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From 1984 to 2024

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” wrote George Orwell at the outset of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Given that we are in April of 2024, now is a good time to check the United States of America for comparisons to the novel.

Under English Socialism (Ingsoc), Big Brother supposedly watches over all, but goods are in short supply and the people must queue up for everything. In the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith finds that “statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version.” Under Ingsoc, things were as good as they could be, and since the Party controlled the present, it also controlled the past.

“Centuries of capitalism were held to have produced nothing of value. One could not learn history from architecture any more than one could learn it from books. Streets, inscriptions memorial stones, the names of streets—anything that might throw light on the past had been systematically altered.” In other words, “history has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

In Oceania, as Smith observes, only the Thought Police are efficient, and “the family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police.” Children had been “systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations.” The omnipresent telescreens give the Party a window on every person.

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