Where Orwell got it wrong

John O'Farrell

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.

In his novel 1984, George Orwell forecasted a dystopian society 36 years in the future, in which an all-powerful state uses advanced technology to exert totalitarian control over the thoughts, words and actions of its citizens. Ubiquitous two-way “telescreens” watch the individual’s every move and emit an endless stream of sinister propaganda. Big Brother is watching you. The Ministry of Truth is the only source of information. The Thought Police control what you think. As citizen Winston Smith learns to his cost, resistance is futile.

The allegations that the NSA has apparently been collecting the cellphone and Internet records of everyone in the United States (if not the world) has catalyzed fears that Orwell’s terrifying future may finally be materializing twenty-nine years late. Sales of 1984 are up 9,500%. Was Orwell right? Is technology in the hands of the state…

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