'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal. The Penguin English Library - collectable general readers' editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century to the end of the Second World War.
Dystopias have a very strong merit as literature. You read them, realize that they're not all that fictional, you get angry, and you do something to change the world. Unless you're a politician. Then you read the dystopia and think, "hmm, that O'Brien fellow had the right idea!"
In the future, the year 1984 (though, more appropriately, it should have been 1948, which is another matter entirely), Winston Smith bides his time, day after day, with the eyes of Big Brother constantly watching over his shoulder. He spends his time inscribing criminal thoughts of discontent in his private diaries, a transgression punishable by death. This goes on, until he meets Julia, a mechanic for the Minitrue's novel writing machines. They team up and form their own private rebellion against Big Brother, Thought Police, and Ingsoc. But who's really free of the watchful eye of Big Brother, or the listening ears of the Though Police?
This book is dangerous, as it breeds discontent against real-life oppressive governments. Many governments have tried to ban or otherwise prevent the People from getting their hands on and eyes in this book. So, my recommendation to you is: buy this book when you can, and when the government tries to take it away from you, get the hell outta' Dodge.
Above all, however, Orwell gives us a meditation on power, and one that is haunting long after you read the book. Indeed, the novel is relatively light on action. The protagonist, Winston, is not the sort of person to lead armed rebellion or to race down alleys to escape the Thought Police. Instead, the book is mostly composed of Winston's descriptions and analysis of his society, and the thoughts of others. The latter portions of the book are dominated by chapters of a book Winston is reading (a book within a book), and the arguments of the major antagonist of the work. These passages do not ask us to believe in the society of Oceania, or believe that this is the course of human history. What they ask us to believe is a series of claims about power, most importantly, that power (a) comes from control of belief, (b) that external power can shape our even most strongly held internal beliefs and that (c) power is sought for the sake of power itself (among many other thought-provoking aspects which Orwell reflects upon).
The former comes through most vividly in the form of (collective) solipsistic view that the Party favors. This is brought out explicitly in the scenes at the end of the book, wherein Winston is put under incredible pressure to accept it. The scenes I found most effective here, however, are in Winston's description of his daily work. His job is to correct history, to change every historical record to reflect the changing realities of the time. So if a party member has fallen into disrepute, it is Winston's job to show that he has always been in disrepute. If the enemy in the ongoing war changes, then it is Winston's job to show that the war has never changed. It is total information control, and Orwell masterfully illustrates the frightening possibility that one cannot rationally engage those who simply demand an ideological driven view of reality.
It is hard to discuss the second without spoiling the ending of the novel. Allow me simply to say that the passage in Room 101 is among the most affecting in all of English literature. It is frightening, indeed, I find it more frightening than almost anything else I have ever read. We, like Winston, tend to think of ourselves in terms of certain relationships, and ideas that we will hold on to. My wife is that limit, and my feelings for her are something I could never yield, no matter the pressure. At least, this is my self-conception. Yet, Orwell (like social psychologists after him) cast this into doubt. Are none of our most dear, most sacred, most definitional beliefs, ideas and feelings safe from external pressure and one's own deep-seated need to save oneself? Is my self-conception really simply a sign that this commitment has simply never been tested hard enough?
The third is most eloquently discussed in the final scenes of the book. When asked about why the Party rules as it does, Winston gives the answer he thinks is required of him, that the Party does it for the good of those who cannot rule themselves. Yet, with brutal frankness, the primary antagonist tells him that "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." This leads into perhaps the most famous passage from the novel:
"But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever."
The individual who seeks power for the greater good (think of Plato's Republic) is one who can be reasoned with. If Plato is wrong that individuals who grasp the Good will, as a consequence, be motivated to do good things, he might be dissuaded of the idea that the few ought to rule. Orwell's ruler is far more frightening, for s/he rules for the sake of ruling, holding power for the sake of power. This is a position beyond reasoned argument, based purely on the intoxication of power. These are passages that will linger long after one finishes 1984.
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is far more than a simple dystopian vision of a possible future, and more than a warning about certain political ideas. It is a masterwork of engaging with complex ideas (in this case, the nature of power) in the setting of a novel. Though the prose is brilliant and easy to read, this is a novel which rewards slow reading and thoughtful consideration.
What I find most impressive about Orwell's vision of the future are both its prescience and its political neutrality. All the most chilling aspects of Big Brother's totalitarian government--constant electronic surveillance of its citizens, rewriting history to serve the political concerns of the day, the infiltration of society by secret police--are really just exaggerations (well, one hopes that they're exaggerations) of practices that our own Western democratic governments engage in today, and have been engaging in for the past two generations. And what's more, they're practices that have been followed by parties at either end of the political spectrum--by supposedly small-government Republican (American) and Conservative (British) governments just as much as by liberal Democrats (American) or socialist Labour (British). Orwell's dark vision sees society as a whole, not just one ideology or another.
Orwell himself, of course, was extremely left-wing, to the point of actually advocating revolutionary overthrow of the existing capital order, and also of fighting on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War. For much of the Second World War he remained convinced that the national effort required to beat the Axis Powers would necessarily place such a strain on the British social order that it was guaranteed to result in Communist revolution on the Leninist model.
But his Communism was not we now think of as Communism, the Cold War Soviet state of faceless bureaucracy and rigid suppression of individuality. Instead, he sought through Communism--or what he called "democratic socialism"--the opportunity to achieve the profoundest freedom for the individual, by freeing him from the fetters of capitalism. And that philosophy infuses Nineteen Eighty-Four, and is probably the biggest reason why it remains such a powerful story today. For while it is a novel of the inexorable expansion of government at the expense of the individual, its central theme is the necessity for the individual to maintain constant vigilance for the preservation of freedom (which is not the same thing as democracy).
George Orwell’s novel made me look at the world in a whole new way, and that’s one of the reasons why I loved to read it. I always enjoy novels that are a little “out there”, and 1984 was definitely one of them. The whole idea that minds and memories could easily be manipulated based on the ruling party’s needs terrified me, and yet I was intrigued. It’s such an unheard of concept that it made me all the more curious to find out whether or not this form of mind control would succeed. Granted, I was also scared by how simple it was for this form of mind-manipulation to control an entire population. But that was why this novel was one of my favorite reads this summer; it made me stop and consider new possibilities.
Another thing I enjoyed about 1984 was the way it was written. When I heard it’s considered a classic novel, I have to admit, I cringed. I didn’t want something hard to understand, or something with pretentious vocabulary. Instead I found 1984 was a novel that was entertaining, and at the same time easy to understand. I was able to appreciate the deeper concepts in novel because it wasn’t written in a confusing way. That was another thing I really enjoyed about the novel.
A very important aspect to any novel is its characters. If the characters aren’t strong, than neither is the novel. In 1984, there were a variety of strong characters that made the book all the more entertaining. My favorite character in the novel was Syme, an intellect whose job it was to create a finalized version of Newspeak. Although he wasn’t a main character, I found that his lack of discretion in conversations refreshing in a world that was clearly all about not acting too different. And one way to be different was to be too smart and too informed, and Syme had both of these qualities. He was too intellectual, and because of that he became a threat to the Party, so eventually he was eliminated. But all of the characters in 1984 were very well developed, and I found that having such well developed characters made the story more enjoyable to read.
So now, after reading the novel, I understand where the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” comes from and what it means. 1984 was a novel that made me reconsider what I thought to be possible, and it presented a scenario that was intriguing and terrifying at the same time. I’m glad that I chose to give the novel a chance, despite its label as a classic.
The story itself seems very basic. A man called Winston Smith is an intellectual working for the Party in the land of Oceania. Life is strictly regimented for Party members with tv screens everywhere observing their every move and seemingly able to read their very thoughts as well. Winston remembers a time in childhood before the Party had taken over, but this is his damnation. Because in the current world of Big Brother, the past is continually being edited and re-edited to fit the latest ideology embraced by the Party, and Big Brother must always be made to look as though his foresight is infallible, hence, a full-time job re-writing newspaper articles and entire books and changing photos and burning any evidence which might prove that the Party isn't all that it claims to be. Enter Julia, a woman whom Winston first thinks might be spying on him. In this world, children are raised to spy on their parents and deliver them to the hands of the Though Police if they are found to deviate in any way from the Party line. But Julia ends up being opposed to the party, a subversive who takes chances yet embodies all that the Party most prizes: complete adherence to it's principles, wherein only the Party must dominate and the individual be quashed to fit into a militaristic mould, in a world wherein the reigning slogans are WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. Winston and Julia become lovers, which in and of itself is a subversive act, because in Oceania, sex is not something to be enjoyed, but endured for the sake of bringing new Party members into the world. It is self-evident that things must turn out badly for the pair, and they do, though they both know from the beginning that the Ministry of Love, which is in charge of torturing dissidents to death, will catch them them sooner or later.
The concepts and terms in this book are difficult to describe and explain neatly in a short review. Even for those who have never been exposed to this work before, there are many notions which are familiar, because they have become part of the vernacular since the publication of the novel in 1949, such as Big Brother, Doublethink, Thoughtcrime and Newspeak. There is no question that Orwell's ideas were informed by the Soviet and Nazi totalitarian regimes of his time, and yet he clearly understood that all such regimes share common belief systems at the core.
I loved the fist three quarters of the novel, which took us into Winston's mind, his workplace and routines and describe this bleak world he is an observer and unwilling participant of. The final part of the novel, which takes us into the nightmarish edifice of the Ministry of Love, and describes the inhumane treatment Winston is subjected to in order to "rehabilitate" him, is hard to witness, especially when one knows that similar treatment has, and continues to take place in many parts of the world, so that I was quite anxious for the suffering to end. All the same, this is an excellent novel, and a very important one which should be required reading for everyone as an effective argument for why freedom of speech and thought and movement are things none of us should take for granted and must seek to defend at all cost.
The audio version narrated by Samuel West is highly recommended.
It concerns a man named Winston, who lives in a world where every movement is watched by the Party. The Party alters all records of historical facts to conform to the latest propaganda, and the people believe it. The Party changes the language with the eventual goal of not being able to express unorthodox opinions. Those whose actions, whose very thoughts are in any way nonconformist simply cease to officially exist. These people are tortured until they are no longer capable of unorthodoxy. That's the simple version.
Winston realizes what the party is doing and he holds onto his memories of the true past. He falls in love with a girl and they conduct a secret affair until one day they are captured and ruthlessly tortured. When they emerge, they are completely changed. Winston remembers his affair with Julia but he no longer cares. He unconditionally believes all the propaganda, all the record changes, and he adores the figurehead of the party - Big Brother.
While reading it, sometimes I was very eager to continue and at other times I had to sit myself down and tell myself to skim a chapter. Sometimes the bravery of Winston and his lover Julia filled me with a sort of hope and at other times the imaginations of this dystopian world by the author filled me with horror and a disconcerting realization that what is in my mind might not necessarily be true.
The style of writing is very precise and skilled. I would say that the main reason this book affected me as it did was because of the way it was written.
When I finished the book I felt very glad that in this world, I have privacy. I am free to learn history, to read books simply just because I want to, to feel joy, to love my family, to make friends, to have crushes on people. I am glad I read this book because it made me think about the world in a different way.1984 definitely deserves to be called a classic, and is definitely absolutely worth reading.
Warning: Drenched in Spoilers.
Long after 1984 has come and passed, Orwell's book still remains relevant if a little dated. I was highly tempted to give this book four stars instead of five. In a way, the book has been outpaced by the times. What made me change my mind? Great details and a very riveting and appropriate ending—but also perhaps the notion that Ingos, Doublespeak, and Big Brother may be with us in ways we have yet to realize (see for example Hardt and Negri's Empire).
Even though Fukuyama declared the End of History and made reference to the last man, we are left to wonder if liberal democracy really did “win” and whether there is not something strangely Ingsoc about our own time. After all, we continue to see examples of doublethink and doublespeak in our own politics and times—see for example the works of Derek Gregory and other Critical Geopolitics scholars.
There is also no reason to believe that the conceits of domination through party rule are over. It seems to me that our postmodern times contain the seeds of many transformations including those that render us dominated by party or a kind of Big Brother.
As I was reading this book, many people commented to me, “Didn't you read this book in high school?” Certainly, the book seemed a bit dated. After all, while I was reading it it seemed that I had read the book without ever having really read it. The words doublethink and doublespeak, to say nothing of Big Brother, were already familiar without having read the first page. The scenes and nomenclature of Orwell have been used a number of movies and TV shows from Star Trek to that weird gun Kung Fu movie with Christian Bale. I'm not sure if negative utopian books (Fromm's word, though wouldn't “dystopia” be more apt?) have really ever evolved beyond 1984. But even if the book is too familiar for most readers, it still did have a few surprises, especially at the end.
Many of the political landscapes are familiar. We saw them in Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, and still see it today in Kim Jong Il's North Korea. But the details have an infinite ability to amuse. How can one ever forget a world where machines write novels as humans toil in fields. It is not until you hear O'Brien's rants and see the lengths the party goes to control the inner reality of a person that the book really earns its fifth star.
The political philosophy of the book is also highly evolved: Orwell makes the bold claim that a socialist world will still have a proletariat and that despite our best wishes, they will not save us from corrupt oligarchies. The proletariat never revolt is the message throughout the book and even in the end, the author does not waver (sorry for the spoiler)!.
It's also good that we arrive at the book in 1984 (though we cannot be sure of the time) and not later. As O'Brien explains later, Winston is the last man (though this is somewhat in dispute). Julia might be the “last man” as well—but she seems totally uninterested in understanding the system she rebels against, only the carnal pleasure of rebellion. One of the things that is essential for this book—the one area where you must sustain your disbelief at—is that there is a human at the center of it. In other words, there is someone who is not a product of Ingsoc or Party ideology. Eric Fromm's conclusion states, Orwell assumes that humans have something innate inside them that struggles for peace, justice, and liberty. Whether Orwell believed this or not—he probably did—it is absolutely essential for the novel.
You have to care about poor Winston and his varicose ulcer. You have to feel his suffocation and long for freedom as he does. And you have to see his transformation at the end. In order for the book to work, there has to be things such as love and orgasms (O'Brien and the party of course have vowed to eliminate the orgasm). By the end of the book though, we are left to wonder if there will be anything left human to carry on a story in another ten years. After all, O'Brien calls Winston “the last man”. This of course may not necessarily be true, since O'Brien—and it is assumed other members of the inner party—are aware that there were once things that existed outside the party and the demands of Ingsoc.
The end of the book reminded me very much of Shusaku Endo's Silence, perhaps because both books end with torture and the obliteration of a person's inner self. In that back too, the novel ends with the main character a shell of a person. One of his friends too is a shell of a character. Much like 1984 also, the main character is forced to work on a project which upholds the credos of a regime he doesn't believe in—in this case xenophobic tenets of Tokugawa Japan. It's not an easy thing to read, but if the author has done his work and made us care for the character, hope that he can somehow resist, then we endure the torture with him to a degree.
Winston Smith is thirty-nine, an Outer Party member working in the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth where he corrects false information to suit the Party's current outlook. Except he know it is a lie, that it all is a lie. And he knows he hates the Party and Big Brother, its leader. And knowing this, he also knows he is guilty of thoughtcrime and that it is only a matter of time before he is found out and something is done about it. For Big Brother, and the Party, are always watching--and they probably already know.
Winston is doomed--he knows it, and the reader knows it. False hope only serves to distract from the inevitable outcome; the only questions left is when it will happen and how long will he last when it does. 1984 is certainly not a happy book. Indeed, it is rather distressing, depressive, and ominous, not to mention disturbing and relentless. Big Brother loves you, and you better love him, too.
It's hard to say, but I believe 1984 probably made a greater impact on me now than when I first read it. The book has aged amazingly well; even though originally written in 1949, it is still incredibly relevant. Perhaps even more so than when it was first published. The book is less about plot and action (there is actually very little of either) and more about the state of the world and how it got there--it is a "thinking" book. It is also a dire warning of what we as humanity are capable of, and what we could become. Some things aren't entirely plausible (yet), but one only has to look at the current state of politics and governments to realize that some things are frightening possible, and some things so probable they're likely happening now. 1984 isn't the greatest novel, but it is an important book. I may still be strange and cynical, but Orwell shows amazing insight into human nature. There is a lot of Truth in this work.
Experiments in Reading
So instead of trying to explore the deeper meaning, let me talk about the things that really hit me hard.
- I had no idea that Big Brother came from this book. I've grown up hearing the term bandied about, but never really understood where it came from and what it referred to. I know now, and it frightens me.
- I think the most potent part of the book was, for me, the end of Part One. When Winston opens a note passed to him and reads what is written there, I felt as it my heart skipped a beat because, of all the possibilities, that was one I was not expecting.
- What was most frightening to me was, as I was reading Goldstein's writings held within the book, I found myself understanding why things were the way they were. Things began to make sense - this in a book that made no sense to me when I first started it.
- All my dystopian reading I think prepared me for this book. If I had read it a few years ago, I might not have appreciated it as much as I appreciate it now. I totally get that there are those out there who didn't like it, but I really enjoyed the stimulation to think it provided me.
Written in 1949, this is a futuristic world where the government is in absolute control of information, from it's flow to what that information actually entails. The government controls the news, even to the point being able to change past news events according to what they want the people to know or not know.
For example, the world consists of three countries: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. If the government wants to say that they are at war with Eastasia, they disseminate that information. However, should they change their mind and want the people to know that they are warring with Eurasia and not Eastasia, they will correct all past news reports to reflect that they had always been at war with one and not the other. The truth would never be found out because all past news is destroyed and all that exists is the news as it has been changed.
The government sets out to control not just the dissemination information but the way the people think and, primarily, to think as the government tells them to think and whenever their is a self-contradiction, there really is no self-contradiction. If the government says 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 5, no questions asked.
This is called doublethink, that is, to hold simultaneously two contrary opinions as true with the full knowledge that they are contrary but, nevertheless, to believe it with the belief that the illogical is logical while, at the same time, knowing it is not but dismissing such knowledge; it is consciously knowing truth while being unconscious to what is truth.
Is that confusing? Yes. it is called "doublethink." Something that, apparently, Trump may be unconsciously practicing.
This is a book that should be read, in my opinion, especially during the Trump's presidency in order to understand the dangers inherent in believing someone, without question, who speaks and tweets falsehoods practically everyday and, especially, who rails against the news media for passing "fake news."
Read the book. It reflects a dark utopia.
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
How long did it take people to start pointing out that these things are already true? Or did it happen immediately?
The problem with this book is that it's a cliche even to point out that it's a cliche to point out that it's already happening.
But anyway, hey guys did you know that we've been at war for over a decade, that Republicans say the best thing for the poor is to give tax cuts to the rich, and that whole masses of people don't believe in evolution?
Orwell's world is frightening: resulting in a complete loss of humanity. Initial impressions are of a claustrophobic shabby world of spies, informers and shortages with a population cowed into mindless work, but it soon becomes much more sinister. From Winston's first small act of rebellion (writing a diary hidden from view of the remote cameras) he realises he is signing his own death warrant. What sort of society is this we wonder? and Orwell reveals more and more horrors as the novel draws to its inevitable conclusion. Winston is told:
"Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves."
This is a society based on an elite's hunger for power, who have learnt from previous failures that to stay in power they must alter reality for those who they control. they must control thoughts as well as actions and the weapon that is used is the familiar one of fear. There is no hope in this world which contrasts so strikingly with Albert Camus [The Plague] published two years earlier. Phrases used by Orwell in the early part of his novel could have been lifted right out of Camus oeuvre. Orwell has Winston say "Now that he had recognised himself as a deadman he must stay alive as long as possible" and later "The sexual act successfully performed was rebellion" In Camus hands these thoughts would be signs of hope, a revolt against dogma that could be successful for the individual, but in Orwell's book, they are straws in the wind, the individual will be crushed along with any chance of revolt in the future.
I re-read  in 1984, something that many readers probably did and so was fairly familiar with the book on this latest re-read. I was still horrified by the final third of the book, which describes Winston's incarceration, torture and brain washing. I was prepared for Orwell exposition of the politics and society of the government of Oceania, which runs for thirty pages and is considered by some readers to be a dry political tract. The doomed love affair between Winston and Julia is like an oasis in the gloom, but also has it's contradictions especially with the characterisation of Julia. Like many classics there is usually something to be gained from a re-read and this was once again a five star read.
The mood is a bummer, the setting is oceania, or london. Controlling oceania is Ingsoc, a party that abolishes human characteristics in people and has the intention to control the world. All hope is gone and the only person to realize it is Winston, a decaying 39 year old man. Ingsoc is symbolized into BB, or big brother. The society views BB as their "savior," and one that they show all love for. They work for big brother, Love big brother, repopulate for big brother and seek comfort in him.The society even loses what makes them human for big brother.
Winston seeks a quest to form a revolution with another rebel/ his lover, Julia. Together they go through the unimaginable. When i finished this book i realized that the idea of this dystopia isn't too far fetched. I could see it happening, thats the haunting part. George Orwell succeeded in making the reader feel like they were in the society. the book has more symbols that wing-dings. I can say this is the king of all dystopia's, and i'd recommend it to anyone.
i) The systematic falsification of the records of the past so that it becomes absolutely impossible to prove that the Party has ever been wrong.
ii) The development of new language with a progressively dimishing vocabulary which makes it increasingly difficult even to think insubordinately because the words in which such thought could be expressed do not exist.
Now these ideas do seem credible; and so do some of the deductions he draws from them, e.g.:
i) that it is possible not just to crush the spirit of the rebel but to change his innermost mind and make him really believe that the Party is right after all.
ii) that the younger generation, typified by Julia, would revolt, if at all, purely as individuals and on selfish grounds. The idea of the Party actually being overthrown is to them unthinkable. They take it for granted as rabbits do foxes, as he says somewhere.
This is what gives the book its power. The society as a whole may be incredible. But the techniques of totalitarianism are not. They could possibly exist.
It is odd that there should be a character in the book called Ampleforth.
(notes written 1954)
Even ignoring this, 1984 is a dull novel that is so cluttered with ropey symbolism that it makes Animal Farm look subtle: The snow globe, the nookie in the woods, the rambling on about the measurement of beer and gin, all combine to form a picture of Orwell forever mashing his overly laboured point into a human face. The theme of human betrayal and Big Brother's corruptive influence on society that underpins much of the novel is just as awkward and clumsy as the devices through which it acts: where some art may be said to mimic life, 1984 is a mere caricature of the horrors of totalitarianism.
Even so, at least it isn't Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
War is Peace
Ignorance is Strength
It is 1984, give or take. Against the backdrop of a blustery steely spring day, Winston Smith commits a crime: he opens a diary and begins to record his own thoughts. Hidden, or so he thinks, from the omnipresent telescreen, Winston strives to recreate disparate fragments of memory, unvarnished impressions, unsanctioned thoughts. The subversive act of seeing through the facade of illusion maintained through violence and ignorance by the socialist government of Oceania. As a lower-level functionary of the Ministry of Truth, Winston sees first-hand how the government of Ingsoc (English socialism) strives, and succeeds, to control history, memory, language, and even thought.
Regardless, this is a classic.
One of the most glaring juxtipositions between these two worlds is in the treatment of sex. In this novel sex is suppressed and attempts are made by powers to remove people's opportunities for it, and their enjoyment of it when they are able to get some. The purpose of this is to keep people frustrated with pent-up energy that can then be harnessed for combative purposes by the rulers. In Huxley's world by contrast people are encoraged to indulge in it frequently as a shallow pleasure and by providing it the masters of the society intend to keep people satasfied and complacent. The reader may choose between these interpretations or choose to see that sex may influence their behavior in different ways in different environments.
In both this book and Brave New World the rulers find that improved processes of production require capital to be wasted in order to keep civilization in stasis. In this book they accomplish that through pointless conflict, in Brave New World it is accomplished through pointless luxury consumption.
In both cases I would argue that the supposedly permanent power structures are vulnerable to any unforseen natural disaster which would make maintaining the stasis impossible. One might consider the stasis necessary to both situations after considering [[Virginia Postrel]]'s ideas about the stasis/dynamism dichotomy presented in her book, [The Future and its Enemies].
These worlds probably also suffer from the problems inherent in all planned economies as outlined by F. A. Hayek.
[[C. S. Lewis]] might have some insights into these two largely artificial worlds in [The Abolition of Man], though [Brave New World] has a great deal more surface resemblence to his predictions than does this one.
By the time we get to the end of the second paragraph we're clued in that we're in a totalitarian setting--whether of the National Socialist or Soviet Socialist type--the enormous poster, a world absurd and ground down so nothing works--the run down building called "Victory Mansions" and a mention of "Hate Week." And then we learn the caption on that enormous poster: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.
This is arguably the classic work of dystopia modeled on the real things in the twentieth century but set in a future in one of the iconic Democratic countries, Britain, to warn yes, it can happen here. The book gives us a road map and warning sign and many a famous phrase--particularly "Newspeak."
Orwell through the book warns that above all such regimes corrupt and oppress through the corruption of language. Euphemisms that are obscene in their linguistic twists that limit how you can imagine and articulate protest. resonates today in the very language we fight over: pro-life or pro-choice, affirmative action or racial preferences, enhanced interrogation or torture.