Sunday, March 8, 2009

George Orwell was right!!!

Following excerpt is taken from

The purpose of Newspeak was to drastically reduce the number of words in the English language in order to eliminate ideas that were deemed dangerous and, most importantly, seditious to the totalitarian dictator, Big Brother and the Party. "Thoughtcrime," the mere act of thinking about ideas like Freedom or Revolution, was punishable by torture and brainwashing.

Newspeak was the sinister answer. A character in 1984 describes it succinctly: "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought as we understand it now."

Is our real world today, at the beginning of the new millennium, so very different on a fundamental level from what Orwell predicted? There have been countless refutations of the 1984 dystopia: Totalitarianism is on the wane, Communism is dead, there is more prosperity, more community, more freedom than ever before.

Arguably, on a geo-political level, the global information economy has promoted the causes of peace and freedom, preventing potentially worse atrocities and repression in hotspots such as China and the Balkans. The Internet is likely going to give more people more access to first hand information that has ever been available on the planet, and the means to spontaneously and instantaneously communicate their ideas and concerns to as many other people as they can cram into their contact management programs.

But who is really calling the shots? In Oceania, there was the Party and there were the Proles - the great unwashed proletariat, living in subhuman squalor. In our world, out of the now 6 billion souls living on this planet, who belongs to the Party? Well, let's just deal with it in Internet terms. How many Internet subscribers are there in the world - 505 million by most recent count (Source: Global Reach 12/01) - that's 8% of the population of 6.2 billion. OK, so Ingsoc had an Inner Party and an Outer Party. If 5% of the world is in the Inner Party (those who have access to more prosperity, education, can shape their own destiny more than most), then let's say that another 10% belongs to the Outer Party (those who still benefit from the spoils, but don't make the rules). In today's word, that's another 600 million people. Let's be generous and say that 900 million people (15%) or the population, in one way or another, benefit from the freedom and prosperity of the modern world, can get an education, medical care etc. What about the 85% - the "proles" of our world? They're living in a world where 30% of them do not live with drinkable water, where infant disease and mortality are still raging out of control, where there is minimal education, inadequate social services if any, and no prospects whatsoever.

Think about it:

You can shut off your TV, but do you really want to?
You live in a democratic society and have the right to vote, but only 5% of registered voters in the U.S. actually contribute money to political campaigns. And you wonder why it's so tough to pass campaign finance reform?
You are free to spend your money however you choose. But why do you feel compelled to spend it? Is advertising just the free market at work, or is it the ultimate form of brainwashing to part you from your hard-earned cash?
How come you're pre-approved for so many credit cards? Isn't debt just another form of indentured servitude?

The bottom line is:

you have no freedom, no power,
you feel no need or desire for freedom or power, and, what's worse
you don't even know that you don't have it.
George Orwell was right!

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