The future won’t be anything like 1984: it could be even worse

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighy-Four, English Socialism (Ingsoc) has created the mother of all police states and turned proud England into a wretched wasteland. Suppression and retribution are as brutal as the neglect of people’s well-being is callous. Everyone is a slave but for a tiny elite of Inner Party members. The Party exists only to grow more powerful and its sole purpose and expression of this power is to make people suffer. It is personified by Big Brother, whose image stares you in the face at every street corner. Yet he never appears in public and we can’t be certain he even exists. Everywhere you are watched. Every passer-by, every co-worker could be an agent of the Thought Police. Rumour has it they can read the tiniest involuntary twitches in your face that could betray anti-revolutionist thoughts, as if they can look right inside your brain. Fear is constant and daily life an exhausting struggle to toe the line.

John Hurt as Winston Smith and Richard Burton as O’Brien in Michael Radford’s adaptation (1984)

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