To me, I disagree with the first editor. In my opinion, our society is most definitely capable of the cruelties in 1984.
To me, both societies torture political prisoners. Our government has waterboarded (controlled drowning) suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in order to get them to talk. At the Abu Ghraib military prison in Bagdad there were photographs of physical and sexual abuse, accounts of rape sodomy, and other torture. Look what Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin has done against his enemies: if he's not a Big Brother then I don't know who is.
To me, both societies use technological surveillance to monitor excessively and invade privacy. During the last 24 hours, even as I type, I have been profiled at least 50 times by such entities as Google, spyware, cameras at my school, traffic cameras, advertisers, credit card companies, this website. It's capitalism's version of tracking us, our spending, our searches, our likes, dislikes, fetishes--all in the name of the economy. But it's still surveillance. It's not the boogey-man profiling of 1984, but it's still profiling. We're all watching each other.
In my opinion, you should read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. He says Aldous Huxley's dystopia in Brave New World is what we've turned out to be:
We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression.
But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.