Does it seem that this could actually be done by a government? Give some examplesWinston's job is to change the past statements made by the Party so that the old facts conform to the new realities.

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missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In my opinion this is done today, but not in the way Winston does it. I see two other potentials that Orwell's work gives great caution to in our world today.

Think about your textbooks. These are prepared by editors who choose what facts to put in your books, and in what tone they will write about those facts. A history book, or a science book that includes theory or philosophy or hypothesis presents information in a way that coerces you to agree because you are a students and you understand your role is to agree that the information presented to you is true. Often textbooks are contributed to by experts in a field who do indeed have a political bent and different biases one way or another and their presentation of history or science may reflect that. The omission of detail is as much a telling of their ideals than the facts the choose to include.

In Russia today, do you think the United States is presented as a land of grandeur as it is to American students? Of course not. Travel, you will learn much more about your own land.

Another example is that government officials today, whether Democrat or Republican, can choose to present a situation with words that skew or taint our understanding of the issue all the while telling the truth. Is there a guy who sits at a desk and destroys evidence like Winston? I don't think so, but I know shredders exist. I know there are confidential files that I can't get access to. Are there people like Winston who re-write the past? Well, the past is easier to re-write if enough time goes by. Do untruths surface on the internet? Do truths? So how do you know the difference.

This timeless classic reminds us to think about what we stand for and to question our governments. This is GOOD to do, not because they do not deserve trust, but because we deserve their accountability to do what they say they are there to do: uphold law and protect the ideals of the Constitution.

 I would not however go so far as to say that old facts are recreated to conform to new realities. But, these above are interesting parallels.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Nowadays, it would be very hard for a government to do this because all of the facts from the old days would be out there all over the internet and could not be so easily destroyed.  So this would be almost impossible today.

However, in the old days, this was much more possible.  If news was really spread only by newspaper, there would only be a few copies of old newspapers around and so there would not really be any evidence out there to prevent a government from lying like this.

The Soviet Union really did stuff like this.  Specifically, they would go back and edit people out of old pictures when the people got thrown out of the Party or executed.  I have a whole book of examples of this.  It's called The Commissar Vanishes and it shows the original pictures alongside the edited ones.  Check out the link for some examples.

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