Anyone watching the pictures from North Korea must be immediately reminded of George Orwell’s 1984, with the chanting hate sessions and the screaming rhetoric.
Orwell is of course for ever linked with 1984 and Animal Farm, both of which were written in the aftermath of the second world war, the Hitler Stalin pact and how after the German invasion of Russia Stalin became ‘kindly Uncle Joe’ only to be demonised again after the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe with its ethnic cleansing, electoral manipulations and half truths.
Orwell of course had seen the same duplicity in Barcelona with the suppression of the POUM – an event captured in Homage to Catalonia and one that seems to have marked the end of his idealism – and in his work for the wartime British overseas radio service where he saw the inside of news management and manipulation.
Orwell died in 1950, before the rise of mega corporations and their manipulation of governments and the populace through their ownership of the media, which has created their own world, the time when governments and elections can be bought, and as in Chile in 1973, changed, if its not to the investor’s liking. He also did not leave to see the death of Stalin and his denounciation, the cultural revolution in China or the bloody insanity of Kampuchea. Or indeed Saddam’s translation from a bulwark against the Ayatollahs to a member of the axis of evil. Cynicism and lies everywhere.
Orwell’s books and his reputation rest on the fact that both Animal Farm and 1984 struck a chord in a post war world where people were weary of lies and deceit and could see that things could be manipulated.
Orwellian has come to be a term to describe any manipulative quasi socialist totalitarian state where people are told what to believe and external demonised forces are used to explain failure of the regime.
A society in which no one is honourable. Surviving trumps being honourable. A society built on lies and half truths.
Orwell provided a mirror for his times. A picture of what we might become, not what we are. We should remember that