1984 by George Orwell – Tillamook County Pioneer

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By Jim Heffernan
328 pages Published 1949 Available everywhere.
This copy from 1960, original price 60 cents; this $9.95 version on eBay.

In 1960, I was a freshman in high school, and one of our English assignments was to read George Orwell’s book, “1984.” I really don’t remember how I looked at the book when 1984 was 24 years in the future.
The news made me want to read the book again, even if 1984 is 36 years ago. Not for the dismal history, but for the concepts introduced by George Orwell.
The book is the story of the internal and external struggle of the main character, Winston Smith. He lives in a nightmarish world where the clocks strike thirteen, where “Big Brother” is always watching, and nothing is certain.

Winston is a writer and spends his days “grinding” stories to fit current propaganda and alliances. He works for the “Ministry of Truth”. The government of his time had 3 other branches, the “Ministry of Love”, the “Ministry of Abundance” and the “Ministry of Peace”. None of them have anything to do with truth, love, abundance or peace.

The televisions of her day watched you while you watched her. Even when the TV is off, it continues to watch you.

Society is strictly divided into “Inner Party”, “Outer Party” and “Proles”

In the book, Orwell predicts that in 1984 the world will be largely divided into three superpowers (Oceania, Eurasia and Estasia). The world has been largely devastated by nuclear war and revolution, but the three regions are constantly at war for the few who do not yet belong to one of them.

All three regions are totalitarian regimes where the population is controlled and surveilled by an omnipresent all-powerful state. who rely on the concepts of “doublethink” and “Newspeak” to prevent his people from realizing the truth.

It looks very different now than 1984 is 38 years ago. It also looks very different depending on where you are.

In the United States, we have seen efforts to implement some of the concepts presented as “Doublethink” and “Newspeak”, but our Constitution and a free, still functioning press, largely protect us.

In countries without our constitutional protections (Russia and China are prime examples), everyday reality bears many similarities to the nightmarish world depicted in “1984”.

Unfortunately, it seems that countries like Russia are trying to make their world a mirror image of “1984”.

I think George Orwell understood well the goals of the totalitarian spirit. I hope we can continue to prove him wrong.

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