Big Brother is Us

Have you ever read George Orwell’s classic book “1984”? I find that fewer and fewer people have, although many more people are aware of the iconic theme of “Big Brother” and its connotations. Once published, “1984” quickly became the essential warning to a society evolving toward the complete regulation of personal lives by an all-powerful government not regulated by laws but by fear. I began thinking once again of Winston Smith and his struggle of self-awareness and liberation. It’s a pity that “1984” is no longer mandatory reading in high schools, because what Orwell outlined in his novel is what we are living today, not in a cliché or hyperbole, but in a quite literal sense.

I began thinking again about Orwell’s classic as I reflected on the unfolding scandals involving the IRS and AP investigations, although these incidents are only the most recent and comparatively minor manifestations of our “Big Brother” society. What Orwell wrote about so eloquently was the process and maintenance of a totalitarian society that lacked any privacy or personal liberties. In Smith’s society there was a constant state of war, a fear of external and internal threats of violence and disorder. It was the fear of this vague but ubiquitous enemy (terrorists) that justified the government’s constant and limitless monitoring of personal lives. Fear was what maintained the willingness of people to accept the loss of any privacy or personal liberties.

Orwell could not have written a more prophetic introduction to the Patriot Act or the various defense bills passed by our elected representatives (including Democrats like our own Levin and Stabenow) permitting the virtual monitoring of our lives. Our phone calls, our e-mails, even our travels to and from places are subject to cameras, listening devices and other methods of surveillance. The budget for domestic spying is rumored to be over 70% of the defense budget, although what is being spent remains a secret. The Boston Marathon murderers were caught because of cameras which tracked them literally from the home to the bomb site. Most of us were impressed by the investigative acumen, but consider this: someone in government has access to the same information about you and can monitor you in and out of your home at any time without a warrant. That’s the state of the law today.

Unlike Smith’s society where someone is always monitoring someone else, we like to think that the government has a good reason to monitor us. The AP and IRS scandals are yet another reminder that our trust in government is more often misplaced. 

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4 Responses to Big Brother is Us

  1. I listened to it on audiobook. The narrator was great. Of course, religious people believe that Big Brother is watching them, except they call him God. Behave for the great surveillance camera in the sky, as Richard Dawkins would say!

  2. Rex A. Umney says:

    I was wondering when a post would be made about these scandals. It would seem more and more evidence is piling up to suggest our current administration may have been “less than transparent”.

    I myself never did read “1984” but I hear it’s a really good read. I did however read “Lord of the Flies” which I feel shows raw human instinct and what happens when you have two opposing sides trapped on one island, for example “Republicans” and “Democrats”. I can’t see congressional meetings being any more civilized except to say the kids are dressed a lot nicer.

    Regardless of weather or not you wanted to use the word “Scandal” in your title, the fact remains these “scandals” are happening under a Democrat administration. I don’t think this nation needs any more distractions, but should any of these or upcoming scandals gain traction or “stick” it could spell trouble for the Democrats. Like I said before, there is a tipping point.

    Sometimes it feels like I live in a trailer of common sense and stare out the window at a tornado of stupidity!

  3. Orwell’s Winston Smith in “1984” rewrites history, and disposes of the facts inconsistent with the government narrative down the “memory hole.” This is what is happening today. Example the consumer price index (CPI) was adjusted under the Clinton Administration not to include fuel and food. Why? Because these would show inflation is much higher than the government wants you to believe. Now, and this is a whopper, the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being redefined. Now Lady Gaga “thinking” about writing a song is going to be included in GDP, same as building a factory. Bizarre? Read on. Not only is your government redefining GDP, it is going to apply the new definition retroactively for the last 30 years. That will cover the anemic economic growth. It is farcical, and anyone who believes that BOTH parties are not involves lives in a cocoon.

    Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is also prophetic and spot on. But it has been happening for years. For example, Emperor Hirohito ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor, but Truman, MacArthur et al., rewrote history to cover-up his role. American were told that this “man-god” was a helpless spectator while Tojo ran Japan into war. Orwell, true then, true now.

  4. I order everyone at gunpoint to read Christian Nation by Frederic C. Rich. Written by a lawyer in the form of a memoir, the main character (who is also a lawyer) looks back on an alternative past in which McCain was elected president, died, and Sarah Palin became president. We sunk into a Second Depression, and many other conditions were met to make it easy to turn the US into a theocracy. Very, very frightening book. It Can’t Happen Here, often invoked in this book, is now on my to-read list as well.

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