Over the weekend that marked the inauguration of one, “President” Trump, a surge in the sales of George Orwell’s cautionary, prophetic classic, 1984, occurred. Written in 1949, still rather freshly after the end of World War II, the novel tells of a dystopian society set in, obviously, 1984. Though Orwell was slightly off the mark in what would happen that year, he was accurate in his predictions of a worldwide conservative regime (see: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher). The severity of it, however, has not been felt quite as strongly as portrayed in the novel until now, hence its found again status a bestseller.
Around the time of Kellyanne Conway’s pinnacle example of doublespeak in claiming there were “alternative facts” regarding the attendance numbers at the inauguration, 1984‘s sales spiked again. So now it seems old Orwell wasn’t so melodramatic after all, vindicated, unfortunately, by his “stylized” predictions of Big Brother, memory holes and subscribing to proverbial 2 + 2 = 5 propaganda. And though it’s disheartening to see 1984 come so drastically to life within the span of a week, it’s somewhat of a comfort to have Orwell’s text in hand. It’s rather like keeping in one’s possession a manual called How To Cope With An Illogical Fascist Dictator & His Followers.
While you might be feeling a lot like the book’s protagonist, Winston Smith, these days, there is hope for the ones who fight back, whether overtly or more subversively. Granted, in 1984, protests would have been immediately kiboshed, here in 2017, they’re still perfectly viable as a means of expression–but one is starting to fear a point when maybe even that won’t be the case based on the numerous arrests of anti-Trump dissidents, including the highly public one of Shia LaBeouf.
The bottom line is, as succinctly put by Orwell, “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” Will you do it or will you rise against it like a fury in any way you know how? Well, let 1984 be your light through the storm, for while it depicts the ultimate political darkness (other than Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here), it’s also disturbing enough to shock one into action that will prevent its complete fruition.