Tag Archives: history

Today’s World of Tomorrow: On Orwell’s 1984

Who controls the present controls the past.  Who controls the past controls the future.

1984

The central conflict in 1984 is an intellectual one.  Freedom, Winston Smith wrote in his journal, is the freedom to say that 2+2=4.  If that is granted then the rest will follow.  Those two sentences carry a lot of weight.  They imply a world where truths as basic and indubitable as “2+2=4” not only are disbelieved in, but can be forbidden to speak of.  They imply a world in which there’s a war between sanity and insanity.  Can a proposition which seems so self-evidently true, such as 2+2=4, really be true if you’re the only one who believes it?  In other words: is a consensus of one necessarily insane, simply because it consists of a man alone?  Can the rest of the world be so insane that it denies basic realities?  And regardless, shouldn’t you have the right to believe what you want?  1984 is obviously a warning against the dangers of an oppressive government; but 1984 is as much about the importance, and objective reality, of the world, and more importantly the past, as it is about the struggle to be an individual voice of dissent in an oppressive society.  In fact, the former may come close to eclipsing the latter. Continue reading

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