watching and surveillance of citizens is now not that bad.

    No, it's not that bad, just be sure to stay in line for the rest of your life and try not to make a significant impact in this world that could alter the status quo or anything. In other words, say (almost) anything you want, but just keep doing as you're told and you probably won't run into any trouble.

    By the way, if you ever want to start your own business be sure and send me all the plans and stuff. You can trust me. I mean, you've got nothing to hide, right? I should also take a gander at all your other personal and business information. So, when you get a chance, send all that as well to me. You have 3 days. Or, let's make this easier for the both of us and just give me all your usernames and passwords to every account you have in your life. Or better yet, I should just hack every account you have. Is that ok?

    Please don't bother to ask me why I want this information, nor what I'll do with it. It's for your own safety and protection and I can assure you that I only have your best interests at heart. It's suspicious and treasonous to question things like this, so just shut up and do what you're told.

    See? Not so bad.

  5. Damn, but that letter which Orwell wrote sounds almost like it could have been written last year, rather than 69 years ago. (Even though Stalin is long dead, his methods are enjoying a new popularity among the ruling class; wholesale surveillance, and the new gulag system, aka the prison-industrial complex).

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