I hear 1984 referenced these days in relation to the surveillance state that spreads through authoritarian countries and even the free world. The book is disturbing, which makes this association disturbing.
By making the connection between the fictional 1984 and our current circumstance seems to make the heart fail and our outlook on our current reality even more bleak.
I value personal privacy and am against mass surveillance. So, to call it out where we think we see lines crossed on this front is potentially valuable. But I cannot believe that there is much in common with our current society and what is in this book.
The book goes so far. Winston is a dead man walking. He is trained to fear, not question, live without feeling, betray others, feel nothing at injustice and suffering. He awakens for a moment during the book. He attempts to think against this deep cultural rut. But then, as he anticipates, he’s caught. And for a moment, it seems he’ll fight against it no matter the cost. But in the end, he breaks. His spirit is broken, and he is reindoctrinated. Big Brother and English Socialism win.
Perhaps for reasons similar to those that led me to hope for Winston to never give in, I cannot recommend this book. I can’t willfully compare it in any reasonable way to our society’s current problems. For to do so seems to connect our problems to the ficticious failure that Winston experiences in his own universe. But I believe that our problems are mendable. I believe we have not sunk so low. I believe there is a future worth living for. 1984 was a dead end. Our future is as bright as our faith.