NSA Scandal Creates Summer’s Hottest Best Seller: Orwell’s 1984

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Isaac Asimov described George Orwell‘s dystopian novel 1984 as an “attempt to show what life would be like in a world of total evil, in which those controlling the government kept themselves in power by brute force, by distorting the truth, by continually rewriting history, by mesmerising the people generally.”

The novel was written in 1948 and thus set just thirty-five years in the future. This purpose, Asimov explains, was “so that even men who were already in their early middle age at the time the book was published might live to see it if they lived out a normal lifetime.”

Those men were around for the very beginning of the Digital Age and now their sons and daughters are remembering the warnings and apparently encouraging others to read it as well.  Although sixty-four years have passed since the publication of 1984, sales of the novel have skyrocketed, up by a whopping 6,000% .  The dramatic sales are attributed to revelations last week that the National Security Administration has been secretly using Big Data to collect information about the communications of Americans,

Here are ten  passages from 1984 that are giving a new generation of readers pause:

1.”The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

2. “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power…. Power is not a means; it is an end

3. “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

4.  “The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power.”

5.  “If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”

6.  “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

7.  “If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.”

8.  “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental , nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

9.  “So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”

10.  “The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”


One Comment on “NSA Scandal Creates Summer’s Hottest Best Seller: Orwell’s 1984”

  1. […] caution that “Big Brother is watching you” has never seemed so relevant. In fact, sales of 1984 skyrocketed just after news broke that the US government was tapping into your average Verizon member’s […]

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