The British essayist, novelist and critic Eric Arthur Blair, best known to the world as George Orwell, died in 1950. A year before his death from tuberculosis, he used his unique insight to write his classic dystopian novel 1984. That book, published in 1949, eerily predicted the totalitarian threats that the United States is facing today.
It dealt with the consequences of a totalitarian government, mass surveillance, unending propaganda to distort the truth, and the suppression of freedom, including even the freedom of thought. The totalitarian state, which is at the heart of the story, perpetuates its rule by continuously spying on its citizens, systematically manipulating the truth, and rewriting history.
Here we quote 10 of his most pertinent quotes:
1) The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.
2) The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
3) The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.
4) The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.
5) Free speech is my right to say what you don’t want to hear.
6) There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.
7) Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.
8) It’s frightful that people who are so ignorant should have so much influence.
9) A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.
10) If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
These brilliant insights were expressed in the late 1940s, as Orwell witnessed the rise of the communist Soviet Union after World War II. The irony is that when the corrupt and bankrupt Soviet Union fell in 1989, the West thought that it had won and that communist dictatorships were finished forever.
But now, in 2020, we discover that communist authoritarian ideology is alive and well in our elementary schools, our universities, our entertainment industry, our mainstream media, our social media, some of our religious institutions—and some of our political parties.
One of Orwell’s observations is particularly appropriate today. He warned of the authoritarian enemies who, driven by an intoxication of power, will be waging a campaign of fear, rage and loyalty only to their party. Already in 1949, Orwell foresaw the budding of dystopia in the world.
Remember Orwell’s warning: “Don’t let it happen; it depends on you!”
Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.