George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eight Four became the best-selling book on Amazon this week, just days after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the USA. The surge in the sale of the book comes as journalists and columnists particularly in the west have begun drawing parallels between Orwell’s fictional state of Oceania and Trump’s America.
While Orwell’s predication of the advent of a totalitarian society where “Big Brother” not only dictates rules by which people live but also how they think and speak may have missed its target year of 1984 by about 32 years, with “fake news” and “alternative facts” becoming the “Newspeak” of the Trump administration, an “Orwellian” society seems to be looming large. And its repercussions no doubt will be felt far and wide with would be dictators drawing the wrong kind of inspiration from a country to which many have for decades looked up to as a bastion for free speech, thought and expression.
The totalitarian aspects of US society haven’t emerged overnight. Over the past years, we know that what Orwell wrote as fiction had been unfolding as a very real scenario behind the scenes and only came to light after WikiLeaks and revelations by Edward Snowdon.
But what is unfolding within a week of Trump taking office makes an Orwellian society even more real.
“Anyone — citizen or journalist — who is surprised by false claims from the new inhabitant of the Oval Office hasn’t been paying attention. That was reinforced when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told “Meet the Press” Sunday that (White House press secretary Sean ) Spicer had been providing “alternative facts” to what the media had reported, making it clear we’ve gone full Orwell,” wrote the . Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan.
George Orwell put it this way in 1984.” “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
His dire predictions in the book are a reminder of the ever present threat of what is at stake if propaganda& state control grows to such an extent that people are left as puppets on a string, moving and thinking only to the dictates of those in authority.