George Orwell 1984 Relevance of Predictions Today Part 7

About George Orwell and his book 1984 a glimpse into a distopian future, relevance of the predictions today, use of thought police and torture for control.


8. Political orthodoxy in Oceania is maintained by the Thought Police of the Ministry of Love (Miniluv), which uses torture and subtle psychological harassment to force heretics to see the errors of their ways, accept the party without reservation, and learn to love Big Brother, the symbolic head of state whose image is omnipresent and whose godlike image is used to sanction all the actions of the government.

Where We Stand Today: In the U.S.S.R., political dissidents are exiled to Siberia, exiled outside the country, subjected to intensive interrogations and torture by the secret police, or declared insane and confined to mental institutions, where they undergo illegal shock treatments designed to change their personalities. China uses the mass pressure of a conformist society to keep its citizens in line; deviants are forced to confess their sins publicly and promise to mend their ways. The godlike figures of Lenin and Mao Tse-tung, respectively, are hearkened to constantly as the elder sages of Marxist wisdom, through their published writings.

The U.S. government is not above using Oceanic methods to achieve its ends. Both the FBI and the CIA have been involved in domestic spying on American citizens, political leaders, congressmen and senators, and dissident political groups. In the carrying out of these unconstitutional invasions of privacy, these government agencies, as well as branches of the military and local police departments, have resorted to harassment, burglary, wiretapping, opening of personal mail, hiring of provocateurs, and distribution of arrest and tax records of those who were under their surveillance. While no charges of using torture have been leveled, it was reported by the Rockefeller Commission that the CIA provided the faculty for schools set up by the State Department, through its Agency for International Development, whose Office of Public Safety trained Latin American police officers. It has been alleged that torture and interrogation techniques were taught in those schools. Further, the countries whose police were trained in the CIA schools--Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay--are high on a list compiled by Amnesty International (a political prisoner relief organization) of countries that officially condone torture as policy.

As Orwell predicted, the differences among the three superpowers are gradually fading. In all three states, national economies are subjected to increasing amounts of governmental control. The government has become the employer of last resort, the provider of welfare for the poor, and the sustainer of health, and it is more and more involved in the private lives of citizens. In all three states, the bureaucracies are expanding, becoming more unwieldy with each passing year. Orwell's 1984 is just around the corner--in more ways than one.

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