Are we beginning to live in 1984? This fear has been present in my mind ever since there has been an increased disturbance all across India, my home. Those of you who have read 1984, the classic novel by George Orwell (published in 1949), will be able to relate why it is a ‘fear’ in my mind and not just a simple thought. It is not only about the government’s new policies and the way they have been articulated, and misarticulated, that is disappointing, it is also the general state of affairs (rapes, riots, apathy) and the violent public response to everything around us that seems to be breaking the system, the harmony, and to be preventing any kind of slow healing that may have been possible in the same scenario.
More and more we see an increasing retaliation to everything, without even seeing the complete picture or without waiting for the results of the first few steps that have been taken/introduced in the name of development. While I do not understand why the Government of India failed to articulate its new policies well for clear understanding in a nation that is as diverse and large as ours, I detest the violent retaliation countrywide without giving a benefit of the doubt or inviting a debate on the matter. Violence can never be the path to peace and no dialogue can be achieved with a sword in hand.
With all the disturbance going on, my mind has been constantly drawing parallel to 1984. Seeing the way things are in the country today, at times I feel we are living in 1984 … I wish it never happens in real for it is a fearful thought. For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s a spoiler alert: It is an unpleasant read but it is also a classic for many reasons, as you can sense from this article.
Here are some quotes from the book 1984 that, I feel, hint at the state of affairs that have been existing in the country for years, something only imagined by George Orwell in the 1940s.
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
“Big Brother is Watching You.”
“Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist.”
“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
“Inequality was the price of civilization.”
“A loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”
“Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals that the Party was trying to achieve.”
“nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws.”
“The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.”
“I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY”
“Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”
“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.”
The quotes above are very contextual today in the way we and our thinking are being ‘managed’ by all sorts of politicians, in and out of power. There is a strong need for every Indian to rise above individual, and community, mindset and see ourself as a citizen of a great nation first. We must realize our national interest, our potential as a great nation, our unity in diversity, and our deep-rooted culture of acceptance of all faiths. Irrespective of who represents us in the Parliament, citizens need to unite to be able to manage who represents us than allow it to happen vice versa.
I hope that Orwell’s fiction remains a fiction, forever.