Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
George Orwell wrote many books. This 1949 novel was completed before his death from tuberculosis in January 1950. TB is the result of poverty or a poor diet. [I wonder why his doctors didn’t treat him with streptomycin, which would have saved his life?] The ‘Introduction’ by Julian Symons has a short biography of Orwell’s life. There is a ‘Select Biography’, a ‘Chronology’, and a ‘Textual Note’. The 326 pages of this complex novel defy summarization. Orwell enhanced the reality he observed. Literal accuracy is expected in newspapers (but rarely found). [Reality is affected by personal experience, human nature or error.] “Animal Farm” is “the finest prose satire in English after ‘Gulliver’s Travels’” says Symons. But the distant events make “Gulliver’s Travels” a fantasy today, not a satire. In a century “Animal Farm” may also seem like a fantasy. Since horses are obsolete today, and few live on family farms, the scenes in “Animal Farm” are becoming obsolete. If the story has to be explained it is less funny. “1984" is a satire on England and the world of 1948.
The dismal conditions in this novel reflect war-time life in England. Rationing and a poor diet resulted in a rise in tuberculosis. The idea that the managerial class would take over power in all countries seems untrue or an over-simplification. “Reality control” or the Thought Control by Big Brother is not a fantasy in this novel, it describes how society works. It is NOT “the awful vision of a possible future” but an exaggerated world for satirical purposes. “Big Brother” is Big Business, whose advertising controls or affects people’s thinking. It pays for the entertainment shown on TV, which also affects people’s thinking by showing a “reality” that affects people’s beliefs. The advertising is the most overt method of thought control. One effect is to mask the subtle advertising contained in the stories on TV. This is more noticeable when you watch old TV shows from the 1950's or 1960's. Culture and life have changed enough so you can notice the differences. Men and women wear hats outdoors. Actors don’t wear hats so their faces are not obscured, or hats are worn so faces are seen.
The idea of a co-worker as a spy is often true. Some may make comments about management and gauge your reaction. One example is Kiefer in “The Caine Mutiny”, who helps to provoke a mutiny then flip-flops afterwards. Be wary of any co-worker who disparages management and tries to get you to agree. Your experiences may differ. “Peer Pressure” is often the result of advertising upon people who copy the examples seen on TV or the movies. Note how many people smoke or hold cigarettes in old TV shows. Tobacco companies advertised or paid for these TV shows. “Product placement” has a long history in movies too. In some shows automobile manufacturers influenced the stories. The original “Hawaii 5-0" showed the police driving Fords, the bad guys drove Dodges or Chevrolets.
So be cautious when watching TV or the movies so you won’t be contaminated by hidden or open advertising. Tobacco products have been banned since the 1990's after the President’s mother died of lung cancer and he acted to ban tobacco advertising. Liquor has been banned from TV for a long time. One importer and movie producer pushed drinking Scotch whiskey, he had a monopoly on its imports. Worst of all it the buying habits; few people have to worry about a budget or unemployment. People are advised to spend and buy product, but how many of them are really necessary? If you are short on cash lenders advertise their availability! “It Can’t Happen Here” is a novel by Sinclair Lewis that is based on a true event - the attempt at a military coup financed by Wall Street bankers. Armed citizens prevented this, unlike the many countries of South America. The widespread ownership of AR-15's and other firearms that use the standard military round should prevent a society like in “1984". Note the politicians (and corporate flunkies) who attack your civil rights and the right to keep and bear arms.