In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the seminal book by George Orwell, society is oppressed, with Big Brother bearing down on all citizens. News and Politics are delivered as NewSpeak, and the thought police is always on the lookout for those who oppose the New World Order…
In many ways, 1984 was prophetic. Many people feel that this world, this seemingly impossible world of police states and loss of individuality that is represented in the book would never come to pass. Orwell made sure it was painted well. He designed a myriad of ways for the intelligent man or woman to catch this before it could begin. He gave us the clues to the future. But he forgot something. No. Worse, he could not have imagined it in his wildest dreams.
Orwell could never have imagined the ‘marketing’ of such a terrible thing as slavery. He lived in a world that was still proud of its heritage and strengths. His brethren and families close to him had been in a world war, facing yet another. How could they have known that in the future, Big Brother would not rule by force but with the unflinching complicity of its citizens? How could he know that Big Brother did not need to cast a dark look from the TV screen? Just give the people technology that enslaves them and sell it to them as a need. Let them enslave themselves.
From the simplest of devices, one can find the subtle hints of this. Want to know where your friends are? Look them up on GPS of course! You can see exactly where they are going. Isn’t that just the coolest thing? Or how about this? If grandma or little Billie should get lost, we can use PLD (Personal Locating Device) or Digital Angel (now there’s a name) imbedded in their arm in the form of a tiny RFID chip to find them and bring them home? Isn’t that great? And we can stop terrorism in its tracks by having this little thing in all of us, to make it harder for the terrorists to attack Amerika. Isn’t that just swell? Don’t you want to sleep well, knowing that everything is under control?
No. Orwell could never have predicted that marketing something terrible could still result in sales. The numbers don’t lie. People like these contrivances of technology. They are only fed the things they want to hear: Friends, Flirt, Meet, Engage! But avoided are the words, Tracking, Papers, National Identification, Slavery or Human Rights. These things, these terms, are made to feel passe, old. GPS is cool!
What have we done? Where did this all go wrong? As I sit and write this, the G20 are saying that a global currency is at hand, and that these nations are in fact welcoming such a shift. After all, they argue, the world has become smaller. We need to lose a bit of sovereignty to become a global community. International co-operation to end this crisis will require all citizens to agree and adapt to this New World Order. The good will overshadow the bad.
But will it? I bet old George is wishing he’d been around to release 1984 2.0 right now. Hell, why not revise the book and call it 2009?