The term Orwellian has been debased by over-use and misunderstanding. It’s come to represent anything that’s futuristic and unpleasant. In actual fact Orwell’s understanding of where our world was heading was infinitely more profound than that. Here’s what I understand by the term.
All power devolves to the State: Competing intuitions like religion, family, free trade unions etc. are suppressed. Control of citizens’ access to information is micro-managed down to the lowest level of detail and reinforced by endless brainwashing.
Freedoms are systematically reduced until only those approved by the State are allowed. State control is literally everywhere as exemplified by the ‘Big Brother is watching you’ motif. Whereas non-Orwellian tyrannies concentrated on controlling physical opposition, Orwell envisaged a time when actual thought would be controlled, hence the Thought Police. Offenders, the lucky ones, would be sent to ‘re-education’ centres for reprogramming.
The application of Doublethink and Newspeak: This is represented be the legendary Ministry of War being designated Ministry of Peace, control called support, lies and propaganda disseminated by the Ministry for Truth and so on. Many people today think (to the extent that they think of it at all) that this device serves merely to sugarcoat the unpleasant. It does, but it also operates at the deepest psychological level, serving to atomise society, undermine self-confidence making individuals easy prey for a powerful State. I read somewhere of experiments with rats where the murine equivalent of Doublethink literally lead to some rats starving themselves to death.
Rewriting of history: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” The more you reflect on Orwell’s words the more you appreciate their wisdom. Germany presents a perfect example, having been assigned total responsibility for the horrors in both World Wars. This travesty has been applied to extract massive ‘compensation’ from the unfortunate German workers and continues, by invoking the Nazi and Hitler slurs to denigrate anything the new masters disapprove of.
These principles were of course actively implemented in the former USSR and its satellites. But now the EUSSR, this time in the form of its Irish vassal state, sees the Orwellian apotheosis embodied in proposed new legislation, described by The Irish Slimes, in what’s almost a parody of Orwellian DoubleSpeak as “Hate crime and speech legislation to protect freedom of expression. Bill affords ‘robust safeguards’ for artistic and political discourse and offers ways to deal with offensive online content.”
Of course the legislation will do, and is intended to do, the exact opposite. Its terms are so broad and vague as to make virtually anything the authorities don’t like an indictable offence. Innocent intent is not a defense. Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism (remember that?) is not a defense.
Orwell smiles grimly from beyond the grave.