With the rise of 'Alternative Fact' and recent events in America it seems only fitting to share this, the first of a series of reviews from our guest writer, Mr E. Ruth. Arm yourself with knowledge.
They're saying it's a falsehood, we gave alternative facts to that.
“You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common? They don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.”
~ Tom Baker – Doctor Who: The Face of Evil Part Four
From the grim morass of the late-1940’s, George Orwell’s seminal classic 1984 brings a terrifying vision of a future of unbridled totalitarianism, inspired by the recently defeated Fascist Nazi Germany, the now dominant shadow of Communist Soviet Union and the fear of a similar entity emerging from the victorious wreckage of the Capitalist West.
Imagining a future where three, constantly warring, totalitarian states have carved up the globe, Orwell shows a grim world bereft of truth, personal interactions and smothered in a constant surveillance state.
Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith begins as a willing cog in the machinery. Clearly aware, through his work, of the transitory nature of fact and truth in his nation.
In Winston, we have a perfectly ordinary functionary, who without malice following the regimented structure of the state he lives in. He is not an evil man, but he is guilty of enabling heinous atrocity.
His world is shattered when chance brings emotions and ideas never broached before to the surface. A torrid love-affair ensues, a tense, confining cat-and-mouse game, an unsatisfying yet grimly unavoidable conclusion.
Orwell’s masterstroke, and perhaps the main reasons for 1984’s staying power, is certainly his realisation that regimes do not stand on violence and coercion, but by the thousand tiny actions forced on a person each day, precluding empathy and community.
The enforced self-censorship of family informants moves dissent from the home to the mind, and sometimes beyond with the heinous ideas of “thought-crime” and “doublespeak” reinforcing the reluctance not only to voice dissent, but to think it.
While written in a very different age, technology has seemed to keep pace with the horrid future he envisioned. As we become more and more surrounded by self-selected intellectual bubbles, replacement of fact with opinion and the elevation of emotional grievance over rationale, it is a timely reminder that we must be most careful that the boot stomping on the face of humanity is not our own.
Mr. E. Ruth