1984 describes a society in the future where every aspect of human life is controlled by the party in power. How true is this in real life?

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blacksheepunite eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You and I do not live in an oppressive regime; however, neither did Orwell. What he forsaw happen in the soviet union has the potential to happen anywhere. The country keeps the peace by keeping its people ignorant and in a state of perpetual fear. In my society, ignorance is willful (people choose not to read, to learn, or to think for themselves). As for language--r u jkng? lol no prob. its all :-). Orwell didn't even consider the possibility of MSN or the fact that we would destroy thought on our own. But to some extent we have. In 1984 everything is monitored.In the US you have "homeland security", the CIA and other forms of "protection" from hostile aliens (terorists); in Canada we have CSIS, the war measures act, and our "relationships" with the major corporations we deal with to "protect", watch and control us(my bank tracks my spending so that it can "serve me better"); any of us can be tracked and found VIA our bank cards or our cell phones. If that isn't enough, check out Google Earth--and that is a toy compared with what can actually be seen. We have freedom of speech.We are free to write to our PM but every person in Canada who does so is added to the CSIS surveilance list. The US?As for media, consider the pro-war coverage of the war in Iraq. In 1984,wars were created as a means to keep its population down and under control. It didn't matter who the enemy was because there was no war. They bombed themselves. R we fre? Yes. Could we lose it? In a heartbeat.

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sagetrieb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The dystopia Orwell describes in 1984 indeed has great relevance to our lives, as other responders have pointed out. In fact, the correspondence between the book and our lives today has so captured the imagination—and political commentary—that an entire web site has been devoted to it. See trivia-library.com for lots of information on this topic. One example at that site compares the Oceanic methods in the novel to those used by the US government through the FBI and CIA. Certainly all of the press recently concerning the prison at Guantanamo, not to mention Abu Ghraib in Iraq, suggests that representatives of our government have used unconstitutional not to mention inhuman methods (contrary to the Geneva Convention) to obtain information when they deem it necessary. Popular culture makes this seem heroic (if not sexy) in the television show 24. Find trivia-library on 1984 at


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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One does not have to look far to see the reality of Orwell's caution. In China for example, the government controls expressions (media) and associations (groups, friends). There is a lack of judicial independence and due process, women are discriminated against in a number of ways, etc. The penalties for displeasing the goverment can sometimes mean torture and even death. Many of the same repressions can be found in countries in Africa and other parts of the world.

I would certainly call all of these examples a "true assessment" of how governments can seize control of "every aspect of human life."

These examples above, btw, are why lots of people here in U.S. get very nervous about legislation like "The Patriot Act" which allows the government to tap phones, search mail and email, and financial records without a court order.

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