How does the world of Winston Smith in 1984 resemble our own?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • It is not uncommon nowadays to hear various pundits and news commentators speak of "Orwellian conditions" or "the Thought Police."

 In his political commentary of 17 July 2014, Charles Krauthammer, who writes for The Washington Post, remarked,“The rest of the world's reaction to what's happening in Gaza is Orwellian....It is shocking, especially in Europe. He continued,

Apologists for Hamas attribute the bloodlust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling diehard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

This twisting and confusion of historical facts correlates with the confusion in the wars that Oceania has alternately with Eurasia and Eastasia.

  • In addition, the existence of the Thought Police of 1984 is represented today in the political correctness demanded of people, who are restricted in what they can say or do that is socially or racially acceptable. As an example, recently in Atlanta a Caucasian UPS driver who had previously doubted that an Afriacan-American man worked at the business to which he delivered a package, having demanded that the man produce identification, returned on another day with a package. This time in a gesture of bad taste, he made a small white noose out of the strapping for the package and handed it to the worker. This act was reported, and the news report noted that the police were contacted and may consider the man's act a hate crime. Now, while the UPS man acted in a racist manner, he did not physically harm the other man, but the Atlanta "Thought Police" will investigate the action as a crime. One report on the internet now displays a realistic rope noose, rather than the miniature one of white strapping.
  • Children in 1984 can turn in their parents to the Thought Police if they say anything against the government. Similarly, in today's society, children can report their parents for mistreatment, whether or not they have really done anything.